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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin Nominating Historic Vessels and Shipwrecks to the National Register of Historic Places

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service



There are five basic types of historic vessels which may be eligible for listing in the National Register. These types are:

[image] C.A. Thayer
C.A. Thayer, an 1895 three-masted schooner, is a floating historic vessel moored at the National Maritime Museum, San Francisco. (Photo credit: Richard Frear, NPS)

 [image] S.S. Ticonderoga
S.S. Ticonderoga, a sidewheel steamer, is now a dry-berthed exhibit displayed on the land at the Shelburne Museum. (Photo credit: courtesy, Shelburne Museum, Vermont)

  1. Floating historic vessels. Large vessels (usually greater than 40 feet in length or weighing over twenty tons) that are maintained in and on the water, including artificial mooring basins. (U.S.S. Constitution in Boston, Star of India at San Diego, and Queen Mary at Long Beach.)

  2. Dry-berthed historic vessels. Vessels that are preserved out of the water and are located in a drydock or setting close to or part of a waterfront. (S.S. Ticonderoga at Burlington, Vermont)

  3. Small craft. Floating or displayed vessels generally less than forty feet in length and twenty tons in weight. (Chesapeake Bay log canoes are examples of historic small craft.)

  4. Hulks. Substantially intact vessels that are not afloat, such as abandoned or laid up craft that are on a mudflat, beach, or other shoreline. (Schooners Hesper and Luther Little at Wiscasset, Maine)

  5. Shipwrecks. A submerged or buried vessel that has foundered, stranded, or wrecked. This includes vessels that exist as intact or scattered components on or in the sea bed, lake bed, river bed, mud flats, beaches, or other shorelines, excepting hulks. (U.S.S. Monitor, which lies 16 miles off North Carolina in 230 feet of water, or Peter Iredale, whose steel remains lie on the beach near Astoria, Oregon)

Qualifications for Evaluating Historic Shipwrecks and Vessels for the National Register of Historic Places

Individuals recommended to prepare nominations for historic vessels and shipwrecks should be knowledgeable in maritime studies. Usually, such persons have academic backgrounds or experience in such fields and disciplines as marine survey, maritime history, archeology, historic preservation, and American studies. Individuals competent to conduct work described in this bulletin should be familiar with the terminology used to describe wooden and iron vessel construction, hull types, rigging, marine steam, and other machinery. They should also be familiar with the development, trends, and chronology of vessel types and maritime trades in North America.

Evaluating Historic Vessels for the National Register of Historic Places

To qualify for the National Register, a historic vessel must have significance as one of the vessel types listed above and retain integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and meet one or more of the National Register criteria A, B, C, and D.

Determining the significance of a historic vessel depends on establishing whether the vessel is 1) the sole, best, or a good representative of a specific vessel type; 2) is associated with a significant designer or builder; or 3) was involved in important maritime trade, naval, recreational, government, or commercial activities. The significance of a historic vessel can only be determined through a systematic investigation of the vessel's qualities, associations, and characteristics. A typical investigation for a historic vessel nomination should include:

  1. Identification of the specific type of vessel and documentation based on a physical inspection of the vessel and a documentation of her history.

  2. Identification of the historic context(s) associated with the vessel based on a documentation of her history.

  3. Determination that the characteristics of the vessel make her either the best, or, a good representative of her type.

  4. Evaluation of the significance of the vessel based on the National Register criteria.

  5. Evaluation of the vessel's integrity and a listing of features that the vessel should retain to continue to possess integrity.

  6. Evaluation of a vessel's special characteristics that might qualify her for National Register listing even though she might be less than 50 years old or some aspect of her present condition generally would not qualify her for listing.

