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Severing Confederate ties, U.S. Navy names ships for a groundbreaking female oceanographer and a brave slave pilot


Severing Confederate ties, U.S. Navy names ships for a groundbreaking female oceanographer and a brave slave pilot

The U.S. Navy has announced Rename one of the Oceanographic Survey Vessels back Mary Sapp, a Columbia University geologist, oceanographer and cartographer, made the first modern map of the ocean floor.The ship has won Matthew Fontaine Morrie, a key figure in 19th-century oceanography who quit the US Navy to join the Union.Also known as: Warship USS Chancellorsvillethe namesake of the 1863 Civil War, is considered a Confederate victory; it is now honored robert smallsan enslaved man who commandeered a rebel ship and set himself and others sailing to freedom.

Born in 1920, Marie Tharp was one of the few earth science-trained women in the mid-20th century with degrees in geology and mathematics.She was established in 1948 at what became Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory (now Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory). At the time, it was believed that the ocean floor was largely flat and featureless.work with oceanographers Bruce Heason, Tharp painstakingly hand-drawn the first detailed map of the Atlantic Ocean floor using sonar data collected by research vessel systems. She also uses survey data to help find downed military aircraft.

Mary Sapp at work, 1961. As a woman, for most of her career she was barred from participating in research cruises that collect data and turn it into maps. (Courtesy of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)

The Heezen-Tharp mapping project revealed many topographical features in stunning detail, including what is now known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a continuous north-south mountain range that roughly spans the ocean. Tharp postulates a V-shaped rift running along its middle, meaning that the seafloor is slowly splitting along this rift. This supported the still-controversial theory of continental drift, in which the Earth’s surface was in constant motion. The Atlantic map was published in 1957. Sapp was soon mapping similar structures in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and elsewhere, much of the work paid for by the Navy.

These maps gradually piled on with other evidence, including patterns of undersea earthquakes and magnetism, and by the early 1970s the idea of ​​continental drift—a modified form of what was then known as plate tectonics—was generally accepted. In 1977, Tharp and Heezen published the first global map of the ocean floor, a spectacular landmark of art and science that is still widely used around the world today.

Still, because Tharp is a woman, she has long been barred from participating in the research cruises that collect the data she translates. It wasn’t until 1968 that she was allowed to sail with Heezen and other researchers for the first time. In addition, Heezen (who died on a Navy submarine in 1977) and other male colleagues received most or all of the credit as authors of scientific papers that drew on her drawings and ideas. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that Tharp’s contributions became widely known and celebrated.she Died in 2006. Since then she has become a topic biography, children’s books and short films; A 72ft Research Vessel A nonprofit marine research project launched in 2021 is named in her honor.

Heezen-Tharp Global Seafloor Topographic Map, published in 1977. (Courtesy of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)

secretary of the navy charles del toro announced a name change 350 feet USS Maury March 8, 2023, International Women’s Day. “[Tharp’s] Committed to research that has brought life to uncharted ocean worlds and demonstrated vital information about our planet, while being a woman in a male-dominated industry,” he said. A similar naval research vessel launched in 2000, USNS Bruce C. Heezen, Not suitable for renaming.

Another ship, newly named USS Robert Smalls, Is a heavily armed missile cruiser, launched in 1988.

At the age of 12, Enslaved Smalls Sent by his master to the coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina, as a laborer. He became a longshoreman, rigger, sailmaker, and finally a “helmsman,” steering ships through Charleston Harbor and rivers along the South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida coasts. On May 16, 1862, at the age of 23, he took the helm of the CSS planter, an armed Confederate transport.That night, the three white officers in command planter Go ashore for the night and entrust the ship to Smalls who has been plotting to escape to freedom.

In the middle of the night, Smalls and his enslaved crew secretly retrieved their wives and children from the docks. Smalls donned his captain’s uniform and guided the ship past six harbor forts, at each of which issued secret signals allowing them to pass. The last one is feet. Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Once out of range, he made a beeline for the Union naval fleet, formed a blockade seven miles offshore, and surrendered the ship.

In 1862, enslaved man Robert Smalls commandeered a Confederate warship, freeing his family and his enslaved crew. (courtesy of the US National Park Service)

In addition to delivering this valuable ship to the Union, Smalls brought codebooks of Confederate maritime signals, military maps, and his own sophisticated knowledge of coastal defenses and mine locations. Admired by the northern press, he joined the Union Navy and piloted a series of ships in a dozen major battles. His feat is credited with helping convince President Abraham Lincoln to allow black soldiers to join the Union Army. At the end of the war, he observed the American flag being raised again. Sumter.

Smalls later co-founded a small railroad company, published a newspaper in Beaufort, South Carolina, and served in the state legislature. From 1875 to 1887, he served five consecutive terms in the United States Congress. He supported racial integration legislation and other efforts to achieve black equality — efforts that evaporated as the Jim Crow era took over and largely disenfranchised blacks in the South. He died in 1915.

The newly renamed vessel is part of a comprehensive project launched after the police murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd in 2020, when Congress ordered the military to remove all “names, symbols, displays” celebrating the Confederacy. , monuments and implements”. The process of renaming hundreds of properties began in January of this year; the Navy has only two ships that carry such luggage. Matthew Fontaine Maury’s name was also removed from the U.S. Naval Academy’s engineering building; it is now known as Carter Hall in honor of former President Jimmy Carter, a 1947 alumnus and Navy nuclear engineer.

in a 1999 book on Lamont-DohertyMarie Tharp wrote of her own nautical career: “There aren’t many people who can describe their life like this: The whole world unfolds before me (or at least, seventy percent covered by the ocean). I have a blank canvas to fill with extraordinary possibilities, a fascinating jigsaw puzzle.”

The ship that bears her name is currently off Japan; a renaming ceremony will take place when it can be brought to port without interrupting its scientific work.

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Kevin Krajic
(917) 361-7766
kkrajick@ei.columbia.edu

Caroline Adelman
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ca2699@columbia.edu




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