Underwater News - Winter 2008
Submitted by Toni Carrell <email@example.com>
NPS, Submerged Cultural Resources Center: The two main projects the National Park Service's Submerged Resources Center (NPS-SRC) continued in 2007 were the USS Arizona Preservation Project and a multiyear study of inundated and emergent historic and prehistoric sites at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. In addition, we participated in 14 projects of varying duration at parks such as Channel Islands NP, Isle Royale NP, and Biscayne NP. Finally, SRC continued the initial phase of a joint NPS/NOAA/UC-Berkeley project in Point Reyes National Seashore to locate and evaluate historical shipwrecks in Drakes Bay.
The NPS-SRC continued to compile a draft report on USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, HI as part of a multiyear, interdisciplinary project to characterize critical processes affecting Arizona, develop a predictive engineering model to calculate diminishing structural integrity over time, and produce a long-term preservation plan for the battleship including management alternatives. This is an issue that continues to attract the attention of managers and the general public due to the iconic nature of the wreck and the ongoing seepage of oil from the ship's fuel bunkers.
The SRC also continued work on submerged sites in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, including a B-29 Superfortress in 150 ft. of water and industrial sites associated with Hoover Dam construction approximately 120-140 ft. deep. Daniel Lenihan was project director and Dave Conlin was field director.
SRC continued to consult with NPS archaeologists and resource and project managers on removal of the wreck of the ferry Ellis Island from the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Removal of the wreck is a priority for the park prior to rehabilitation of the seawall and south side development at Ellis Island. Conlin is working closely with park and regional personnel, as well as the New York and New Jersey SHPO offices, to develop a documentation plan for wreck removal in 2008.
SRC is also closely involved in the planning and review of proposed dredging activities in the upper Hudson River adjacent to Saratoga National Historical Park, NY. The upper Hudson River was heavily contaminated with PCBs originating at the General Electric facility in Fort Edwards. Proposed dredging activities will likely have an adverse effect on submerged resources in the river and SRC is working closely with the park, General Electric, and the Environmental Protection Agency to mitigate these impacts.
Finally, SRC continued the preliminary phases of a joint NPS/NOAA/UC-Berkeley project to locate, document, and evaluate submerged cultural resources in Drakes Bay, CA within Point Reyes National Seashore. Remote sensing in 1997-1998 resulted in location of dozens of buried magnetic anomalies that have not yet been evaluated. The planned project will begin anomaly investigation in a phased approach beginning in 2008. At the same time, Russell began to evaluate museum collections of 16th-century artifacts from the Spanish Manila galleon San Agustin excavated from terrestrial Coast Miwok sites in the 1940s and 1950s in an ongoing reanalysis of the material.
Naval Historical Center (NHC), Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB): The NHC's UAB assists the Director of NavalHistory and the Department of the Navy in all matters related to the science of underwater archaeology and the identification, research, interpretation, preservation, conservation, inventory, and management of the U.S. Navy's historic ship and aircraft wrecks and their associated contents. These cultural resources fall under the protection of the U.S. government and the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy (USN). With the recent additions of Alexis Catsambis and George Schwarz, and following a reorganization of the Naval Historical Center (NHC), UAB has extended its capabilities and scope and is actively engaging in a number of areas. Beyond ensuring USN compliance with the federal archaeology program and promoting public outreach and education, during the past year UAB has focused its attention on the few key aspects outlined below.
Sunken Military Craft Act: Perhaps the most significant undertaking the UAB has been involved with in recent months has been the drafting and review of the regulations for the Sunken Military Craft act (SMCa). The SMCa is important in the protection of the USN's underwater cultural heritage because it ensures that the U.S. maintains the right, title, and interest in and to any U.S. sunken military ship or aircraft regardless of the passage of time, without express divestiture of title. In addition, protection is afforded against disturbance, removal, or injury to sunken U.S. military craft, and their associated contents, wherever they may be located. The act also provides a mechanism for permitting intrusive archaeological investigation of sites for approved purposes and puts in place civil enforcement measures to prevent unauthorized disturbance. Finally, the act encourages bilateral and multilateral agreements with foreign countries for the protection of sunken military craft; upon request by a foreign state, permitting regulations that apply to U.S. military craft may be extended to any sunken military craft of that foreign state located in U.S. waters.
This latter section of the act recognizes that the U.S. has much to gain from reciprocal agreements with other states with regard to the protection of sunken military craft. While the UAB maintains a database identifying more than 1,400 USN sunken military ships and almost 6,300 aircraft that are located or believed to be located within U.S. waters, more than 1,600 ships and nearly 8,500 aircraft are believed to lie outside these waters.
