The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World

The Delaware Division of Historical Cultural Affairs
Dover, DE

The HMS DeBraak, a British Royal Navy Sloop of War, tells the unique story of the role the state of Delaware played in international maritime history.  The HMS DeBraak and its Atlantic World from the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs showcases a unique and internationally important piece of 18th century history, with a 20th century shipwreck discovery twist, to 21st century audiences of all ages.

The tour begins at the Zwaanendael Museum with the DeBraak exhibit. It features a two-part, multi-layered experience that allows visitors to delve into 18th century shipboard life. Visitors can uncover details of the lives of the men who lived and died on the ship, as well as the purpose for their travel to the Delaware Bay. Next visitors are transported to a nearby facility where the DeBraak hull is housed. Program content focuses on the hull’s architecture and construction, while visitors get a first-hand view of the remains of the ship.  Another focus is on the significant and on-going conservation work with the hull and its related collection.  The most recent conservation activities included the redesign, reorientation, and construction of a more stable support system to improve public viewing, and the installation of a water-spray system to maintain hull saturation.

To ensure the public’s ability to experience the DeBraak while at the same time protecting this significant artifact, an overhead video system was engineered. Controlled from a secure observation platform, remote cameras, which can pan, tilt, and zoom for viewing on a flat-screen monitor, are ceiling-mounted in waterproof domes at each end allowing examination from multiple angles.

Through preservation and access, the HMS DeBraak project provides programmatic opportunities to share Delaware’s military and maritime role in world history. By providing access to a significant part of Delaware’s maritime collection, and at the same time safeguarding these artifacts, the Division seeks to engage current and future residents and visitors in the unique stories related to maritime history and the human experience of life at sea.