  1. Type and Characteristics

    [image] Hesper and Luther Little
    The deteriorating hulks of the four-masted schooners Hesper and Luther Little lie off Wiscasset, Maine. (Photo credit: James P. Delgado, NPS)

     [image] wreck of King Philip
    The wreck of the 1856 King Philiplies on the beach at San Francisco, California. Periodically exposed by winter storms, her remains are being documented by National Park Service archeologists. (Photo credit: Richard Frear, NPS)

    The evaluation should begin with the compilation of a narrative description of the vessel. This description should commence with a discussion of type, dimensions, materials, method of construction, layout, rig, and date of construction. "Type of vessel" can mean many things; for example, a vessel could be described by her rig (bark, barkentine, schooner, ship) or by hull form (clipper, "downeaster") and materials used in the hull's construction (steel, iron, wood). Vessels are also typed by their trade or occupation (cargo ship, container ship, hospital ship, freighter). A description of vessel type should attempt to incorporate all of these aspects. For example, "As built in 1856, King Philip was a wooden-hulled medium clipper; her three masts were bark-rigged."

    The description should also include a vessel's registered dimensions and tonnage. The citation of registry information should be as follows:

    Balclutha is 256.0 feet long with a beam of 38.6 feet, and a depth of hold of 22.7 feet. Balclutha is registered at 1835 gross tons and 1583 net tons.

    The description should include some discussion of the vessel's method of construction. For example, "Balclutha is of single hull construction with riveted steel plates laid as inner and outer strakes over steel frames." A discussion of the layout of the deck, including houses, should be included:

    Tennessee's elevated forecastle deck mounted a pump-break windlass. A capstan was located aft. Two hatches, fore and aft of the main deckhouse, opened into the cargo holds. Amidships, the main deckhouse supported a small pilot house. Aft, two small deckhouses provided access via circular stairways to the grand saloon below. The sponson decks were set well above the water; built on them and into the wheelhouses were the heads.

    The discussion of rig should include the number of masts, materials from which the masts are fashioned, the material used in the standing rigging (such as wire or hemp), and a discussion of any missing spars, if, for example, a ship is missing her topgallant yards. The description of the vessel should include a narrative discussion of the vessel's setting and location. For example:

    Charles W. Morgan is moored in the Mystic River at Chubb's Wharf, a stone and earth modern structure built in the style of a 19th century New England wharf, at Mystic Seaport Museum, a large complex of historic and reproduction buildings and structures which interpret life in a seafaring New England town of the mid-nineteenth century.

    Vessels may be located in a variety of situations; some may be afloat or beached on a shoreline; others may be located in drydock, artificial mooring basin, or be displayed on dry land, either in the open or under cover. There are special considerations when evaluating a hulk. Descriptions of hulks, which as a general rule lack much of their rigging (many are dismasted), and have deteriorated to a point where structural integrity of the vessel no longer remains, should concentrate on a discussion of surviving construction and its potential to yield information about the materials and methods used in the vessel's construction.

    Historic Contexts

    A vessel's significance is based on her representation of vessel type and her association with significant themes in American history and comparison with similar vessels. The World Ship Trust, in an effort led by historian Norman Brouwer of New York's South Street Seaport Museum, has published the International Register of Historic Ships, an inventory of known historic vessels in the world. A considerable portion of the book is dedicated to vessels in the United States. This inventory should be consulted early in the evaluative process.

    The evaluation of a vessel must include thorough historical research into a vessel's construction, owners, and career. Rather than offering a chronological discussion of a vessel's career, the historical narrative should be organized into specific context statements which specify a vessel's place in the development of American maritime trade, naval power, recreation, government use, commerce, or various designs of waterborne craft.

    Specific historic contexts may include a vessel's involvement in the Pacific Coast lumber trade, a vessel's role in the packet trade, or how a particular vessel's design fit into the development of Great Lakes bulk ore carriers. The significance statement should be concise and well-developed. The amount of information presented in the nomination will vary according to the vessel's significance to the local community, State, or the Nation. It is not necessary to discuss the development of local steamboats, for example, when discussing a steamer significant in the national development of marine steam technology. If the steamer has no demonstrated or outstanding importance in the national or statewide development of marine steam technology, however, then a discussion of local steamboating would be essential.

