Historic and Photographic Sources about US Naval Ships, Old and New

Here is a list of Internet sites devoted to documenting the history of the US Navy. Several are privately maintained by volunteer historians while others are US Naval resources. You can find photographs and earlier images, ship logs, newspaper accounts, official stats and plans, all sorts of records and personnel files and more.

  • Naval History and Heritage Command. Here you will find Ship Histories, archival records, historical photos, art collections and off-beat subjects like uniforms, banners, awards, etc.  Their records are public but many must be used within the facility at the Washington Naval Yard.  This unit is also responsible for nine U.S. Naval museums throughout the U.S. They also publish the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Their website is: https://www.history.navy.mil/

  • National Archives. Under Military records, you’ll find U.S. Navy Ships – Index where photos (or illustrations for pre-photography ships) are listed alphabetically by ship type. This site is also a source for all types of Naval research. https://www.archives.gov/research/military/navy-ships

  • History Central. This site brings you a short history of every US Naval ship (no Confederate ships though). This is an independent site with the prime author being Marc Schulman. https://www.historycentral.com/navy/index.html

  • List of United States Navy ships is a comprehensive listing of all ships that have been in service to the United States Navy during the history of that service. It is on the Wikipedia website. You can search by ship name, type of ship, etc. It’s source is primarily the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Navy_ships
  • NavSource Naval History, aPhotographic History of the U.S. Navy. This site was created so  visitors could find information and images of ships of the USN. It is a group of volunteers who are not paid for their time and efforts. http://www.navsource.org/

  • Haze Grey & Underway Photo Galleries.  Here are dozens of photo features, photo galleries, and photos linked to various ship lists, with well over 3,000 photos.  They cover all eras, all types of ships, and many of the world’s nations. And the Navy’s Dictionary of Naval Fighting Ships can be found here in its entirety. http://www.hazegray.org/features/

List of Maritime Museums in North America.

An alphabetical listing of Council of American Maritime Museums’ 80+ members across North America and beyond. For a location map and listing by state, click here. Here are numerous and varied museums devoted to seafaring (and riverfairing) – some exploring naval history and exhibiting preserved ships, some devoted to local commercial maritime activities, some with interactive programs for boat building, sailing and racing instruction, and child-involving activities. Just click on a name to go to the institution’s website.

