Spring 2016 work

IMH has had a busy and interesting year so far, with support from the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) at the St Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.  In March we worked with the Dr George Schwarz of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), the Supervisor of Salvage, and Phoenix International (a SUPSALV contractor) to run a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and take sonar and video images of the USS Tulip, a Navy gunboat that was sunk in the Potomac River by a boiler explosion in November 1864.  The site is a war grave.  We do not dive it or even visit it unless directed by NHHC.

In April we worked with NOAA and the Alice Ferguson Foundation to remove beach trash at Mallows Bay, which is in the process of becoming a new National Marine Sanctuary, and at Chapman State Park.

In May we ran a sidescan sonar and a towed magnetometer over half a dozen wreck sites in the Potomac, and dived one near Quantico VA.  In that one we found a large gun, perhaps a 9-inch Dahlgren.  We believe the vessel is a canal boat or scow that was used to remove two such guns from Quantico (then called Evansport) when Confederate forces abandoned those positions on 8-9 March 1862.

The 9-inch Dahlgren was a massive smoothbore, 11 feet long, weighing 9,200 pounds plus carriage.  A total of 1,185 were cast between 1855 and 1864.  Fifty-two of them were taken by the Confederates when they captured the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1861.  Forty-nine are known to survive.  We may have added one or two to that list.  Because of the gun, the wreck is now protected by the Sunken Military Craft Act and administered by NHHC, which will conduct or direct further work.

In May we also ran a sidescan and magnetometer survey of USS Tulip with Dr Schwarz of NHHC and got some excellent magnetic data and images.  We also resumed work on the Lord Dunmore project and found several sonar anomalies and one distrinct magnetic anomaly that deserve investigation.  The project is a search for a large number of Loyalist merchant vessels that were scuttled near St George’s Island in 1776. 

In June we will haul Roper for bottom work and maintenance.  In July, Konpal Preet Kaur, our summer intern, will arrive for two months.  She is from India and is in graduate studies in archaeology at Oxford.

Over the summer and fall we will continue work on the Dunmore project, dive and map some of the 438 potential wrecks we have found in the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, and perhaps search for Navy aircraft wrecks in the Bay.  We have found a few aircraft so far but have identified only one of them, a Navy PBM-3 seaplane, BuNo 6672, that crashed in the Choptank on 2 January 1944.