Vessel Launches: Heckin Good Images

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A crowd and raised platform for the sponsor and guests are in front of a decorated vessel about to be christened.
Mariners’ Museum Collection P0001.003/01-#PB5730

The Mariners’ Museum and Park has glorious photographs in its collections, of course, many of them maritime. Despite the number of battle-at-sea images, many of the most striking visuals are vessel launches.

Transferring a vessel to water is a military tradition seen as a public celebration or even a blessing of sorts. Some of these images are so strong that you can practically feel the drama or the excitement of the crowds. There is power in a majestic vessel seen juxtaposed against the miniature people or in images capturing the ceremonial christening of launching a bottle against a hull.   Read more

Sketching History

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The bow of the ship takes form behind a thin veil of scaffolding. From The Mariners' Museum Collection.

Hello readers and welcome back to the Library blog! I have a special treat for you today: a glimpse at the birth of the fastest ocean liner ever built, the SS United States! Launched in 1952, the United States was at that time the largest passenger ship ever constructed in the United States.  She served in a place of honor as her namesake nation’s crown jewel for 17 years. Although retired in 1969 and currently in a state of disrepair, the United States deserves recognition for not just the people it ferried across the Atlantic, but for the engineering prowess and detailed specialization with which it fulfilled its role.

In a series of black and white pencil sketches, the artist C. E. Parkhurst captures the construction process of the United States as each piece of her frame – funnel, keel, stern, bow and propeller shaft – slowly comes into being. The pieces are shown individually at first, as each sketch focuses on a different aspect of the ship’s construction. By just looking at the sketch out of context, the individual pieces seem rather commonplace. It’s when one gets to the last of his sketches that one can see the pieces assembled into the whole, with the now-recognizable ship standing ready to sail into history.   Read more