Category Archives: Ships

SSHSA Announces Launch of Ship History Center

Extensive archive now available to researchers by appointment.

Photo courtesy of SSHA

Photo courtesy of SSHA

The Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA) is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year by offering unprecedented access to its vast archives. With the official opening of the Ship History Center in Warwick, R.I., the organization’s entire collection is now housed under one roof and accessible to researchers.

“This is an exciting time for us and we are pleased to finally have this wealth of knowledge available for study,” SSHSA Executive Director Matthew Schulte said. “The information we have gathered over the years helps us understand not only where we’ve been, but where we are heading in the future. We hope that there are plenty of researchers out there who can take advantage of it.”

Photo courtesy of SSHSA

Photo courtesy of SSHSA

The SSHSA archive comprises hundreds of thousands of images, artifacts, periodicals, artwork, official records and memorabilia that help tell the extensive history of engine- powered vessels, their passengers and their crews. Until recently, these items were stored in warehouses ranging from Long Island to Baltimore.

Last October, the society – which also publishes the quarterly magazine, PowerShips – moved into a building formerly used by the New England Institute of Technology. Since that time, it has consolidated its collection, finally bringing the last of it together this spring. While the goal is to be open for the general public in the near future, additional staff, volunteers and funding are needed before these hours can expand beyond research appointments.

SSHSA 29“This Ship History Center is something that we have been working toward for years, and it is satisfying to see us take this first step,” Schulte said. “But we also know that the work doesn’t stop here. Our goal is not just to appeal to the amateur and professional historians, but to everyone interested in this fascinating segment of American history.”

The move comes as the organization looks to broaden its role as an educator and steward of maritime resources. In recent years, it has launched the online Image Porthole, which has helped identify pictures of thousands of ships from around the world and worked toward uploading portions of its collection so they can be shared instantaneously around the world.

Photo courtesy of SSHSA

Photo courtesy of SSHSA

Future goals include the development of an educational program that will help students connect the revolutionary progress that steamship technology made in the 19th century with the technological advances of today.

The SSHSA was founded in 1935 in a Manhattan apartment by seven amateur steamship historians. Eighty years later, it has grown to become the world’s leading organization on the history of engine-powered vessels, with close to 3,000 domestic and international members in more than 40 countries.

To schedule a visit, please contact us at (401) 463-3570.

Submitted by Bryan Lucier, SSHSA

New Coast Guard Cutter James to Visit Home of Her Massachusetts Namesake

USCGC JOSHUA JAMES is named for the famous keeper of the Point Allerton Lifesaving Station, Hull, Masschusetts.

USCGC JAMES is named for the famous keeper of the Point Allerton Lifesaving Station, Hull, Masschusetts.

The new US Coast Guard Cutter James, at 418 ft., the largest class of strategic defense ship in the Coast Guard fleet, will visit Hull waters this Sunday, August 2nd. Named for Joshua James, the most famous and celebrated lifesaver of the US Life-Saving Service, and captain of the Point Allerton Station from 1889 to 1902, now home to the Hull Lifesaving Museum, the James is one of the newest Legend class of long-range national security cutters designed to operate anywhere around the globe. Following her sojourn in Hull waters the ship will proceed to Boston for a private commissioning ceremony on August 8th.

Excerpted from a press release submitted by Connie Leung, Hull Lifesaving Museum, July 28, 2015

Classification System for Vessel Types Sought

Lea Edgar, Librarian & Archivist at Vancouver Maritime Museum, recently queried:

I was wondering if anyone has produced a comprehensive thesaurus or vocabulary for types of vessels? I see a lot of lists out there but none seem to be very official. I am looking for a list that will include broader and narrower terms so that we can include it in a new database we are building. For  instance, I want it to include all the different types of fishing vessels. Thanks for your help.

If anyone has created such a guide, please share it with Lea at

Suggestions for Improving Historic Ship Accessibility?

DSCN0378 DSCN0379Dennis Brookie is reaching out to CAMM members in an effort to learn how other historic sailing vessels “provide accessible experiences on board.” He is working with the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park to improve access to Alma, an 1891 wooden-hulled scow schooner and National Historic Landmark. The National Park Service maintains and operates this ship to provide sailing experiences to visitors.

The challenge is providing access from a floating dock to the deck of the ship.

Do any of you have “current solutions for similar experiences that exist?”

Please contact Brookie at

Member Update – South Street Seaport Museum

WAVERTREE, South Street Seaport, New York

WAVERTREE, South Street Seaport, New York

We have great news! WAVERTREE, a cargo ship built in 1885 and crown jewel of the Museum’s fleet, will leave for shipyard Thursday, May 21st at 12:30pm to undergo a massive New York City-funded stabilization and restoration project — the largest project of its kind undertaken in recent U.S. history. The 130-year-old ship, built of riveted wrought iron, is archetypal of the sailing cargo ships of the latter half of the 19th century that would line South Street by the dozens at a time, giving it the moniker the “Street of Ships.”

This $9 million-plus stabilization and restoration project, to be undertaken at Caddell Drydock and Repair in Staten Island, will address critical long-term preservation of the ship, and will lay the groundwork for the re-rigging of WAVERTREE back at South Street upon her return in 2016. The WAVERTREE stabilization and restoration project is a key part of South Street Seaport Museum’s plan to revitalize the Lower Manhattan waterfront and highlight the meaningful historic connections of this important part of New York.

I hope that you will join me, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, and other City officials, in a celebratory send-off on May 21, 2015 at 12:30pm on Pier 15. 

Submitted by Jonathan Boulware, Executive Director of South Street Seaport Museum


U.S. Brig Niagara Seeks Bids for Mid-Life Refit

Courtesy U.S. Brig NIAGARA, Erie, Pennsylvania

Courtesy U.S. Brig NIAGARA, Erie, Pennsylvania

The U.S. Brig Niagara, owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, operated by the Flagship Niagara League as sailing school vessel on the Great Lakes, and homeported at the Erie Maritime Museum, is slated to receive a mid-life refit commencing in fall of 2016, with completion by spring of 2018. Design and Procurement work will begin this summer. This is a very ambitious project to renew decks, bulwarks, some planking, and all machinery, as well as make improvements in ballast and stability. The Pennsylvania Department of General Services is seeking bids for a design-build contract.

To obtain the RFP: 974-9 Phase 1

Submitted by Walter Rybka, Senior Captain, who “would like to obtain as wide a range of bidders as possible [from] the kind of craftspeople who generally work on wooden ships around our coasts [who] are not as likely to be scanning the commerce and  business daily or PA government notices . . .”

CAMM Welcomes S.S. Lane Victory as Its Newest Member

Lane Victory lores

S.S. Lane Victory, built in Los Angeles in 1945, is open to the public on the San Pedro waterfront. Photo by Candace Clifford

welcome lane victory

CAMM President Dave Pearson welcomes Gregory Williams, Executive Director of S.S. Lane Victory at CAMM’s business meeting on battleship Iowa during the recent conference.

Owned and operated by the U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II, the S.S. Lane Victory is CAMM’s newest member.

According to their website: “S.S. Lane Victory served with distinction during World War II, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War as well as in times of peace as part of the merchant fleet.  After years of deterioration in mothballs, it took countless hours of restoration to put her back into her original condition by volunteers of the United States Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II.  A nationally recognized historic landmark, the S.S. Lane Victory now serves as a living museum and memorial to the service and sacrifices of all Merchant Marine sailors and Navy Armed Guardsmen. Several times each summer she sails into the past on one of her ‘Victory At Sea’ cruises where ‘old salts’ can reminisce about adventures past, and younger generations can catch a glimpse of bygone times.”