Permit Granting: Under current regulations 32 CFR 767, the UAB has also been occupied with reviewing and granting permits to conduct archaeological research on USN sunken craft. A recent case involved the survey for USS Chippewa (1815-1816) and USS Onkahye (1840-1848) conducted by Ships of Discovery in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The expedition was able to locate the wreck site of USS Chippewa, and is planning on returning next year to document the site and continue the search for USS Onkahye. Another recent project that was permitted involved the recovery of artifacts from USS Saginaw by members of NOAA's Office of Marine Sanctuaries. The lead sounding weight and bell that were raised are now undergoing conservation and will be exhibited to the public, forwarding the public outreach and education mission of both organizations.
Bonhomme Richard Survey Project: For the past few years the UAB and Ocean Technology Foundation (OTF) have been actively searching for the remains of Bonhomme Richard, flagship of American naval officer John Paul Jones. Jones's vessel, a French East Indiaman turned warship, sank in the North Sea in 1779 after the famous encounter with the 44-gun HMS Serapis at the Battle of Flamborough Head. The battle ensued after Jones, who had spent several weeks capturing or sinking British vessels off the British Isles, spotted and engaged a Baltic convoy that was instrumental for maintaining England's naval dockyards. For three and a half hours the battle raged at point-blank range, and though Jones emerged the victor, Bonhomme Richard could not be sailed. As Jones transferred his wounded men to the captured Serapis, he watched his own ship list and sink from the tremendous damage her hull had sustained.
Previous surveys conducted by OTF in conjunction with NHC were executed in 2006 and 2007, but proved inconclusive. This past summer, with the assistance of the U.S. Navy Submarine Force, the survey team applied the technology of the nuclear research submarine NR1. Incorporating the sonar devices and virtually nonstop operational capabilities of NR1, the mission was to survey predetermined grids which were plotted in the software program ArcGIS.
Other collaborators include Peter Reaveley, a researcher who has been analyzing the Battle of Flamborough Head and the sinking of Bonhomme Richard for 35 years, and Dr. Peter Guth, Professor of Oceanography at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, who created the computer program that generated the team's drift models.
Using the research conducted by the team over the past several years, drift models were created which suggested the most likely directions in which the battered Bonhomme Richard would have been carried before its eventual sinking. With the assistance of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), OTF was able to obtain hydrographic data for the projected search area. The data provided by the UKHO included GIS positions for shipwrecks, bottom features such as sand waves and oil pipelines, trawl marks, and fishermen's obstructions. Using ArcGIS to plot the known wrecks in the search area, the team was able to designate priority search grids which could be relayed from the support vessel to the operators of the submarine via UHF radio.
NR1 was the primary survey vessel for this expedition. It is equipped with an Obstacle Avoidance Sonar (OAS) as well as side scan sonar. With these devices, NR1 was able to detect shipwrecks and debris fields within the ranges of the sonar that were lying on the sea bed. Ferrous obstacles showed up as amorphous red contacts on the OAS, indicating iron objects. Large blue contacts on the OAS were possible signs of shipwrecks, and were tracked and investigated at the opportune time. NR1's equipment was able to detect numerous potential targets which were examined in detail. Investigation of each target consisted of making several passes around the shipwreck, recording extensive video from multiple video cameras, documenting archaeological features based on video and viewport observations, and capturing well-defined side scan images.
During the latter part of the field season a magnetometer became available for use. Because Bonhomme Richard is estimated to have sunk with over 220 tons of iron (between cannon and pig ballast), the shipwreck is expected have a prominent magnetic signature. The use of the magnetometer confirmed that several of our targets did contain varying degrees of iron.
The nuclear submarine began the survey on 11 June in the primary search grid, which was determined by the drift model research. Two wrecks in this area were considered to be possible Bonhomme Richard candidates, but upon further investigation were dismissed as a modern iron-hulled vessel and a wooden trawler. Four days later, the team directed NR1 to numerous wrecks that were listed as unidentified on the UKHO charts. The remaining days, from 17 June to 1 July, were spent surveying the secondary search areas in an effort to cover as large an area as possible. The OAS picked up numerous contacts and the crew investigated the high-priority targets as time allowed. Upon completion, the NR1 had surveyed over 375 mi. in the North Sea.
