Monday, June 29, 2009

Model of USS Nashville (PG-7)

We have recently put on display the latest masterwork of museum volunteer Bob Comet, the steel hulled patrol gunboat USS Nashville (PG-7). Bob spent several hundred hours planning, research, and building the model. He included several little details on the ship such as models of the ship's company and the ship's two mascots.

Launched in the early 1890s, Nashville was the first ever warship built by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Company. This warship filled a critical gap in the Navy's need for vessels capable of patrolling coastal areas and rivers. She served in every major and many of the minor conflicts of the United States between 1893 and 1920s including the Spanish-American War, the Filipino Insurrection, and World War I.
Bob has built several other models for the museum and is currently working on a model of the War of 1812 brig Niagara. He can be seen at work in the museum's gallery most Tuesdays.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flag Day Contest Winners Announced - Congrats Jacob and Leah!

On June 13th and 14th 2009, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum Educators celebrated Flag Day by holding a coloring contest for guests. Participating guests were asked to create a flag based on the original description of our 13-Star American Flag in 1775. We had over 70 participants in two different age categories, and everyone did a fantastic job. But, we had to crown two winners that best exemplified creativity and patriotism. Winners recieved a flag that was flown on the USS Wisconsin! Here they are:

Jacob Claytor (Age 10) Collinsville, TX
Leah Zajac (Age 6) Rochester, MI
Congrats to both of you for a job well done!
- HRNM Education

Thursday, June 11, 2009

USS Maine- Builder's Model

This is the builder's model for the second-class battleship USS Maine, currently on display in the museum's Spanish-American War gallery. The Norfolk-based battleship is famous because it exploded on February 14, 1898, an event that led the United States to declare war on Spain. The term "builder's model" means that the shipyard designers actually built the model as a means of demonstrating the ship's capabilities to naval officers, elected officials, and anyone else responsible for authorizing the ship's construction. A large 3-D model allowed for close-up inspection and detailed critique of a ship before workers even laid the ship's keel.
Model maker finishing up the builder's model of USS Maine (Scientific American image)
On the day the ship exploded, this model was in the main corridor of the Department of War, State, and Navy Building (now called the Eisenhower Office Building). Secretary of the Navy John Long had the flag of the model lowered to half-staff.  Newspapers reported that thousands of mourners visited the model to honor and memorialize the ship's fallen sailors, leaving flowers and other mementos at the base of the model.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

USS Constellation's 18-pounder

A few months ago, the museum acquired on loan from its parent command an 18-pounder cannon used on the frigate USS Constellation. The Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab restored and conserved the weapon before turning it over to us.
The weapon itself was typical of U.S. Navy ordnance in the early 19th century. It weighs over 4,700 pounds. Of note is that it is not an American made weapon. Inscribed on the cannon are the letters "P WG 1798," which are the marks of the British arms dealer Wiggin and Graham. The "P" means that it was intended for merchant ship duty.
The cannon is an important artifact for the upcoming commemoration of the War of 1812. British warships forced Constellation into Norfolk during the war. The ship's company used the frigate's 18-pounders in assisting the Virginia militia defend Craney Island during a major British assault in 1813.
We are currently having a carriage made and hope to have it on display soon.