    The State Historic Preservation Officer should be consulted before beginning work to determine if the State has information which will assist in the evaluation of the vessel. Local and regional maritime museums, the Council of American Maritime Museums, the Department of Maritime Preservation at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Maritime Historical Society, the Steamship Historical Society of America, the North American Society for Oceanic History, Great Lakes Association for Maritime History, American Canal Society, the World Ship Trust, and other maritime historical and/or preservation organizations and professionals also should be consulted because one of these organizations may have already researched a vessel's career or evaluated her significance. A directory listing, including address and telephone number, of these and hundreds of such groups is available from the Maritime Preservation Department of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    Representative of a Type

    A vessel must possess certain features to be a good representative of her type, period, or method of construction. These features vary. In analyzing a 19th century Pacific Coast schooner, a researcher would look for an emphasis on Douglas fir timbering, heavily-fastened "over-built" construction, lumber loading ports in the stern, a beamy, shallow hull form, and a fore-and-aft rig. A vessel largely rebuilt through the years without attention to preserving the original design features (such as hull form, original materials, method of construction, and, to a lesser degree of importance, rig) that is not readily identifiable would not be a good representative of her type. For example, the best representatives of World War 11 naval vessels would be warships unaltered in hull form, layout, equipment, and armament.


    To be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, a vessel must be significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, or culture, and possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. To be considered significant the vessel must meet one or more of the four National Register criteria:

    1. be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
    2. be associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
    3. embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
    4. have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
    [image] Monarch
    The wreck of the passenger/package freighter Monarch, built in 1890 and wrecked in 1906, lies on the bottom of Lake Superior inside Isle Royale National Park. A National Park Service diver is shown inspecting the wreck as a part of a project to document Isle Royale submerged wrecks by the National Park Service's Submerged Cultural Resources Unit. (Photo credit: Larry Murphy, NPS)

     [image] Doris
    The yacht Doris sails on the Massachusetts coast, circa 1905. (Photo credit: Hart Nautical Collections, MIT Museum)

    Under Criterion A, association with "events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history," a vessel may qualify for listing in the National Register through her association with historic themes. Applicable areas of significance (listed in Bulletin 16) would include the obvious "maritime" theme and several other "'catch-all" categories. Therefore, historical information must be provided to explain the significance of the vessel. Common areas of significance to consider are:

    1. AGRICULTURE: Vessels engaged in agricultural trade and commerce, such as vessels which transported produce to market.

    2. COMMERCE: Merchant vessels which were involved in maritime trade and commercial activities; vessels which also carried passengers could possess significance in the area of Transportation.

    3. COMMUNICATIONS: Vessels engaged in telegraph and telephone cable laying operations, and pioneer ship-to shore, or ship-to-ship wireless transmissions.

    4. ENGINEERING: Vessels important for technological developments in hull form, propulsion systems, and shipboard equipment.

    5. EXPLORATION/ SETTLEMENT: Vessels involved in exploration and the expansion of the Nation, such as river steamers which carried supplies to frontier settlements on rivers in the Midwest, Old Northwest, Great Lakes region, and Alaska, or vessels used in Arctic or Antarctic exploration.

    6. GOVERNMENT: Lightships, dredges, snagboats, survey boats, and similar vessels of a non-military nature.

    7. INDUSTRY: Vessels associated with industrial enterprises, such as Great Lakes ore-carrying freighters and Alaskan fishing boats.

    8. INVENTION: Vessels which were the result of a scientific process of experimentation, such as John Ericsson's "hot-air" propelled Caloric Ship Ericcson of 1854.

    9. LAW: Vessels involved in landmark legal cases which established tenets of admiralty law or seamen's right.

    10. LITERATURE: Vessels associated with noted authors or poets, such as Equator, which was chartered for a South Seas cruise by Robert Louis Stevenson.

    11. MILITARY: Naval warships and other vessels, military transports, and support craft.

    12. RECREATION/ENTERTAINMENT: Yachts, racing boats, or house boats used for the practice of leisure activities, diversion, amusement, or sport.

    13. SCIENCE: Vessels on which significant scientific experimentation or other research was conducted, such as the barkentine Galilee's use as a magnetic charting vessel by the Carnegie Institute in 1901.

