IMH Supports ECU Graduate Student with Aerial Survey of Maine Shipwreck

In late October 2015, Stefan Claesson assisted Jennifer Jones, a PhD candidate in the Coastal Resources Management program at East Carolina University (ECU), with aerial documentation of the wreck of Howard W. Middleton. This three-masted schooner went aground in Scarborough, Maine, in 1897 laden with coal.

The purpose of Jen’s dissertation at ECU is to conduct a comparative analysis of coastal shipwreck sites along the eastern seaboard of the US in order to facilitate discussion of short- and long-term management strategies for their preservation. Her research will look primarily at the archaeological remains of ships in the beach zone that are periodically exposed and reburied, they vary between being both visible and frequently forgotten features of the coastal landscape. Because shipwrecks in the beach zone are highly susceptible to environmental and human impacts, there are numerous challenges to protect and manage these types of resources. Although little can be done to prevent natural coastal processes, a better understanding of how they affect beach zone shipwrecks will allow for better decision-making and resource protection. At the same time, an understanding of values and public attitudes toward beached wrecks can assess who cares and what is important about these resources, and allow for the development of appropriate and innovative management strategies.

The wreck of Howard W. Middleton, provides an excellent candidate for her study, in that it is well-known within the local community, is visible to the beach-going public during low tides, and is affected by a variety of dynamic coastal processes. Jen and I captured a number of perspective aerial images to get a better understanding of the wreck’s setting on the beach. We also collected high-resolution overhead images of the wreck site, which were then assembled into a photomosaic.

While in the field, sub-decimeter GPS positions were taken on numerous points of the wreck site. These points were then used to rubber-sheet the mosaic, which can now be used as a relatively accurate and measurable site plan. Another benefit of this baseline documentation is that future flights along the same paths and image locations could be used to measure and document changes or impacts to the site in the future. For example, how might the wreck be affected by construction of nearby seawalls, jetties, or breakwaters? Or, how might the wreck be impacted by coastal storms and sea-level rise? Should it be documented and information recovered before it is lost or damaged? These are some questions that Jen will be working to address in her study.

 

Please contact Jen Jones if you would like to learn more about her ongoing research and project.

IMH Takes to the Skies

In the northeast, IMH is working with state agencies and university students to document coastal archaeological sites in tidal environments, and coastal sites that have become exposed as a result of storms.

Not to be confused with Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), IMH recently volunteered its DJI Phantom 3 Professional, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), aka “drone”, to document shipwrecks exposed following offshore hurricanes and heavy beach erosion on Salisbury and Seabrook Beach in Massachusetts and New Hampshire:

http://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/remnants-of-centuries-old-shipwreck-wash-ashore-at-salisbury-beach/article_7d6e2781-d7a5-5235-9f80-223908847145.html

http://www.seacoastonline.com/article/20151105/NEWS/151109434

State agencies such as the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeology, the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, and Maine Historic Preservation Commission, occasionally receive notification from the public of exposed shipwrecks and coastal prehistoric sites, but almost always lack the resources and manpower to conduct site visits and gather information that can be used to document exposed archaeological sites, and inform decision-making and support preservation efforts. Here is where IMH (and UAVs) can play an important role in supporting the documentation and preservation of maritime heritage.

Case in point, in October-November 2015, following hurricanes Joaquin and Kate, beachgoers reported to state agencies that large shipwreck fragments were exposed or had washed up on Salisbury and Seabrook Beach. The agencies then contacted me and asked if I could make a site visit and evaluation. My response was, of course! After a short 20 minute drive from home, I was able to quickly deploy the UAV and document the wreckage within 15 minutes. The Phantom 3 has an on-board Global Positioning System (GPS) that provides excellent location data for the UAV, but not necessarily the subject matter of the image (i.e., the wreckage). Therefore, I also collected Ground Control Points (GCPs) using a sub-decimeter GPS, which allowed me to correctly orient and scale the wreck debris. After a few perspective shots to provide context, a close-up overhead shot, and about an hour of post-processing on the computer back at the office, “Voila!” – the result was a high-resolution, accurate site plan, allowing for direct measurement from the photograph:

The imagery not only provided documentation for posterity, but also supported decision-making for those government agencies charged with the protection and conservation of maritime heritage in the following ways:

