Saturday, February 13, 2016

Scottish timber to renovate Lord Nelson's HMS Victory

 

HMS VictoryImage copyrightPA

Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Victory is to undergo renovations using timber donated by three estates in Aberdeenshire.

The ship featured in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, which is hailed as one of the most decisive naval battles of the Napoleonic wars.

It lies at the heart of Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.

The estates of Dunecht, Haddo and MacRobert Trust have donated 10 oak trees and 11 elm trees.

The work is part of a 15-year conservation project.

Trees being felledImage copyrightNational Museum of the Royal Navy

HMS Victory - launched in 1767 - was built from more than 5,500 oak trees.

Andrew Baines, head of historic ships at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), said: "Currently the ship comprises a variety of hardwoods from years of maintenance.

"The return to oak is much welcomed.

"It demonstrates the serious archaeological research we are undertaking about the ship's composition, from timber to paint analysis, and our commitment to ensure she remains sustainable for centuries to come.

"Interestingly, we understand that some 30% of the fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar hailed from Scotland, so it feels entirely appropriate that timber from these estates should be playing such a big part in her future security."

In 2013, a 3D map was created of HMS Victory, to better understand how to conserve it in the future.

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NTSB to Launch Second Search for El Faro’s VDR

el faro wreck

The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday said it would launch a second expedition to search for evidence in its investigation of the loss of the cargo ship El Faro, which sank in the Atlantic during a hurricane on October 1, 2015. A key objective of the upcoming mission will be locate the missing voyage […]

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NTSB Urged to Review Anthem of the Seas Cruise

anthem of the seas

The NTSB has been urged to look into the Anthem of the Seas’ nightmare cruise earlier this week into the middle of hurricane-force storm, but the agency will otherwise not likely be launching its own investigation into the incident. In a statement provided to gCaptain, the National Transportation Safety Board said that since the incident occurred in […]

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Quiet Kauai’s wild west



  • Couple at Waimea Canyon overlook. Photo: Tor Johnson, Hawaii Tourism Authority

Photo: Tor Johnson, Hawaii Tourism Authority






Couple at Waimea Canyon overlook.

Despite its name, Wrangler’s Steakhouse in Waimea also offers local fish, lamb from Niihau and the plantation-era lunch box known as a kau kau tin.

Chatting with the server in Hawaiian, our guide from a morning trip to Kauai’s remote Polihale Beach separated his kau kau tin’s small, stacked cans of beef teriyaki, shrimp tempura and rice — a legacy of Japanese sugar cane workers who arrived in the late 1800s. My friend happily tucked into the lamb burger, produced on the nearby island of Niihau, where isolation imposed by generations of a family originally from Scotland has helped preserve the language we were overhearing.

Meanwhile, I tucked into grilled butterfish, a local favorite, while gazing across Wrangler’s cowhide-draped porch at a statue of British explorer Capt. James Cook, who introduced the West to Hawaii here in 1778.

We had unwittingly ordered a Garden Island cultural sampler. With a side of history.

Along with the rather grand canyon that shares Waimea’s name, those same cultures have also contributed to the flavor of Old West on Kauai’s west side: real-life wranglers, towns that time has passed by and the enduring presence of indigenous people here long before white pioneers.

An aerial view of Polihale Beach in Kauai. Photo: Robert Coello, Hawaii Tourism Authority
Photo: Robert Coello, Hawaii Tourism Authority

An aerial view of Polihale Beach in Kauai.

The region renowned for its red dirt may not boast any luxury resorts to track it into, but it has a small-town, big-outdoors appeal that’s refreshingly familiar and foreign all at once.

Cook’s landing

We gained a literal perspective on Waimea and its surroundings by pulling off Kaumualii Highway — the main road, named for Kauai’s last independent king — just before crossing the Waimea River into town.

