Underwater News - Fall 2006
Reported by Toni Carrell
Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology Service (UAS): In July 2005 staff from the Underwater Archaeology Service (UAS) traveled to Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada. This five-week project, directed by Willis Stevens, had three principal aims: to test excavate, survey, and then rebury a 16th-century wreck found by the UAS in 2004. The wreck, located close to shore at depths ranging between approximately 6 and 12 m (20 to 40 feet) was apparently unearthed by recent propeller-wash caused by a visiting cruise ship. Immediately following its discovery in 2004, the UAS quickly documented exposed articulated floor timbers in the midship area as well as an extensive debris field of wreck timbers. Given the archaeological importance of the site, the UAS returned en masse in 2005. The project’s first two weeks were devoted to test excavations, mapping, and the recovery of a small anchor. A total of five 2 by 2 m grids were excavated, revealing the central floor timbers, main mast step, keelson, and the heel of the stern post. Recovered artifacts and all recorded structures support a 16th-century date and indicate that the wrecked vessel was 250 to 300 tons in size. The wreck has not been identified by name.
As the excavation and mapping neared completion, the team began the reburial. This phase of the project was conducted under the guidance of recently retired UAS archaeologist Peter Waddell whose services were engaged under contract. The work was generally carried out in the same manner as the reburial of the presumed San Juan site excavated between 1978 and 1985. A sandbag dyke was first built around the perimeter of the site and then filled with about 200 tons of sand slurry pumped from the surface. The mound was then covered by a stitched Hypalon tarp, secured in place by concrete-filled tires. Monitoring stations were built into the reburial mound for future conservation assessment.
Two visitors joined the UAS on the Red Bay project. Manuel Izaguirre, an archaeologist from the government of the province of Gipuzkoa in Spain who has assisted with fieldwork and research at Red Bay since 1981, took part in the site mapping. Carlos del Cairo, an archaeology graduate student from Columbia, participated in the mapping, excavating, and reburying of the site. Carlos’s travel expenses were paid by the International Committee of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) of ICOMOS, enabling him to take part in this valuable project.
Along the lines of training and education initiatives, the UAS also gave one Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Level 1 training course in Ottawa for members of the avocational group Save Ontario Shipwrecks.
August saw the return of the UAS to Trent Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada. This marked the penultimate year of a 5-year submerged cultural resource inventory of the waterway. Under the direction of Willis Stevens, the team spent three weeks searching for both prehistoric and historic submerged cultural resources. Investigation of a suspected prehistoric weir site at Sunset Bay was completed. Side scan sonar surveys were performed on Little Bald Lake, Big Bald Lake, Sturgeon Lake, and in the Fenelon River; targets identified during the sonar survey were then ground-truthed. Archaeological recording was also performed on an unidentified early 20th-century steamer in Sturgeon Lake believed to be a side-wheel steamer. The goal is to complete the fieldwork in 2006 and then present the results within a project geographic information system (GIS).
In September the UAS traveled to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site in the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. Since the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, sea levels have changed dramatically in this area, and it is presumed that early habitation sites once on land are now submerged. Parks Canada archaeologist Daryl Fedje has been searching for archaeological sites associated with these ancient shorelines and his research has led him to sites that date to 11,500 BP. For 10 days UAS archaeologists Willis Stevens, Chriss Ludin, and Filippo Ronca supported Daryl’s submerged-landscape investigations off Huxley Island by undertaking core sampling, side scan sonar, and diving inspections. A more extensive field project is planned for next year.
UAS archaeologists Jonathan Moore and Bruce Bennett conducted several days of fieldwork in Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada with a team from the School of Applied Geophysics at McMaster University. Dr. Joe Boyce, Dr. Eduard Reinhardt, and graduate student Lisa Sonnenburg used a suite of remote sensing and core-sampling methods during the 2005 navigation season to retrace and document inundated river systems and landscapes in the canal. This work, conducted in collaboration with the UAS, was aided by researcher Ken Watson.
In September UAS archaeologist Marc-André Bernier journeyed to the Magdalen Islands (Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine) situated north of Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This trip related to a feasibility study for the creation of a National Marine Conservation Area around the islands. It is believed that hundreds of shipwrecks are located around this small archipelago which also possesses a vibrant maritime heritage.
