55th Anniversary of the sinking of USS Thresher

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Today is the 55th anniversary of the sinking of the US Navy submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593).

The first of its class, Thresher was supposed to be an innovative leap forward in submarine design and technology but several test runs uncovered technical problems and Thresher returned to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine for repairs. By April 9, 1963 the repairs had been completed so the vessel departed for sea trials with 112 crew members and 17 shipyard employees who rode along to monitor the repairs in case additional work was needed.   Read more

Death Rides the Storm: The story of one amazing rescue!

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Shadow box presented to First Officer Robert B. Miller by the Temple of the Brave

While working on an inquiry for Howard this morning I stumbled across an odd object that turned out to have a really cool story attached to it. The piece was a small shadow box that was a presentation piece to First Officer Robert B. Miller, of the United States Line ship President Roosevelt in 1926.  It was presented to Miller by the Temple of the Brave, Hedge End, Hants, England, following his rescue the crew of the sinking cargo ship Antinoe—and it is quite a story!

On January 20th, 1926, the President Roosevelt, captained by George Fried, left New York for Bremerhaven, Germany.  The ship carried several thousand bags of mail bound for the UK and Europe and 200 passengers. Unknowingly, the ship, which left New York in poor weather, was heading directly into a fierce wintertime hurricane.  As the voyage progressed, the weather grew so bad that passengers were forbidden from going outside and the crew rigged lifelines throughout the ship to help people move around.   Read more

Commonwealth Model Sings Again! (sort of)

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Steamboat Commonwealth, ca 1864

A couple years back I wrote a blog about our wonderful music box model of the steamboat Commonwealth; read that HERE.   Just a quick background on it, the model was made ca 1864 by John Dean Benton, who worked for Tiffany & Co.  The model was presented as a retirement gift from the Norwich and New London Steamboat Company to the Captain, Jerome Wheeler Williams, who had never had any major mishaps in his career.  Ironically, Commonwealth caught fire and sank the year after Captain Williams retired.

One thing I had mentioned is that we had a recording of the music on an old Echo-Matic tape that we hoped to have digitized sometime in the future as we can no longer play the music box itself.  Earlier this year Cindi looked into companies that could do this for us and she found George Blood Audio.  This morning they sent us the digital file and it is awesome!  We know that two of the songs are “Nellie Bly” and “By Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon”.  We are currently unsure what the other songs are, so if anyone has an idea, please let us know.  Enjoy!   Read more