Friday, December 7, 2012

From Camden to Pearl Harbor and Beyond

December 7, 1941 was the date Franklin Delano Roosevelt deemed would "live in infamy." Seventy-one years later we live in a much changed world, yet we certainly do not forget the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that fateful day. Today the museum joins with people throughout the nation in commemorating the tragic event that so shockingly took the lives of thousands and led the United States directly into World War II. Of course, many of those lost were crew members of two battleships built here in Camden: the Utah and the Oklahoma. Both ships and their crew members who perished are memorialized at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument's site in Hawaii. More information about the national monument can be found by clicking here.
The Utah as she left Camden in December of 1909. Photo from
The Phoenix at Pearl Harbor. Photo from 

Another Camden-built ship moored at Pearl Harbor fared much better than the ill-fated Utah and Oklahoma. That ship was the light cruiser named the Phoenix

You can see the fortunate Phoenix steaming past the battleships unharmed in a YouTube video by clicking here.

While she escaped harm in Pearl Harbor, she seemed somehow destined for destruction in battle. After being sold to Argentina and renamed the General Belgrano, she was sunk by a British submarine's torpedo in 1982 during the Falkland's War. To learn more about the Phoenix, visit the Naval Historical Center's webpage here.

We honor all of those affected by the attack on Pearl Harbor seventy-one years ago today. Although it was certainly a tragic day, it is also a reminder of Camden's proud shipbuilding heritage and its place of importance in our nation's history.

Monday, November 19, 2012

CSMM + RCN = Interesting Connections

As those famously humorous Pythons from across the pond have said, "And now for something completely different!" What was it that we thought our blog readers would "wheely" like to read about? Why it's one of our favorite artifacts: a ship's wheel that is more than a century old!

Just like the comedic troupe, the wheel can trace its origins back to Britain, where the ship called the Niobe was built and then commissioned in 1898. From there, she sailed westward in 1910 to her new home in Canada where she became one of the first two warships of the Royal Canadian Navy. There she was re-commissioned as the HMCS Niobe. 

The ship was only in service for ten years, largely due to the fact that she and her crew had the misfortune of being docked in Halifax when the famous Halifax Harbor Explosion occurred in 1917. Almost two thousand people in the area were killed, including many of the Niobe's crew. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (part of the Nova Scotia Museum) has more information about the explosion on their website, as well as a link to digitized images of the "Remembrance Book" of those killed in the explosion. Below is an example of one of the pages that lists Niobe crew fatalities. Also check out the MMA's "Halifax Explosion" webpage for more interesting insight into the tragic event.

The Canadian War Museum's website also has some great information about Canadian Naval history. Check out their "Objects and Photographs" page for photos of the Niobe, her crew and more. That museum displays the ship's wheel from the Rainbow. She's the ship that shares the Niobe's distinction as being one of the first two ships of the Royal Canadian Navy.

How then did the Niobe wheel end up in the Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum? After her somewhat short career in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Niobe was towed to Philadelphia in 1920 and broken up for scrap in 1922. The Merchantville Country Club acquired the wheel and kept it in their clubhouse until 2010, when it was then loaned to our museum for permanent display. One of our own very dedicated board members, Frank Foord took on the task of building a stand for the Niobe wheel and will be working on completing the esthetic details soon. Michael Lang, Larry Coslow, Kevin Castagnola, and the folks at Urban BoatWorks and Americorps were also instrumental in what Mr. Foord calls the "trucking and manhandling logistics." We appreciate all of their efforts!

Mr. Foord has a special connection to the Niobe wheel as well as maritime history, as he too served in the Royal Canadian Navy! We truly appreciate the time and effort Mr. Foord has spent on the acquisition of the wheel and the construction of its stand. We look forward to the day when the museum's own construction is complete and the Niobe wheel has a permanent place of honor for all to come and see!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Frankenstorms & Field Houses

Spooky Sandy

It's taken a bit of time to get back in action on this blog but we're happy to say that we've all made it through the stormy weather of late! This next blog was due to be about a very special artifact the museum acquired some time ago but I thought it would be a terrible oversight if a Maritime Museum blog neglected to mention Hurricane Sandy and her devastating effects on our beloved coastline, countless properties, and our state in general. The museum itself fared well and we extend our hopes and best wishes that all of CSMM's friends are doing well after such a tumultuous couple of weeks. Sarah, a museum volunteer, and Kim, our intern, both have family members who are displaced from Sandy's destruction. In addition, Sarah's fiancee has been deployed to the coast since the storm hit to aid in recovery efforts.
Water line and muck left by Sandy
 Kim was able to go to Long Beach Island on Monday when they allowed homeowners to "grab and go." Fortunately her own vacation home there is just fine, yet her mother's just up the street took a beating from Sandy. I've included a few pictures to give you an idea of what so many homeowners there are dealing with. There are plenty of options for helping people affected by Sandy. We encourage our friends to find one to their liking and lend a helping hand, no matter how big or small the effort.

