Thursday, September 30, 2004


Sub hunters strike gold beneath the waves

September 29

A documentary on the voyage of discovery to locate and film the lost submarines of the Gallipoli Campaign is scheduled to be broadcast early next year.An almost forgotten episode in the epic Gallipoli Campaign is being brought to light by a team of underwater adventurers and historians, with the first dedicated effort to pinpoint the location of the submarines lost in the 15 month long battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies in World War One.

Film producer Savas Karakas, underwater archaeologist Selcuk Kolay and Australian historian Bill Sellars have joined forces to document the role played by the submarines of Britain, France, Australia and Germany in the Gallipoli Campaign.

Though little remembered, submarines played a major role in the campaign, with Allied boats managing to pass through the Dardanelles on at least 13 occasions, with some British subs even attacking Turkish shipping in the Bosphorus, the first time enemy warships had entered Istanbul since its capture in 1453.

The Allied subs had to brave a series of natural and man made obstacles in their fight to enter the Sea of Marmara, swift and swirling currents, mines and heavy nets strung across the strait to ensnare them. During the campaign more than half those that attempted the passage were lost.

Turkey’s ally Germany also had submarines active in the campaign, with one boat, the U21, accounting for two British battleships in a space of three days. Both sides inflicted heavy losses on their opponents, with much of the Turkish mercantile fleet carrying supplies to the Ottoman army on the peninsula being sunk or damaged and a number of Allied vessels also being sent to the bottom. It is the story of these subs, their crews and their victims that Karakas, Kolay and Sellars seek to tell.

Two weeks of intensive work in the waters of the Dardanelles Strait have resulted in the pin pointing of the sites of two British, the E7 and the E15, and three French submarines, the Saphir, Joule and Mariotte, sunk while trying to pass through the heavily defended waterway during the campaign.

Using advanced sonar and side scanning equipment, the team combed the seabed of the Dardanelles, often having to dodge tankers and cargo ships plying the busy waters of the strait.

Thanks to the kind assistance of the Turkish Navy, the team was able to get access to otherwise restricted waters and have the opportunity of a life time, to stand on the wreck of the French submarine, the Mariotte, which lies in shallow waters within the grounds of a naval base.

Producer of the documentary Savas Karakas has a number of major credits to his name, including last year’s two part program on the loss of the Turkish submarine the Dumlapinar, which sank in the Dardanelles in 1953 after a collision with a Norwegian freighter.

Only a handful of the submarine’s crew survived the disaster, one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the modern Turkish navy.

Karakas also produced History in the Depths, a documentary showing the wrecks from the Gallipoli Campaign and which told the story of the naval contribution to the battle.

Selcuk Kolay has won international renown for a series of discoveries of vessels lost in Turkish waters, including the Turkish submarine Atilay; the World War One cruiser the Midilli, the former German warship the Breslau; and the Australian sub the AE2. In recognition of his contribution to Australia’s naval history Selcuk was presented the Order of Australia, that country’s highest civil honour.

Writer Bill Sellars, who lives on the Gallipoli Peninsula, is the historical advisor to the project, having spent years researching the campaign and the activities of the various submarines that took part in it.


Hi-tech bid to find ancient treasures


28 September 2004 07:06

There is something missing from the ornate church in one of Norfolk's most picture-perfect villages.

Twelve stone apostles and one stone Jesus Christ were stripped from it during Henry VIII's Reformation, so folklore goes, before being thrown into the nearby harbour in a bout of religious fervour.

Now the residents of Cley, in North Norfolk, want them back. But instead of relying on divine inspiration, the very traditional village is turning towards rather hi-tech methods to sniff them out.Yesterday, as Channel 4 filmed scenes for a film on one side of St Margaret's Church, renowned sculptor Colin Miller outlined how villagers plan to rescue the statues from the deep.

It will be a two-pronged attack, with a Norfolk-wide appeal for any archivists who have information on their whereabouts to come forward, and a top-rated geophysicist making use of his hi-tech equipment.

