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Monday, June 21, 2021

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Dutch West India Company

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on June 11, 2010

The Dutch West India Company was chartered by a group of Dutch merchants in 1621. It was modeled on the better-known Dutch East India Company. The trade monopoly included West Africa between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope and the New World.

Thames Barrier

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on June 8, 2010

The Thames Barrier is a 1,710-foot wide movable flood control barrier across the River Thames just downstream from central London. After a ten-year construction period, it was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 8, 1984.

Navassa Island

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on June 4, 2010

Navassa Island is a small uninhabited island in the Jamaica Channel of the Caribbean Sea about 90 nautical miles south of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, about 30 nautical miles west of Haiti, and about 60 nautical miles northeast of Jamaica. It is an unorganized…

Phoenicia

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on June 1, 2010

Phoenicia, centered in what is now Lebanon, was the first great maritime trading culture of the western world. It held sway from approximately 1200 BC to approximately 540 BC. Loosely comprised of city-states, including Byblos, Sidon, and Tyre, the Phoenicians were traders and mariners.

Rogue waves

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 28, 2010

Scientists for centuries scoffed at mariners who claimed to have encountered huge waves (80 feet or greater in height) at sea. Conventional analysis showed that such wave heights could only be generated by a tsunami and then only as it approached shallow water.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 25, 2010

Alexander von Humboldt was one of the most famous scientists and explorers of the nineteenth century. Today, he is best known for the Humboldt Current off the west coast of South America (which he was the first to fully appreciate and document)…

Portolan charts

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 21, 2010

The word portolan is derived from an Italian term meaning “related to a port or harbor”. The portolan chart provided a realistic description of harbors and coastlines within the covered area. They were particularly prevalent in Italy, Spain, and Portugal from the 1300’s through the 1500’s.

Admiral Zheng He (1371-1433)

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 18, 2010

Zheng He was a Muslim from Yunnan Province in southern China. As a youth, he was captured by forces of the Imperial Army, made a eunuch, and sent to the Imperial court. He rose to become a trusted adviser to the Yongle Emperor. In 1405, the…

St. Lawrence Seaway

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 14, 2010

The St. Lawrence Seaway is a system of locks, canals, and channels providing a connection for ocean-going ships between the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Small vessels had historically traveled this route, although portage was often required around rapids…

Dhow

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 11, 2010

The classic dhow is a traditional Arab sailing vessel with one or more lateen sails. It has been used for centuries to transport cargo and passengers on waters abutting the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Prince…

Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 7, 2010

The AUV is part of the group of unmanned underwater vehicles that includes the better-known remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). The difference is that the AUV lacks the umbilical cord found trailing behind the ROV. Rather, the AUV…

Suez Canal

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on May 4, 2010

The Suez Canal is the sea-level waterway from Port Said on the Mediterranean to the city of Suez on the Red Sea. It is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority of Egypt. The canal is 119 miles long. There is generally a very modest current flowing from south to north…

Quasi-War with France (1796-1800)

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 30, 2010

While France was a major, and vital, ally of the United States during the Revolutionary War, circumstances changed drastically after the conflict ended. In 1794, France had its own revolution and the government that had supported the United States was toppled.

Red Sea Lights

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 27, 2010

The Red Sea lights were not communist conspiracies to put special luminaries at maritime locations. Rather, it represented an international agreement to defray the cost of maintaining several lighthouses in the Red Sea. At the southern end of the Red Sea…

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645)

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 23, 2010

Hugo Grotius, also known as Huig de Groot, was a noted Dutch jurist and philosopher during the heyday of the Dutch Republic, which the Dutch East India Company was making a fortune trading spices and other goods between the Orient and Europe.

Turkish Straits

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 20, 2010

The Turkish Straits consist of two narrow straits in northwestern Turkey, the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, and the Sea of Marmara that connects them. The Turkish Straits lie between the Black Sea to the east and the Aegean Sea, which is a region of the much larger Mediterranean Sea.

US Army Vessels

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 16, 2010

The US Navy operates the world’s largest navy fleet. The US Coast Guard operates the world’s largest coast guard fleet. Unbeknownst to many, the United States Army operates what is undoubtedly the world’s largest fleet of army vessels. The Army has operated its own vessels since its founding…

International Ice Patrol

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 13, 2010

Late on the evening of April 14, 1912, the ocean liner RMS Titanic rammed an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean near the Grand Banks. The ship sank in the early hours of April 15, with a loss of 1,500 of its 2,224 passengers and crew. This…

Sextant

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 9, 2010

A sextant is an instrument used to measure the angle between any two visible objects. Its primary use is to determine the angle between a celestial object and the horizon – known as the altitude of object. Making this measurement is known as taking a sight or shooting the object.

USCG Districts

Posted to Maritime Musings (by Dennis Bryant) on April 6, 2010

The US Coast Guard adopted the concept of geographic districts when it absorbed the US Lighthouse Service in 1939. Previously, it had no formal segmentation of its chain of command based on geography. Rather, the chain of command was grouped around function.