VP Harris gets her own 'Resolute' desk with wood from USS Constitution

Posted 8 days ago


Navy Seabees have built Vice President Kamala Harris her own desk made of materials from historic U. S. warships in the model of the famous Resolute Desk that sits in the Oval Office.

Harris' desk, which sits in her office in the West Wing of the White House, was put together using wood, copper and nails taken from the USS Constitution, which was commissioned under George Washington in 1794.

The USS Constitution is one of the country's first frigates and is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat. It was launched in 1797 in Boston, Massachusetts, and now sits in Baltimore Harbor.

The vice president's desk has carvings of an eagle surrounded by stars from the Constitution's stern decorations. It was built by the United States Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Navy Seabees.

In the pen tray is a piece of the USS Arizona that was sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers at Pearl Harbor in 1941. The wreckage still lies on the seabed in Hawaii.

The desk project was approved under Donald Trump and construction began January 4. The desks were the idea of Trump's Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite, the Military Times reported.

The Seabees also built a desk for the Navy secretary, using materials from the Constitution, the frigate Chesapeake; the battleships Texas, New Jersey and Arizona; and sloop of war Constellation

The desks took about seven weeks to build and are the property of the Navy. They will be available for future vice presidents and navy secretaries to use.

They were built in a workshop at the Navy Yard's National Museum in Washington D. C.

'It's a huge opportunity to be a part of,' said Builder 1st Class Hilary Lemelin, who is assigned to USS Constitution, in a statement. 'It's amazing to create a desk for someone who makes such large decisions for the country and Navy knowing they'll sit there every day is huge. The importance of their job can affect everything we do. It's a piece of history now.'

The two new desks are known as 'heritage desks' and are similar to the Resolute Desk, which has been used by the five most recent presidents in the Oval Office

The Resolute Desk was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford Hayes in 1880. It was built from the oak timbers of the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute, which was abandoned in the Artic in 1854 and found by an American whaling ship a year later.

The 1,300-pound desk was created by William Evenden at Chatham Dockyard in Kent.

Braithwaite didn't get to use the desk he had the idea for building. Instead acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker sits at it. But Braithwaite was able see the completed desk before it went to the Pentagon during a visit to the Washington Navy Yard.

Inside each desk is a pen tray with a note from Braithwaite and a piece of the USS Arizona, the battleship that sank during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

There are no current plans to build more 'historic desks.

The Seabees have built two others, reports the Military Times: one made from flight-deck planking from the aircraft carrier Essex that's now in the office of the chief of naval operations, and a draftsman-style desk made from deck planking of the submarine Nautilus in the office of naval reactors.

Both desks are part of the Navy's 300,000-plus historic artifact collection maintained and curated by the Naval History and Heritage Command at the Washington Navy Yard.

THE RESOLUTE DESK: THE GIFT TO THE US FROM QUEEN VICTORIA   In September 1855, the American whaler the George Henry found the British warship the HMS Resolute stuck in an ice floe off Baffin Island in Canada. It was a year after Sir Edward Belcher abandoned the trapped ship and returned to the UK. The Americans then returned the frigate to Queen Victoria in 1856, and the British Government commissioned three desks to be made from it.In 1880, Victoria gifted one of them to President Rutherford B. Hayes in a gesture of thanks for the Resolute's rescue and  return.  It has been used by every president since Hayes, excepting Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford, 1964-1977.It was used in the President's Office on the Second Floor of the Residence from 1880 until 1902, at which time the office was moved to the newly constructed West Wing. This desk remained, however, on the Second Floor of the Residence in the President's Study. President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that the rear kneehole be fitted with a panel carved with the presidential coat-of-arms, but he did not live to see it installed in 1945. The new desks are similar to the Resolute Desk, the desk gifted by Queen Victoria and used ... (Read more)