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Speakers Bureau

Speakers Bureau

Looking for a program for your civic organization or special-interest group? The Speakers Bureau at The Mariners’ Museum is composed of experienced volunteers and professionals. They will bring to your venue the vastness, importance and energy of Maritime topics & more.

Presentations are approximately 40 minutes long. Presenters will supply laptop & projector unless these items are available at the site of presentation.

There is no charge for this community service in the Hampton Roads area. However, donations are gratefully accepted and go to the support of our educational mission. For groups outside the Hampton Roads area, a small fee may be accessed to cover travel costs.

 

Colossi in Combat
An 11-point comparison of human traits of Napoleon Bonaparte and Vice Adm. Horatio Nelson. This topic carries the events and biographical study of each from birth to death.
The Battle of Tsushima – 1905
Japanese expansionism in the early 20th century would lead them to a ground war in Manchuria. To be successful, the Japanese thought it necessary to neutralize the Russian naval power in the far east. The Battle of Tsushima (1905) was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. Tsushima was naval history’s only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets and the first in which wireless telegraphy played a critical role.
D-Day: What Went Wrong
The June 6, 1944 Allied landings on Normandy, or “D-Day,” were a great success according to history. This presentation will discuss the numerous errors of judgment and bad luck on that day.
Death of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff – 1945
The Wilhelm Gustloff remains the largest loss of life resulting from the sinking of one vessel in maritime history. Used by the Germans as a hospital ship and floating barracks in the Baltic Sea during World War II, the ship was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in 1945, resulting in the deaths of over 9,000 people.
The Enigma Machine
The Enigma Machine was used by the Germans during World War II to encipher and decipher messages. British codebreakers were able to decrypt a vast number of Enigma messages through their signals intelligence program “Ultra.” Winston Churchill would later remark that “It was thanks to Ultra that we won the war.” This presentation reflects on the significance and mystique of the Enigma. The talk includes a brief history of cryptography.
Hell Roarin’ Mike Healy – Order in the North
CAPT Mike Healy, US Revenue Cutter Service, was the first African-American to command a United States military vessel. Healy served much of his time along the Alaskan coast during the late 1800s and early 1900s. He proved to be the right man at the time, helping to keep order in a vast and unorganized territory recently opened to gold mining and development.
Horatio Nelson: The Battle of the Nile
Admiral Horatio Nelson’s inspirational leadership, superb grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics resulted in a number of decisive naval victories. Nelson was involved in four pivotal battles affecting the Napoleonic Wars. This presentation addresses Nelson’s victory at The Battle of the Nile and the foiling of Napoleon’s plans to invade India.
The Nightmare before Christmas: The SS Léopoldville, Disaster in the English Channel, December 24, 1944
The tragic story of the sinking of the Belgian transport ship SS Leopoldville, a passenger liner converted for use as a troopship, on Christmas Eve, 1944. As it ferried Allied forces across the English Channel, the ship was struck by a German torpedo, sinking within a few hours and with the loss of over 700 lives.
Rickover – Controvert, Genius and Benefactor
Admiral Hyman George Rickover, truly the father of our nuclear Navy, left a legacy for all of us: “Excellence and hard work are inseparable.” A summary of the life of this extraordinary man and his times.
The Sinking of the RMS/HMT Lancastria
Overshadowed by the evacuation of Allied forces at Dunkirk, the loss of the British troop ship Lancastria in June 1940 is the worst loss of life in the sinking of a single British ship in history. A British Cunard liner prior to the war, the ship was commandeered by the government as a troopship. Two weeks after Dunkirk, the Lancastria was sunk near the French port of St. Nazaire where it was evacuating British nationals and troops. Its sinking claimed more lives than the combined losses of the Titanic and the Lusitania.
US Navy Integrated During Civil War
Over 16 percent of the sailors in the Union Navy were African-Americans. This presentation details the ins-and-outs of this little known fact. At this time, black sailors were paid the same as white sailors, were able to hold many positions, including supervisory, on ships, and performed courageously in battle. Included are the stories of the eight black Medal of Honor recipients and two other acts of courage of which one ended with an integrated ship having an African-American Captain. Contributions by “contraband” freed slaves are also discussed as are some of the most important sea battles of the Civil War where the contribution of black sailors was critical. Unfortunately, this “integrated” Civil War USN disappeared after 1870.
USCG Barque Eagle and the Cadets Who Sail Her
The Eagle is the sail training vessel used by the Coast Guard Academy for training cadets. This presentation will demonstrate how the cadets sail the barque and the safety problems of 19th Century technology in the 21st Century.
Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood Jr.: WWII Submarine Force Pacific Commander
The life and times of “Uncle Charlie”, Navy submarine hero, and his distinguished Navy and writing careers.
The “Mosquito Fleet”: Homeland Security in the Spanish-American War
When war with Spain loomed in early 1898, the US Navy divided its forces into three operating groups: The Asiatic Squadron in the Eastern Pacific; the North Atlantic Squadron in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico; and a new “Flying Squadron” to seek out and destroy the Spanish Home Fleet. With all its major combat units thus deployed, the Navy was suddenly faced with a dilemma: what if Spanish forces unexpectedly appeared off the US East coast? This presentation reveals the little-known efforts of an unsung Navy Commander who single-handedly cobbled together resources from state Naval militias, the US Revenue Cutter Service, the US Lighthouse Service, the US Lifesaving Service, Army Coast Artillery units, and chartered private yachts to create the first comprehensive organization dedicated to the protection of the coast and harbors of the United States.
The Other Armed Service: The US Coast Guard in Time of War
Details to be developed.

