Underwater News - Summer 2010
Submitted by Toni Carrell <email@example.com>
The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' Maritime Heritage Program awarded a grant to the Pacific Islands Region (PIR) to conduct FIGURE 3. Main excavation units at the end of the 2009 season. (Photo by author, 2009). Volume 43: Number 2 Summer 2010 Page 23 an innovative maritime heritage project on the Big Island in collaboration with the University of Hawaii Marine Option Program (MOP). Titled "SS Maui: Discovering an Inter Island Past," the project will join professionals and students for a three-week combined classroom/field course to conduct a noninvasive survey of the SS Maui wreck site at Kekaha Kai State Park.
The SS Maui, a favorite passenger and cargo steam vessel during the plantation era, "ran aground in 1917 and has remained in obscurity since that time. Currently the wreck lies within the waters of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary." The ship's machinery and construction offer important insights into such topics as steamship technology, interisland trade, the sugar industry, and plantation society.
UH Manoa and Hilo MOP students will be joined by students from the West Hawaii Explorations Academy for specific parts of the ten-day field survey of the wreck site. The project follows on the heels of a similar effort last summer at Shipwreck Beach on Lana`i. Both last year's and this year's projects are led by PIR's maritime heritage coordinator, Dr. Hans Van Tilburg.
In addition to the student focus, the project aims to engage the public and partner institutions in greater appreciation of historic coastal resources. Opportunities for visits to the survey camp near the wreck, and even observation of the archaeologists mapping the site underwater, are being considered. After the survey is complete, students and staff will offer a public presentation of their findings, and a detailed website will be developed highlighting this part of Hawaii's maritime past.
Dr. Van Tilburg commented, "The SS Maui wreck site gives students a chance to practice maritime archaeology, and contribute to our understanding of Hawaii's historic underwater resources at the same timeâ€¦what can be better than hands-on learning by doing?"
The PIR is excited about the growing interest in Hawaii's unique maritime heritage, and the opportunity to include both university and high school students in this exceptional program. For more information about the PIR's maritime heritage program, visit http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/about/pacific/mhp.html.
The Maritime Conservation Lab at East Carolina University has recently begun a new initiative to promote conservation within the archaeological field by adding new faculty member, Susanne Grieve. Susanne was most recently a Senior Conservator at The Mariners' Museum on the USS Monitor project and previously worked with the Antarctic Heritage Trust in New Zealand and the Clemson Conservation Center for the CSS Hunley project.
During the past academic year, students in the conservation classes preserved objects such as a wooden keg torpedo from Georgia, iron fish hooks from the Caribbean, and a 17th-century cannon from North Carolina. Students also participated in tours of the Queen Anne's Revenge laboratory, the Bailey Country Doctor Museum, and The Mariners' Museum.
Faculty members assisted in the analysis of a rare painting of Queen Elizabeth I and volunteered their conservation expertise to the Greenville Village of Yesteryear. The faculty is also working with the ECU Anthropology and Chemistry Departments on various conservation research projects. For more information on the current research in the Maritime Conservation Lab, visit: www.ecu.edu/maritime.
As part of its management and protection brief Ireland's Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) of the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government continued its survey of a number of wreck sites in 2009. Results from these inspection dive/surveys inform and serve to update the Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland and facilitate the formulation of long-term management and protection strategies for these shipwreck sites.
Blind Harbour Wreck, Co. Mayo: Following reports by a local diver, Mr. Tommy Walker, the UAU carried out a rapid survey of a number of iron cannon in Blind Harbour in Co. Mayo. In cooperation with Mr. Walker and local diver Pat Coughlan from GrÃ¡inne Uaile Sub Aqua Club, the three-day dive survey resulted in the identification of six iron guns, which are lying scattered on the seabed in shallow water. Though results are preliminary, details from the guns suggest a possible late-16th- or 17th-century date. No other artifacts or wreck material were identified during the rapid dive survey. An initial explanation may be that the guns represent jettisoned objects from a stranded vessel in an attempt to re-float or are evidence for the hoarding of guns as part of smuggling operations, in which case the cannon would be recovered at a later time. The UAU plans to return to the site this year, when more detailed survey will be augmented by geophysical survey of the entire bay.
Dunworley Bay Shipwreck, Co. Cork: Two weeks' diving was carried out on the generically named 'Dunworley Bay Shipwreck.' This brought to a conclusion dive and excavation work on the site by the UAU, which began in 2004 when the details of treasure hunting on the wreck site was reported to the Department. Intensive survey and investigation were carried out in 2005 and 2006 to inform the ongoing police investigation into the illegal activity on the site. This drew to a conclusion in February 2007, with a successful conviction, under Section 3 of Ireland's 1987 National Monuments (Amend.) Act, when the three treasure hunters from County Cork were found guilty of tampering with and damaging a protected 17th-century wreck site in Dunworley Bay. The successful conviction followed a three-year investigation undertaken by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) in cooperation with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, The National Museum of Ireland, and the local Garda SÃochana (Irish police force).