We turned into Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park, a long (and variously spelled) name for a site with not much to explore, beyond the grass-tufted rock walls of the star-shaped fortification. Built in 1817 by an enterprising German doctor on behalf of an Alaska-based Russian trading company, the fort was quickly abandoned on Russia’s orders and dismantled by 1864.

Still, from its riverside heights, you can view a panorama similar to what greeted Cook’s sailors aboard the HMS Resolution and Discovery. The island of Niihau lies 18 miles to the west, a shadowy low wall on the horizon, while scrubby green pali (cliffs) rise to the east and north, pointing the way to Waimea Canyon and Polihale.

The flatlands below would have held as many or more thatched-roof huts of Hawaiians than the modest homes and buildings we see today. The murky river, whose name means “reddish-brown water,” keeps adding more sediment to the gentle shoreline where Cook sent a lieutenant in search of an anchorage and fresh water.




Fifteen years after that fateful landing (and 14 after Cook’s slaying in a skirmish at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island), Cook’s former midshipman, Capt. George Vancouver, introduced cattle to Hawaii as a gift to King Kamehameha I.

The royal chief put the long-horned beasts under a protective ban (kapu) but by 1830, their destructive proliferation on the Big Island prompted Kamehameha III to invite vaqueros from Spanish California to rein them in. Dubbing these cowboys paniolo for the language they spoke, español, Hawaiians quickly adopted their practices, and adapted some to local ways.

This week’s Waimea Town Celebration, for example, includes classic rodeo events and inductions into the Kauai and Niihau Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the West Kauai Visitor Center in Waimea hosts an exhibit on Kauai and Niihau paniolo every February through June.

It’s a point of pride here that Hawaiian cowboys first rode the range while the Old West was a youngster.

Looking southeast from Russian Fort Elizabeth, you can see the grasslands of Makaweli Ranch, where cattle graze on more than 25,000 acres. Scottish widow and sheep rancher Eliza Sinclair bought the land in 1865, a year after purchasing virtually all of the 72-square-mile island of Niihau from King Kamehameha IV.

The Robinsons, her fifth-generation descendants, now produce grass-fed beef from short-horn Red Angus cattle on their Kauai pastures, and free-range lamb and eland (a type of antelope) from livestock on the “Forbidden Island,” nicknamed for its decades of little or no access to visitors.

Talking the talk

While visitors can see some of Niihau on a pricey helicopter tour that lands on a remote beach, you’ll meet Niihauans, and see more of their culture, everywhere on Kauai’s west side, where many families moved to work for the now-defunct Gay & Robinson Sugar Plantation in Makaweli.

A rainbow arcs over Waimea Plantation Cottages in Kauai. Photo: Waimea Plantation Cottages
Photo: Waimea Plantation Cottages

A rainbow arcs over Waimea Plantation Cottages in Kauai.

Just north of Wrangler’s is the Waimea Hawaiian Church, where Niihauans gather at 9 a.m. Sundays to worship and sing in their native language (everyone is welcome). Eavesdropping on our server’s conversation with our guide at Wrangler’s, Hawaiian cultural scholar Lopaka Bukoski, I hear the distinctive “t” sound that often replaces “k” in the Niihau dialect: They both have roots on the island.

Bukoski, who like many Hawaiians has a profound awareness of his genealogy, turns out to be related to Ilei Beniamina, a Niihau native who advocated for Hawaiian-language education that now flourishes on the west side. Before her death in 2010, Beniamina also perpetuated the island’s tradition of making jewelry from delicate shells (pupu) that can take months to collect, and just as many to craft into lei and necklaces that can sell for thousands of dollars. A few less pricey but still exquisite examples of pupu o Niihau are for sale at Wrangler’s, which has a small gift shop as well as Waimea’s only full-service restaurant.

Niihauans have a reputation for strict church attendance and refraining from alcohol, so plan ahead if you’re going out for dinner on Sundays, when most restaurants are closed, or if you’re looking to down a beer with a meal.

Even the diner called Da Booze Shack has a sign saying it serves “God, not alcohol.”

