“In the land of Submarines”: History of Nishimura 3746

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The Mariners' Museum and Park
Nishimura 3746 in storage, 2020.

Does anyone else look at this submarine and think of the Beatles, or is it just me? If we painted it, I think it could definitely pass for a (less artsy) version of the Yellow Submarine.  

Well, soon, this object is going to undergo a pretty big move and we are majorly excited about it. To that end, we have been doing a lot of prep work to get the object ready, and we wanted to share it with you!   Read more

A Look at the Unknown and Hope for the Future: The Artwork of Shipyard and Museum Staff Artist Thomas C. Skinner

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CRUISER USS PORTSMOUTH AT PIER, oil on canvas 1945, by THOMAS C. SKINNER 1956.47.04

Thomas Catlett Skinner’s office was a loft overlooking the dry dock at the Newport News shipyard.  Frequently he would gather his tools and wander through the yard, stopping to observe and document the many scenes unfolding before him.  A vat of molten steel.  Red hot metal beams being bent into shape.  Yards of canvas transformed into sails.  The welcome respite of a lunch break.  The intensity of a foreman’s face.  A ship being refitted for the next voyage.  Scenes that were rarely seen by anyone outside the shipyard and activities that many people never knew existed.

Skinner’s tools were paint, pencils, canvas and paper.  His loft workspace shook with the unending pounding from riveting hammers and vibrations from heavy machinery.  And when he set up his easel beside the piers, dry docks and workers, he was surrounded by noise and dirt and exposed to the fickleness of the weather.   Yet despite the adversity, he created amazing drawings and paintings that transport the viewer back in time.  His body of work contains striking, colorful images that make it easy to imagine all the noises in the shipyard, the sound and feeling of waves acting on a ship and the harsh sounds of battle. Today, as part of our 90th Anniversary celebration, we take a look at the Mariners’ Museum staff artist, Thomas Skinner, some of his work, and its importance.   Read more

OMG! WWII WACs @ TMM?

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PFC Beatrice Buck, Pvt. Clara Duff, and Pvt. Vivian Stonebreaker greet returning soldiers as their ship docks. Taken at Pier 6, HRPE, Newport News, VA.

Too many acronyms? There’s no such thing!

Over the past three years, our archival staff, with the support of several catalogers and the Digital Services department, have been working diligently on the Hidden Collections Grant sponsored by The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). This grant allowed us to catalog and digitize items that have been sitting in storage for years. Through the process, we discovered many exciting images we never knew we possessed. One of my favorite collections was a series from the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation (HRPE) during World War II.   Read more

Das Kamera

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Eastman Kodak 35mm Submarine Periscope Camera Mark I. Catalog #: 2001.0038.000001

From Memorial Day until Labor Day, The Mariners’ Museum is hosting $1 admission for every visitor. As part of our offerings, we are getting artifacts that aren’t normally on display out of their storage spaces to share with our visitors. I’ll admit that quite a few of my colleagues far outpace my maritime knowledge. If there is something I know, however, it is cameras. I did some digging into the collection and was surprised and thrilled to find something that falls into my area of expertise.

This is an Eastman Kodak 35mm Submarine Periscope Camera Mark I. Which might well be the longest title ever assigned to a camera. Before this little beauty came along, submariners were restricted to holding regular cameras up to their periscope lens, taking a photo and hoping for the best. It rarely, if ever, worked as planned.   Read more

U-85 Lifejacket

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USS Roper, found on Navsource.org

On April 13, 1942 the destroyer USS Roper (DD-147) spotted the Type VIIB U-boat, U-85, sitting in shallow water off the coast of North Carolina.

After receiving heavy fire from Roper, the captain of U-85 scuttled the U-boat and the crew abandoned ship.  Roper dropped eleven depth charges after U-85 was abandoned, believing that other U-boats were nearby, killing the entire of crew of U-85.   Read more