The Dunworley Wreck comprises 32 m of in situ heavily-built wooden hull, six iron cannon on the wreck site and one recovered iron cannon that had been lifted by the treasure hunters, one small swing gun, and a small kedge anchor. The hull section was the main focus of the 2009 work on the site, with thorough recording being undertaken to map detailed information on its nature and extent and construction details. The identification of a maker's marks on one of the guns has produced an early-17th-century date for them, with a date range of 1625â€“1640s (Dr. R. Brown, Royal Armouries, pers. comm.). Two shipwrecks listed in UAU records are possibilities for identification as the Dunworley shipwreck, though it needs to be borne in mind that it could be previously unrecorded. Both are pirate vessels recorded as having wrecked in the Bay. One is referred to in historical sources as the Rover, which was involved in the 1631 Algerine raid on Baltimore that decimated the local community, and the other was a ship belonging to Robert Nutt, one of the main pirates operating along the southwest coast of Ireland at the time. Research is ongoing concerning the historical background to the wrecking in the area and analysis of the guns and constructional details of the hull is progressing. A full account of the UAU's work on the wreck site is due for publication as part of the ACUA 2010 Conference Proceedings.
The Pottery Wreck, Glandore, Co. Cork: A number of inspection dives were carried out on a wreck site that had been previously mapped by the UAU in 1999. The wreck is known locally as 'the Pottery Wreck' as it presents as a spread of broken pottery, roof tiles, and red brick. The wreck was discovered in the 1980s by a local resident, Mel Bendon, with intact pieces of pottery being recovered at the time, as was some of the red brick. The pottery pieces include domestic red earthenware skimming bowls, green glazed jugs of variable sizes, and large earthenware pear-shaped pitchers with strap handles.
Though only the spread of broken pottery, roof tiles, and brick were noted in 2009, Mr. Bendon did recount having seen hull timbers when he first discovered the site, but these appear to be buried at this point. The pottery assemblage is suggestive of a ship carrying a cargo of domestic wares and brick, apparently mass produced and with a specific market. Specialist analysis of the pottery is to be undertaken this year but preliminary results suggest a broad date range from the 17th to the 18th century.
Santa Ana Maria, 1628 Spanish galleon, Castlehaven, Co. Cork: While undertaking the work at the Dunworley Bay shipwreck site, the opportunity was also taken to carry out inspection dives at the site of the Spanish Capitania of the 1627 Spanish treasure fleet, Santa Ana Maria, located near the entrance to Castlehaven Harbour and just 10 nm to the west of Dunworley Bay. Forming part of the fleet that was captured in Matanzas Bay in Cuba by the Dutch privateer Piet Heyn in 1628, then vice-admiral of the fleet of the Dutch West Indies Company, the Santa Ana Maria became separated in a storm from the main Dutch fleet when it was being brought back to the Dutch Republic. It was recaptured by an English privateer, the Dragon under Captain James, and was in the process of being taken to Bristol in England when it was wrecked at the entrance to Castlehaven Harbour in West Cork. The ship is recorded as carrying a large quantity of campeche wood, 6 anchors, ropes, 170 pots of gunpowder, about 34 brass cannon, 10 or 12 iron guns and 400 muskets, and part of the silver treasure taken from the mines of Mexico. Several contemporary salvage operations took place at the site, with protracted legal wrangling ensuing at the time. Local Cork divers discovered the wreck in the late 1960s and a number of artifacts, including large brass guns, were removed from the site at the time, with some of the smaller items being handed over to the National Museum of Ireland.
The inspection dives undertaken in 2009 resulted in the positive location of the site, with an iron cannon being identified on the seabed. No proper scientific assessment of the site has been done to date and it is with this focus that the UAU is looking to undertake a detailed survey of the wreck with further diving being planned for this coming summer.
Protection of shipwreck sites: Under the 1987 National Monuments (Amendment) Act all wrecks over 100 years are protected. A dive license is required for diving on protected wreck sites; applications for these licenses should be sent to the Licensing Section, National Monuments Service, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.
Call for papers for the 22nd Annual Symposium on Maritime Archaeology and History of Hawai`i and the Pacific, in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. The theme for this year's conference is "Reading Coastal Footprints: Ecology and Maritime Archaeology in the Pacific." Paper topics are not limited to this theme but special consideration will be given to abstracts that incorporate this message. Tentative session titles include:
- Historical and archaeological research on human influences on marine life; - Using ecological models in archaeology; - Recent maritime archaeology fieldwork; and - General Sessions on maritime archaeology and maritime history.
Abstracts: These should be no more than 300 words and should include a title, name(s) of presenters, and affiliation. All presenters are expected to register for the conference. Information concerning registration will be sent to presenters upon acceptance of their abstracts.
Students: There will be two student scholarships awarded to cover the registration fee for this conference. Please see the website for more information.
Deadline for abstracts is 1 November 2010. Please email your abstract and contact information to Suzanne Finney at