Adirondack Museum – NY

American Merchant Marine Museum – NY

Annapolis Maritime Museum – MD

Antique Boat Museum – NY

Bayfront Maritime Center – PA *

Calvert Marine Museum – MD

Center for Wooden Boats – WA *

Channel Islands Maritime Museum – CA

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum – MD

Columbia River Maritime Museum – OR

Connecticut River Museum – CT

Door County Maritime Museum – WI *

East End Seaport Museum – NY *

Erie Canal Museum – NY

Erie Maritime Museum/U.S. Brig Niagara – PA

Florida Maritime Museum – FL *

Hampton Roads Naval Museum – VA

Herreshoff Marine Museum – RI

Historic Ships in Baltimore – MD

Historic Naval Ships Association – MD *

Houston Maritime Museum – TX *

Hudson River Maritime Museum – NY

Hull Lifesaving Museum – MA *

Independence Seaport Museum – PA

Institute for Nautical Archaeology – TX

Kalmar Nyckel – DE

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – VT

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum – LA *

Lightship Overfalls (LV 118) – DE *

Long Island Maritime Museum – NY

Los Angeles Maritime Museum – CA

Lowell’s Boat Shop – MA

Maine Maritime Museum – ME

Marine Museum of the Great Lakes – Ontario

The Mariners’ Museum – VA

Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler – NY

Maritime Museum Association of San Diego – CA

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – Halifax, Nova Scotia

Maryland Historical Society – MD

Michigan Maritime Museum – MI

MIT Museum, Hart Nautical Collection – MA

Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum – MN *

Museum Small Craft Association – MD *

Mystic Seaport – CT

Nantucket Historical Association / Nantucket Whaling Museum – MA

Nantucket Shipwreck & Life-Saving Museum – MA *

National Coast Guard Museum Association – CT *

National Maritime Historical Society – NY *

National Museum of Bermuda – Bermuda *

National Museum of the Great Lakes / The Great Lakes Historical Society – OH

National Museum of the U.S. Navy – DC

Nautical Research Guild, Inc – IL *

Nauticus – VA

Naval Historical Foundation – DC *

New Bedford Whaling Museum – MA

New Hampshire Boat Museum – NH *

North Carolina Maritime Museum – NC

Northwest Seaport – WA *

Ocean Institute – CA

Peabody Essex Museum – MA

Penobscot Marine Museum – ME

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and the Lightship Museum – VA

Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society – WA *

Reedville Fishermen’s Museum – VA

Salem Maritime National Historic Site  – MA

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park – CA

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum – CA

Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum – GA *

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History – DC

South Carolina Maritime Museum – SC *

South Street Seaport Museum – NY

Steamship Historical Society of America – RI *

Tahoe Maritime Museum – CA *

Texas Seaport Museum/1877 Barque ELISSA – TX *

Tuckerton Seaport – NJ *

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Museum – CT

U.S. Lighthouse Society – WA *

U.S. Lightship Museum – MA *

U.S. Lifesaving Service Heritage Association – MA *

U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II – S.S. Lane Victory – CA

U.S. Naval Academy Museum – MD

U.S. Navy Ship Model Program  – MD *

USS Constitution Museum – MA

Vancouver Maritime Museum – Vancouver

The Whaling Museum at Cold Spring Harbor – NY

Wisconsin Maritime Museum – WI

List of Internet sites devoted to model ship building

  • The list contains forums maintained by Nautical Research Guild and others; building logs; sites containing tips, techniques and tricks; sources of supplies and tools, and sites with links to everything on the Internet that might be of interest to model ship builders.

Model Ship Builder This website has a popular forum with over 1900 members. Extensive group of building logs. They also sponsor group builds and provide an opportunity for members to place articles. www.modelshipbuilder.com/

 Navy Board Models NBM is a collaborative effort of the Model Ship Builder website, and others. There is no forum, but you can access the build logs from Model Ship Builder and the rejuvinated Ships of Scale forum, and archived issues of “Warships and   Workbooks” and “Model Ship Builder Journal” www.navyboardmodels.com

Ships of Scale Though the magazine of the same name is no longer published, the website still thrives with a forum and build logs. It is “associated” with the Navy Board Models site through links as well. https://shipsofscale.com/sosforums/

Nautical Research Guild Official website for this premier ship building organization. There are articles, links, and NRG news. http://www.thenrg.org/

NRG’s Model Ship World This large, comprehensive site is now operated by the Nautical Research Guild. It’s a major forum w build logs and plenty of response to modeler’s questions. Also access shop notes, tips, techniques and research.        https://modelshipworld.com  

FAQ for Ship Model Builders (by John Kropf) This is a model ship building site which answers all sorts of questions about ship modeling. Many of the links do not work. http://sites.google.com/site/shipwrightsfaq/

John’s Nautical & Boatbuilding Page This site includes mostly life-size boat building material, but its self-proclaimed “Mother of All Maritime Links” can be helpful. http://www.boat-links.com/

Model Ship Building Secrets  This is an English blog with a directory , “50 of the Best Model Ship Building Sites” http://www.modelshipbuildingsecrets.com/resources.html

Modeler’s Central – An Australian commercial site that features a blog with many modeling tips as well. https://www.modelerscentral.com/

DeAgostini Model Space A British commercial site selling kits and tools with a forum filled with build logs of large models

Arsenal Modelist – Olivier Bello’s ship modeling site featuring 43 short tutorials, closeups of his fine work and a building log. http://www.arsenal-modelist.com/index.php?page=accueil

2018 Exhibits of Ship Models


2018 was a busy time for the modelers of the Rocky Mountain Shipwrights: three exhibits as well as 12 meetings and 12 workshops. That hardly gave some members time to actually build. But we all survived – nay, thrived. Because nothing beats the satisfaction of solving the problems connected with modeling with the help of fellow shipwrights.