  1. Determined that the wreckage was squarely in the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, and not in New Hampshire, as originally reported.
  2. The debris was clearly a large fragment that was disarticulated (or dislodged) from a shipwreck site as a result of recent storm, tidal, and wave activity, and was not in situ (in its original location), or representative of a shipwreck site.
  3. Provided site formation process insights, in that within two days the wreckage had migrated some 300 feet south from its original reported location, and had broken off from what was once a much larger hull fragment.
  4. Allowed state agencies to record site location information into cultural resource databases, make decisions about the historical significance and conservation potential of the reported finds, and alerted coastal resource managers of the presence of heritage and shipwreck sites in the area.
  5. Confirmed that UAVs offer a cost effective, rapid response, and accurate means of documenting maritime heritage sites.

There were no identifying marks or historical artifacts to indicate which ship the wreckage is associated with, but it is generally thought that the fragment is from the wreck of Jennie M. Carter, a three-masted schooner that beached in a storm in 1894 en route from Rockland, Maine to New York with a cargo of stone. The wreck fragment appears to be coincident with 19th-century schooner construction, so this wreckage is perhaps associated with Jennie M. Carter, but could not be confirmed. Any future survey work, such as wood species and dendrochronology sampling could support further vessel identification and dates of ship construction or repair.

Based on the aerial imagery provided by IMH, the decision at the state level was ultimately to not recover the debris or conduct any further investigation of the wreckage. There is generally little appetite for or availability of public funds to document and conserve artifacts of this nature, and therefore the “do-nothing” response at the local, state and federal levels, beyond basic recordation is perhaps appropriate but also not surprising. However, when responsibly and safely deployed, the UAV is certainly one tool that can be used effectively by organizations such as IMH to raise awareness of and document and preserve maritime heritage in a way that also supports, encourages, and engages our government and citizens to do the same.

In 2016, IMH will be using its UAV to document maritime heritage from an entirely new perspective. I will be taking to the skies to photograph a variety of maritime archaeological sites and built-heritage sites throughout New England. Check back to the IMH website for updates on IMH’s UAV work!

Seal Cove Shipwreck Project 2012

In early July a project funded by the National Park Service and the Institute of Maritime History will continue the investigation of an historic wooden shipwreck in Seal Cove, Maine. This project will be directed by Franklin H. Price, Senior Archaeologist with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, and will be assisted by Steve Dilk, underwater archaeologist with the Georgia Historic Preservation Division. The project will be a continuation of work conducted in summer 2011, where Acadia National Park staff and volunteers created a site plan of the wreck as part of an informal archaeological field school. Situated in the intertidal zone, the site provides an opportunity to teach maritime archaeological methods to both Park staff and the general public.  This year investigators will make archaeological drawings of each of the 28 frames in profile, and will provide these drawings, along with the site plan, to a local high school wood shop class. The class will make a model of the site and attempt to learn about the original hull design, allowing them to engage in experimental archaeology.  With a field school and an experimental archaeology component, the outreach opportunities surrounding the project will give participants hands-on appreciation of Maine’s maritime heritage.

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.

 