Over the winter of 2004-2005 the UAS moved its offices to a new location in Ottawa. The new mailing address is as follows:
Underwater Archaeology Service
1800 Walkley Road
Ottawa, ON, Canada K1A 0M5
Telephone: (613) 993-2125 (Reception) Facsimilie: (613) 993-9796
Service d’archéologie subaquatique
1800, chemin Walkley
Ottawa (Ontario) Canada K1A 0M5
Téléphone: (613) 993-2125 (Réception)
Télécopieur: (613) 993-9796
English Heritage: English Heritage has published a Guidance Note on Shoreline Management Plan Review and the Historic Environment. This note has been produced to provide English coastal groups and consultants with information and guidance on the coastal historic environment, sources of advice and data, the legislative and planning background, and procedures for consultation during Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) review. It is intended to supplement and amplify the Government’s Shoreline Management Plan Guidance, Volume 1: Aims and Requirements and Volume 2: Procedures (Defra 2006). The Guidance Note is available for download from the Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) Web site at www.helm.org.uk/upload/pdf/Shoreline-Management-Plan-Review.pdf and hard copies are available from: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information contact: Ian Oxley, Head of Maritime Archaeology, English Heritage, Fort Cumberland, Eastney, Portsmouth PO4 9LD, United Kingdom; phone +44-(0)23-9285-6767, fax +44 (0)23-9285-6701, email: ian.oxley@email@example.com, http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/maritime.
The Crown Estate and the Joint National Archaeology Policy Committee (JNAPC): The Crown Estate and JNAPC have produced a new code to provide guidance to developers working in the marine environment on how to protect the UK’s marine cultural heritage. With the emergence of offshore renewables as a growing industry sector and an increased awareness of the need to manage and protect our marine historic environment, The Crown Estate and JNAPC thought it timely and topical to produce a revised version. The new code looks to build on the principles set out in the original and offers guidance to developers on issues such as risk management and legislative implications. It also provides a comprehensive list of expert contacts for further advice.
The Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee works to raise awareness of British underwater cultural heritage as well as developing proposals for legislative reform. Robert Yorke, chairman of JNAPC, said: "This is an opportunity to increase awareness about the need to take archaeology into account during offshore development. Not only can there be historic wrecks on the seabed but also the remains of prehistoric settlements."
Dr. Carolyn Heeps, Head of Offshore & Environment at The Crown Estate, said: "The Crown Estate views the new code as an essential reference point for all sectors looking to undertake development of the seabed around the UK as it will encourage a responsible approach to preserving our cultural marine resources." An Adobe Acrobat version of the code is available at www.thecrownestate.co.uk/1391_jnapc_code_of_practice.pdf
Ships of Discovery and Turks & Caicos National Museum (TCNM): A team of archaeologists and filmmakers under the direction of Donald H. Keith returned to East Caicos 8-22 July 2006 to resume the search for the remains of the slave ship Trouvadore. The objectives of the 2006 Search for Trouvadore were: (1) to undertake a comprehensive magnetometer survey of the project area using state-of-the-art mapping and remote sensing equipment; (2) to complete the visual tow-board survey begun in 2004; (3) to test excavate the wooden-hulled sailing ship discovered in 2004; and (4) to film every aspect of the project in high-definition video. Despite rough seas throughout most of the field work, all objectives of the project were met.
Trouvadore was a Spanish slave ship bound for Cuba that wrecked in the Caicos Islands in 1841. The ship had 193 Africans on board who were rescued, apprenticed for one year in the local salt trade, and then freed by the local British authorities. A large part of the local population of the Turks & Caicos Islands today can trace their ancestry back to the Trouvadore wreck event. The story has been uncovered through a decade of archival research conducted in eight countries on three continents and in the Caribbean. Preliminary Results:
Magnetometer Survey: Realizing the limitations of the towboard visual survey conducted in 2004, a thorough magnetometer survey of an expanded search area was a top priority. Jason Burns and Michael Krivor from SEARCH, Inc. completed the work under less than ideal conditions. An unexpected problem was the towed magnetometer sensor’s attractiveness to at least one barracuda that attacked it relentlessly, embedding two teeth in the instrument’s plastic housing. The magnetometer and positioning information has not yet been fully processed, but several large anomalies were identified from the rough field data. One of these, lying to the east of the wreck discovered in 2004, was test excavated and proved to be a deposit of large, well-preserved timbers and iron and bronze fasteners thought to represent a ’bounce spot’ where the ship temporarily came to rest while breaking apart.
Tow Board Survey: The tow board survey, led by Museum Director Nigel Sadler, was highly successful. Among the team’s accomplishments were the discovery that one suspected shipwreck site is really a ’train wreck’ a place where a ship carrying railroad equipment was stranded and forced to jettison tons of railroad wheels and axles to escape the reef. The team also found the remains of a relatively modern sailboat in very shallow water at the extreme northwestern end of the survey area.
