Underwater News - January 2006
In September 2005 MAHHI entered into an agreement with the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) to offer NAS training courses in Hawai`i. These training courses provide those interested in maritime archaeology the opportunity to receive instruction in basic techniques including survey, photography and mapping and then continue their training with more advanced courses. Individuals who complete NAS approved courses may continue their training with any NAS affiliated program worldwide. MAHHI will provide these courses beginning in Summer 2006.
MAHHI continues to co-sponsor the annual Symposium on Maritime Archaeology and History of Hawai’i and the Pacific. This year the symposium was held on the Big Island. The theme of this year’s symposium was “Our Voyaging Ancestors.” Sessions included Pacific Voyaging, Hawaiian Maritime History and World War II archaeology in the Pacific. Other co-sponsors were the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa Marine Option Program and Department of Anthropology and the University of Hawai`i at Hilo Marine Option Program and Department of Anthropology. The 2007 symposium is scheduled for Presidents’ Day weekend in Honolulu. A call for papers will be announced during the summer. Website: http://www.mahhi.org
The Maritime Archaeology Survey Techniques course is scheduled for June 1-29, 2006 on the Big Island. The targeted site for this field school is a shipwreck that appears to be that of an early 20th-century steamship, possibly the S.S. Maui, an inter-island steamer loaded with sugar that foundered along this section of coast in 1917. Other near shore sites may be included as scheduling permits. This is a four-week course; one week of instruction, two weeks of survey work and a final week preparing and presenting a report based on our findings. Students may register for undergraduate or graduate credit: ANTH 381: Archaeological Field Techniques (6 credits) or ANTH 668: Archaeology Field Methods (6 credits). Website: http://www.anthropology.hawaii.edu
The Board issued or renewed 11 permits as well as reviewed numerous compliance projects in 2005. The growth in project review activities reflects a shifting to compliance projects. It was the status quo for permitted projects. However, the MBUAR took the extraordinary step of revoking a permit for cause (violations). This was the first instance of revocation; in the past situations, permits would not be renewed.
Offshore wind energy projects and submerged pipeline/offshore moorings for LNG vessels were a major focus on the compliance side. In such projects, once potential cultural resources are identified the project footprints (impact areas) are typically re-designed to avoid resources. While potential sites are discovered, they do not require further investigation or characterization. Fortunately, one proponent offered to undertake limited additional preliminary investigations of these avoided sites. MBUAR and Public Archaeology Laboratory staff co-investigated via ROV 6 shipwreck sites off Beverly (MA). One site was identified as the Lightship LV-39 (formerly Brenton Reef, RI). Built in 1875, the vessel had undergone extensive refit/retrofit during service. She was stripped and sold out of service in 1936. After which she again underwent substantial renovation and major changes to be converted to a restaurant. She foundered under tow in 1975 on her way, yet again, to the boatyard for renovations. The site is heavily enshrouded in ghost fishing gear.
In addition to permitting activities, MBUAR continued (see 2004 report) or initiated very preliminary field investigations on several sites over the course of the year. In one new case, a section of wooden hull remains (indeterminate age) was located in a salt pond/marsh (estuary area behind barrier shore) over a half mile inland from beach or channel areas (historic or modern). The location of this site is an instance of extreme wash over affecting site disposition.
MBUAR received the donation from the estate of diver/local historian of a shipwreck research files. The materials have a geographic range from Rhode Island to Newfoundland, but concentrate mainly on Massachusetts and Maine. The collection includes site files (of varying quality) for roughly 4,000 sites, an index card files by vessel name, a photo files, and several thousand 35 mm slides. As noted above, our research fellow was placing the shipwreck files into a database. It is a significant addition to the MBUAR research files.
The MBUAR continued a strong relationship with the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) and the Office of the State Medical Examiner. MBUAR continued to actively provide technical assistance to a variety of state and federal agencies including the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office (MCZM), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Naval Historical Center, U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS). For SBNMS, MBUAR staff participated in remote sensing and several site evaluation cruises and serve on their Marine Archaeology Working Group which assisted in developing the Sanctuary's management plan.
MBUAR expanded its public outreach activities, which previously had been chiefly public lectures and participation in the Bay State Council of Divers (the umbrella organization of sport diving clubs in Massachusetts), to:
On Sunday 10 July 2005, two 45-minute live video broadcasts were sent from the shipwreck of the steamship Portland located in SBNMS to viewers at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum and on the World Wide Web. The broadcasts gave viewers a live tour of the Portland via the National Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes (NURC NA&GL) remotely operated vehicle Hela, narrated by researchers positioned over the wreck on board the University of Connecticut's (UConn) R/V Connecticut.
