Filed under: Leadership, maritime heritage, tall ships | Tags: Bishop Museum, Hawaiian Maritime Center, museum, National Historic Landmark, New York Times, The Falls of Clyde
The Sunday New York Times published a sad story written by Christopher Pala about the uncertain future of the Hawaiian Tall Ship, The Falls of Clyde, a National Historic Landmark since 1989. (Historic Ship Stays Afloat. for Now – October 19, 2008)
What is particularly troubling about this story is the mismanagement and lack of leadership exercised by the Bishop Museum’s board in their stewardship of this historically significant asset and for which they collected considerable public funding and private donations over the years. The ship has recently been “sold” for a symbolic $1 to a group of well meaning but grossly underfunded supporters. After years of neglect by the Bishop Museum, The Falls of Clyde now requires millions of dollars for rehabilitation and restoration work, a daunting task for a new nonprofit.
The Falls of Clyde story is not a simple one. Her history as represented in the Statement of significance in the National Historic Landmark Study on the National Park Services’ website:
The 1878 ship Falls of Clyde is the world’s only surviving four-masted full-rigged ship. Built in Great Britain in the last quarter of the 19th century during a shipbuilding boom inspired in part by increased trade with the United States, Falls of Clyde made several voyages to American ports, notably San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, while under the British flag.
Sold to American owners in 1898, Falls of Clyde gained American registry by a special act of Congress in 1900. Henceforth she was involved in the nationally important Hawaiian transpacific sugar trade for Capt. William Matson’s Matson Navigation Co., a shipping firm of international scope and significance that continues in business. Falls of Clyde, ninth vessel acquired by Matson, is the oldest surviving member of the Matson fleet.
After 1907, Falls of Clyde entered another nationally significant maritime trade, transporting petroleum as a sailing oil tanker. Specifically modified for the petroleum trade as a bulk cargo carrier, Falls of Clyde retains integrity of design, materials, and workmanship, and is of exceptional national significance as the oldest surviving American tanker and as the only surviving sailing oil tanker left afloat not only in the United States but also in the world.
Pala writes in the NY Times article:
In 1963, as she was about to be sunk to serve as a breakwater, another group of enthusiasts in Hawaii had her towed back to Honolulu and, over the next two decades, almost fully restored.
In 1984, a new maritime museum, the Hawaii Maritime center, acquired the Falls, which was docked next door, but the center foundered financially. In 1994, the Bishop Museum reluctantly took over the center and the ship. One of the Falls’s chief supporters, Robert Pfeiffer, then the chief executive of the company that owns today’s Matson Navigation Company, set up a half-million-dollar endowment for the care of the Falls.
But over the next 14 years, the Bishop Museum spent little more than the endowment’s annual income of about $50,000 on the ship, according to a former museum official who would not be identified because he did not want to appear critical of the Bishop’s present management.
Though it is customary to place a ship in dry dock every five years to inspect and repair the hull, the museum did not do so with the Falls of Clyde, which was last in dry dock in 1987. Nor did it install zinc anodes, at a cost of a few thousand dollars a year, which would have prevented the hull from decaying.
In 2001, Senator Daniel Inouye, a Democrat, announced a Congressional earmark of $300,000 to preserve the Falls, and Mr. Pfeiffer, who died in 2003, contributed a personal matching grant of $300,000.
Nonprofit cultural institutions, like the Bishop Museum, have a moral and fiduciary responsibility to their communities and supporters to act competently as stewards of the treasures in their care. While there have been a number of cases over the years where museums have been criticized for selling or deaccessioning works in their collections for various reasons, it’s difficult to recall many that show the alleged incompetence at this scale in preserving a nationally significant treasure.
Cross-posted at Weekly Leader.
Filed under: life, maritime heritage | Tags: auction, healthcare, Henry Aldridge & Son, last survivor, Milvania Dean, Titanic
YouTube – Last Titanic Survivor
Titanic survivor sells mementos to pay for care – The Associated Press Oct. 16, 2008
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Filed under: FotoFriday | Tags: Flickr.com, FotoFriday, photoshop, tilt shift
The above photo by Flickr photographer Yueh Hua Lee uses an interesting Photoshop technique called “tilt shifting” to make his photograph of Jhongjhu Port look like a miniature. Please click on the photo above for a larger version to get the full effect.
Here’s a link to some other tilt shifted images on Flickr.com.
Here’s an interesting Youtube video that applies the same process.
YouTube – Flip Camera Tilt-Shift Visual Experiments.
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Pentagon Channel reports:
YouTube – Coast Guard retires explosives-search dog
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Filed under: Environment, life, maritime, work | Tags: 2008, Blog Action Day, poverty, shipbreaking
If you write a maritime or any other type of blog and are not participating in Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty, please consider linking to this post. Thanks.
Today is Blog Action Day 2008. This year’s theme is Poverty and in the maritime world you don’t have to think to hard about where poverty resides.
Southern Asia is notorious for it’s shipbreaking industry where governments allow unscrupulous businessmen to purchase dying ships which are then scrapped by teams of poorly trained and equipped workers for a few dollars a day. The conditions, as Bob Simon reports in the following 60 Minutes segment, are about as close to hell on earth as you can get.
The Ship Breakers
Several professional photographers have tackled this subject with increibly powerful images including Edward Burntysky Shipyards, Building and Breaking, Brendan Corr’s End of the Line, and Sebastiao Selgado’s coffee table masterpiece Workers. However, there are also some powerful images posted on Flickr.com that convey the incredibly hazardous conditions which threaten these workers.
September 1, 2008 report from NDTtv.com:
YouTube – Hazards of the Ship Wrecking Trade
Shipbreaking by the International Metalworkers Federation:
YouTube – Shipbreaking
Amazing photo essay Shipbreak: A Biology of Steel by Claudio Cambon
Shipbreaking in Bangladesh website
ILO’s Is There A Decent Way To Break Ships by Paul Bailey
Unfortunately this human and environmental crisis is not going to be solved anytime soon and at least not until first world governments step and take responsibility for the full life (and death) of ships that carry their nation’s goods.
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Filed under: maritime heritage | Tags: maritime heritage, maritime museum, New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is one of my favorite maritime museums. I’ve written about it before as a place that launched my passion for and career in the maritime world. (The World’s Largest Ship Model). Today the museum continues to stir the imagination of future captains like my son Luke (above). It’s always a regular port of call for our family adventures.
Last month the museum appointed James Russell as it’s new president. Most recently Mr. Russell was vice president at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI and prior to that he was at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, RI.
Last week the New Bedford Standard Times published an interview with Mr. Russell about his thoughts about his new job and the future of the museum. Here’s a link to the article: After two weeks on the job, new president of Whaling Museum has only positive impressions (October 12, 2008)
Under the former president, Anne Brengle, who moved on to the Coast Guard Foundation last year, the museum expanded significantly and really became a world class institution. Of course, with growth comes challenges and I’m sure the new president will have his hands full for some time to come.
We wish Mr. Russell good luck and great success in navigating this great museum into it’s next era.
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Filed under: maritime heritage | Tags: Christopher Columbus, Columbus Day, Kermit, Sesame Street
YouTube – Sesame Street News Flash: Christopher Columbus
Happy Columbus Day!