USS Independence CVL-22 Discovery

Features on an historic photo of USS Independence CVL 22 are captured in a three-dimensional (3D) low-resolution sonar image of the shipwreck in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Coda Octopus Echoscope 3D sonar, integrated on the Boeing Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Echo Ranger, imaged the shipwreck during the first maritime archaeological survey. The sonar image with oranges color tones (lower) shows an outline of a possible airplane in the forward aircraft elevator hatch opening. Credit: NOAA, Boeing, and Coda Octopus

Features on an historic photo of USS Independence CVL 22 are captured in a three-dimensional (3D) low-resolution sonar image of the shipwreck in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Coda Octopus Echoscope 3D sonar, integrated on the Boeing Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Echo Ranger, imaged the shipwreck during the first maritime archaeological survey. The sonar image with oranges color tones (lower) shows an outline of a possible airplane in the forward aircraft elevator hatch opening. Credit: NOAA, Boeing, and Coda Octopus

NOAA, working with private industry partners and the U.S. Navy, has confirmed the location and condition of the USS Independence, the lead ship of its class of light aircraft carriers that were critical during the American naval offensive in the Pacific during World War II.

Resting in 2,600 feet of water off California’s Farallon Islands, the carrier is “amazingly intact,” said NOAA scientists, with its hull and flight deck clearly visible, and what appears to be a plane in the carrier’s hangar bay.

Independence (CVL 22) operated in the central and western Pacific from November 1943 through August 1945 and later was one of more than 90 vessels assembled as a target fleet for the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests in 1946. Damaged by shock waves, heat and radiation, Independence survived the Bikini Atoll tests and, like dozens of other Operation Crossroads ships, returned to the United States.

While moored at San Francisco’s Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, Independence was the primary focus of the Navy’s studies on decontamination until age and the possibility of its sinking led the Navy to tow the blast-damaged carrier to sea for scuttling on Jan. 26, 1951.

“After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes,” said James Delgado, chief scientist on the Independence mission and maritime heritage director for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “This ship fought a long, hard war in the Pacific and after the war was subjected to two atomic blasts that ripped through the ship. It is a reminder of the industrial might and skill of the “greatest generation’ that sent not only this ship, but their loved ones to war.”

NOAA’s interest in Independence is part of a mandated and ongoing two-year mission to locate, map and study historic shipwrecks in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and nearby waters. The carrier is one of an estimated 300 wrecks in the waters off San Francisco, and the deepest known shipwreck in the sanctuary.

The mission was conducted last month using an 18.5-foot-long autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Echo Ranger, provided by The Boeing Company through a cooperative research and development agreement with NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Boeing also partnered with technology company Coda Octopus to integrate its 3D-imaging sonar system, Echoscope, into the AUV.

“Boeing is excited for the opportunity to partner with NOAA to utilize this state of the art technology,” said Fred Sheldon, Boeing project manager for AUVs. “The Echo Ranger is uniquely suited for this type of mission and performed perfectly allowing us to conduct a thorough survey of the USS Independence.”

Scientists and technicians on the sanctuary vessel R/V Fulmar followed the AUV as it glided 150 feet above the wreck and successfully surveyed the carrier’s nearly intact hull. The survey determined that Independence is upright, slightly listing to starboard, with much of its flight deck intact, and with gaping holes leading to the hangar decks that once housed the carrier’s aircraft. To see sonar images, historical photos and other materials, visit

“By using technology to create three-dimensional maps of the seafloor and wrecks like Independence, we can not only explore, but share what we’ve learned with the public and other scientists,” said Frank Cantelas, archaeologist with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, who joined the mission along with Robert Schwemmer, west coast regional maritime heritage coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Delgado, primary author of a 1990 scientific report on the history and archaeology of the ships sunk at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, said currently there are no plans to enter the vessel or survey drums of hazardous and radioactive waste that were dumped in the sanctuary between 1946 and 1970. No trace of the drums or radiation was observed during the mission, Delgado said.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary encompasses nearly 3,300 square miles of ocean and coastal waters beyond California’s Golden Gate Bridge. The sanctuary supports an abundance of species including the largest breeding seabird rookery in the contiguous United States, and other species such as whales and white sharks.

NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research is the only federal agency that advances NOAA and national objectives by systematically exploring the planet’s largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.

Submitted by Robert Schwemmer, West Coast Region Maritime Heritage Coordinator, NOAA

CAMM Member Updates — Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

islandsGreg Gorga of Santa Barbara Maritime Museum recently updated CAMM conference attendees on a new film entitled “West of the West: Tales from California’s Channel Islands.” The film will premiere on California PBS stations sometime this spring.

According the film’s website, “the Santa Cruz Island Foundation and The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum are initiating the first ever feature length documentary which tells the story – largely unknown to the public – of the crown jewels of California’s coast – the eight Channel Islands. Told from the point of view of the people who’ve experienced the Channels – lived on, wrecked on, dived under, filmed, raised children, ranched, bootlegged, fished, surfed, sailed, explored and restored – the remarkable story began 13,000 years ago and continues today.”

Greg also mentioned that the film is available to other institutions.

At the recent CAMM conference, many member institutions provided updates on recent activities. Seems like a great new category for this blog! Send your updates (with images if possible) to 

CAMM Welcomes S.S. Lane Victory as Its Newest Member

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S.S. Lane Victory, built in Los Angeles in 1945, is open to the public on the San Pedro waterfront. Photo by Candace Clifford

welcome lane victory

CAMM President Dave Pearson welcomes Gregory Williams, Executive Director of S.S. Lane Victory at CAMM’s business meeting on battleship Iowa during the recent conference.