A Sailor’s Life in the 17th Century
Life aboard a 17th century merchantman was exciting, challenging, and miserable. But, not much more miserable than life ashore, and the sailors got to travel more. This presentation explores the fascinating side of the life of a sailor using the particulars of the three vessels traveling to Jamestown Settlement in 1606.
Building the Wooden Warship
Until the age of skyscrapers the great wooden sailing ships were among the largest man-made constructions on Earth. Displacing from 120 to 2000 tons plus with overall lengths of 150 to 300 feet, they were built to duplicate fortresses. This presentation explores the fascinating story behind the building of these floating wooden castles.
Death of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff – 1945
The Wilhelm Gustloff remains the largest loss of life resulting from the sinking of one vessel in maritime history. Used as a hospital ship and floating barracks in the Baltic Sea during World War II, the ship was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in 1945, resulting in the deaths of nearly 9,400 people.
Driven From the Seas: Oyster Pirates and a ‘Little Travesty’ on the Chesapeake Bay, 1882-1883
The “Oyster Wars” of the lower Chesapeake Bay, waged by Virginia’s Governor William E. Cameron from 1882 to 1883, were some of the more spectacular events in an ongoing war between the government of the Commonwealth and the “lawless” oyster dredgers of the Chesapeake Bay. Find out how a stowaway reporter, a satirical musical, and mistaken identity played a role in this story of political intrigue.
An Elite Veneer: The Ships and Sailors of the Royal Navy
Arguably man’s greatest accomplishment: the creation of the ship. Our history is inextricably linked to our experience with the sea and this presentation explores how the great wooden warships came to be. You’ll also meet the men and boys who peopled the ships, commanded them, and fought them. You’ll see how they lived and learn of the codes and consequences that kept them in line.
From Hammocks to Featherbeds: The Evolution of Transatlantic Steam Travel
The compulsion, romance, desire to set sail for distant lands abides in us as almost genetic. Early man was daily faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers of water….and he learned to use those barriers as highways to speed him to new worlds. Now, in the twenty-first century we regard travel by ship as common and unremarkable. But how did we get to this point? To travel across the wide Atlantic Ocean, where no island existed as a refuge, surely took some degree of daring and confidence…and only the wealthy would embark with comfort assured. We’ll discuss the early days of transatlantic steam travel and examine the many trials, failures and successes that brought us to the emergence of ships like the Titanic and all that it means to us today.
The Golden Age of Pirates
Often romanticized, piracy and pirates were anything but “romantics.” This presentation will discuss the historical causes of piracy in the 1600’s and some of their more colorful exploits.
Those in Peril on the Sea: The Sinking of the Andrea Doria
A study in the causes, results, and litigation of the incident in 1957 between the MV Stockholm and the Italian liner, Andrea Doria. The disaster claimed 52 lives and was the Andrea Doria was the last major transatlantic passenger vessel to sink before aircraft became the preferred method of travel.
Magical Mystery Tour: Navigation in the Age of Sail
Intrepid mariners found their way across vast, often uncharted seas for more than two thousand years before the advent of electronic navigation in the 20th century. Navigation and piloting were arcane secrets whose masters could amass substantial fame and fortune. This presentation examines the simple science behind seemingly complex calculations… how did Columbus use a compass to estimate longitude? How did early explorers use the North Star to measure Latitude, and to tell time at night? How could the constantly-moving sun be used to calculate latitude, and why was a highly accurate clock the key to measuring Longitude?