    14. SOCIAL/HUMANITARIAN: Hospital ships, vessels involved in rescuing life and property from maritime disasters and life-saving craft such as a Francis lifeboat or United States Life-Saving Service surfboat.

    15. THEATER: Showboats, movie ships, and vessels used in or modified for the filming of motion pictures.

    16. TRANSPORTATION: Ferry boats and vessels engaged in the transportation of passengers; vessels which carried cargo could also possess significance in the area of Commerce.

    Under Criterion B, association with "persons significant in our past," a vessel will possess significance if a historically significant person's importance is tied directly to the vessel, such as Admiral Dewey's association with U.S.S. Olympia. Applicable themes under criterion B may include numbers 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14 above.

    Under Criterion C, a vessel possesses significance if she embodies ""the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represents the work of a master, possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction." Vessels are usually found to be eligible for the National Register listing within the following categories:

    1. ARCHITECTURE: A vessel that is a good representative of a specific type of naval architecture such as Pacific Coast lumber schooner like the C.A. Thayer or is the only representative of the type, such as the Great Lakes whaleback Meteor. A vessel may also possess significance if she is a good example of a naval architect's work, "representing the work of a master." Naval architects of national significance in the 19th century include Isaac Webb, Donald McKay, William H. Webb, and John W. Griffiths. Naval architects of national note in the 20th century include Francis Herreshoff and William Francis Gibbs. Examples of the work of any of these men, as well as other nationally, regionally, or locally important naval architect and shipwrights may be eligible for the National Register.

    2. ART: Many sail and steam vessels had distinguished accommodations, sometimes executed in luxurious taste, which set them apart from the utilitarian "'working" areas of the vessel. These design features, ship-board decorations, figureheads, joiner's work, cabin interiors, and saloons, particularly on river steamers, ferries, and certain oceanic passenger steamers, could qualify the vessel for inclusion in the National Register.

    3. ENGINEERING: Vessels may be significant because of their design, propulsion systems, specific types of marine engines, and modes of propulsion (such as paddlewheels and all types of propellers) as representatives of their type. The 1891 ferryboat Eureka, at the National Maritime Museum in San Francisco, is nationally significant because she has the only operable, 19th century walking beam marine steam engine afloat. The engine and boiler work of renowned marine engineering firms, such as New York's Novelty Iron Works, Maine's Bath Iron Works, and San Francisco's Union Iron Works may impart significance to a vessel.

    Under Criterion D, a vessel is significant if she has yielded or is likely to yield information important to history, i.e., the physical characteristics (or remains) of the vessel provide important information about her use, method of construction, and operation. A vessel need not be wrecked or an archeological site to qualify under criterion D, but this is its most common application.

    Section 8 of the nomination must address the period of significance of which a vessel achieved her importance and meets National Register criteria. There are blanks on the forms where the dates for the period of time the vessel achieved significance are entered. Enter the most specific dates known. If a vessel's significance occurred in one year, as for a shipwreck associated with an important sea battle, enter that single year. If a vessel achieved significance for several distinct periods of time, enter each period on a separate line in the order of importance. Avoid including dates of less than 50 years, unless these events and associations can be justified as having exceptional historical importance. Continuous function does not indicate the continuation of the period of significance. The nomination must discuss significant events or associations that occurred during each period of significance in the narrative.


    The National Register traditionally recognizes a property's integrity through seven aspects, or qualities: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.


    The National Register consideration of "integrity of location" should be construed to mean that a vessel is located in a port or other location with which the vessel historically had some association, such as a port of construction, or a port of call. Location should not be confused with integrity of setting, which generally means that a vessel is maintained in the water. However, it is recognized that preservation of a vessel's original fabric may compel the removal of the vessel from the water. This issue will be examined in the discussion of integrity of setting.


    A vessel, like any other structure, changes with time. Vessels may be lengthened, deckhouses added or removed, and interior spaces modified for new uses. Changes which occur over time, particularly those associated with a shift to different owners or trades, if those owners or trades are historically significant, acquire significance in their own right. When changes to a vessel are in the form of renewal and replacement, either to continue operation historically or to perform a restoration, the structure will remain eligible if renewed features are replaced with materials, which in their composition, design, color, texture, and workmanship retain the historic character of the vessel. These changes do not affect a vessel's integrity.

