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.

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