SHIP: Submerged Historical Inventory Project

SHIP Sonar Image: A sonar image of a wooden shipwreck in Maryland waters.SHIP Sonar Image: A sonar image of a wooden shipwreck in Maryland waters.The Institute of Maritime History is conducting a multi-state project for State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), using volunteer divers and researchers to scout for shipwrecks, assess them, gather archival data, and report their findings.

Field data and archival research are compiled into databases to help the states build inventories of historic sites in State waters, and to protect and manage those sites. SHIP also helps in public outreach and in training volunteers in stewardship.

In the initial pilot project we investigated six shipwrecks in Maryland. The project is now expanding to other states in the mid-Atlantic region and New England.  During the past three years, under generous non-capital grants from the Maryland Historical Trust and gifts from the Archaeological Society of Delaware, IMH has scouted several hundred square miles of sea and river bed and investigated approximately fifty sites.

The project offers as much diving as anyone could want, for a good purpose.  Dive sites include oceans, bays and rivers, some with low visibility, strong current, or surge.  Divers need AOW or higher certification, and must be competent and comfortable diving in the conditions they undertake.

No souvenirs and no bragging rights:

SHIP involves no-impact, non-intrusive reconnaissance only.  Sites are not disturbed. Artifacts are not recovered. All data are strictly confidential.  Participants contract not to disturb sites, not to recover objects, and not to disclose sites to anyone except the SHPO.

Volunteers: Volunteer divers and crew are the key to S.H.I.P.'s success.Volunteers: Volunteer divers and crew are the key to S.H.I.P.'s success. In addition to diving skills, divers need archaeological training that can be obtained through colleges or graduate schools, dive training agencies, and training courses offered by IMH and correspondent groups.

SHIP is completely volunteer and unfunded.  Participants share costs, use their own dive gear, and contribute toward project expenses.  Expenses may be tax-deductible.  For more information please telephone David Howe at 302-222-4721 or email him at