Test Excavations: Within a few minutes of commencement of test excavations it was discovered that the site was larger, more deeply buried, and better preserved than previously believed. The keel forward of a small ballast mound is broken off and the aft end of the keel is deeply buried under a thick bed of sand and turtle grass, making a determination of the length of the ship problematic. A test pit excavated transversely across the keel just aft of the ballast mound was more successful in that it established a minimum beam of the ship. This test area also revealed that while the keel, hull planking, garboard, floor frames, stringers, and deck beams are preserved under the sand, the keelson or keelsons and ceiling planking are not. An asterisk scratched into the side of one of the floor timbers may indicate the location of the mastercouple, or widest frame in the ship. The testing also revealed an intriguing construction feature: the ship’s framing pattern alternates full floor timbers running all the way across the keel with half-frames that terminate on top of the keel. Other features include a well-preserved cathead and a complex timber feature located 17 m to the south of the main site. Because a draft marker, the numeral "3", was found in association with this timber we assumed it was the ship’s stempost, an interpretation that is still unresolved. Excavation revealed that it is trapezoidal in cross section and almost completely covered in either lead or copper sheathing. Unlike other parts of the ship, this timber complex is incorporated into the reef and very difficult to expose. A small number of samples and artifacts were collected in the hope that they might shed light on the ship’s identity.
Photographic and Video Documentation: Under the direction of filmmakers Windward Media, all aspects of the project on the surface and below water were filmed in high-definition video. Windward is partnering with the PBS television station KUHT of Houston to produce a television documentary of the search for Trouvadore. In addition to TCNM’s Web site devoted to the Trouvadore story, www.slaveshiptrouvadore.com, Windward Media designed a site to go with the documentary film, www.trouvadore.org. The Museum’s Web site includes a daily blog while the documentary film Web site focuses on mission updates as milestones were reached. In addition, more than 2000 high-resolution digital images from the 2004 and 2006 field seasons are now part of the project archive held by the TCNM. The Trouvadore Project is a collaborative effort between the TCNM, Ships of Discovery, Windward Media/Houston PBS, and the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The project is a multifaceted initiative to protect and study the remains of the Trouvadore, if found, and to preserve its cultural legacy. A documentary about the shipwreck and its survivors will be broadcast to an international audience. The 2006 expedition was partially underwritten by a grant from the Ocean Exploration Program, a division of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Although better known for its weather prediction services, NOAA is also committed to the study and preservation of the earth’s marine ecosystems and cultural resources.
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS): SBNMS and the National Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes at the University of Connecticut (NURC-UConn) conducted two 30-minute live broadcasts from the wreck of the coal schooner Frank A. Palmer on 15 July 2006. Viewers at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center in Gloucester, MA, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, MI and over the World Wide Web watched live underwater video and asked the research team questions as they investigated the wreck. SBNMS maritime archaeologists Deborah Marx and Matthew Lawrence were joined by Ivar Babb, director of NURC-UConn, who provided commentary on the technology that made the broadcast possible and on the marine life observed on the shipwreck. Over 1,000 people watched the broadcast, which was supported by NURC-UConn, the University of Connecticut, Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center, the City of Gloucester, NOAA’s Preserve America Initiative, NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program, NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, and VBrick Systems. Archived video from the broadcast will be available shortly at www.nurc.uconn.edu.
In December 1902, the Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary collided in Massachusetts Bay and sank in over 300 feet of water. Eleven sailors perished in the accident. Today, the schooners sit upright on the sea floor touching at their bows in the same orientation in which they came together. Each vessel measures over 260 feet in length and is remarkably intact. The schooners testify to a critical transportation network that supplied New England’s energy needs and their involvement in the coal trade connects them to Americans along the East Coast.
Recently, the shipwreck was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance to American history. The NURC-UConn ROV carried an underwater video camera that transmitted video back to the research vessel Connecticut, operated by the University of Connecticut. Onboard the vessel the video was then encoded and sent to an onboard radio transmitter. The transmitter then beamed the video signal more than 20 miles to a receiver on shore in Massachusetts, and from there to a live audience in Gloucester, MA at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center and to an Internet Services Provider, which then streamed the video in real time over the World Wide Web. In addition to video from the ROV, researchers simultaneously displayed a multimedia PowerPoint presentation to enrich the online viewing experience. This broadcast was the second live broadcast conducted from the sanctuary. In July 2005 two 45-minute broadcasts were conducted from the shipwreck of the steamship Portland, lost with all hands in 1898, to viewers at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum in Provincetown, MA and over the World Wide Web.