The view from the inside

Field House Dedication

In much happier news, the Michael J. Doyle Field House Dedication will take place this Sunday, November 11! Details can be found here:

In addition to the info you'll find on the webpage here's some more pertinent info:

1) All are welcome, we just ask that you please RSVP. The event is more adult oriented although some children are involved, and so....
2) Before the event, there will be a mini-parade down Jasper, up Fourth, up Ferry and over to the STAR
3) During the event, there will be horse and buggy rides from Heart of Camden's parking lot on Broadway
4) And Sonny Hill, who will have Heart of Camden's Nick Barba on his show on Sunday morning, is bringing 30 Sixers tickets for MONDAY's game to the event.

Finally, the gym will be closed after Thursday's activities for this event. It will reopen with 6am yoga on Monday morning.

Well, after last night's snow, we hope that Mother Nature decides to take a little rest. Stay tuned for the next blog... We sure you'll "wheely" enjoy it!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Third Annual Fishing Derby

What a catch!
The Third Annual CSMM Fishing Derby was held this past Saturday and it was a great success! Over eighty kids participated and we had three trophy winners, as well as two additional prizes for fish caught. Twelve rods and reels were also raffled off for the kids. One proud fisher hauled in a 2.5 pound catfish, captivating the kids in the crowd! They all enjoyed watching it swim in the tank before it was released back to its home in the Delaware.

Our winning fisher-kids were: Tyann Thomas of Urban Promise for the longest fish, Franklin Tran of Sacred Heart for the first fish caught, and Yarimar Santiago of Urban Promise for the heaviest fish. Additional catches were reeled in by Yeily Betancourt of Sacred Heart and Xavier Ruiz from Urban Promise. Of course there's always "the one that got away," but luckily for Adeja Rice of Urban Promise, there were witnesses to confirm her fish tale!

The derby, which involves Charles Bay's Youth Instructional Team of the Delaware River Fishermen's Association, has grown over the years and is now the Association's largest youth fishing event. Many thanks to Charles and the DRFA for their time, the trophies and the fish weigh-in.
Youth Instructional Team of DRFA
Also, special thanks to Jim Cummings and all the good folks at the Urban Promise Day Camps for coming out and doing such a great job!

We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of our sponsors and contributors: Andy Krikun and his crew from the CCMUA for the food, drink, and t-shirts, Fred Lenz of the South Jersey Bass Club and Roxann Coleman of Pure Fishing Inc. for much donated equipment, and Tim Schenk and the kids from the Sacred Heart School.

This was the first year that the Derby was run as a fundraising event and because of its success in this regard, it will continue to be a fundraiser in the future. Greatly appreciated financial support was provided by Kevin Castagnola and the South Jersey Port Corporation, Camden Iron & Metal, American Transport, Camden Yards Steel, Camden International Commodities Terminal, A.P. Construction, John Bantivoglio, William Lang Sr., Marilyn Roze, BRS Services, William Judd D.M.D., Bill Leatherbee of Leatherbee & Associates, and Stephen Richter. Additional contributions continue to come in and all involved with the museum express our gratitude to each and every donor.

Mayor Dana Redd was unable to attend but she sent along her congratulations and expressed an enthusiastic interest to be with us for next year's event. With this third fishing derby in the books as both a fun and educational day, we can look ahead to the fourth with confidence that it will be even better!

For more pictures of the event, please visit the CSMM Flickr Photostream.

For a really fun peek at the event, please check out Brian Newhall's wonderful video below!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Early Fall Happenings

