Category Archives: Shipwrecks

USS Monitor Center receives IMLS grant

Newport News, VA – The Mariners’ Museum is one of 206 museums in the U.S. and three in Virginia to be awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America collections grant. A highly competitive program, the USS Monitor Center’s proposal was chosen from a pool of 548 applications; the $27,823 grant will be matched with non-federal funds.

“Museums play a vital role in their communities supporting experiences and inquiry for people of all ages, fostering civic engagement, and serving as stewards of collections that represent the nation’s cultural, historical and scientific heritage,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. Matthew stated that this federal support will help museums all over the country, “enabling their highest level of public service.”

turret-er-system

Conservation of the USS Monitor’s revolving gun turret will be monitored by a new electrolytic reduction (ER) computer monitoring system made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum.

This grant will allow the Museum to purchase, install, and operate a new electrolytic reduction (ER) computer monitoring system to support the conservation of the iconic revolving gun turret from the USS Monitor, housed in the USS Monitor Center’s Batten Conservation Complex.

Will Hoffman, senior conservator/conservation project manager said, “The use of ER is a major part of  the turret’s conservation treatment; which involves the use of electrochemistry to breakup corrosion and free trapped chlorides embedded within the object’s surface.  To determine the effectiveness of the process and identify when adjustments need to be made, the artifact is constantly monitored through the use of a computer system. However, the hardware and software of the current system have become obsolete and technological support is no longer available. The new system, funded through the grant, will allow our conservators to get better real-time data and enable more accurate tracking of the treatment process over time. The resulting data can then be shared to expand the body of conservation knowledge that exists within the field, benefiting conservation and museum professionals around the world, as well as visitors to The Mariners’ Museum, and public audiences reached by lectures and web content.”

About IMLS: The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.

Submitted by  Jenna Dill, The Mariners’ Museum, September 29, 2016 

National Museum of American History – Member Update

Hawaii Artifacts Featured in National Museum of American History Website
New Book, Shipwrecked in Paradise explores Story of Cleopatra’s Barge in Hawai‘i

Courtesy Texas A&M University Press

Courtesy Texas A&M University Press

Hawaiian artifacts on loan to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History from the ship Ha‘aheo‘ Hawai‘i for research and conservation have returned to the state and some are on view at the Kauai Museum in Lihu‘e. The knowledge gleaned from underwater exploration of the ship last owned by King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) is now in a new book, Shipwrecked in Paradise, by Paul F. Johnston, the museum’s maritime history curator. The book, published by Texas A&M University Press, traces the story of the yacht’s life in Hawai‘i, from her 1820 sale to Liholiho to her 1995 to 2000 discovery and excavation. In addition to the book, Johnston has created a comprehensive website containing the full artifact catalog and a chronology of the ship’s life and movements between 1820 and 1826.

Courtesy National Museum of American History

Courtesy National Museum of American History

Johnston led a team of divers who located, surveyed and excavated the wrecked ship, after receiving the only underwater archaeological permits ever issued by the state of Hawai‘i. The artifacts from the excavation shed light on the little-documented transitional period from Old Hawai‘i to foreign influence and culture. Although Liholiho ruled Hawai‘i for only a few short years, his abolition of taboos and admission of the Boston Christian missionaries into his kingdom planted the seeds for profound changes in Hawaiian culture.

The 1,250 lots of artifacts from the wreck contain the only known material culture from Kamehameha II’s monarchy, shedding light on the poorly documented transitional period from Old Hawai‘i to the modern age of intense foreign influence. Johnston’s account also covers the stark logistical realities of fieldwork in underwater archaeology, the bureaucratic frustrations of obtaining permits, the mix of tensions and camaraderie among crewmembers and the background presence of landmark family events.

Cleopatra’s Barge, built in Salem, Mass., in 1816, was the first oceangoing yacht built in America. After the death of its owner, the yacht was stripped of its finery and sold at auction in 1818. In 1820, Liholiho purchased it for more than a million pounds of sandalwood, a commodity prized in the China trade. He changed the name in 1822 to Ha‘aheo‘ Hawai‘i,  (Pride of Hawaii). Two years later, it wrecked on a reef in Hanalei Bay. It sat on the ocean floor for 170 years, its exact whereabouts a mystery until the 1990s.