A helping of history

Wrangler’s is owned by Colleen and Mike Faye, whose Norwegian ancestor helped create another large west side West Side sugar plantation, eventually called Kekaha Sugar Co.

H.P. Faye had come to Kauai at the behest of his uncle, Valdemar Knudsen, who had married into the Sinclair-Robinson family and began planting cane in 1878. With the success of efforts to drain swamp lands and bringing more water down from the mountains, the plantation, like others across the islands, desperately needed more laborers.

That demand brought a supply of workers from Japan, who for decades lived in modest cottages in plantation-owned camps, sharing lunch in kau kau tins along with Filipinos and other ethnic groups.

Kekaha Sugar closed in 2000, and today some of its employees’ former homes are among the 60 cottages and houses of Waimea Plantation Cottages, a sprawling, quiet sanctuary along the dark-sand, driftwood-strewn Waimea Beach. My friend and I enjoyed the view from the large lanai of No. 51, named for Charlie Kaneyama, a photographer for the Kekaha Sugar plantation newspaper who was a big band leader into his 80s.

One of the dwellings at Waimea Plantation Cottages in Kauai. Photo: Waimea Plantation Cottages
Photo: Waimea Plantation Cottages

One of the dwellings at Waimea Plantation Cottages in Kauai.

Also owned by the Fayes, Waimea Plantation Cottages is now managed by a Canadian company, Coast Hotels, which is pouring money into upgraded furnishings, including flat-screen TVs and high-speed Internet, but with no plans to change the low-key ambience.

“You can feel your blood pressure drop as soon as you drive into town,” says Gregg Enright, the hotel’s general manager since January 2015, “and then you arrive here, and it drops again.”

Bukoski, who grew up with “Uncle Mike and Aunty Colleen,” as he calls the Fayes, now works for Enright as the front desk manager at Waimea Plantation Cottages. He remembers when Kekaha was a bustling town with shops and restaurants.

“It can be sad for me to come back home and see it like this,” he says as we drive through what has become a bedroom community for the controversial seed companies tilling fields en route to Polihale. Surfers also rent homes here, as do workers at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, 5 miles northwest.

Called Nohili in Hawaiian, the dunes at Barking Sands have restricted access now, but combined with those of Polihale State Park, they form a broad, 17-mile-long stretch of light golden sand. Bukoski’s energy picks up as we approach the entrance to Polihale, known to Hawaiians as a jumping-off point for spirits headed to the afterworld.

“This is my piko (navel), my source, where my family would put up a tent and live all summer. We’d play in the sun while my parents would drive into work,” he explained.

Community volunteers rebuilt the notoriously bumpy access road here in 2009, so our 20-minute drive is only mildly rattling, with a brief pause to admire a deer darting into the brush. At the end of the unpaved road, dark pockmarked cliffs rise steeply from the warm sand and rocks being pummeled by winter waves.

We won’t go in the water today, but we’ve had a dip into the Old, Old West all the same.



Jeanne Cooper is a former travel editor for The San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail: travel@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Hawaii_Insider



If you go

Getting there

United Airlines flies nonstop daily to Kauai’s Lihue airport from San Francisco, while Alaska Airlines flies nonstop several times a week from Oakland and San Jose. Hawaiian Airlines will offer seasonal nonstop flights to Kauai from Oakland from May 27 through Sept. 5. From Lihue, it’s 25 miles, or about a 40-minute drive, to Waimea.

All addresses below are in Waimea.

Where to stay

Waimea Plantation Cottages: 9400 Kaumualii Hwy., (800) 992-4632, www.facebook.com/waimeaplantationcottages. The sprawling, low-key beachfront resort has one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages (plus a few larger homes) in garden-view, ocean-view and oceanfront categories, so rates range widely as well as seasonally; in March, they’re $169 to $749. All units include full kitchens.

