SHIP: Submerged Historical Inventory Project

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 IMH investigated six shipwrecks in Maryland. During the first three years, under generous non-capital grants from the Maryland Historical Trust and gifts from the Archaeological Society of Delaware, the Institute has scouted several hundred square miles of sea and river bed and investigated approximately fifty sites. The project has now expanded to the other states in the mid-Atlantic region and New England. IMH has investigated and reported well over a hundred sites to the State Historic Preservation Officer in Maryland, and more more in Maine, Delaware, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida.

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.

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 (240) 808-0053 or email him at