Beginning on June 1, 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs will again offer public lecture/tours of the hull of His Majesty’s Sloop DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. Lecture/tours will take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the following Mondays during 2015: June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; July 6, 13, 20 and 27; Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31; and Sept. 14, 21 and 28. Note: Tours will not be conducted on Sept. 7.
Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.
All programs begin at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del., where a lecture on the ship will be presented in conjunction with the exhibit “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.” The exhibit tells the story of the vessel, its crew and the historical context within which it operated in the late-18th century. Attendees of the lecture will then be transported, via van, to the DeBraak hull facility in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park for an interpreter-led tour of the surviving section of the ship’s hull.
Visitors enjoying a tour of the DeBraak hull which can be seen in the left of the photo.
Available through the Shop Delaware website (go to http://shop.delaware.gov and click the “tours” link), nonrefundable reservations for the lecture/tours are $10 per person (restricted to persons aged 10 and above) with a limit of 12 visitors per program. Due to the limited number of seats that are available for each lecture/tour, reservations are encouraged well in advance. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.
Significance of DeBraak …
During the late-18th and early-19th centuries, sloops of war such as DeBraak played an increasingly important role in Royal Navy campaigns. These relatively small vessels combined speed, agility, shallow draft and increased firepower, all of which made them formidable naval vessels. As the only Royal Navy sloop of war from this time period that has been recovered anywhere in the world, DeBraak serves as an invaluable historical resource for a time when Great Britain was the world’s preeminent naval power.
The surviving section of the DeBraak’s hull and its associated artifact collection have been curated by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since they were acquired by the state of Delaware in 1992. Approximately one-third of the hull survives including the keel, keelson and framing elements of the lower hull, and a large section of the starboard (right) side.
Section of the exhibit “A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World.”
Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs