and Geodetic Survey steamer BLAKE - in service 1874-1905. Note
cable leading from bow, ship anchored in 600 fathoms.
This vessel pioneered deepsea anchoring under John Elliott Pillsbury.
Current surveys in the Windward Passage.
length 148 feet, beam 26.5 feet, draft 11.7 feet. Built by E. J. Fardy
in Baltimore, Maryland in 1874 at a cost of $84,600. In service 1874-1905
in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. This vessel
and the Fish Commission steamer ALBATROSS are the only two United
States oceanographic vessels commemorated by having their names inscribed
in the façade of the oceanographic museum at Monaco. The BLAKE
earned this distinction by being the most innovative oceanographic
vessel of the Nineteenth Century.
Lieutenant Commanding Charles Sigsbee, USN, modified the Thomson wireline
sounding machine which became known as the Sigsbee sounding machine,
a piano-wire sounding instrument that became the de facto standard
for much of the world’s deep ocean sounding vessels until the
advent of acoustic sounding methods.
Alexander Agassiz introduced the use of steel cable for deep ocean
dredging and other oceanographic purposes, replacing forever hemp
rope for virtually all over the side operations. Under Lieutenant
Commanding John Elliott Pillsbury, USN, deep ocean anchoring techniques
were perfected and the BLAKE anchored at one time in over 2200 fathoms
while conducting Gulf Stream observations. Pillsbury’s Gulf
Stream studies are considered among the best series of oceanographic
observations made in the Nineteenth Century.
truly modern bathymetric map of a deep sea area was made from BLAKE
soundings conducted in the Gulf of Mexico and the first three-dimensional
view of the seafloor was made from these soundings, soundings off
the Atlantic seaboard, and soundings made by the BLAKE and ALBATROSS
in the Caribbean Sea. The ship is commemorated by the book, “Three
Cruises of the Blake,” written by Alexander Agassiz, and by
the naming of Blake Plateau and Blake Spur off the southeastern coast
of the United States. In addition, Sigsbee Escarpment in the Gulf
of Mexico is named for the commanding officer of the Blake during
its Gulf of Mexico work. The ship was named for the naval officer
Commodore George Smith Blake (1803-1871), a senior naval officer serving
under Ferdinand Hassler in the 1830’s. He was connected with
the Coast Survey from 1837-1848 and was Superintendent of the Naval
Academy from 1858-1865.