The first exhibit was in April, and was the second time we displayed our models and presented our knowledge to attendees at the two-day Lone Tree Library show. In addition to the exhibit, we did presentations about ship modeling, including ships in bottles by Dan Siemens, paper modeling for kids by Jay Phillip, and pirating by Jim Cuscaden in costume. We also conducted kids “workshops” where children were given simple kits, supplies and instructions on how to build them. The kits were designed and fabricated by Ralph Buckwalter, Tim Brown and volunteers working an assembly line after several meetings.


The second exhibit was at Bemis Library in Littleton on the last weekend in September, 2018. It was an attendant-hosted show but there was the exhibit only. Though only publicized within the library’s patrons, the visitors were impressed and enthusiastic.


The third show was our annual RMSW Exhibit in the basement of Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, where we meet every month. It occurred just two weeks after the Bemis show. Non-the-less, participation by the membership was outstanding in terms of models shown, members standing watch and setting up /tearing down. Our annual “Modeler’s Choice Award was won by John McGann for his model of the steam turbine-driven Turbinia.


Enjoy the photos and model/builder profiles that follow.

Galilee – Schooner

Name of Ship: Galilee
Period: 1800’s to 1930’s

Name of Modeler: Ralph Buckwalter
Type of Model: Scratch Built

Galilee was originally built as a Brigantine by one of the most famous ship builders on the west coast in the late 1800’s, Matthew Turner.  He built at least 154 wood hulled ships in his ship yards. After Turner’s death the Galilee was sold to the Union Fish company and sent to Alaska in the cod-fishing trade.

The cod fishing voyages came to an end around 1927. She then spent two years as one of a small fleet of vessels operating off Cape San Lucas in the growing tuna industry. The Galilee’s life as a sea worthy vessel came to an unpleasant finish. In the early 1930’s she started the final decline from a graceful brigantine to a fishing schooner powered with a smoking diesel.

Ending up in her original port the Galilee was bought in 1934 by a former British officer Captain John Quinn who beached her on the Sausalito shoreline. Captain Quinn and his wife converted Galilee to a houseboat, built a wharf out to the ship strung old San Francisco gas lamps to illuminate the houseboat and placed potted plants on her deck. During the 30s and 40s  many of the outdated sailing vessels were towed to Richardson bay and sunk in the mudflats. Thanks to Captain Quinn, Galilee survived the ravages of time longer than any other vessel. Unfortunately Captain Quinn grew too old to live aboard and sold it to a photographer who, with his wife and children lived on the ship untill1962 when the city of Sausalito condemned the Galilee as unfit for habitation and ordered her to be abandoned and destroyed. A trustee of the San Francisco Maritime Museum purchased her with the intention of making her as a landmark.

A maritime park was established in Benicia named the Matthew Turner Shipyard Park. A 16 ft. sectioned was cut off the Galilee and shipped to the park. A section of the stern was cut off and moved to the Benicia Historical Museum where it can be seen today. It is now called the longest schooner ever built: the stern in San Francisco and the bow in Benicia.

.Modeler’s biography: Ralph Buckwalter, a retired Mechanical Engineer has been modeling for about 14 years. He joined the Rocky Mountain Shipwrights in 2000.

CSS Alabama

Model Name: CSS Alabama
Period: Civil War
Type: Modified Kit

Modeler’s Name: Martin Jelsema
Time: 700 hours

Build Materials: This Model is a modified plank on bulkhead Mamoli kit build. Both deck configuration and rigging deviated from the Mamoli plans to follow the details illustrated in the book by Andrew Bowcock, Anatomy of a Confederate Raider. Hull is double planked in basswood and walnut. The “hammocks” on the rails are Q-tips. Completed with wood, cord and metal fittings.