This project supports NOAA’s research, scientific, and educational missions in a number of ways. The live broadcast gathered data to better understand, conserve, and manage the Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary and interpreted these maritime heritage resources in a new and engaging manner. The sanctuary is meeting its mandate from the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the National Historic Preservation Act to inventory, assess, protect, and interpret its archaeological resources. The continued study and interpretation of these resources will help scientists protect, restore, and manage the compatible uses of the world’s waterways. The heritage resources have been a starting point for fostering increased interest and recognition for all the sanctuary’s resources. For more information contact Deborah Marx, Maritime Archaeologist, NOAA, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, 175 Edward Foster Rd, Scituate, MA 02066, phone: 781-545-8026 ext. 214, email: Deborah.Marx@noaa.gov.
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB): State underwater archaeologists have found the remains of several boats in the Currituck Sound, including two they believe sank more than 100 years ago. UAB divers discovered what they believe was the steam freighter Undine, which struck a log and sank off Mackay Island in March 1912 while en route from Norfolk, VA to Coinjock, NC. Richard Lawrence, director of the UAB, believes the freighter was carrying passengers when it sank. The UAB team discovered the bottom section, measuring about 93 feet from bow to stern. The engine and other parts of the boat appeared to have been salvaged years ago, perhaps by the ship’s crew. UAB divers also discovered wooden planks and other debris from a 25-foot wooden sailing vessel in about 6 feet of water near Monkey Island. The ship dates back to the 1800s, possibly before the Civil War. However, the Underwater Archaeology Branch, which tracks the state’s shipwrecks, has no records of a ship sinking in the vicinity of Monkey Island. Divers also found the remains of what was believed to have been a schooner in a body of water known as Little Narrows. According to local sources, this schooner was sunk during the Civil War in order to block the channel. Information from the shipwrecks will be recorded at the Underwater Archaeology Branch’s headquarters at Fort Fisher.
Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC): In its authority as the state’s coastal agency and directed under Rhode Island General Law, the CRMC will assist underwater archaeologists in their discovery and preservation of a fleet of sunken Revolutionary War ships in Newport Harbor by providing a safe and secure site for exploration. The CRMC is cooperating with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, which is overseeing the work on the sunken fleet, as well as the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP), in regards to providing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) for exploration and preservation of the sunken vessels. Once the Marine Protected Area is designated by the Council, through enactment of emergency regulations, law enforcement authorities such as the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the State Police, and the Newport Harbormaster will be authorized by the CRMC to protect the 2-mile reserve area during activity. The CRMC will also provide local and other authorities with agency enforcement staff if needed. The CRMC will also establish a restricted perimeter around the entire area while work continues on the site to keep it safe for the archaeological team. "It is crucial that the site, as well as the archaeological team and other experts working on this wreck, be protected from looters and other divers during the exploration process," said CRMC Chairman Michael M. Tikoian. The CRMC-designated Marine Protected Area will allow local, state, and other enforcement officials to patrol the area during this time and ensure that the archaeologists are allowed to do their job without the threat of looting or disturbance of this important wreck site. We are proud to offer this protection to the state historical preservation and heritage commission and to RIMAP. While Kathy Abass, PhD, project director for RIMAP, at a 16 May press conference discussed the possibility that one of the sunken vessels might be Captain James Cook’s Endeavour, the team has not yet confirmed this. Work at the site will include trying to identify one of the ships as the Lord Sandwich, formerly the Endeavour.
US Naval Historical Center (USNHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB): The NHC UAB continue to meet its responsibilities toward historic Department of Navy (DON) ship and aircraft resources.
"The Navy at Normandy: D-Day’s Unseen Battlefields": The NHC UAB is providing archaeological and historical research in support of a public documentary project planned by David Clark Inc., and CACI production, in collaboration with the Naval Institute. To date, UAB staff have provided historic photographs (captions and credits) and short ships’ histories for USS Corry (DD-463), USS Glennon (DD-620), USS Meredith (DD-726), USS Tide (AM-125), USS LST-496, USS LST-523, and USS Susan B. Anthony (AP-72). The "Navy at Normandy" by David Clark Inc., and CACI productions, will access a wealth of new information researched by the Naval Historical Center’s (NHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch, and present it in a compelling, original, high-definition documentary. The production’s underwater cameras will visit many of the Navy ships that sank on D-Day. The story behind each underwater wreck will be brought to life with oral histories from veterans who were on ships at Normandy. First-person accounts will be combined with rare military footage of lesser-known yet crucial aspects to the naval invasion of Normandy, the pre-invasion reconnaissance by Navy Scouts and Raiders, heroic Naval Combat Demolition Units that blew up the obstructions, Combat Salvage operations that repaired or destroyed disabled craft to keep the channels open, and the valiant efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard making hundreds of water rescues as the battle raged around them. In a novel and all-encompassing perspective viewers will fly across the underwater battlefield as if the waters have been rolled back. Computer-generated 3-D imagery from the remote data collected by NHC will reveal the scores of sunken craft as never seen before.