The amount of raw data that was collected during the survey is vast, and several days of continuous video were recorded for analysis. The team is still in the process of sorting through the data and prioritizing potential Bonhomme Richard targets. Out of 18 contacts that were located, 9 were found worthy of further investigation. The wooden wrecks that are partially buried are of the highest priority, and will be assessed for diagnostic features associated with the expected remains of Bonhomme Richard. Some of these features would include a wooden hull with limited iron reinforcements (knees), a large assemblage of iron cannon and ballast, robust frames and other structural elements, and a deteriorated hull (due to poor preservation and heavy damage sustained from the naval battle).
Further surveying is required, but this summer the team effectively narrowed the search area by systematically eliminating several listed wrecks and large survey areas that were considered viable options as the possible location of the shipwreck. In addition, there are now five wooden shipwrecks that have the potential to exhibit features diagnostic to Bonhomme Richard, to be determined after further review of available data and future surveys. Plans are currently underway for a possible 2009 follow-up survey of the narrowed search area utilizing magnetometers, ROVs, side scan sonar, a multibeam echo-sounder, and a sub-bottom profiler.
Loan Program: In tune with the NHC restructuring, UAB has recently been tasked with managing the loan agreements for the Navy's submerged material culture, a duty NR-1 and crew at Portsmouth prior to departing for the survey area (Photo by George Schwarz, NHC, UAB). Volume 41: Number 4 Winter 2008 Page 23 that was previously performed by the Curator Branch. Recently, a loan program was implemented and the artifacts from various submerged Navy sites have been put on loan to national and international museums, including La Cité de la Mer (France) and the Museum of Mobile (AL). These loan agreements were designed to ensure not only that important and interesting Navy artifacts are made available for public display and study, but also that they are routinely monitored for condition assessment and safekeeping.
The UAB looks forward to furthering its efforts in preserving and sharing the Navy's underwater cultural heritage through the continuation of ongoing initiatives and further collaborations with institutions that share in the NHC's objectives. Future projects range from the publication of important reports on H. L. Hunley and the D-Day Landings to developing projects that will highlight the Navy's contribution to the War of 1812 in the upcoming bicentennial commemoration. For more information on the NHC and the UAB, please visit our soon-to-be-renovated website, http://history.navy.mil.
Maritime Archaeology Program, Flinders University: The Maritime Archaeology Program, in conjunction with the Flinders University Department of Archaeology, Australasian Institute of Maritime Archaeology (AIMA), Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology (ASHA), and Australian Association for Maritime History (AAMH), organized and hosted the 2008 AIMA/ASHA/AAMH Annual Archaeology Conference in Adelaide, SA. The conference theme, "Archaeology from Below: Engaging the Public," was derived from the 1960s movement "History from Below," which motivated historians to shift their focus from topics such as great men, big wars, and political elites to subjects that previously had been neglected such as women, children, the urban and rural poor, immigrants, and ethnic minorities. Over 130 attendees took part in the conference, which included more than 70 presenters in nine sessions covering a variety of topics and themes. The conference also featured six distinguished international guest speakers, a free public presentation about the discovery of the Australian warship HMAS Sydney (II), and interactive workshops. James Hunter, a new Ph.D. student in the Maritime Archaeology Program, won the Best Student Paper Award at the conference for his presentation "One-Hit Wonders: The 'Russian Scare' and the Rise of Colonial Australasian Torpedo Boats."
Flinders University researchers Jennifer McKinnon and Jason Raupp teamed up with Australian National University researcher Daryl Guse to investigate Macassan maritime industries that once occurred in Anuru Bay, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. This is an important aspect to understanding Indigenous Australian interaction with the Macassans and the depictions of these people and their watercraft in the area's rock art record. For two weeks researchers conducted excavations at Macassan treepang (sea slug) processing sites, conducted marine surveys within intertidal areas, and surveyed the natural and cultural features of the land and seascape for Macassan and Indigenous Australian maritime heritage. This survey and excavation of Macassan sites is the first research-driven investigation into Macassan activities in 30 years.
Maritime Archaeology Program Ph.D. student Claire Dappert received a Flinders University Overseas Traveling Fellowship, a prestigious and competitive award bestowed annually on one university doctoral candidate. As part of her fellowship, Dappert interned with the PAST Foundation under the direction of Dr. Sheli Smith to analyze and interpret the artifact collection recovered from Frolic, a shipwreck excavated by the PAST Foundation in 2003 and 2004. The fellowship also enabled her to conduct research in a number of museums and libraries, including the Peabody Essex Museum, U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. National Archives, and New York Public Library, as well as consult with archaeologists affiliated with several state agencies and university programs. Dappert intends to complete her dissertation in early 2009.