    The noted maritime historian, Allan Villiers, once observed that historic vessels maintained and/or operated in the water ultimately become reconstructions or wrecks. While historic structures and buildings on land also deteriorate and require maintenance and replacement of original fabric, the corrosive nature of the marine environment greatly accelerates the process. Any historic vessel maintained in the water will ultimately lose all of her original fabric. U.S.S. Constitution, now berthed at Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, retains as little as 10 to 23 percent of the wood that was in the frigate when launched in 1797 or when she earned her reputation as "Old Ironsides." Yet this is largely indistinguishable because of attention to maintaining historic materials and workmanship during her many restorations. These increasingly restored historic vessels retain their integrity in those cases when integrity as evidenced by hull form, rig, use of materials, or craftsmanship is maintained. It is important to retain original fabric though, for the greater the amount of historic fabric, the greater the quality of integrity for the vessel.


    Integrity of setting usually means that a vessel is maintained in the water. National Register guidelines generally rule that vessels out of water, particularly if in an enclosed structure, were ineligible for National Register listing unless they were in a "natural" waterfront setting, such as in a drydock. Yet limiting the National Register only to vessels maintained afloat or in the open air ultimately dooms original fabric. In some cases, the preservation of that fabric may be essential. Craftsmanship cannot be replaced, nor archeologically recovered. Fragile intact vessels can only be preserved "under glass." To preserve historic fabric in rare vessels, integrity of setting will be maintained if the craft is associated with the water by means of a waterfront location. This setting must not detract from appreciating the vessel as a waterborne craft or present her as a museum object.

    [image] Kathryn M. Lee
    The Jersey Schooner-Oyster Dredge Boat Kathryn M. Lee continues to work actively in her historic trade at Liepsic, Delaware. (Photo credit: Stephen Del Sordo)

     [image] Charles W. Morgan
    An in-kind historic restoration of the whaler Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport Museum. Here shipwrights are driving a drift into a breasthook. (Photo credit: Mary Anne Stets, courtesy Mystic Seaport Museum)


    Integrity of materials means that the physical elements that were combined in the vessel's historic design and construction have been maintained. For example, integrity of materials would be retained when a vessel's steel plates are replaced in-kind with steel plates, oak planks are replaced in-kind with oak planks, copper sheathing is replaced in-kind with copper sheathing, and tarred hemp standing rigging is replaced in-kind with tarred hemp standing rigging. This is not to suggest that failure to follow strict in-kind replacement could keep a vessel from being listed on the National Register. Modern materials for patching and repair, such as epoxies and fiberglass, may be necessary to preserve a vessel.


    Integrity of workmanship is maintained when materials are renewed in kind. When original but deteriorated riveted iron hull plates are replaced, integrity of workmanship is maintained when the new iron plates are also riveted. Double sawn timber frames should be replaced with double sawn timber frames to maintain integrity of workmanship.


    Integrity of feeling means that the vessel evokes an aesthetic or historic sense of the past. Usually this depends on the presence of the vessel's significant physical characteristics to convey her historic qualities. However, it must be recognized that extreme deterioration of a vessel, such as major rot and inherent structural collapse, would not interfere with the ability of the vessel to yield important information through analysis of her construction and career, and she would possess archeological integrity and be eligible under Criterion D.


    A period or accurate waterfront setting for a historic vessel is desirable and adds to the integrity of setting for the vessel. A vessel loses her integrity of association if she is removed from the water and displayed out of sight of the water, such as a 19th century schooner placed on a lawn, surrounded by a chain-link fence, in front of a factory.