Inn Waimea: 4469 Halepule Road, (808) 652-6852, www.westkauailodging.com. The former parsonage has one room and one suite downstairs with king bed and two suites upstairs with queen bed and sofa sleeper; $135-$150. The inn also manages rentals of newly renovated cabins at Kokee State Park ($59-$119), and four beach and mountain vacation rentals in Waimea and Kekaha ($179-$395).

Where to eat

Wrangler’s Steakhouse: 9852 Kaumualii Hwy., (808) 338-1218. Western-themed full-service restaurant with island beef, lamb and seafood, plus a porch for people-watching.

Gina’s: 9691 Kaumualii Hwy., (808) 338-1731. Hole in the wall with hearty pastries and local-style breakfast and lunch plates.

Ishihara Market: 9894 Kaumualii Hwy., (808) 338-1751. Grocery store and deli with array of poke and plate lunch specialties. It’s open daily, and till 7 p.m. Sunday (when nearly all else is closed).

What to do

West Kauai Visitor Center, 9565 Kaumualii Hwy. (808) 338-1332, www.westkauaivisitorcenter.org. Compact cultural history museum with free 3-hour walking tours on Mondays (reserve by Friday afternoon). March-October, lei-making at 10 a.m. Fridays (reserve a day ahead) by donation.

Polihale, Kokee and Waimea Canyon state parks are within a 30-minute drive of Waimea; Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park is just across the river from town. See http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/kauai for more information.

Ancient Rome: Luxury sunken city where Julius Caesar spent summers was built with imported marble

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Friday, February 12, 2016

A History of the Royal Navy: Empire and Imperialism, by Daniel Owen Spence

 

Royal Navy warships HMS Majestic and HMS Blake

Source: Alamy

Firepower: but Britain’s fleet also wielded a great deal of soft power around the world

Configure



How did a small island on the edge of Europe become a great empire and world power in just over 300 years? The answer given by the American naval officer and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan in 1890 was that sea power had determined Britain’s success: it used the sea in peace to build its strength and in times of war maintained its command of the oceans by the might of the Royal Navy.

Daniel Owen Spence follows Mahan’s analysis but argues that while imperial power did depend on control of the seas, the Royal Navy in its heyday was the result, as well as the cause, of the British Empire. Their fortunes were inextricably linked, because without a powerful navy there could not have been a British Empire, and without the need to protect and expand the empire, Britain would not have developed a navy with a global reach. Indeed, the needs of the navy often decided the shape of imperial expansion.

The Royal Navy, argues Spence, became Britain’s most cherished institution. The nation could and did raise large armies in time of war and win great victories on the European continent, but it was the navy that it relied on for protection and for the projection of its power. National opinion came to see the navy as representative of the ethos of Britain, its character, virtues and ideals. If the navy provided Britain with an ideal image of itself, it also imprinted that image across the world.

With skilful compression, Spence describes the strength and efficiency of a navy that brought Britain victories and enabled it to establish and protect its overseas possessions, to safeguard the sea lanes that were the arteries of the empire, and to suppress piracy and the slave trade. The originality of this study, however, lies in its emphasis on the soft power exerted by the navy in dominions and colonies around the world. Spence describes its cultural and social influence, and the way that it exported the British way of life, institutions, social mores, customs and sports. That sports first developed in Britain are now world sports owes much to the way that naval officers, who found cricket, football and rugby useful in raising the morale of ships’ companies, introduced them to the far corners of the maritime empire. Naval culture permeated the life of colonial ports, from the polite society of Government House to waterfront bars, while local populations came to rely on the navy’s need for ship repairs and maintenance, and often for local seamen.

Spence also examines the navy’s contribution to exploration and science. From the 18th century, its ships were in the vanguard of the charting of the world’s oceans and coastlines, pinpointing rocks, shoals, shallows, currents and other hazards. Its leading role in exploration was emblematic of the spirit of the Enlightenment, which sought to explore and classify geography, geology, botany, zoology and generally to increase scientific knowledge.