Department of Navy (DON) Shipwreck Resources: USS Cumberland. Between 3 and 7 October 2005, the Naval Historical Center’s Underwater Archaeology Branch conducted a shipwreck survey of the USS Cumberland in the James River, VA. The project was a collaborative effort funded by a research grant from the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and with ship time donated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration, and supported by staff of the National Ocean Service. The primary objective of the survey was to document the remains of Cumberland, a United States Navy frigate that actively participated in the Navy’s North Atlantic Blockading Squadron until 8 March 1862, when the Confederate ironclad Virginia rammed and sunk it at Hampton Roads, VA. CSS Alabama: The summer of 2005 was the final expedition to the wreck site of CSS Alabama. The 2005 season under the direction of Dr. Gordon Watts brought closure to over a decade of archaeological research on Alabama. A 32-pounder cannon and several other artifacts were recovered and the site was extensively photographed in order to complete the site plan. Dr. Watts has initiated work on the final report.
H.L. Hunley: Excavation and disassembly continued on the Confederate submarine Hunley. Conservation of the crew’s personal artifacts continued. A conservation plan for the hull was drafted and reviewed by an international body of experts. Naval Research Laboratory agreed to assist with materials analysis and hull integrity studies. An agreement was reached between the South Carolina Hunley Commission and Clemson University so that the latter would develop the Warren Lash Conservation Center as a Clemson Research Laboratory. Bonhomme Richard: The Naval Historical Center agreed to collaborate with Ocean Technology Foundation on the search for John Paul Jones’ ship Bonhomme Richard. Accordingly, UA has initiated the collecting of historical research, data on previous surveys, ship’s losses, and geographic information for the area.
USS Hamilton and Scourge: The Naval Historical Center was asked to participate in dialogues concerning the future of the two War-of-1812 wrecks in Lake Ontario. The wrecks were given to the City of Hamilton by DON, but the human remains are still under DON jurisdiction.
Department of Navy (DON) Aviation Resources:
Lake Michigan: The NHC UAB continued the Lake Michigan project by analyzing side scan sonar data and comparing it to historical documents. In addition, UAB staff used Sable’s deck logs to reposition the ship when several experimental and at-the-time highly classified drones were lost in Traverse Bay, Michigan. No example of these drones remains today above water, a fact that adds to their significance to naval aviation history.
UA staff conducted a detailed examination of one of the aircraft recovered from Lake Michigan in the early 1990s. This aircraft was reportedly conserved/preserved, but it was found to be in a dangerously deteriorating state both from past and recent inaction. The Dauntless, said to have served at Midway, was to be displayed, hanging in the new Marine Corps museum, but as it was not structurally sound, a replacement is being made of fiberglass. UAB staff made a proposal to evaluate the condition of a sample group of the other 35-40 aircraft recovered from Lake Michigan to determine the extent of the problem, and to try to find a way to halt the corrosion and preserve these significant aircraft for many years to come.
Cralley Case: Despite having won his case through settlement, Mr. Cralley decided to appeal the settlement over a rare Corsair he recovered without permission from a National Forest in the mid-1970s. UA staff was tasked with providing all information on the subject in the ’discovery’ phase of preparing for litigation. The case was again settled out of court with Cralley being given the aircraft through an act of Congress. By so doing, the rightful title of the aircraft was asserted and maintained, thereby upholding sovereign immunity property rights.
TBD Devastator: Interest remains high in recovering a TBD Devastator from the Marshall Islands. UAB staff attended a meeting at the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation with Department of State officials and representatives from the National Park Service, and the non-profit group TIGHAR. TIGHAR would like to plan a site documentation, recovery of, and conservation for one of the Devastators. The U.S. government’s position is to encourage anyone interested in such projects, but to withhold decisions until a full plan has been provided by an applicant. It is believed TIGHAR will submit a written proposal sometime in 2006.