SHIP Field Schedule

SHIP field schedule, 2006 (always subject to weather):

29 – 30 Apr U-1105: rig buoy, inspect
06 – 07 May scan and map, Potomac River
13 – 14 May scan and map, Potomac River
20 May – 11 Jun Roper: haul, repair, paint
17 – 18 Jun scan and map, Potomac River
24 – 25 Jun scan and map, Potomac River
08 – 09 Jul scan and map, Potomac River
15 – 16 Jul Roper to Delaware Bay
16 – 22 Jul scan and map, Delaware River
22 – 23 Jul Roper to Tall Timbers
05 – 06 Aug inspect U-1105
19 – 20 Aug scan and map, Potomac River
02 – 04 Sep scan and map, Potomac River
09 – 10 Sep inspect U-1105
23 – 24 Sep scan and map, Potomac River
30 Sep – 03 Oct scan and map, Potomac River
04 – 8 Oct scan and map, Potomac River
21 – 22 Oct scan and map, Potomac River
11 – 12 Nov U-1105: pull buoy for the winter
25 – 26 Nov scan and map, Potomac River
02 – 03 Dec scan and map, Potomac River
16 – 17 Dec scan and map, Potomac River

Contact Dave Howe for underway times and locations.

U-1105 et al.

24 April. No joy yet in placing the mooring buoy on the U-1105 for the summer season. We were blown out last weekend by high winds and heavy seas.

We are looking into the acquisition of a houseboat as a “barracks barge” and floating work platform. to support a larger crew than Roper can sleep. Several cheap or free boats have been proposed. Stay tuned!

A new bacterium found in RMS Titanic

An interesting news article was published today in The Chronicle Herald. Researchers at Dalhousie University discovered a novel bacterium, BH1, isolated from rusticle specimens taken from the RMS Titanic, and have deposited the culture with the ATCC in Manassas, Virginia.

While it is not available for distribution to the community yet, an analysis of its known gene sequence data indicates that it belongs to a category of bacteria called Halomonas. Because Halomonas species are typically halophiles, they are usually found in water sources with high salinity levels, such as the Dead Sea and even within the frigid waters of Antarctica. Halomonas can also inhabit deep-sea sediment, deep-sea waters affected by hydrothermal plumes, and hydrothermal vent fluids.

BH1’s exact ”biocorrosive ability” is not clear yet. However, discovery of BH1 provides a tool for comparison and aids in identifying the potential microbes within the communities that contribute to the overall biocorrosion process(es).

The full article can be found at

To the U-buoy … and beyond!

Two days, 12 dives, and no joy — the river mud still has hold of the buoy chain despite our efforts on 15 and 16 April. There is no joy in Mudville.

But we WILL wrest the chain from the belly of the beast and deploy the buoy next weekend.

If we finish that on Saturday, 22 April, we will spend Sunday taking sidescan images of ten suspected sites down the Potomac, and physical measurements of two of them.

Stalking the Wild FeOB

March 11, 2006. It was a dark and stormy night. No, that’s a lie. It was a sunny morning, calm, and unusually warm for mid-March.

Six of us met at Tall Timbers Marina, loaded dive gear into the IMH research boat Roper, and set forth upon the mighty and beautiful Potomac River to hunt the elusive iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) on a steel shipwreck near the Piney Point oil terminal.

The FeOB is a nasty little beast. It eats shipwrecks — but we were ready for it, armed with sample tubes and collectors.

Our fearless team included Dr. Susan Langley, the Maryland state underwater archaeologist; Project Chief Scientist Todd Plaia, a microbiologist from American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), a non-profit biological research institution in Manassas, Virginia; Brian McMillan and Ted White, volunteer divers from Adventure Scuba in Chantilly, Virginia; and Dr. Richard V. Ducey and David Howe, IMH volunteers.

The wreck may be part of the tank barge STC 410 which exploded at the terminal on December 20, 1986, while discharging a cargo of JP-4 jet fuel for Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Nicknamed “the Puzzle Pile,” the wreck stands 19 feet tall in 60 feet of water. It was found in 2002 by the NOAA survey vessel Bay Hydrographer, and consists of a confused jumble of heavy steel plates and pipes.

We “live-boated” the dives. Susan and Dave stayed dry to handle the boat and marker buoys and to tend the divers as they cheated death for science.

The first two sets of dives were made in moderate current on a flood tide. We missed the wreck both times, probably because the marker buoy dragged despite two 10-pound mushroom anchors.

The third set of dives was successful. Brian and Ted made the first dive of that set. They reconnoitered the site, tied and blew a small lift bag on the wreck as a second marker, and collected samples of ambient water and existing rust on the structure. After they surfaced, Todd and Rick made the second dive and placed six FeOB collectors on the site. Each collector carries three small plates of a known alloy of new iron. They will be recovered and analyzed after a measured period of immersion — whenever Todd says and the weather allows.

The water salinity was determined by a refractometer to be 15 parts per thousand, about half the typical salinity of seawater. The water temperature was 46° F (7.8° C) on the surface. Visibility was typical for the Potomac: several feet on the surface, and several inches near the bottom.

Analysis of the samples will take some time. We will post the results. Still, it was an excellent start to the 2006 diving season. Six hours on the water, Todd got what he wanted, and everyone who wanted to get wet got wet.

IMH Announces FeOB Research Project

IMH is working with American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) of Manassas,
Virginia, George Mason University, the Maryland Historical Trust, and the
Naval Historical Center, to study iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) on
Chesapeake shipwrecks. A copy of the research design will be posted on this site in the near future.

IMH receives grant from the Irish Heritage Council

The Institute of Maritime History has received a 5,000 euro grant from the Irish Heritage Council for its upcoming field season on Achill Island, Ireland. The Achill Island Maritime Archaeology Project, a joint effort with the College of William and Mary and the Achill Folklife Centre, has been focused on documenting the island’s rich maritime history since 2004. The title of the grant is “The Archaeological Investigation of Economic Relations on the Nineteenth Century Maritime Cultural Landscape of Achill Island, Co. Mayo.” The upcoming 2006 season will stage field investigations of a variety of maritime archaeological sites both above and below the water, including the ruins of commercial fishing and Coastguard stations, and the wrecks of the Neptune (English bark, 1860), the Jenny (Norwegian bark, 1894), and the Charles Stewart Parnell (Irish ketch, 1928).