Duty, the Stern Daughter of the Voice of God
This presentation takes a critical view of the professional life of Edward John Smith, the Captain of the Titanic.
From Hammocks to Featherbeds: The Evolution of Transatlantic Steam Travel
The compulsion, romance, desire to set sail for distant lands abides in us as almost genetic. Early man was daily faced with seemingly insurmountable barriers of water….and he learned to use those barriers as highways to speed him to new worlds. Now, in the twenty-first century we regard travel by ship as common and unremarkable. But how did we come to this point? To travel across the wide Atlantic Ocean, where no island existed as a refuge, surely took some degree of daring and confidence…and only the wealthy would embark with comfort assured. We’ll discuss the early days of transatlantic steam travel and examine the many trials, failures and successes that brought us to the emergence of ships like the Titanic and all that it means to us today.
Titanic: Fortune & Fate
The tragic story of the ill-fated liner, its passengers, and that ‘night to remember.’
Titanic Technology: Stem to Stern
The Titanic was a technological marvel of its time; a maritime masterpiece of art wrought in exotic woods, steel, sculpture, decoration and the culinary arts. The only failure, out of all its successes, was a failure of one of Naval Architecture’s primary principles—-keep the water on the outside. This presentation will discuss its many successes, and the one failure, and how they came about.

Conserving the “Cheesebox”: The Conservation Lab at The Mariners’ Museum
The staff of the The Mariners’ Museum’s USS Monitor Center takes a closer look at the conservation, archaeology, history, and artifacts of the famed Civil War ironclad. This presentation can be tailored to fit your organization’s interests.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Hollywood and the Civil War
An illustrated lecture which examines Hollywood’s attempts to recreate the American Civil War. Historian Carson Hudson talks about what’s good and bad about their efforts. Please note: this presentation requires a minimum of 45 minutes.
Life Aboard Monitor-Class Ironclads During the Civil War
The revolutionary Monitor-class ironclads were naval heroes of the Civil War. However, life aboard these revolutionary ships was difficult and dangerous during both combat and day-to-day operations. This presentation is based on letters from crewmembers and first-hand accounts of their operations during many combat operations. Crewmembers compared life aboard Monitors like living in the bottom of an iron-lined well: damp, hot, and rust under the surface of the water. We will discuss shipboard life, from the first combat with the CSS Virginia/Merrimac through the months of operations in support of McClellan’s peninsular campaign, the sinking of the original USS Monitor, and life aboard follow-on Monitors in the Battle of Mobile Bay, to the attacks on Fort Sumter and Fort Fisher.
“So Ends This Day”: The Life and Times of the USS Monitor from 1861 to Yesterday
Although the USS Monitor may have ended her career in a gale off Cape Hatteras in December 1862, her story does not end there. Discovered in 1973, and the subject of recovery operations by NOAA since then, the “cheesebox on a raft” still has stories to tell. This lively, illustrated presentation brings the Monitor to life by combining log entries, official correspondence, personal letters from officers and crew, and evidence found in the ship itself.
Up Pops the Monitor: The Battle of Hampton Roads in Pop Culture
What do bubble gum cards, whiskey bottles, and refrigerators have to do with the Union ironclad Monitor? Everything! See how the iconic cheesebox on a raft has made her way into candy, booze, films, alternative music and major appliances in this whimsical presentation.
