Unprecedented: Navy Week 2012

If thoughts on the War of 1812 spark only vague recollections of history class, prepare for a new perspective beginning this summer as three years of Bicentennial celebrations throughout the “Old Northwest” get underway.
Square Topsail Sloop Replica War of 1812
Based in South Haven, the Michigan Maritime Museum’s Replica War of 1812 Square Topsail Sloop, Friends Good Will, is on day sail duty all season.

Over disputes of naval and maritime issues, the fledgling 15-state U.S. declared war against Great Britain, again, on June 18, 1812. This “Second American Revolution” ended with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 and was instrumental in framing the entire geographical and political makeup of the present-day Midwest, northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

Water battles figured prominently, and the U.S. Navy plans an unprecedented series of Fleet Weeks in 2012.  From now through October, an armada of tall ships, Navy frigates, and Canadian vessels will sail along the eastern coast, down the St. Lawrence Seaway, and throughout the Great Lakes with week-long stops in major cities on both sides of the border.

Detroit and Windsor will play starring roles Sept. 3-10 when the U.S.S. Dewert, PC Hurricane, HMCS Ville de Quebec, two Coast Guard cutters, and the Brig Niagara offer both public and private tours while docked in the Detroit River. Sailors will mingle with visiting dignitaries attending concerts, tours, sporting events, re-enactments, and other happenings like the Chef Ahoy Cooking Challenge and Patriot Day Adaptive Golf (see navyweek.org for a complete schedule).

Meanwhile, other Michigan cities — such as South Haven — are joining the Bicentennial party, as well. The southwest harbor town’s Michigan Maritime Museum recently opened “War on the Great Lakes,” a new exhibit featuring collections from over a dozen museums and private collectors.  Comprising two galleries, highlights include original prints and documents from over two centuries ago, actual weapons used in battle, ship models and a diorama of the Battle of Lake Erie.

On June 18, the museum will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the declaration of war and in July, the tall ship Friends Good Will will “surrender” to the British.  This unique square topsail sloop is available for tourist day sails and private charters throughout the season.  Visit michiganmaritimemuseum.org for details.

  Janina Jacobs, Michigan BLUE Magazine.

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