Thursday, May 17, 2012

Save or Sink The Bramble

The Detroit Free Press: Man campaigns to get old ship designated a national treasure

A famous US Coast Guard vessel, the USCGC Bramble has some historic achievements under its waterline including: first circumnavigating the Northwest Passage, being the first American surface ship to circumnavigate the North American continent, and surviving atomic bomb testing. The 68 year-old ship is now either going to be purchased, scrapped, or designated a historic ship on the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum currently owning the ship is trying to sell it for $300,000 due to a lack of funds to maintain her. At least one of the Museum volunteers is trying to get her designated a historic monument as described in the article, and I hope he achieves his goal.

The Bramble was also one of the ships involved in the search for the SS. Daniel J. Morell after the sinking of the 603 foot long freighter in a November storm in 1966. The Morell split in two, with the after part of the ship continuing to travel under power for 5 miles before sinking, and 28 of the 29 men on board were lost.

An interesting account of the Bramble's search for the SS. Daniel J. Morell's survivors, and for the sunken ship itself, by a crewman of the Bramble present for the search and initial dives on the wreck can be read here.

If this effort to gain historic landmark status, and the presumed funds that may help preserve the Bramble fails, then instead of scrapping it I hope they consider deliberately sinking it as a monument preserved in the fresh water of Lake Huron where she plied her trade.

She'd be quite the historic ship to dive on, and it would be a far better fate than being turned into razor blades.


Murphy's Law said...

There is already a 180 bouy tender available for diving: USCGC mesquite (a testament to women drivers, even at sea).

The Bramble needs to be turned over to me. I could be using that.

Anonymous said...

Would be a "former" museum volunteer.

Bramble was a support ship at Bikini and was 15 miles away during the Baker detonation on July 25, 1946.

National Register listing does not offer any legal protections for Bramble, nor does it provide any funding. However, the Museum or anyone who may buy her must live with the consequences if they do anything to compromise her integrity as a nationally significant historic ship. I do not think the Museum would look very good if they were to do something to desecrate her. NR listing does help with grants as it validates historic significance.

The nomination was unanimously approved by the State Historic Preservation Review Board of Michigan on May 18. The nomination will now go on for formal review and probable listing by the National Park Service sometime in the next 45 days.

Incidentally, there are other 180s to dive. Spar, another of the NW Passage pioneers, is about 40 miles off Morehead City, NC and Blackthorn is off Tampa, Florida, having been reefed after a tragic Jan. 1980 collision that left 23 crew dead. The historic WWII-era CGC Mohawk, though not a 180, is being prepared for reefing too.