Wednesday, September 09, 2009

USS North Carolina will showcase the 'original'

We mentioned back in June the terrific gangway plank of an old USS North Carolina. (You can view the gangway at the Museum of History in Raleigh.) Well, turns out there's a terrific painting of another old USS North Carolina. (At least, I don't think it's the same one.) And you can view this rare painting on the 'newer' USS North Carolina, which is moored in Wilmington.

This spring, the battleship bought an original 1827 watercolor-and-ink-on-paper portrayal of the USS North Carolina – a ship-of-the-line that sailed before the Civil War – using funds raised by its non-profit support group, the Friends of the Battleship [says the Star-News].

The 182-year-old painting is a little too delicate for frequent showings, said Kim Sincox, museum services director for the battleship. Still, a high-color photo reproduction should soon be hanging in the memorial’s lobby area. Visitors will be able to see it on the way to the ship’s gangplank. ...

The painting is by Nicholas Cammillieri (1798-1856), one of the best-known maritime artists of the 1800s. Cammillieri, a native of Malta, painted a number of Royal Navy ships, but also executed paintings of the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) and USS Constellation which are now in the U.S. Naval Academy’s collection.

An inscription, in gold lettering, on the bottom of the painting notes that it depicts an actual incident: On Dec. 28, 1826, the North Carolina weathered a gale near the island of Zembra, off the coast of the North African nation of Tunis. The storm split the North Carolina’s jib sail into pieces, fouling much of the rest of the three-masted ship’s sails as well. ...

With 74 cannons, the North Carolina was the equivalent of a battleship of its day, intended for a place in a battle line in a major naval engagement – hence, ship-of-the-line. Built in 1820 at Philadelphia. it was more than 196 feet long, with a displacement of 2,633 tons and a crew of 820.

The North Carolina sailed from Hampton Roads, Va., to Gibraltar in 1825 to become the flaghip of Commodore John Rodgers, commander of the U.S. Mediterranean fleet. The Mediterranean was then a hot spot for the new navy; in 1815, the United States had fought a war with the Barbary pirates of North Africa, who were preying on U.S. merchant ships.

During that voyage, the North Carolina became the first American line-of-battle ship to cross the Atlantic. ...

(Image from the Star-News)

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