Ship’s Story: The CSS Alabama was Confederate raider whose mission was to interrupt Union merchant trade during the Civil War. During it’s two years of raiding it captured 63 American merchant ships and one War Ship. It was in port at Cherbourg, France when “called out” by the USS Kearsarge. It was sunk by the Kearsarge. It was discovered by divers and is being raised little by little by the French.

Modeler’s Bio: This is Martin Jelsema’s third build since “retiring” as a marketing consultant four years ago. As a teenager he built the wooden schooner model of the Bluenose. He collected tools for the next 50 years in anticipation of renewing the hobby. Martin lives in Littleton with his wife Gus..

Yacht Mary

Name of  Model: Yacht Mary
Period ship sailed: 1650 – 1660
Type of model: Scratch Build

Modeler’s name: Brian Davies
Scale of model: 1:32
Build time: on going

Description of build, including materials: I am building this model using basswood and Elmer’s Wood Glue. Purchased hull plans from Mamoli over internet and enlarged at Kinkos. Using tools by Dremel and sanding blocks on this model.

Ship’s history: Mary was built by the Dutch East India company and given to Charles II upon being re-elected to British royalty. Charles learned to sail and enjoyed the Dutch statenjachts (state yachts or VIP ferries) while in political hiding because of Oliver Cromwell. Charles proceeded to build a fleet of yachts he used for racing, and sold Mary to the British Navy around 1655. Mary was wrecked in 1660 on a rocky island crossing between England and Scotland on a foggy morning

Modeler’s biography: This is my third model project, but first time attempting an admiralty model. My other projects were two Muscongus Bay Lobster Smack kits by Midwest.


Name of Model:  Spanish Carrack
Period ship sailed:  1490s
Type of Model: Plastic kit

Modeler’s Name:  Mark Persichetti
Scale of model:  3/32″ =1″
Build Time:  NA

Description of build, including materials:   All the smooth-plastic surfaces were sanded with coarse-grit paper, to give them a wood-grain appearance.  I added extra details to the kit’s interior spaces, such as gun carriages, bunks, and tiller with dampening tackle – much of which can’t be seen now!  I hand-made cloth sails with hand-sewn bolt ropes.  The model’s Mediterranean-style rigging blocks were from Heller (France) plastic kits.

Ship’s Story:  Carracks were large cargo-carrying vessels, with a broad beam (width) compared to its length, and rather deep draft (depth in the water).  Carracks generally had a continuous main deck, unbroken by full-width bulwarks (walls).  The large area under the main deck was used to carry as much cargo as possible.  Carracks generally had a raised deck aft of the main mast, which provided some shelter over the main deck, and might also have a raised forecastle deck and a separate Captain’s/Master’s cabin aft.

This particular model is based on a reproduction of the Santa Maria, built to plans done by researcher Julio F Guillen in Spain in 1929.  The ship, currently on display in Barcelona, was rebuilt in 1951.

Modeler’s Bio:  I have been making models since the 1950s.  My first sailing-ship model was a smaller-scale Old Ironsides kit by Revell.  Ships have been my favorite modeling subject since


This scratch-built model by John McGann won the “Modeler’s Choice” Award at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Shipwright’s October Exhibit at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware.

It is a model of the BritishTurbinia, the first steam turbine-powered steamship. Built as an experimental vessel in 1894, and easily the fastest ship in the world at that time, Turbinia was demonstrated dramatically at the Spithead Navy Review in 1897 and set the standard for the next generation of steamships, the majority of which would be turbine powered. The vessel is currently located at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne, North East England, while her original powerplant is located at the Science Museum in London
(The description above is from Wikipedia)

John built this model from scratch using plans of the original. John is a retired commercial construction superintendent. First ship model completed 1944.