Approximately 140 people watched the tours at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum in Provincetown, MA. An additional 700 visits were made to www.nurc.uconn.edu, to view the broadcast's streaming video. Viewers at the Pilgrim Monument communicated in real time with researchers Ivar Babb, Matthew Lawrence, and Deborah Marx during the broadcast, asking questions about the Portland and the marine life resident on the wreck.
Launched in 1889, the Portland was one of the most palatial coastal steamships afloat as it traveled between Portland, Maine and Boston. Measuring over 280 feet long, the Maine-built wooden-hulled side paddle wheel steamship transported passengers and freight along the New England coast with a relatively uneventful record until its loss with all hands, an estimated 192 persons, in November 1898. The Portland became known as the "Titanic of New England" due to the scale of the tragedy and its impact on the region.
Originally scheduled for Saturday, 9 July, high sea and bad weather forced the broadcast's postponement until Sunday. The broadcasts are currently archived on a video on demand server operated by VBrick Systems Inc. The videos can be viewed with QuickTime software at www.explorethesea.com.
Viewers of the live broadcast witnessed the remarkable, yet fragile, condition of the historic shipwreck. The Portland's remains dramatically convey the terrible ordeal its passengers experienced prior to the steamship's sinking. Furthermore, the biological diversity resident on the wreck is a snapshot of the sanctuary's ecosystem and provides a sharp juxtaposition with the human loss associated with the shipwreck.
The live broadcasts were only one component of a five-day project in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to investigate maritime heritage resources with an ROV in conjunction with the annual SBNMS sponsored NURC NA&GL Aquanaut Program. The cruise documented several previously unexplored shipwreck sites with video and still photographs to assess and subsequently interpret the tangible evidence of SBNMS's maritime heritage. The live broadcast was supported by NOAA's Preserve America Initiative Grant Program.
SBNMS and NURC NA&GL have been active partners since the sanctuary's designation by Congress in 1992. Technical support from NURC NA&GL has been crucial to satisfying SBNMS's mandate to inventory, assess, nominate to the National Register of Historic Places, interpret, and manage its maritime heritage resources. Through this partnership, NOAA scientists have located over a dozen potentially historic shipwrecks in the sanctuary and completed detailed investigations of the sites with side scan sonar, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
Pepe Productions, a Glens Falls, New York-based multi-media production firm, in conjunction with Bateaux Below, Inc, a Wilton, New York not-for-profit educational corporation that conducts underwater archaeology at Lake George, New York, have released a 57 minute long documentary entitled The Lost Radeau: North America's Oldest Intact Warship. The documentary was one-and-a-half years in production and it is about the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau shipwreck, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. The historic shipwreck was discovered in 1990 during a Klein 595 side scan sonar survey conducted by the group that later became known as Bateaux Below, Inc. The documentary is written by J.R. Whitesel and underwater archaeologist Joseph W. Zarzynski. One of the features of the production is the state-of-the-art animation that was created by animator J.R. Whitesel. The documentary examines the history, discovery, and archaeological study of a little known, but extremely historic shipwreck, an icon of the French and Indian War (1755-1763). The 52 ft. long x 18 ft. wide Land Tortoise was a British and provincial floating gun battery, literally a floating fortress. The unusually shaped seven-sided watercraft was pierced for seven cannons and was deliberately sunk by British forces on October 22, 1758, to prevent the battlecraft from falling into the hands of the French and their Native American allies.
After the 1990 discovery of the radeau, a team of volunteer scuba divers and underwater archaeologists, directed by D.K. Abbass, Ph.D. and Joseph W. Zarzynski, teamed up and overcame numerous obstacles to map the shipwreck and work with State of New York agencies to put the shipwreck in an underwater state park for divers. The Land Tortoise is the only radeau-class shipwreck to have ever been found and studied by underwater archaeologists. The radeau lies in 107 ft. of water. Unlike many submerged vessels that are wrecks, the Land Tortoise is intact and it is not affected by zebra mussel colonization. Part of the proceeds from its sale of "The Lost Radeau" DVD documentary go to Bateaux Below, Inc. and to a legacy fund to support management strategies for the historic shipwreck as well as to help fund future underwater archaeology projects at Lake George, New York. For more information on the DVD documentary visit www.thelostradeau.com.
A harbor development planned for Queenscliff led to the exposure of one of the most intact archaeological piers in the state. The Queenscliff Fishermen's Pier was built in several stages from 1856 onwards and originally provided the only access to the township. The pier serviced many of the state's essential services, including defense forces, emergency lifeboat, and a major tourism industry until a second pier was built in the 1880s. It also provided the focus for the Queenscliff fishing community for landing catches, repairing boats and direct 'off the boat' sales of barracouta. The pier was derelict by the 1950s, by which time it was being subsumed by a prograding coastal shoreline.
