November 2020 Issue of IJMH

The November 2020 issue of IJMH has been published and is available at this link.

The issue includes:

Editorial, David J. Starkey, Martin Wilcox
Maritime cultural encounters and consumerism of turtles and manatees: An environmental history of the Caribbean, Lynn B. Harris
Georgian Liverpool’s northern whaling trade reconsidered: Ranking, significance and geography, Simon Hill
The pirates of the Defensor de Pedro (1828–30) and the sanitisation of a pirate legend, Sarah Craze, Richard Pennell
Natural, artificial or imported? Ice supplies for the German distant-water fisheries as an example of renewable vs. fossil-fuel based supplies, Ingo Heidbrink
The curious case of the ‘Steam Yacht’ Caroline: An incident from the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, Roger Dence
Allied blockade in the Mid-East Atlantic during the First World War: cruisers against commerce-raiders, Javier Ponce
Oil transportation: Eni’s fleet, Italian ports and pipelines, 1950-1980, Ilaria Suffia, Andrea Maria Locatelli, Maurizio Romano
Playing maritime capital: The Baltic Sea in the touristic representations of St. Petersburg, Alexei Kraikovski, Nikita Bogachev, Ivanna Lomakina
British Commission for Maritime History: MA Prize
‘Beyond the limit of human endurance’: The stolen Manx history of Dunkirk, David Kneale
Research Notes
The development of maritime radar. Part 1: Before the Second World War, Dimov Stojce Ilcev
The development of maritime radar. Part 2: Since 1939, Dimov Stojce Ilcev

World’s largest historic and traditional fleet threatened?

“As bankruptcy looms for many skippers, an ‘irreplaceable’ part of the Netherlands’ maritime heritage is at risk”.

Alarming headlines in the national and international media, like this one in the Guardian of July 15, focus on the dramatic consequences of Covid-19 for Dutch maritime heritage. Over the past 50 years a fleet of a few thousand historic vessels has been preserved by private owners. About ten percent has been converted into charter vessels, sailing with groups in inland and coastal waters. About one third of this group is certified to sail the high seas. Roughly two dozen is working truly globally, from the NW passage to Antarctic waters.

Most of the historic ships are used as sailing houseboats, the smaller as yachts.

The direct threat of Covid-19 concerns the ten percent, the charter fleet. These vessels simply do not fit in to what has become as familiar as it is notorious in the past few months, the “one and a half metres society”. Until June vessels were not allowed to sail with passengers. The market collapsed. It is estimated that the fleet will miss 70 to 80 percent of its turnover in 2020. Nobody knows whether the specific sailing charter market will recover in 2021.

The short-term consequences for The short-term consequences for individual skipper-owners are dramatic. Already some of them are facing bankruptcy. But, in a wider perspective, the situation is even much more serious. With the establishment of the professional charter fleet in the past decades an associated infrastructure has been developed which is vital for the total heritage fleet. Now, not only the charter agencies or the specialised classification organizations are in crisis, but small scale businesses like shipyards, sailmakers, leeboard, mast and block makers are heavily dependent on the charter fleet. These professionally used ships are easily making ten to twenty times the number of sailing days the other historic vessels made.

The real problem is a matter of scale. If the number of professionally used sailing ships drops under a certain limit, the companies of the infrastructure will lose their economic base. That will not only affect the charter vessels, but the total Dutch heritage fleet.

Nobody knows yet what that limit is. Let us hope we never find out.

Frits Loomeijer

The 2019 North Atlantic Fisheries History conference

Re-visiting Fisheries History – Re-visiting Iceland – The North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) has returned to Iceland

The 2019 North Atlantic Fisheries History conference organized by the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) took place Oct 17,18, 2019 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Co-organized by Guðmundur Jonsson, University of Iceland, and Ingo Heidbrink, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, it was a successful return to the country where the work of the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) has begun. The topic of the conference‚ ‘Re-Visiting Fisheries History – Re-visiting Iceland’ was mainly chosen to stimulate discussion about recent historiography and more importantly contemporary fisheries history – or in other words, what has happened after the Cod-Wars.

The 15 papers presented by colleagues from seven nations around the North Atlantic clearly demonstrated that there is fisheries history beyond the Cod Wars and that the dramatic effects of the changes within the international distant water fisheries on the fisheries, technology, port cities, nation states, economies, societies, identities, etc. provide rich and plentiful topics for historical research of major societal relevance. One of those fisheries historians and a participant of a number of previous NAFHA conferences, who is well recognized for his research contributions in this field, opened the conference with his keynote paper, ‘The Cod Wars are not over. The use and abuse of the past in present debates’. Unfortunately, shortly after being promoted to Professor at the University of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson got elected President of Iceland and consequently ‘needed to take a sabbatical from academia’. But fortunately it seems that this sabbatical still provides some room for fisheries history which became obvious during the reception at Bessastaðir, the official residence of the Icelandic President (or the Icelandic White House).

Ingo Heidbrink

1852 Baltic Hull Shipwreck Identified

A well preserved ship wreck discovered by Finnish diver Jerry Wilhelmsson four years ago in shallow water off the Aland Islands has been identified as ‘The Regard’, a ship from Hull, which disappeared 168 years ago en route for St Petersburg.

Dr Robb Robinson, from the Blaydes Maritime Centre, The University of Hull, played a key role in the identification of the vessel.


Online Scottish Arctic whaling data set

Chesley W. Sanger, Professor emeritus at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, reports that the dataset “Scottish Arctic Whaling (1750-WWI”: A Digitized Statistical Profile” is now available on the web site.

The information originally hand copied from primary documents almost a half century ago is now housed in MUN’s Maritime History Archive, St. John’s, NL, and was unfortunately difficult to access. The data were the basis of Professor Sanger’s Ph. D thesis (1985), 16 journal articles (1980-2013), and a summary book, “Scottish Arctic Whaling” (Edinburgh: John Donald 2016). These publications, especially the book, generated considerable interest in this little known but important Scottish industry. It was thus decided to digitize details of the 3,641 individual voyages fitted out by Scottish entrepreneurs.

This data set was the structural framework for the following research findings: Vessels clearing variously from 16 Scottish ports between 1750 and WWI returned with almost 20,000 bowhead whales and 4,000,000 harp seals. And they did so under almost unimaginably demanding and hazardous conditions. More than 110 ships were lost, while others were often entrapped within the pack-ice, causing the whale men to suffer starvation, disease, scurvy, frostbite and death. In 1836, alone, more than 100 whalers on the Advice and Thomas, Dundee, and Dee of Aberdeen perished at Davis Strait.

IMHA Vice President Amélia Polónia is awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa by Université Bretagne Sud

Amélia Polónia, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto (FLUP), received, on February 10, in the French city of Vannes, the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University Bretagne Sud (UBS).

“As in Portugal, the title of Doctor Honoris Causa is one of the most prestigious distinctions awarded by French universities. In this case, however, it has the particularity of being attributed only to “personalities of foreign nationality” who are distinguished by “eminent services rendered to science, letters or the arts, to France or to the University”.

With almost 40 years of connection – 35 of which as a teacher – to FLUP, Amélia Polónia …thus sees internationally recognized a path of excellence in teaching and research in the area of Modern History. Specialist in the History of the Portuguese Overseas Expansion and History of European Colonization, she is widely recognized for her work in the fields of Colonial Studies, Port History or Gender Studies.”

The Honoris Causa PhD award ceremony took place at the Faculty of Law, Economic Sciences and Management at UBS, and was attended by the director of FLUP, Fernanda Ribeiro.