What Are They Doing? A New Look at Old Civil War Photographs
This is an illustrated lecture on how to look at Civil War Photographs and understand the moment. Historian Carson Hudson examines several interesting and unusual wartime photographs and tells the stories behind the photographic moment. Please note: this presentation requires a minimum of 45 minutes.
The Other Ironclads
After the Battle of Hampton Roads in March of 1862, the US Navy built dozens of USS Monitor clones, and the Confederates built a number of casemate ironclads similar to CSS Virginia. However, there were a wide variety of other ironclads envisioned or built during the Civil War, whose impact and memory was eclipsed by the momentous encounter between Monitor and Virginia. What might have ensued if different ironclads had been the first to meet face-to-face? This talk will examine The Stevens Battery and its offspring the Revenue Cutter Naugatuck, USS New Ironsides, USS Galena, CSS Stonewall, and an assortment of other vessels which used a wide variety of fascinating technology and improvisation for self-protection.

Are We the Vikings?
Who was here first? Why, the Indians, of course! That may oversimplify the settlement of early Asian Nomads who crossed the Bering land bridge and decided to stay! But how about the early European explorers to our continent? The Norsemen travelled far and wide, sometimes by design, sometimes by accident. That they landed in North America is generally undisputed, but where, exactly, did they make land? Where did they come from? How important were their voyages of discovery, pillage and exploitation in the era before the Age of Exploration? And where did they go after a couple of centuries of notoriety? How did they live? During this interactive and exciting presentation, we’ll examine the myths and facts, learn how to write Viking runes, and, most importantly, decide whether WE are the Vikings!
The Great Maritime Revolution
The Age of Discovery could not have happened without certain events falling into place. This presentation discusses the beginnings of those events and covers Prince Henry (the navigator) and the sailors and explorers who opened the world to trade, commerce, and conquest!
Race to the South Pole
The race to the South Pole was won by Roald Amundsen, the less skilled leader of the two men vying for the honor to be first. By many accounts, the better leader was Robert Falcon Scott, who died. Besides an exciting story, the presentation will also speak to the failure of Scott’s management skills.
Caligula’s Titanics: The Great ships of Lake Nemi

In the year 12 AD a child was born who was to become Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. And he became Emperor in 37 AD. Most called him Caligula, a nickname he earned as a child. Caligula was, by all accounts, a pretty good ruler for the first part of his term. Then things got a little out of hand. He was assassinated in 41 AD at the age of 28.

Caligula was a show-off among other things. He fell in with an unusual crowd who took up the worship of Diana, or Isis, apparently the goddess of debauchery. And he was a zealous adherent to this philosophy and practice. To honor Diana or for his own pleasure, we really don’t know, he had two spectacular ships built on a little lake south of Rome high up in the Alban hills. The lake is Lago de Nemi, or Lake Nemi. Two years and hundreds of workers were required to build and outfit the ships.

At the end of Caligula’s reign, either because the Romans wished to close this sordid chapter in their history, or by accident, the two great ships sank. Their discovery, after 1400 years, their reclamation and their story up to today is the subject of this compelling, sometimes frightening account of the two greatest “party boats” of the first century AD.