    The Need for Special Justification

    Certain types of historic vessels as a general rule do not qualify for the National Register. These would be 1) vessels less than 50 years of age, 2) vessels owned by religious institutions and used for religious purposes, 3) replica vessels, and 4) collections of vessels. However, these properties may qualify for National Register listing if they meet the criteria and meet the following exceptions:

    1. A vessel achieving significance within the past fifty years if she is of exceptional significance. (A vessel must be compared with other vessels of her type that have similar associations and qualities to establish exceptional significance, or be associated with important but recent themes or developments which scholarly or professional research has recognized as significant to the maritime trades or naval architecture and engineering. Vessels considered eligible under these circumstances include N.S. Savannah, (1950) the first nuclear-powered merchant ship built in the United States, and the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Nautilus, the first submarine to navigate the seas under the ice pack of the North Pole. Other vessels less than fifty years of age that the National Register currently accepts as being eligible are vessels which played an important role in World War 11).

    2. A vessel owned by religious institutions and used for religious purposes may be eligible if her primary significance is derived from naval architecture (Criterion C and/or D) or historical importance (Criterion A).

    3. In rare instances, replica vessels can be a contributing component of a National Register property if: 1) the replication is based on scholarly analysis of graphic, written, and archeological sources; 2) the vessel's construction is accurately executed, using appropriate period materials and construction techniques; 3) the replica vessel is presented in a historically appropriate manner as a part of a restoration master plan; 4) no other vessel with the same associations has survived. (Being part of a restoration plan means that the replica is an essential component in a group of historic properties which together constitute a historic district. The replica must be part of an overall restoration plan for the entire resource. For example, a replica craft may be eligible as part of a restoration master plan for a 19th century ferry landing historic district, which includes authentic historic properties, such as landings, docks, and associated commercial buildings. In this case, the replicated craft may be essential to convey the transportation significance of the district). Individual replica vessels are not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because they are not authentic historic resources. A replica vessel is a modern vessel which recreates either a specific vessel or a class or type of vessels. After the passage of fifty years, a replica vessel may attain significance in her own right as a product of one generation's perception of its maritime history. In this case it may be possible for a replica to qualify on that basis under Criterion A, B, C or D. If a replica vessel has achieved significance within the last fifty years, she will be required to meet the special justification discussed above.

    4. Small craft and larger vessels in collections may be individually eligible if they retain integrity of setting. Collections of vessels are not eligible for the National Register. (In exceptional cases, vessels may have collective historic significance when they are exhibited in an appropriate setting, such as the vessels at the Mystic Seaport Museum. This museum collection, founded in 1929, has historic significance for its associations with the development of the American historic preservation movement and represents a landmark in early twentieth century maritime preservation.)

    Preparing the National Register Nomination

    While basic instructions for completing nominations are found in National Register Bulletin: Guidelines for Completing National Register of Historic Places Forms several sections of the y form will require the specialized information provided in the following guidelines. For the purposes of the National Register, vessels are classified as "'structures" because they are made up of interdependent and interrelated parts in a definite pattern of organization. In the past, the National Register has accepted vessels categorized as objects, but during the preparation of this bulletin, it was determined that a vessel better fits the National Register definition of "structure.,"

    [image] on board S.S. Ticonderoga
    Stairway and stateroom hall on board the S.S. Ticonderoga. (Photo credit: courtesy, Shelburne Museum, Vermont)

     [image] S.S. Jeremiah O' Brien
    Lifeboat on board the S.S. Jeremiah O' Brien (Photo credit: Joanie Morgan)

    The number and combination of characteristic features required for National Register eligibility will vary from property to property. In some cases, a vessel need only possess a single quality or characteristic to be eligible. If a vessel is not individually eligible for the National Register, she may still be eligible as a contributing component of a historic district. For example, historic life boats may not be individually eligible, but they could contribute to a Coast Guard station historic district.