Things have been busy here at the Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum! From artifact donations to renovations and everything in between, the museum is transforming and progressing every day. Thanks to some generous individuals, the museum has acquired some new and interesting artifact donations. One such donation is a century old presentation book picturing vessels built at Cramp’s Shipyard in Philadelphia.
We also received ephemera in the form of launching, christening, and commissioning programs from ships including the U.S.S. New Jersey, Bremerton, Guam, Alaska, Princeton, Curtiss, Valley Forge, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago and Antietam. Most of these ships were commissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard but many were built by the New York Shipbuilding Company in Camden.
These NY Shipbuilding vessels include the Bremerton, Guam, Alaska, and Curtiss. Although the Princeton honored here in 1945 was built in Philadelphia, descriptions of the second and third Princetons are included in the donated program and tell of their origins as Camden-born ships. Another interesting item included in the donation is a program for the Navy Relief Society at the Academy of Music, complete with Edward Murrow’s autograph!
Our current volunteers Sarah and Lauren, as well as our intern Kim have been busy with a number of projects. Depending on what the museum’s most pressing needs are at the time, one might find them researching ships built at the New York Shipbuilding Company, creating a contact database, sending out emails, photographing new donations, organizing the office, moving artifacts, updating the museum’s Facebook page (please “like” us there!), updating the blog, or even planting bulbs on the grounds! Kim has a particular interest in a lightship built here in Camden. She (the ship) has lived a longer life than most (ships AND people) and is one of the earliest ships built here by New York Shipbuilding in 1904. She's also back here in Camden. Can we do anything to save her?
The next big step regarding the physical aspect of the museum is construction on the parish hall and chapel buildings, set to begin in December. Grantors for this project include NJHT and the Camden County Open Space Preservation Trust. When construction is complete, Urban Boat Works will be able to move back in next September. Keep checking back for more happenings at the Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Announcing our Third Annual Youth Fishing Derby at the Michael Doyle Fishing Pier Follow Sign at 1645 Ferry Ave. Camden, N.J. 08104 A “Catch and Release” Derby Saturday October 13th 2012 rain or shine Noon until 4:30 p.m. registration begins at 11:30 am. -must be under 16 years of age to enter; children under 9 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian -Fishing Rods provided, no prior fishing experience needed -Light refreshments provided -instruction by experienced adults will be provided -3 grand prizes awarded for largest fish, most fish and longest fish. For further information call Michael Lang, Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum: (609) 280-7659 or, or (856) 964 SHIP (7447) Sponsors and supporters: The Delaware River Fishermen's Association, South Jersey Bass Club Association, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, Urban Trekkers, Urban BoatWorks, Urban Promise School, Urban Promise Academy, Sacred Heart School,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Successful launch of new boats On Saturday June 2nd, at the Rutgers boathouse a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters greeted the launch into the Cooper River of a small fleet of wooden canoes and strip built kayaks. These beautiful boats were built at the museum at Urban BoatWorks, Directed by Jesus Castro. The children who built these boats paddled for hours near the boathouse before embarking on a trek down the Cooper River to the Delaware River. Congratulations to the many boatbuilders and volunteers who make this exciting and unique program such a success year after year!

Friday, June 1, 2012


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TD Bank Announces Major Award to Museum

Flanking Helene Pierson, who is the Director of the Heart of Camden and a museum board member, Mr. Tredinnick and Ms. Carlson-Heim both from TD Bank, toured our museum and afterwards announced that the bank was awarding the museum $250,000 towards further renovations at the facility. Awarded as part of the NJ Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program, and administered by H of C, these funds will go a long way to meeting our required match for the NJHT renovation grant. Many thanks to TD Bank for this significant generosity. It is an important vote of confidence in the future of the museum, and the Waterfront South community.

Renovations Underway

Major renovations to the former chapel are proceeding. A new room is being created by excavating a crawl space. Guided by contractors Joe Hess and Larry Evans and assisted by laborers from the neighborhood, the chapel will be transformed into gallery space for our New York Shipbuilding Company exhibit. Mr. William Leatherbee is the architect heading up this project. Stay tuned for further developments.

Henson's Arctic Sled at Dog Sled Meet

On February 18th an intrepid group of youngsters from Urban Promise School and Sacred Heart School journeyed to Sellersville Pa. to participate in a major dog sled meet where they made quite a stir. Sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club, the meet featured many dog sled teams. One team belonging to Chuck Weiss was hooked up to our very own replica of Henson's sled and off they went. No snow? No problem! Riding aboard was Oriana, one of the youngsters who actually built the sled. Looking on was Steve Tuttle ( now on the board of the Museum) who headed up the adult mentors who helped build the sled. It was a day to be proud that a sled made by Camden youngsters was the main attraction at this unusual, but well attended event. Many in the audience were unfamiliar with the Matthew Henson story and were eager to hear Mr. Tuttle tell about his exploits. This event was so significant that a reporter and video camera team from the Courier Post covered the event. (see the Feb 20th Courier Post) Other local newspapers also covered the event. A major delegation of South Jersey dog sledders was also in attendance. Next year there will be snow for sure!