IMH supports Naval History & Heritage Command and Supervisor of Salvage, USN

On Wednesday and Thursday, March 16 and 17, the Institute of Maritime History assisted NHHC and Phoenix International Holdings, a SUPSALV contractor, in deploying a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), two types of small, unmanned submarines, to take sonar and video images of the USS Tulip wreck.  Tulip was a US Navy gunboat that sank with heavy loss of life in a boiler explosion in 1864.  IMH is a non-profit society that is based at Tall Timbers Marina and conducts underwater archaeological reconnaissance and research for the Maryland Historical Trust and other agencies.
The river was too rough on Wednesday to safely deploy the ROV.  Thursday was calm, but even at slack high tide the river sediment prevented the ROV from getting good video images.  The AUV obtained excellent high-resolution sonar images of the hull and debris field.  At the end of work on Thursday a memorial service was held on the site, with tulips dropped into the water to commemorate the sailors who died in the tragic sinking.
Dr. George Schwarz was the NHHC archaeologist on the project.  Stephanie Brown was the SUPSALV representative.  Curt Newport, Charlie Kapica and Andy Yockey of Phoenix operated the Seaeye Falcon ROV and the Iver-3-580-3037 AUV.  IMH members Dan Lynberg, Charlie Reid and Dave Howe, and local resident Will Jordan operated the IMH dive boat Roper.  Roper towed a skiff and used her as a work platform to launch and recover the AUV.  On Thursday, Captain Will Gates of the pinnace Maryland Dove at Historic St. Mary’s City joined in the effort. 
In May, Brendan Burke of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program at the St. Augustine (Florida) Lighthouse and Maritime Museum will visit IMH, bringing LAMP’s Klein 3900 sidescan sonar and Marine Magnetics “Explorer” underwater magnetometer.  He and IMH members will spend several days scanning, magging, diving and mapping what appears to be another Civil War shipwreck near USMC Base Quantico VA, and several days on the Tulip.  IMH will dive Tulip only if accompanied by Dr Schwarz or another NHHC underwater archaeologist.  As a federal war grave, Tulip is a sensitive site.  The wreck is also protected from unauthorized disturbance under the Sunken Military Craft Act.  Some artifacts were illegally recovered years ago, were eventually surrendered to the Navy, and have been conserved and curated at NHHC.  In the current operation the site was not touched or disturbed.
USS Tulip was a screw gunboat, 183 tons, length 97’3″, beam 21’9″, depth 9’6″, draft 8′, complement 57, carrying two 24-pounder smoothbore cannons and one 20-pounder Parrott rifle.  She was built at New York City in 1862 and 1863 by Jowett & Company for export to China as the lighthouse tender Chih Kiang, but was purchased by the US Navy on 22 June 1863.
Renamed Tulip and refitted for service as a tug and gunboat, she joined the Potomac River Flotilla in August 1863.  That force patrolled the river, protecting Union waterborne communications between the nation’s capital and the port cities of the divided nation during the Civil War.  She initially performed towing duties at the Washington Navy Yard, and then served with the flotilla in operations against Confederate forces in the Rappahannock.  In the latter duties, the ship carried Federal troops and supported naval landing parties which from time to time went ashore for operations against Confederate traffic across the river.
As she continued this wartime riverine service into 1864, Tulip developed a defective starboard boiler.  Commander Foxhall A. Parker, commanding the Potomac Flotilla, ordered the ship home to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs.  Tulip got underway on 11 November with orders to steam only the port boiler.  Not long after departing from St. Inigoes Creek, St. Mary’s County, Maryland, her engineers, against all orders, began supplying steam to the starboard boiler.  When abreast Ragged Point, the boiler exploded and tore the fragile ship apart, killing 47 men instantly of the 57-man complement.  Of the 10 survivors, two died later as a result of injuries received in the violent explosion which claimed the ship.
The attached photo by Charlie Reid shows Captain Will Gates, Curt Newport, and Andy Yockey preparing to launch the ROV.