The Voyages of Cristoforo Colon
From his birth in Genoa to his death on Vallodolid, this comprehensive study reveals little-known incidents in the history of the man who made one of the greatest discoveries of all time. By accident! His early life and what led him to sail west against all odds is the stuff of movies but it’s all based on historical facts.

Driven From the Seas: Oyster Pirates and a ‘Little Travesty’ on the Chesapeake Bay, 1882-1883
The “Oyster Wars” of the lower Chesapeake Bay, waged by Virginia’s Governor William E. Cameron from 1882 to 1883, were some of the more spectacular events in an ongoing war between the government of the Commonwealth and the “lawless” oyster dredgers of the Chesapeake Bay. Find out how a stowaway reporter, a satirical musical, and mistaken identity played a role in this story of political intrigue.
Hampton Roads: Port of Embarkation
The war came to America with the Japanese surprise attack on the United States Naval Fleet at Pearl
Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Six months later, on June 15, 1942, the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation was reactivated under the command of the Army Chief of Transportation. A natural harbor, Hampton Roads had served the nation as a military port in the Spanish-American War and World War I. During World War II the port headquarters was established in Newport News. The presentation incorporates many photographs of Hampton Roads’ role in the war effort – a poignant visual diary of a nation in time of war.

Conserving the “Cheesebox”: The Work of Monitor Center’s Conservation Lab
The staff of the The Mariners’ Museum’s USS Monitor Center takes a closer look at the conservation,
archaeology, history, and artifacts of the famed Civil War ironclad. This presentation can be tailored to
fit your organization’s interests.
Galleries of The Mariners’ Museum
This presentation covers a visual and oral introduction to the galleries of The Mariners’ Museum.
The Crabtree Collection of Miniature Ships
These miniature ships relate the story of the evolution of ships from the raft to steam power. It is a story presented in not only 3-dimensions but also as an outstanding art form. The talk includes biographical information on the artist, August Crabtree.
Conservation of Art and Artifacts in The Mariners’ Museum’s Permanent Collection
Over the past twenty years, the USS Monitor Conservation Project and its activities at TMM have been
highly touted. However, many are unaware of other conservation work being done at the Museum that
deals with the core, permanent collection. The ongoing development of a comprehensive conservation
program for the permanent collection will be discussed in this presentation. Examples will be shown of
various kinds of art and artifacts in the collection that have received conservation treatment during the
recent past.

What Are They Doing? A New Look at Old Civil War Photographs
This is an illustrated lecture on how to look at Civil War Photographs and understand the moment. Historian Carson Hudson examines several interesting and unusual wartime photographs and tells the stories behind the photographic moment. Please note: this presentation requires a minimum of 45 minutes.

Ted Crossland

Ted Crossland

Ted finished a 24-year US Navy career of mustang submarine service. Following his military service, he was employed as an Engineering Program Manager at Newport News Shipbuilding. His 20 year service at the shipyard included ship design/build work. Ted is an alumnus of the University of West Florida at Pensacola, Florida and the US Navy’s degree completion program. He has served the Mariners’ Museum as Docent and speaker since 1992.

Carson Hudson

Carson Hudson

Carson is passionate about history. He is a practicing military and social historian, published author, Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, and circus fire-eater. He lectures regularly at museums and colleges on a wide variety of subjects, but his particular interests are the Civil War, colonial witchcraft & piracy, and the history of American popular music. In his spare time he likes to sleep.

Ron Lewis

Ron Lewis

Ron is a Tidewater native. Born in Portsmouth, he was educated first at Old Dominion College (yes it was just a college back then) where he met his wife, Chris, then finished his education at an out-of-state institution. He is retired as a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) for New York Life Investment Management and NYLIFE Securities. He is also credited with the invention of dark chocolate candy. His only child is an Infant Cardiac Care practitioner in Phoenix, AZ where she and her husband have absconded with Ron’s granddaughter, Emma. Emma, the bright and beautiful, is 16 and studying theater arts. Photos are available!