As the retreat from empire and from world power took place and parsimonious governments shrank the Royal Navy, it left a considerable legacy in the Commonwealth navies that it had imbued with its traditions, in place names across the globe, and in the societies and cultures of many independent states. As Spence writes, it was “a fundamental force in shaping the modern world”.

A.W. Purdue is visiting professor of history, Northumbria University.




A History of the Royal Navy: Empire and Imperialism
By Daniel Owen Spence
I. B. Tauris, 256pp, £20.00
ISBN 9781780765433
Published 28 January 2016

 

The Death of a Lady: The USS Lexington (CV-2) at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Part III: Battle Report Posted on February 11, 2016 by Daniel



The Death of a Lady: The USS Lexington (CV-2) at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Part III: Battle Report

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Today’s post is written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

This is the third, and final, in a series of posts on the fate of the USS Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 8, 1942.

The previous posts (1) described the Battle of the Coral Sea, included a transcript of portions of the log of the USS Lexington describing the action on May 8 1942, and included images of the entire log for that day and (2) presented a gallery of photographs.

On May 12, 1942, only four days after the battle, Captain Frederick C. Sherman submitted his battle report. That report included a narrative of the events of May 7-8, drew conclusions about the action, and made numerous recommendations.

Lexington.Battle Report.1Lexington.Battle Report.2Lexington.Battle Report.3Lexington.Battle Report.4Lexington.Battle Report.5Lexington.Battle Report.6Lexington.Battle Report.7Lexington.Battle Report.8Lexington.Battle Report.9Lexington.Battle Report.10Lexington.Battle Report.11Lexington.Battle Report.12Lexington.Battle Report.13Lexington.Battle Report.14Lexington.Battle Report.15





In 1947, President Harry Truman presented the Legion of Merit to now-Vice Admiral Sherman. The citation read, in part:

For exceptionally meritorious conduct . . . as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. LEXINGTON during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 7-8, 1942. A skilled and resourceful leader, Vice Admiral (then Captain) Sherman directed his Air Squadrons in two daring attacks on enemy carriers and succeeded in sinking one and damaging or probably destroying another. . . . When enemy dive bombers and torpedo planes staged a fierce counterattack, Vice Admiral Sherman handled his ship with superb seamanship, avoiding many torpedoes and bombs. Later when an explosion made it necessary to abandon ship, he calmly conducted the orderly disembarkation of more than 2700 survivors who were subsequently rescued by accompanying vessels of the Task Force. . . .


Source: The battle report comes from: LEXINGTON, Serial 0100, May 15, 1942, World War II Action and Operational Reports (NAID 305236), Record Group 38: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. The text of the citation comes from Board of Decorations and Medals Alphabetical Awards Citation Files, 1920-1970, Entry UD-WW-85, (NAID 599836), Record Group 428: General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1947- .

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Inspection of the VA Regional Office Oakland, California

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) has 56 VA Regional Offices (VAROs) and a Veterans Service Center in Wyoming that process disability claims and provide services to veterans. In October 2015, we evaluated the Oakland VARO to see how well it accomplishes this mission. We sampled claims that we considered at increased risk of processing errors. These results do not represent the accuracy of all disability claims processing at this VARO. The Oakland VARO did not consistently process one of the three types of disability claims we reviewed. Overall, staff did not accurately process 8 of 70 disability claims (11 percent) reviewed. As a result, 20 improper monthly payments were made to 3 veterans totaling approximately $17,100. Staff incorrectly processed 4 of 30 temporary 100 percent disability evaluation cases we reviewed; however, we did not identify a systemic trend. These results showed improvement from our previous inspection in 2012, where 16 of 30 contained processing inaccuracies. Results from our current inspection also showed claims processing staff accurately processed all 30 traumatic brain injury claims—a significant improvement from our 2012 inspection, where 17 of the 30 claims sampled contained errors. Oakland VARO staff incorrectly processed 4 of 10 special monthly compensation (SMC) claims, but followed VBA’s policy for establishing dates of claim in 29 of the 30 claims we reviewed. Furthermore, staff did not correctly process, or delayed processing, 3 of 30 benefits reductions cases; however, we did not identify a systemic trend. We recommended the Oakland VARO Director conduct a review of the 58 temporary 100 percent disability evaluations remaining from the inspection universe. We also recommended the Director implement a plan to ensure staff comply with the second signature requirements for higher-level SMC claims. Furthermore, we recommended the Acting Under Secretary for Benefits ensure that the approved training materials for higher levels of SMC are updated and accurate. The Acting Under Secretary for Benefits and VARO Director concurred with our recommendations. Management’s planned actions are responsive and we will follow up as required.




