Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Bermuda shipwrecks featured in TV series


The Royal Gazette
By Sarah Titterton

The secrets of two fascinating Bermuda shipwrecks will be revealed this month on the popular History Channel series “Deep Sea Detectives”.

Experts at the Bermuda Maritime Museum suggested the delving into the sinkings of the Mary Celestia and the North Carolina to Lone Wolf Productions, and the results will hit the airwaves tonight and on October 18.

The Mary Celestia was a Confederate blockade-runner lost on September 6, 1864 off Gibbs Hill Lighthouse in Southampton. According to a Maritime Museum Press release, historians have long been fascinated by the reasons surrounding the vessel’s sinking and where she was headed at the time – but the release itself gave no clues to either.

The second wreck, the North Carolina, was an iron-hulled barque which struck reefs south-west of the Island on New Year’s Day, 1880. Although contemporary reports blamed faulty steering for the tragedy, nautical archaeologists have since discovered this was not the case, the Museum said.

“We suggested these particular wrecks to the producers because we had completed the underwater archaeology and historic research and could speak with authority about them to answer some long-standing questions,” explained Clifford Smith, director of conservation and underwater archaeology at the Maritime Museum.

The Museum facilitated the Lone Wolf Productions’ crew visit to Bermuda, arranging dives on the two wrecks and interviews with Bermudian experts – including the Museum’s executive director Edward Harris and director of historic research Clarence Maxwell – as well as visits to other historic sites in Dockyard, Hamilton and St. George’s. “

This was a joint project with one goal: to tell the story of these two shipwrecks,” Dr. Smith said. “The most important thing archaeologists and historians can do is to share their findings with the public. “The best research means nothing if no-one is ever informed or learns from the work, and television is a great medium to achieve this.”

“Mary Celestia: The Confederacy’s Secret Weapon” airs tonight and the North Carolina story, “Mystery sinking in Bermuda”, airs on Monday, October 18, both at 10 p.m. Bermuda time on the History Channel (CableVision channel 45, WoW, channel 317).

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