New Maritime Archaeology Program staff member Amer Khan was lead trainer at the UNESCO Advanced Training of Trainers Workshop, held between 20 March and 10 April 2008, in Galle, Sri Lanka. The 3-week workshop included a number of archaeology and cultural heritage management instructors from the Asia-Pacific region, as well as 14 participants from Sri Lanka.
Ph.D. student Jun Kimura is currently engaged in a number of projects related to his thesis topic. His primary focus is the archaeological study of medieval East Asian shipwrecks, an interest that originated from his experience working at the Mongolian invasion site in Japan. He is working in cooperation with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University to investigate an historic battle site associated with the Mongolian invasion of Vietnam. Jun is also developing a regional shipwreck resource on the Internet in collaboration with other East Asian researchers; this project is fully supported by the Toyota Foundation in Japan.
In October the Australian Research Council (ARC) released the results for ARC Linkage Grant funding in 2009. The Maritime Archaeology Program's proposal, "The South Australian Historical and Maritime Archaeology Management Project," was awarded total funding of $78,420 for the years 2009-2011. The Maritime Archaeology Program received support in this endeavor from research partners in the South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage, South Australian Maritime Museum, and Archaeological & Heritage Management Solutions. The funding will be used in part to support Flinders doctoral student Adam Paterson, who will take up an APAI postgraduate scholarship in 2009.
Underwater Archaeology Service (UAS) Parks Canada: The field season began in April 2007 when a team from Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeology Service (UAS) team conducted a 1-week side scan sonar survey of the Hamilton and Scourge Shipwreck Site in Lake Ontario. These armed American schooners sank during a sudden squall in August 1813 near the mouth of the Niagara River. Discovered in 1973, they have been the subject of intermittent archaeological investigation since then, notably in 1982 and 1990. The UAS provides underwater archaeological guidance and expertise to the City of Hamilton and is working closely with another of the city's technical partners, ASI Group of St. Catharines, ON. Using its Klein 3000 side scan sonar, the UAS and ASI completed a sonar mosaic of a 2 x 1.2 km area encompassing the wrecks as well as close-up imaging passes of each wreck and their immediate debris fields. Results from the sonar survey are being added to a site GIS and will be scrutinized to extract accurate scale dimension data on the wrecks, which will greatly assist in the planning for a series of ROV inspection dives planned for 2008.
In May and June the UAS returned to the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada. The 6-week project marked the final year of the submerged cultural resource inventory of the waterway. Highlights of this year's survey include the documentation of a shipwreck graveyard in Peterborough; the side scan sonar survey from Campbellford to Trenton; and the monitoring of a prehistoric weir site at Sunset Bay. With the majority of the fieldwork complete, the focus is now on inputting the data into a GIS and report writing.
Also in June the UAS trained for one week at Fathom Five National Marine Park, building on last year's experience using closed-circuit rebreathers. This training included a skills refresher, photo and video work, and the reconnaissance of several wreck sites in anticipation of the monitoring work in the fall.
In June and July, the UAS continued an earlier side scan sonar survey initiated in 2004 in Lake Superior. A 3-week field project focused on inventorying a shipwreck graveyard dating to 1936 when over three dozen derelicts were removed from the nearby harbors of Port Arthur and Fort William, neighboring municipalities which later amalgamated into the present-day city of Thunder Bay. An area in excess of 5 x 5 km was systematically surveyed in 2007 with nine of the wrecks, lying at depths beyond 250 feet, ultimately being examined by ROV. The most significant vessel remains to be identified were those of the Druid, a Confederate blockade runner built in Scotland in 1856. In the course of the U.S. Civil War, Druid completed eight successful smuggling runs between Charleston, SC and Nassau in the Bahamas. At war's end, Druid was sold to the new Dominion Government of Canada, which operated the vessel for the following 35 years. The object of the 2007 Lake Superior survey was to determine the overall extent of the graveyard site and to assess the historical value of the various derelicts interred therein to see if this collection of wrecks potentially merited inclusion in the new Lake Superior National Marine Conservation area announced by the prime minister in October.
A 2-week field project was conducted in August in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada. The Mingan Archipelago is located on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the Province of Québec, approximately 225 km east of Sept-Iles. The more than 1,000 islands and coastal islets are spread over a 150 km long territory of approximately 112 km2. This territory has been occupied for 6,000 years and testimonies of European presence go back to the Basques and then the French who established a trading post in the late 17th century. In the mid-19th century, more permanent settlements were established by fishermen coming mainly from the Magdalene Islands and Acadia. The objectives of the 2-year project planned for 2007 and 2008 are to document shipwreck remains in order to supplement the upcoming interpretation of the two lighthouses of the archipelago (1888 and 1915). The 2007 campaign's aim was to test the methodology and to familiarize the team with the diving and remote sensing conditions. The oldest shipwreck documented in the archives is the Clyde, an 1857 steamer with propeller, although there are likely to be older wrecks. The 2007 work yielded interesting results: two possible new sections of hull of the Clyde were identified with side scan sonar as well as what seems to be the anchor.