The only visible archaeological evidence of the site was a single bollard pile protruding from under bushes in the coastal sand dunes. Several geo-referenced charts suggested that the shoreline had prograded up to 400m from its original position in the nineteenth century, which was also confirmed by local oral histories. Geoff Hewitt, on behalf of Terraculture consultants, has just undertaken an exploratory excavation prior to a planned road construction, and as predicted, exposed substantial sections of an intact 19th- century pier dating to the 1856-1870s period. Geoff has undertaken extensive technical recording of the site in very hot and awkward conditions, and even relocated a former sign Danger - Unsafe Pier!
The section exposed is a small knuckle landing offset from the main pier, which was used to house the Fishermen's Shed (the fisher's local meeting place). Further extensive remains are anticipated in this area. This is probably a unique find in Victoria as this is essentially an undisturbed archaeological deposit, where most of the pier is intact up to,and in some areas including, deck level. Experience has shown that most other archaeological pier remnants in Victoria, even those under landfill, are usually limited to piles alone. Heritage Victoria is currently considering options for protecting the rest of the site. For more information contact: Brad Duncan, Maritime Archaeologist, Maritime Infrastructure Heritage Project, Heritage Victoria, Level 7/ 8 Nicholson St, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
EHS continued its strategy of detailed surveying of coastal landscapes in 2005. Following the success of the publication on Strangford Lough, fieldwork resumed on Rathlin Island, located off the NE coast of Ireland and close to Scotland. Many new coastal sites have been recorded and excavations were undertaken at Bruce's Castle, a cliff-top ruin shown by excavation to have been built in the 13th century. Seabed geophysics has demonstrated the potential for submerged landscapes in the vicinity of the island and has shed considerable light on changing sea level during prehistory. Wreck sites close to the island were found to be of 19th- and 20th- century date. Despite ongoing searches, remains of Elizabethan warships, said to be close to Bruce's Castle, were not located. Work is now under way towards the publication of the survey results and is due for completion in November 2006.
Initial fieldwork has started along the north coast of Northern Ireland and a feature of this area will be its sand dunes, fortified coastal promontories and caves. Ground-truthing of seabed anomalies at Skerries near Dunluce castle proved disappointing with no cultural material identified.
As part of the bicentenary celebrations for the Battle of Trafalgar a collaborative project was held on Blockhouse Island at the entrance to Carlingford Lough. EHS staff worked with colleagues from the National Trust, the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Ulster and the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen's University Belfast. Investigations were undertaken into an Elizabethan fortress that had formerly stood on the island guarding access to the Lough. Photographs show that the building was in relatively good condition in the mid-1950s but has since been almost completely destroyed. Large chunks of masonry were recorded using Cyrax laser scanning techniques but the site has been devastated by coastal erosion during the last half century. Wreck searches in the vicinity were hampered by poor weather.
A new season on the deep water archaeology project Ormen Lange Marine has recently begun. The Ormen Lange Marine Archaeology Project is the most technologically-advanced underwater archaeology research project ever undertaken.
In 2003, NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet discovered a late 18th-century historic shipwreck close to one of the planned Ormen Lange gas pipeline routes. Because the shipwreck is protected under the Law of Protection of Cultural Heritage, additional investigations of the wreck site are necessary before the pipeline can be installed. Due to the substantial water depth of 160 to 200 meters SCUBA diving is impossible and requires the use of remotely operated vehicles to conduct all mapping, surveying, sampling and excavation. In addition there are several other shipwrecks in the pipeline area. For more information about the project visit: www.vitenskapsmuseet.no/ormenmarin or contact Dr. Marek E. Jasinski, Institute of Archaeology and Studies of Religion, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2001, a chance discovery at Isla San Telmo, Panama of a hitherto unknown submarine wreck that appears in the surf at low tide resulted in the identification of the substantially intact craft as a New York-built, 1865 submarine, the Sub Marine Explorer. Working with naval historians and drawing on records in the National Archives, a rudimentary plan of the vessel was obtained and information was obtained about its inventor, Julius H. Kroehl, as well as a basic history of the Sub Marine Explorer.
Sub Marine Explorer is a rare example of the earliest generation of working submersibles (submarines) from the pioneering developmental period of the mid-19th century. While future archaeological discoveries may reveal the remains of other, and earlier craft, as of 2005, only five submarines whose date of construction predates 1870 are known to have survived: Wilhelm Bauer's Der Brandtaucher (1850), now a museum display in Kiel, Germany; an unnamed Confederate submarine that probably dates to 1862 and is now on display in New Orleans, Louisiana; the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley (1863), archaeologically recovered and currently undergoing analysis and conservation in Charleston, South Carolina; Sub Marine Explorer (1865), at Isla San Telmo, Panama; and Intelligent Whale (1866), now a museum display in New Jersey.