In addition to his curatorial duties at the museum, Johnston is secretary of the Council of American Maritime Museums and serves on the board of directors for 10 other archaeological organizations. Shipwrecked in Paradise will be available beginning Oct. 14, and the richly illustrated book retails for $39.95. More information is available from Texas A&M University Press.

Submitted by Melinda Machado, October 5, 2015

Museum Update – The Mariners’ Museum

Courtesy The Mariners' Museum

Courtesy The Mariners’ Museum

Mariners’ Museum receives National Maritime Heritage Grant for USS Monitor Conservation

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – On Monday, April 27, The Mariners’ Museum was awarded a grant for $99,900 from the National Park Service’s National Maritime Heritage Grant Program in support of ongoing efforts to conserve and exhibit artifacts from the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.

The grant provides for the acquisition of a state-of-the-art dry ice abrasion system for mechanically cleaning wrought iron artifacts like USS Monitor‘s gun turret and engine components. The grant also provides additional funding to hire another conservation expert to help utilize the equipment.

“This grant award from the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program is a huge force multiplier for conservators at the USS Monitor Center”, said Director of USS Monitor Center Dave Krop. “We meticulously tested this technology and believe it will increase our efficiency in the lab and potentially reduce time for certain phases of artifact treatment. It is great for the entire maritime preservation community to know that the National Park Service is committed to revitalizing this important grant program.”

The Mariners’ Museum will be the only museum in the country utilizing this technology for marine-recovered archaeological wrought iron. With nearly 200 tons of artifacts, the USS Monitor Center houses the largest marine archaeological metals conservation project in the world. Home to the iconic gun turret, gun carriages and engine, the Wet Lab provides visitors with a view of the delicate process of preserving history.

“Just like the Monitor herself, The Mariners’ Museum is employing cutting-edge innovation,” said David Alberg, Superintendent of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. “NOAA and The Mariners’ Museum are continuing to make progress in the effort to preserve this important icon of American history.”

The USS Monitor is a well-known icon in American history and culture—a poised player in a national civil war that inevitably became a major turning point in our country. The Monitor symbolized a new way of thinking and helped to shape the future of human relations in the United States.

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.

Submitted by Jenna Dill, The Mariners’ Museum

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 http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/shipwrecks/independence/.

“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

Nantucket Whaleship Two Brothers Traveling Exhibit

exhibit 4Traveling Exhibit Featuring Rare Treasures and the Fascinating Story of the Nantucket Whaleship Two Brothers Looking for a New (Temporary) Home

The captivating “Lost on a Reef” exhibit is available just in time for a surge of interest about the story of the whaleship Essex upon release of Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea” in theaters in March of 2015.

The world was initially reminded of the fascinating and tragic story of Captain George Pollard back in 2011 following the exciting discovery and identification of the Nantucket whaleship Two Brothers. Having survived the events of the Essex, one of the world’s most infamous seafaring disasters, and the true life events that inspired Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, Pollard optimistically set sail for the Pacific once again in the whaleship Two Brothers, believing with all his heart “that it was an old adage that the lightning never struck in the same place twice.” In this case it did, and Pollard’s promising career as a whaling captain came to a tragic end on an uncharted reef in the most remote archipelago on earth, and what is now Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. In 2008, a team of NOAA maritime archaeologists discovered the first clues of the whaleship Two Brothers and began to unlock the mystery of the only Nantucket whaleship ever found on the sea floor.

LOR plan-2This traveling exhibit contains 1 title panel, 8 wall panels that include information about the Two Brothers shipwreck as well as other shipwreck sites in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The panels are approximately 2’ x 3’ and printed on Scotchcal laminated to Dibond 1/8” panels. 11 artifacts from the Two Brothers shipwreck site include: 3 harpoon tips, 2 whaling lance tips, 2 ceramic sherds from dishes used in the galley, one small cooking pot (also used in the galley), and three pieces of copper sheathing that were discovered upon conservation of the cooking pot.

exhibit1The traveling exhibit is currently in Nantucket, MA at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. The exhibit will be available to travel to your site in November of 2015. Costs associated include some assistance with shipping, and possibly new cases for artifacts. The exhibit is available for 1-2 years. Please visit the PMNM website for some more information about the shipwreck story and the exhibit in its current home in Nantucket.

Please contact Kelly Gleason (Kelly.Gleason@noaa.gov, (808)725-5837)) with interest, questions or requests for more information.