Yankee Tender

Name of Model: Yankee Tender
Period ship sailed: Modern/current
Type of model:  Kit

Modeler’s name:  Nathaniel Fay
Scale of model:
1.5″ to 1′
Build time: 6 months

Description of build, including materials: The kit is from Wooden Boat magazine. It is designed to demonstrate how a real/full size Yankee Tender is constructed. The kit provided a “strong back” which replicates the shop floor. The model and real tender are constructed upside down. Then pulled off the strong back for installation of ribs, inwales, outwales, breast hook and thwarts. The model is finished with shellac.

Ship’s history: The plans for this tender are available from Wooden Boat store online

Modeler’s biography: Nathaniel Fay, retired from the Navy Reserve after twenty one years of service and four years of service in the Coast Guard Reserve. Having served at the Navy Operations Support Center on Buckley Air Force Base. Graduated from the University of Denver coming to DU from Marblehead, Massachusetts.

24-lb Cannon Battle Station

Name of Model: Cannon battle station
Period Used: late 17th & 18thcenturies Type of model: Kit

Modeler’s name: Nathaniel Fay
Scale of model: 1/16 scale
Build time: 2 months

Description of build, including materials: Kit sold by Model Expo out of Florida. I used the material provided in the kit with only a few additional, small items.

Ship’s history: Typical battle station of late 18th to early 19th century Man of War. A 24 pound cannon with a crew of twelve men and one boy could sustain a rate of fire of three shots fired every five minutes. This was true of the USS Constitution from an article in Sea History magazine

Modeler’s biography: Nathaniel Bowditch Fay, is a direct descendent of the author of the American Practical Navigator, Nathaniel Bowditch. He a retired Navy Reservist, serving twenty one years in the Navy Reserve after four years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. He is a graduate of the University of Denver. Staying in Colorado after graduation. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, raised in Marblehead, MA. Essentially growing up around the ocean and boats. Previously held a US Coast Guard license for tenders for Marblehead Harbor, working as a launch operator for the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead.

Eight Paper Models

These models of paper were constructed by Jay Phillips specifically to demonstrate that children can begin their modeling in a simple and inexpensive way. He conducted a session for kids at the Lone Tree Exhibit as well as displaying the models.

Jay downloaded all eight of the models shown from the Internet. They are flat, printed sheets which must be cut out carefully and glued to assemble the models. There are many, many paper models available from suppliers through the Internet, and very few are of the kind pictured here. There are serious paper modelers, like Jay, who search out models of far more sophisticated assemblies. Jay is in the process of a 3-foot model of the German battleship, Bismarck.

Cocca Anseatica

A work in progress

Name of Model: Cocca Anseaticap
Period ship sailed:
Type of model: 

Modeler’s name: Gary Duncan
Scale of model: 1:48
Build time: Under construction

Description of build, including materials: Plank on frame. Wood with brass fittings/guns. This kit is very old and all parts have to be hand cut as opposed to the newer kits which are laser cut. The kit is designed with the bare minimums but allows for as the modeler to add as much detail as they wish.There are no instructions but four 1 to 1 sets of plans are provided (in Italian). A nice challenge of a kit.

Ship’s history: “Cocca Anseatica” was a 15th century German armed mercantile ship. It is derived from the following two words … cocca – the name given in the 12th century to a vessel with the medieval characteristic of a ship with a round hull and … anseatica coming from the german word ” hansa” that meaning “associations”. This latter term was given to the North European cities of Amburgo and Lubecca that joined in an economical alliance to protect their earthly and especially maritime trades from the attacks of the English, Dutch and Flemish “barons” and corsairs. Other cities like Tallin, Kiel, Frankfurt and Brema later joined this association. From this group grew the development of the armed mercantile ship named “Cocca Anseatica”.

The Cocca represented in this model is the one from approximately 1470 with an overall length of 34 meters, 25 meters length on the water line, a draught of 2.5 meters and a sail area of 265 square meters. It carried main, mizzen and fore mast. The net capacity had gone up to 400 ton. It carried 26 guns with a crew of 50 men.

Modeler’s biography: Retired Construction Superintendent.
3rd build.