Sub Marine Explorer is, with Intelligent Whale, one of only two submarines of this handful of early survivors that included a pressurized compartment that allowed divers to enter and exit the craft at depth; it is the world's oldest 'lock-out' dive chamber. Although a self-propelled craft, it is clearly the most sophisticated of all known late 19th-century submersibles. Built for war but used in peace, it is as yet the only Union-built submarine from the Civil War known to have survived. An amazing technological achievement of the early Industrial Age in America, Sub Marine Explorer represents the intellectual and industrial energy of its age. It was the product of a German immigrant inventor and engineer working with the forges and foundries of New York's shipyards and ironworks, at the time the nation' s industrial heartland. It is a tangible reminder of the entrepreneurial spirit of an age which manifested itself in a speculative venture for naval use that when thwarted turned to the exploitation of resources from the seas off Panama. As a self-propelled craft, with a lock-out capacity, Explorer was employed in pearl diving until problems with decompression sickness (which resulted in debilitating illness and death for the crew, including inventor Kroehl) led to its abandonment near the site of its last pearl harvesting expedition at Isla San Telmo, in the Pearl Islands on Panama's pacific Coast, in 1869.
Following the initial encounter with the submarine, principal investigator James Delgado was assisted by Richard Wills, Mark Ragan, and Robert Schwemmer in the archival documentation of the craft. A detailed field project in 2004 resulted in a higher level of documentation for the wrecked craft that lies in the intertidal zone of the uninhabited and remote island. Field work was accomplished under permit from the Director Nacional del Patrimonio Histórico of the Instituto Nacional De Cultura (INAC) for the period between February 25 and March 5, 2004. Of special note is that this was the first permit issued in Panama for a maritime archaeological project under the new guidelines for INAC under the terms of the newly enacted UNESCO Charter for Underwater Cultural Heritage. Because Panama was the first nation to ratify this charter, the permit for Explorer is believed to be the first issued in the world under the terms of the new charter.
The 2004 fieldwork was underwritten by Eco-Nova Productions Ltd. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, producers of the National Geographic International Television series The Sea Hunters, and by a grant from the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM). The CAMM grant, maximizing the other resources of television show funding, allowed us to conduct a more thorough non-destructive documentation of the submarine through a 3D-laser scan of the submarine's exterior. Hand-measurements of the interior were the basis for detailed drawings by Todd A. Croteau of the Historic American Engineering Record of the National Park Service.
This work fell into three categories: 1) Detailed high-resolution digital photography of the submarine and its features, video documentation of the submarine at high and low tide, including underwater video survey of the always submerged portions of the submarine; 2) three-dimensional laser scan of the submarine exterior and interior utilizing the “Cyrax system” to provide a high resolution digital record of the submarine, which allows for the creation of a lines plan and detailed measured and accurate plans of construction details. The project team employed on the Cyrax documentation of H.L. Hunley, Epic Scan/Pacific Survey, performed this work; 3) limited test excavation of the sand in the vessel's stern to expose the bottom of the submarine in that area and determine the interface of the submarine with the beach.
The results of the survey not only documented the vessel's characteristics and ascertained details of its operating systems, but also determined that the submarine is at risk and is deteriorating. A return to Isla San Telmo at the end of 2005 is anticipated to assess the rate of deterioration, hydrographic data, and develop a conservation plan.
Despite well-publicized claims in the media that a British adventurer discovered the craft in 2005 and an alleged link to Jules Verne, with Explorer serving as the inspiration for Captain Nemo's Nautilus, the craft has long known to have been at Isla San Telmo. However its identity and significance were not known until a site visit in 2002. The Verne claim is doubted by scholars and distracts from the ship’s importance in the evolution of submersibles in the 19th century as well as its endangered status.
The internet has become a forum for the exchange of information on underwater archaeology and related maritime resources. The location of new sites that focus on maritime or related fields will be included as a regular feature. Share the news with your colleagues by forwarding new listings or sites to email@example.com for future inclusion in the SHA Newsletter.
The World Ocean Observatory is a place of exchange for ocean information, education and public discourse about the future of the ocean and its implication for human survival. Incorporating links and information about the physical ocean and the UN Atlas of the Oceans and other useful sites; the world ocean directory, an indexed network of organizations worldwide with ocean interests; the world ocean forum, a digest of ocean conferences, publications, exhibits, news and media; and the world ocean classroom, an inventory of curriculum, ocean exemplars and educational resources for global distribution. It is the creation of Dr. Peter Neill, former president of South Street Seaport, the Council of American Maritime Museums, and the International Congress of Maritime Museums. For more information contact Peter Neill, Director, The World Ocean Observatory, c/o Open Space Institute, 1350 Broadway, Room 201, New York, NY 10018 USA, email: pneill@theW2O.net. Tel: 207-359-545.