As a kid Ron fell in love with The Mariners’ Museum. This year marks his 24th year as a volunteer docent; he is a Museum Patron, the Past Chairman of the Bronze Door Society and an educator. He has created and delivered Museum programs for CNU’s Life Long Learning program, the Christopher Wren Society, the Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice School, the Poquoson Buy Boat Festival and others and has taught classes through Mariners’ IVC virtual classroom, and instructed new interpreters in the presentation of the Museum’s numerous galleries. He was awarded the Docent Educator of the Year in 2007, received the Robert Strasser Memorial Award in 2012 and the Gene Cooney Memorial award in 2016. Ron is a very active member of The Museum’s Speakers’ Bureau and of the Hampton Roads Ship Model Society and he is currently restoring some of the models damaged in the 2012 fire at the Deltaville Maritime Museum.

Russ Morrison

Russ Morrison

Russ is a Docent with a specialty in the history of the USS Monitor. He has given numerous lectures on behalf of The Mariners’ Museum to various groups on the life of sailors aboard USS Monitor. Russ is a USAF veteran, retiring as a Colonel with Command Pilot Wings where he was recognized for his work as a war/contingency planner and a reconnaissance and surveillance expert. He served multiple tours as an exchange officer or coordinator with US Navy commands and in international joint commands. After retiring from the USAF he worked as an analyst, engineer, and manager for a large defense contractor. Russ holds a BS degree from the US Air Force Academy & an MA degree from the University of Nebraska. His ties to the sea include seascape painting, aquatic sports, underwater exploring, boating, renovating a beach house & study of maritime history.

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

Dan grew up on, in, and around the waters of southern New Jersey, where he was regaled in tales of his grandfather’s and great grandfather’s careers as US Navy officers and Inspectors for the US Lighthouse Service, as well as his great, great grandfather’s service as a Civil War surgeon. After college, Dan went to Yorktown, VA to begin a three-year tour in the US Coast Guard, but he had entirely too much fun to leave as planned. In his 25 years of Coast Guard service, he performed a wide variety of duties including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, port safety and security, environmental safety, personnel management and training, and inter-service emergency planning. He retired as a Captain, after serving his final tour as Chief of the Reserve Programs Division in Coast Guard Headquarters. Subsequently, Dan taught science and math at StoneBridge School in Chesapeake, VA for ten years, and has been an active leader for the Tidewater Council, Boy Scouts of America for over 20 years. He is a regular volunteer with the Education Department and other programs at the Mariners’ Museum, and in his spare time (i.e., during his granddaughter’s afternoon naps) he is an avid researcher in a wide range of topics relating to maritime and military history.

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Currently The Mariners’ Museum Director of Education and Distance Learning Programs and has been with the Museum for a cumulative thirteen years. During that time she has served in a number of capacities including teacher and Elderhostel and LifeLong Learning coordinator. In addition she has developed numerous special educational programs and was the co-curator of the Museum’s exhibition Life’s a Beach. In her spare time, she works part-time for Colonial Williamsburg and Historical Diversions where she dresses in funny clothes and is a musical glasses player, puppeteer, mind reader, fire eater, and has been known to have stones broken on her chest with a sledge hammer.

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Ed is a retired newspaper sports editor and sports columnist. He has won 91 journalism awards in his career, and three times was named one of the top five sports columnists in the United States. Ed is a journalism graduate of Auburn University, a member of Phi Alpha Theta national history honor society, and a member of Who’s Who among American teachers awarded during his journalism retirement while teaching high school history, rhetoric and literature. He earned a Virginia teaching certificate in English through Virginia Wesleyan University and a Certificate in Military Strategy and Policy through the Old Dominion University Masters of History program. He currently manages a CPA firm in Newport News.

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Biography coming soon.

 


 

Have a question regarding a specific topic? Do you need a customized presentation? Contact us to get quick answers to your questions.

Speakers Bureau
(757) 591-7747
speakers@marinersmuseum.org