Friday, September 2, 2011

Booty: WTC Ship Update

About a year ago Triple P featured a post about the remains of an 18th century ship found during the ongoing construction work at the former World Trade Center site in New York City. Not only was the ship’s origin an intriguing mystery but other questions arose. Why was it in the spot it was found; and what about all those shoes?

Though none of those questions have yet been answered, more of the ship has been excavated and brought into the light of day. As the picture above, via A Blog About History on Facebook, shows, the full stern of the vessel is now above ground. National Geographic online now has pictures of the ship and of artifacts found nearby.

The area was once a harbor for merchant vessels running up and down the Hudson River. This has led experts to believe that the find was what the brief article at Nat Geo calls a “Hudson River sloop”. She would have been among the merchants who transported goods and people from the frontier of eastern New York State and the Ohio Territory into the city and back out again. As noted in the previous post, she did have evidence of warm water parasites in her hull that may indicate she strayed as far as the Caribbean. The ship was most probably sunk in place to bolster up a new levee or extend livable space in the area.

A new theory, proposed in the Nat Geo article, imagines that the ship was a British Troop carrier during the Revolution. Though the article cleverly tries to imply that duty ferrying enemy troops was the reason she was “deliberately sunk”, such is the stuff of Mel Gibson movies. If she had become property of the U.S. and was still useful she would have been – like any prize of war – put to work for her new owners. Once she was no longer seaworthy, she would have been broken up for parts or utilized for some other purpose, as she obviously was in this case.

Click over and check out the slideshow, Brethren; I can promise it will be worth your while.


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! Cool pictures. I agree with you on the "British Troop carrier" silliness.

Pauline said...

The British troop carrier implication really didn't click with me until I read some of the comments. You're right, of course; silliness.

Capt. John Swallow said...

Thanks for the update on this - and aye, the US was noted for it's "reuse" o' ships everywhere...

Have a look at the story o' The Hamilton & The Scourge - two merchant ships "commandeered" by the US during the War of 1812 and retrofitted (poorly) as warships...which capsized & sank due to stupidity and paranoia in Lake Ontario not 20 minutes from our port! There they lie, with almost all hands, perfectly intact! A young seaman, Ned Myers, lept off the ship as it were sinking, swam for his life, was rescued and managed to survive - he subsequently told the entire story to James Fennimore Cooper who whote a book called "Ned Myers, or A Life Before The Mast" (available as a free eBook on Amazon). These are the only preserverd 1812 "warships" in the world - and probably two of the most intact "wrecks" in the world.
Here's some video of the wrecks;
"Warships Down"

Pauline said...

Thankee indeed, Captain, for all the great info. We may sink our ships out of blind stupidity, but it's a rare ship anywhere that is sunk for spite.

Capt. John Swallow said...

Actually, interesting ye put it that way - spite. It certainly puts a cap on all the "if we can't have/use it, ye can't either" behaviour that is typical during wartime...burning crops, villages, etc. Why not ships?

It also proves just how the baser emotions always come back to haunt ye in the end!