Coast Guard to Investigate Cruise Ship’s Wild Ride into Hurricane-Force Storm

Anthem of the Seas. Photo: Meyer Werft

The U.S. Coast Guard says it will inspect the storm-damaged Royal Caribbean cruise ship Anthem of the Seas upon its scheduled return to New York Harbor Wednesday evening following a nightmare cruise into a hurricane force storm off Cape Hatteras. Once the vessel docks in New Jersey, a team of inspectors from the Coast Guard […]

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18th Century Royal Navy Frigate





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Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Death of a Lady: The USS Lexington (CV-2) at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Part II: Photographs

The previous post described the Battle of the Coral Sea, included a transcript of portions of the log of the USS Lexington describing the action on May 8 1942, and included images of the entire log for that day.
The following photographs were taken by unidentified Navy photographers during the May 8 action.  They provide a graphic portrayal of the events described in the Log.
Lexington.Photo.1.FINAL
The USS Lexington after the initial torpedo hits. You can see a Japanese torpedo plane approaching from the left. The smoke and spay on the water behind the plane is from anti-aircraft fire.
Lexington.Photo.2.FINAL
Not all the Japanese planes succeeded in getting through to their targets.
Lexington.Photo.3.FINAL
Deck of the Lexington sometime after 1400 hours by which time all planes had been landed.
Lexington.Photo.4.FINAL
The #2 gun position after a bomb hit. When this picture was taken the resulting fire had been extinguished.
Lexington.Photo.5.FINAL
About 1600 hours. Excess personnel are disembarking in boats and to life rafts. Alongside in the smoke is the USS Morris taking off sick and wounded.
Lexington.Photo.6.FINAL
Boats with excess crew and wounded moving away from the Lexington.
Lexington.Photo.7.FINAL
Crew leaving the Lexington. USS Morris taking off sick and wounded on the starboard side and USS Anderson(?) taking off crew from port side.
Lexington.Photo.8.FINAL
Excess crew leaving the ship. A small explosion has just taken place amidships.
Lexington.Photo.9.FINAL
A big explosion at about 1737 hours. Debris can be seen hitting the water.
Lexington.Photo.10.FINAL
The Lexington burning after the 1737 hours explosion.
Lexington.Photo.11.FINAL
Lexington after all hands had abandoned ship. Fires on deck and in superstructure.
In his battle report, Captain Sherman wrote:
The picture of the burning and doomed ship was a magnificent but sad sight.  The ship and crew had performed gloriously and it seemed too bad that she had to perish in her hour of victory. But she went to a glorious end, more fitting than the usual fate of the eventual scrap heap or succumbing to the perils of the sea.  She went down in battle, after a glorious victory for our forces in which the LEXINGTON and her air group played so conspicuous a part.
Despite the damage suffered by the Lexington, only about 216 of her crew died; about 2735 survived.  All losses were the result of air combat of the air group or torpedo and bomb hits and fire on board; no member of the crew drowned during evacuation of the ship.
NEXT: Battle Report

Source: The photographs are enclosures to LEXINGTON, Serial 0100, May 15, 1942,World War II Action and Operational Reports (NAID 305236), Record Group 38: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

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