Owned and operated by the U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II, the S.S. Lane Victory is CAMM’s newest member.

According to their website: “S.S. Lane Victory served with distinction during World War II, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War as well as in times of peace as part of the merchant fleet.  After years of deterioration in mothballs, it took countless hours of restoration to put her back into her original condition by volunteers of the United States Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II.  A nationally recognized historic landmark, the S.S. Lane Victory now serves as a living museum and memorial to the service and sacrifices of all Merchant Marine sailors and Navy Armed Guardsmen. Several times each summer she sails into the past on one of her ‘Victory At Sea’ cruises where ‘old salts’ can reminisce about adventures past, and younger generations can catch a glimpse of bygone times.”

2015 CAMM Conference Promotes Collaboration

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Los Angeles Maritime Museum on the San Pedro waterfront. Photo by Candace Clifford

Hosted by the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, the 2015 CAMM conference attracted 58 participants representing 35 institutions from the East, West, and Gulf Coasts; the Great Lakes; and Australia. The conference not only provided opportunities for participants to share ideas and develop professional relationships but many of the sessions emphasized the importance of collaborations, the voyage of the Charles W. Morgan being one example.

In addition to lively sessions, highlights included a movie on the voyages of Irving and Electra Johnson, a narrated tour of San Pedro and Long Beach Harbors, lunch and tours aboard the USS Iowa, a closing dinner at the Los Angeles Yacht Club, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the maritime collections at the Huntington Library. See the conference slide show for Candace Clifford’s photos of the meeting.

During the business meeting Dave Pearson of Columbia River Maritime Museum was elected to a third year term as president and Greg Gorga of Santa Barbara Maritime Museum was promoted to vice president. Pete Lesher of Chesapeake Maritime Museum and Sam Heed of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation were elected members at large. Having reached the end of their terms, Ron Oswald of the National Maritime Historical Society and Dana Hewson of Mystic Seaport were thanked for their service to CAMM over the past six years.

Scholarships Available for ICMM

PrintFrom the ICMM conference website:

The Richard Foster Bursary was established in 2002 to perpetuate the memory of Sir Richard Foster, Director of National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside and President of ICMM, 1993-6, who had died tragically in 2001. Its purpose was to provide financial assistance to young members of ICMM wishing to attend or speak at an ICMM congress.

The President and Council of ICMM invites applications for three bursaries of up to 650 Euros for the 17th Biennial Congress, Connections, which will be held in Hong-Kong, 1-6 November 2015. The Council is particularly keen that the bursaries are used to encourage the attendance of new or young members of ICMM. The Call for Papers and outline of the Congress’s themes can be found at:

Kenyan dhow sails into the International Small Craft Center

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Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum.

Newport News, VA – The Mariners’ Museum & Park is pleased to announce the newest addition to its International Small Craft Center–Lamu, a sailing dhow from Kenya, is fully rigged and on display. There are now 42 countries represented in the center.

This newly donated boat is a jahazi–a type of dhow built in Lamu, Kenya. This dhow was an ocean-going trader sailed by a crew of 10 to 12. It operated along the East African coast from Mogadishu, Somalia to Tanzanian ports and as far east as Mumbai, India. Lamu was built by Ali Abdalla Skanda’s father in 2004. Ali’s family includes craftsmen and merchants whose trade reached as far as Egypt and Arabia. He carries on the traditional art of building and sailing dhows that he learned from his father.

This boat, built and used around the island of Lamu, was recently brought to the United States as part of the annual Folklife Festival, organized by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife, on the Mall in Washington DC.

“Having a true dhow in our collection is vitally important to the overall story that The Mariners’ Museum is uniquely equipped to tell: mankind’s relationship with the sea” said chief curator Lyles Forbes. “We have models and images of dhows in the collection, but there’s nothing like an authentic, full-size boat to truly highlight important stories of early travel on the sea.”

The International Small Craft Center is a 17,500 square foot facility houses a collection that features nearly 150 boats from 42 countries. The boats are from diverse cultures and waterways and are arranged around the Center in eleven thematic areas. The Center also takes visitors on a journey beyond the boat and helps them discover the individuals who used the small craft.

The Mariners’ Museum, an educational, non-profit institution accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, preserves and interprets maritime history through an international collection of ship models, figureheads, paintings and other maritime artifacts. For hours and information, visit, call (757) 596-2222 or write to The Mariners’ Museum, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.

The Mariners’ Museum Seeks VP of Collections & Programs

The Vice President of Collections and Programs is a key member of the Museum’s senior leadership team and is responsible to assist in fulfilling the Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles of The Mariners’ Museum by increasing attendance, public awareness, and popular appeal of the Museum’s collections through exhibitions, education and outreach programs, online and print publications, and other interpretive methods while supporting and enhancing revenue-generating capabilities and maintaining fiscal responsibility for the Museum Collections and Programs division. The Vice President, Collections and Programs must adhere to the highest museological and academic standards. Reporting to the President/CEO, the Vice President of Collections and Programs is responsible for the administrative and managerial oversight of a staff of twenty-four, including the Chief Curator, Director, Photographic Services, Licensing, & Publications, the Director of Collections Management, the Director of Exhibits, the Chief Conservator, and the Director of the USS Monitor Center. This is an exciting opportunity for an entrepreneurial candidate further The Mariners’ Museum’s reputation as the nation’s maritime museum.

For full announcement: VP Collections.Programs