In September a UAS team of Jonathan Moore and Ryan Harris returned to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site (Queen Charlotte Islands, BC) for two weeks. The UAS is working with Parks Canada archaeologist Daryl Fedje and his colleague Dr. Quentin Mackie of the University of Victoria to locate submerged prehistoric sites on drowned landscapes dating to 11,000 years BP that are found at depths of approximately 130 ft. (40 m). This year's objective was to use a Klein 3000 side scan sonar and integrated S3000 'Chirp' sub-bottom profiler to map the outlet of a submerged lake as well as to conduct ROV inspection dives in high-priority areas. The UAS was fortunate to have Garry Kozak of L3-Klein Associates accompany the team and provide the above-mentioned sub-bottom profiler gear. The UAS plans to return next year to conduct subsurface bottom sampling in search of archaeological sites.
The final project of the season took place in September and October when the UAS revisited Tobermory to conduct the Shipwreck Monitoring at Fathom Five National Marine Park (FFNMP). The Historic Resource Conservation Branch of Parks Canada first instituted this program back in 1992. Over these last fifteen years, staff members from Parks Canada (Archaeological and Historical Conservation, Analytical Services, UAS, FFNMP), Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), Technical Operations of the National Water Research Institute, and volunteers have collected the data for the monitoring program. Archaeological and Historical Conservation, Analytical Services, and the UAS will analyze the results in the coming year, and provide recommendations to FFNMP.
The summer of 2007 was very busy for Parks Canada's NAS tutor team. Four introductory courses, three Level 1 courses and one Level 2 course were given. Courses were used to support partners including the new Save Ontario Shipwrecks (SOS) Montreal-based chapter and the Groupe de préservation des vestiges subaquatiques de Manicouagan (GPVSM) who participated with Parks Canada in the 1996-1997 excavation of the Elizabeth and Mary (1690) in Baie-Trinité, QC. Courses were also used to help promote the proposed National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) in the Magdalene Islands, also in Québec. In May, Chris Underwood of NAS and Marc-André Bernier of Parks Canada trained new tutors from the NOAA Marine Sanctuary Program. The training was held in Alpena, MI, at the NOAA Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary facilities.
Of particular significance this year is the publication of The Underwater Archaeology of Red Bay. This report primarily describes the excavation and research conducted on the 16th-century Basque whaling vessel in Red Bay, Labrador, believed to be the San Juan (1565). This five-volume work is available for purchase, in both French and English editions.
The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Convention) will enter into force on 2 January 2009. This milestone has been achieved according to Article 27 in the Convention, whereby it enters into force three months after deposit of the 20th instrument of ratification, acceptance, or approval by Member States of UNESCO. On 2 October 2008, Barbados became the 20th State Party to accept the 2001 Convention. The first 20 States to join have the privilege of appointing a Technical and Scientific Advisory Body. As each subsequent country ratifies, after a 3-month waiting period, the Convention will also apply to that country.
UNESCO classifies the world into five regional areas: Africa, Arab States, Asia and Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The 20 countries that have joined the 2001 Convention include: Panama (20/05/03), Bulgaria (06/10/03), Croatia (01/12/04), Spain (06/06/05), Libyan Arab Jamahiriya ((23/06/05), Nigeria (21/10/05), Lithuania (12/06/06), Mexico (05/07/06), Paraguay (07/09/06), Portugal (21/09/06), Ecuador (01/12/06), Ukraine (27/12/06), Lebanon (08/01/07), Saint Lucia (01/02/07), Romania (31/07/07), Cambodia (24/11/07), Cuba (26/05/08), Montenegro (18/07/08), Slovenia (18/09/08), and Barbados (02/10/08). Three-quarters of the signatories are from Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. So far, there are no ratifications by North American countries.
In 1999, the Society for Historical Archaeology established the UNESCO Committee to monitor development and negotiation of this Convention. With its adoption at the 31st General Conference of UNESCO in 2001, the committee's role changed to supporting its international ratification and implementation, and the adoption of its Annex as a best practices document even in areas where ratification is unlikely. The coming into force of the 2001 Convention marks the important third stage in its history, and the beginning of a process whereby it becomes a truly international instrument for the protection and management of the world's fragile, finite, and irreplaceable underwater cultural heritage.