IMH supports Naval History & Heritage Command and Supervisor of Salvage, USN

On Wednesday and Thursday, March 16 and 17, the Institute of Maritime History assisted NHHC and Phoenix International Holdings, a SUPSALV contractor, in deploying a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), two types of small, unmanned submarines, to take sonar and video images of the USS Tulip wreck.  Tulip was a US Navy gunboat that sank with heavy loss of life in a boiler explosion in 1864.  IMH is a non-profit society that is based at Tall Timbers Marina and conducts underwater archaeological reconnaissance and research for the Maryland Historical Trust and other agencies.
The river was too rough on Wednesday to safely deploy the ROV.  Thursday was calm, but even at slack high tide the river sediment prevented the ROV from getting good video images.  The AUV obtained excellent high-resolution sonar images of the hull and debris field.  At the end of work on Thursday a memorial service was held on the site, with tulips dropped into the water to commemorate the sailors who died in the tragic sinking.
Dr. George Schwarz was the NHHC archaeologist on the project.  Stephanie Brown was the SUPSALV representative.  Curt Newport, Charlie Kapica and Andy Yockey of Phoenix operated the Seaeye Falcon ROV and the Iver-3-580-3037 AUV.  IMH members Dan Lynberg, Charlie Reid and Dave Howe, and local resident Will Jordan operated the IMH dive boat Roper.  Roper towed a skiff and used her as a work platform to launch and recover the AUV.  On Thursday, Captain Will Gates of the pinnace Maryland Dove at Historic St. Mary’s City joined in the effort. 
In May, Brendan Burke of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program at the St. Augustine (Florida) Lighthouse and Maritime Museum will visit IMH, bringing LAMP’s Klein 3900 sidescan sonar and Marine Magnetics “Explorer” underwater magnetometer.  He and IMH members will spend several days scanning, magging, diving and mapping what appears to be another Civil War shipwreck near USMC Base Quantico VA, and several days on the Tulip.  IMH will dive Tulip only if accompanied by Dr Schwarz or another NHHC underwater archaeologist.  As a federal war grave, Tulip is a sensitive site.  The wreck is also protected from unauthorized disturbance under the Sunken Military Craft Act.  Some artifacts were illegally recovered years ago, were eventually surrendered to the Navy, and have been conserved and curated at NHHC.  In the current operation the site was not touched or disturbed.
USS Tulip was a screw gunboat, 183 tons, length 97’3″, beam 21’9″, depth 9’6″, draft 8′, complement 57, carrying two 24-pounder smoothbore cannons and one 20-pounder Parrott rifle.  She was built at New York City in 1862 and 1863 by Jowett & Company for export to China as the lighthouse tender Chih Kiang, but was purchased by the US Navy on 22 June 1863.
Renamed Tulip and refitted for service as a tug and gunboat, she joined the Potomac River Flotilla in August 1863.  That force patrolled the river, protecting Union waterborne communications between the nation’s capital and the port cities of the divided nation during the Civil War.  She initially performed towing duties at the Washington Navy Yard, and then served with the flotilla in operations against Confederate forces in the Rappahannock.  In the latter duties, the ship carried Federal troops and supported naval landing parties which from time to time went ashore for operations against Confederate traffic across the river.
As she continued this wartime riverine service into 1864, Tulip developed a defective starboard boiler.  Commander Foxhall A. Parker, commanding the Potomac Flotilla, ordered the ship home to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs.  Tulip got underway on 11 November with orders to steam only the port boiler.  Not long after departing from St. Inigoes Creek, St. Mary’s County, Maryland, her engineers, against all orders, began supplying steam to the starboard boiler.  When abreast Ragged Point, the boiler exploded and tore the fragile ship apart, killing 47 men instantly of the 57-man complement.  Of the 10 survivors, two died later as a result of injuries received in the violent explosion which claimed the ship.
The attached photo by Charlie Reid shows Captain Will Gates, Curt Newport, and Andy Yockey preparing to launch the ROV.

Windlass – Blanca, 29Feb2016

Ballena Blanca’s blog has moved! Check out http://blancaboat.blogspot.com for new content.

Happy Leap Day!

Well, I did get started on the water system last fall.  The new water-heater, water pump and accumulator tank are mounted, and the after water tank is cleaned and resealed with its deck-fill fitting and valve replaced.  Then it got cold.  I don’t think working on a fresh-water system when it’s in the 20s is such a good idea, so that work got postponed.

Also, last fall I acquired the anchor I’ve been hoping for.  It’s a 73 lb. Rocna, supposedly one of the best.  Add to that 200 feet of 3/8″ high-test galvanized chain and you have some serious ground-tackle.  In August I placed an order for replacement parts for the Ideal Windlass Company windlass that was on the bow.  Its mild-steel case was a rusty lump, and the weather-exposed motor was also a total loss, but the inner guts were all ok.  Ideal took some time to fill the order (they had to fabricate the new stainless case from scratch), so it didn’t arrive until just before Christmas.

Here’s the “new” windlass right after I finished cleaning and reassembling it.  (The old case is next to it.) 

Last weekend I finally finished up the installation, including running the heavy electrical cables from the main battery bank up to the fore-peak.  Everything works a treat– she hauls the anchor off the bottom of the slip and self-stows into the bow roller easy as you please.  All I need now is a washdown pump and hose to clean the mud off…

Next up is a rebuild of the gally counter-tops, which became necessary when I started to replace the galley faucet and found how rotted the cabinetry really was.  Corian counter material is bought and ready for work as soon as I finish the demolition and rebuild.  More pictures to come!

K