    When she is registered, the legal description of a vessel can be her merchant or naval registry. For active vessels still registered by the United States Coast Guard, citation of the current Consolidated Enrollment and License, with the office address of the applicable Coast Guard District, will suffice. For merchant vessels no longer registered, the former enrollments and registries will be found in the National Archives. They can be obtained by supplying the name of the vessel, the date of construction, and the port of construction to the Judicial, Fiscal, and Social Branch of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. National Archives staff will locate all registry and enrollment documents for the vessel and will provide photocopies for a fee. Citation of the last document issued to the vessel will suffice for the vessel's legal description. For naval vessels, the registration data are at the Ships History Division. The annual publication listing Vessels of the United States (1869 to the present), Lloyd's Register, and other classification society registers also provide a legal description. Nearly every floating, preserved historic vessel in the United States has been surveyed by Norman Brouwer and his associates for the World Ship Trust. Brouwer's International Register of Historic Ships is a good place to start the research. The book is constantly being updated and revisions may be obtained from the National Maritime Historical Society. The Historic Ship Register of the International Congress of Maritime Museums (ICMM) is another logical place to look. Some vessels may have been surveyed during local or statewide heritage inventories. Shipwrecks may be listed in State archeological inventories.

    In the narrative Description and Significance portions of the nomination form, it is important to develop fully the information and analyses conducted in the evaluation process. It is important to be concise. In the Description section, the integrity of the vessel needs to be thoroughly documented, discussing original form, materials, workmanship, and any changes. The National Register currently requires a detailed architectural description for nominated buildings and structures. A comparable level of detail is required for vessels.

    The International Congress of Maritime Museums Historic Ship Evaluation Program assesses vessel structure along with historic significance and preservation considerations. The ICMM evaluation seeks descriptions of primary structural material members. Not all structural members listed by ICMM require discussion in a National Register nomination; essential features such as the keel, keelson, frames, reinforcing members, hull planking or plating, fastenings, decking, masts, rigging, deck furniture, interior spaces, including joinery, deck machinery, armament, decorations, coating and sheathings, boats, and tackle-all of these need to be described and assessed with comments in each case on original material, deterioration, adherence to original configuration, and impacts by previous restoration, repair, or alteration.

    Alterations need to be discussed and assessed in relation to a historically significant context. If a vessel was built for a specific use-the grain trade, for example-and then altered for another historic purpose-such as fishing-these changes would be significant and would not have an adverse effect on the integrity of a vessel. On the other hand, if a vessel has been changed for a later non-significant career, then those changes represent a loss of integrity. It is important to remember that integrity is not always construed as "as built."

    [image] Hercules
    Builder's plate in the engine room of 1908 steam screw tugboat Hercules (Photo credit: Stephen A. Haller, NPS)

     [image] S.S. Clipper
    The assembly of instruments in the pilothouse of the S.S. Clipper represent the various navigational technologies used on the vessel during her career. Documentation of a vessel for the National Register should include views which interpret changes or alterations. (Photo credit: Harry Weese and Associates)

    In discussing significance, it is essential to link the vessel to international, national, regional, or local historic contexts. It is also important to convey the vessel's participation in specific historical events and to discuss the vessel's important changes in design, such as alterations to the hull or propulsion systems and to use this information in the evaluation of historic integrity. If applicable, a vessel's association with significant individuals, including builders, masters, officers, crew, owners, or passengers should be discussed. An assessment of the vessel's relation to similar properties is needed. Is she a sole survivor? Is she representative of a type? Is she the best example of a type? Statements of significance should be derived from primary sources and scholarly secondary historical assessments. Thorough historical research is recommended in preparing a National Register form so that the best available information is analyzed and presented. Footnotes for citations of source materials is desirable but not required.

    To aid in the National Register assessment of significance and integrity, good illustrative views of the vessel, her rig, her characteristic and significant design features, and alterations need to be documented with individual photographs. Instead of a site map, as is the case with land-base properties, deck plans, inboard profiles, lines, and rigging plan should be included, if available. A USGS map locating the vessel in a city or other geographical unit, with Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates marked, must be included. If a vessel is engaged in active sailing, her regular mooring at the home port should be the location cited and marked.

    Major bibliographic references should include sources referred to in the evaluation process as well as sources cited. The reference should be organized alphabetically, in categories such as manuscripts, published works, plans, and historic photographs and other graphics. The boundary of the vessel should be all of that area enclosed within her extreme dimensions. It is the vessel that is being nominated, not the water or land that surrounds her. A boundary description for a vessel usually refers to the area enclosed by the vessel's extreme dimensions, for example: "The Showboat Jimmy 80' x 40' at permanent berth at Pier 56." Acreage should be given as less than one.

