Deploying Hope – The Role of Hospital Ships in the United States Navy

by Jennifer Steinhardt, NMAS Archivist

“Wise and humane management of the patient is the best safeguard against infection.”  Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, certainly knew the difference having a designated hospital made in aiding in the recovery of patients.  Historically, hospital ships helped to fill the need for a hospital to care for the sick and injured in locations where it was difficult or impossible to build a one on land.  While records indicate that hospital ships were possibly utilized by the ancient Greeks and Romans, the United States Navy officially used its first hospital ship during the American Civil War.   Continue reading

Boots on Ice: The U.S. Navy in Antarctica

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

“Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.”[1] – Admiral Richard E. Byrd

From Commander Charles Wilkes early exploration in 1839 to 2019’s Operation Deep Freeze, United States Navy Sailors called upon the “resources dwelling within them, when it came to braving the bitter cold of Antarctica. Continue reading

Holiday Greetings from Aviation Radio Technician 1st Class Gilbert Hotchkiss

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

Aviation Radio Technician 1st Class Gilbert Hotchkiss began his letter to his parents, dated December 16, 1943, with “Dear Mom & Dad, Merry Christmas – in words only, so far.” Sailors like Hotchkiss often weren’t able to travel home for the holidays, but they were able to wish their family and friends “happy holidays,” whether in a telegram during World War II or via email today. Continue reading

Great Lakes Bulletin: The Voice of NSGL for 101 Years

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

For over a century, Navy sailors, civilians, and local residents at or near Naval Station Great Lakes received base and Navy news from the Great Lakes Bulletin. With the rise in popularity of the internet and digital media, “the United States Navy’s Oldest, Continuously Published Base Newspaper” will become a digital-only publication beginning on March 30, 2019.  As part of a look back on the paper’s history, the National Museum of the American Sailor has selected from its archives a few historic headlines from the publication. Continue reading

Keep Them Fit To Fight: The Salvage of Pearl Harbor

By Tricia Runzel, National Museum of the American Sailor Curator

The attack on Pearl Harbor lasted just two hours, but the loss of life, supplies, and ships was staggering. When the smoke cleared, thirteen ships were in various stages of damage and seven ships, as well as a floating dry dock, were sinking or already sunk. Worse still, the attack had killed over 2,000 military personnel, including Navy, Army, and Marines. The human loss could never be repaired, but for a nation entering war, repair and reuse of the ships and materials was paramount. The question was, how? Continue reading

Dress Blues: George G. Koplos, Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class (CB)

By Samantha Belles, National Museum of the American Sailor Collections Manager

The National Museum of the American Sailor’s collections are comprised of numerous artifacts, each telling a unique story of an enlisted Sailor’s career. When taken together, these stories help illuminate just what it was like to be a Sailor in the United States Navy. In particular, uniforms play a key role in helping the museum tell the Navy’s history. Continue reading

Fire Control on Iowa-class Battleships

By Michael Frutig, National Museum of the American Sailor Intern

An Iowa-class battleship was the single most powerful ship ever built for the United States Navy, comprised of 45,000 tons of steel and equipped with the largest guns ever fitted to an American ship. Nine 16-inch guns sat in three-gun turrets; each barrel was capable of firing on its own. These guns could fire a shell that weighed either 1,900 (HE) or 2,700 (AP) pounds a distance of twenty-four miles. Continue reading

Defending the Seas and the Sky

By Justin Hall, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

Much has been written about how the airplane changed naval warfare, however, what did these changes mean for the U.S. sailor during World War II? A significant change due to the aerial threat was the manning of a ship. Prior to the airplane, a ship had to be spotted by another ship before they closed in to engage. Continue reading

Baseball the Navy’s Goodwill Ambassador

By Dan Smaczny, National Museum of the American Sailor Contract Curator

For years the students at Merizo Martyrs School played baseball on a raggedy field in the village of Merizo, Guam. That changed when the NAVFAC Marianas Self-Help Seabees of U.S. Naval Base Guam volunteered their time to refurbish the George Leonard Charfauros Baseball Field in May 2016. Continue reading