    Field Work, Research, and Documentation Techniques

    Field Work

    Adequate field examination of a vessel may involve more than one visit to acquire a thorough understanding of the vessel's construction, layout, rig, and machinery. If evaluating a property for the first time, it is essential that a guided tour of the vessel, with discussions emphasizing condition, restoration or maintenance work, and the vessel's history, be provided by knowledgeable individuals intimately associated with the vessel. Tours of engine rooms and other machinery spaces should be discussed with a marine engineer. The method of construction should be derived from discussions with a naval architect. The field examination the vessel should be a slow, meticulous process which leaves the evaluator with as complete an understanding as possible of how the vessel was built, operated, modified, and maintained through time.

    [image]  U.S.S. Intrepid
    Significant historical events that occur on board a vessel should be documented. In this view, sailors on board the U.S.S. Intrepid battle a shipboard fire on the deck off Luzon, the Philippines, on November 25, 1944. (Photo credit: National Archives)

     [image] U.S.S. North Carolina
    Documentation of a vessel should include a plan, if available. This is the outboard profile and deck plan of U.S.S. North Carolina as outfitted. (Photo credit: U.S.S. NORTH CAROLINA Battleship Commission, drawing by Alan B. Chesley)


    Historical research should include the examination of any extant drawings or plans of the vessel, such as lines, profiles, deck plans, sail plans, scantlings, engine, boiler, and machinery plans. Half-models and builder's models should be consulted. If extant, builder's models may aid in identifying original features no longer present or modified. Historic photographs, lithographs, and drawings of the vessel, particularly including views of the vessel under construction, deck views, and overall views, may be helpful in assessing method of construction and features of the vessel. Local newspapers may have references to a vessel's launch and discuss her particulars. Various vessel types, machinery, and some specific vessels may also be discussed and described in various professional journals such as that of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

    The registry and enrollment papers provide the dimensions of the vessel, tonnage, the' number of masts, and the type of bow and stern decoration for American vessels. A run of these documents may provide evidence of alteration or change. Summaries of this information can be found in the annual List of American Merchant Vessels of the United States. Lists of vessels registered or enrolled at various American ports were compiled by the Works Progress Administration and the National Archives. Consultation of these lists, particularly for the port of New York, will provide a necessary lead in beginning to research these vessel "'titles." Lloyd, s of London possesses detailed descriptions of vessels surveyed by Lloyd's for certification, and the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England, is also a vital source for English vessels lost in American waters.

    Logbooks, journals, and letters written on board the vessel may provide physical descriptions and document details of her career. Local newspapers may include discussions of sailings, accidents, and marine disasters. Contemporary accounts of a vessel's career also can be found in the annual reports of the United States Life-Saving Service (published between 1878 and 1915). Insights into a vessel's history also can be gained through researching owners' names listed in the registries and enrollments. A variety of secondary source works which assess local, regional, and national maritime history may discuss a vessel and her career. Especially valuable are articles that are found in historical society and maritime museum quarterlies, such as the American Neptune, Steamboat Bill, Sea History, Inland Seas, Waterways Journal, or the Mariner's Mirror. A recommended bibliography can be found at the end of the bulletin.


    As the field work and research progresses, files of notes, sketches, reproduced reference materials, and photographs should be compiled. If a vessel has changed over time, a chronologically arranged series of plans or photographs may aid in understanding these alterations. Color slides of the vessel may aid later when the nomination is being prepared and a site visit is not possible.

    Numerous black and white photographs of the vessel and her features should be taken. The quality of the photographs actually included in the nomination form will benefit from as wide a selection as possible. Exemplary historic photos and other graphics should be reproduced for inclusion with the nomination. Historic plans should be included to aid in documenting the vessel. If historic plans do not exist, modern plans Of the vessel might be prepared. This is highly desired but is not required for nominations


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