"There have been rumours all over the village since I moved here 17 years ago that the statues were hurled into the harbour, either during the Reformation, or during Oliver Cromwell's regime; rumours that are passed on generation to generation," he said.

"It is thought that the statues ended up in Cley Harbour, which has long since silted over and is now a field next to the church.

"This is something I have wanted to investigate for more than six months, and now time has come to do so. It would be lovely to see these statues back on their plinths, where they belong.

"Mr Miller, who lives and works in Cley Road in the village is most famous in Norfolk for a 3m bronze mother and child, which stands outside Norwich Union's headquarters on Surrey Street, Norwich.

He sits on the parochial church council, which has enlisted the services of St Andrews University geophysicist Dr Richard Bates, an expert in marine archaeology and a friend of one of the committee. He has promised to bring down his equipment and join in the search.

"He is very happy to come down to help with a geophysical search," said Mr Miller. "And if something shows up on his survey we will be delighted.

"But before he comes down we'll explore all the possibilities through historical documents, and we appeal for anyone who may know something of relevance to please come forward.

"After that the next thing is to ask the University of East Anglia to dig a trench where something has shown up, if anything does, in order for us to rescue it. But that's a little way off yet."

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Boyfriend concocts creative engagement for archaeologist girlfriend in Steamboat "Arabia" Museum



KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Amanda Faith had told her boyfriend Adam McGrath she wanted a romantic proposal. And that's just what she received.

Mother-in-law-to-be Debbye McGrath convinced Faith she must see the Steamboat Arabia Museum because Faith had studied archaeology in college. The ship sunk in the 1850s. It was unearthed from near Parkville in the late 1980s and parts of the ship and its contents are on display in downtown Kansas City.

So yesterday she toured the museum with her boyfriend and his family. When they stopped at a place where artifacts are prepared for showing, Debbye McGrath mentioned that Faith had an archaeology degree. The lab worker offered to let Faith work on a cigar box.

Faith flipped the box open. Inside was a smaller red box with a ring inside. The couple plans to wed in May.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Check this one - Steamboat Arabia Museum.


Roman goddess of love found in German canal


IOL Discovery
September 27 2004 at 04:31PM

Cologne - Construction workers in the western German city of Cologne have discovered a priceless Roman-era Venus statue, the director of the city's Roman-Germanic Museum said on Monday.The 1 600-year-old find, unearthed at a depth of five metres during digging for a canal shaft, was "extremely rare for the entire Roman period in Germany", said Professor Hansgerd Hellenkemper.

The figure, which is missing its head and legs, features a nude torso of carrara marble. "Because there were neither thermal baths nor temples in this region, we assume that the Venus belonged to a wealthy estate," Hellenkemper said.He said the statue was likely produced in today's Italy, packed in straw and shipped to Cologne, then part of the Roman empire, during the first century AD.

"The delicate breasts indicate this period. Later they tended to have a more robust form," he said.

Hellenkemper guessed the Venus graced the home of a wealthy landowner until the destruction of Cologne by the Franks in 355 AD.When the Romans recaptured the city the following year, the statue was probably used in constructing the foundation of a road.Hellenkemper said there was little chance of finding the missing limbs now.

The Venus is to go on display in Cologne for the first time in centuries on November 6.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


A ship found, a heart healed: The USS Murphy


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The USS Murphy.

NEW JERSEY (27 Sep 2004) -- Just as the bow of the USS Murphy long ago settled into the dark depths of the Atlantic Ocean, so too did Ruth Anderson's feelings for a curly-haired boy from Pelican Rapids, Minn., settle into the deep recesses of her memory.

The Murphy, a Navy destroyer, was split in two when it collided with an oil tanker off the coast of New Jersey in October 1943. The stern was towed back to port that night, but the bow -- or the front part of the boat --and the remains of 35 men sank into the chilly water.

Among the dead was Ruth Anderson's fiancé, Gilmor Weik. She mourned him intensely but eventually did fall in love with another man, Kermit Anderson. They married and had three sons, all now in middle age. Ruth Anderson never told them about what she lost the night the Murphy sank.

"I just kept it deep down in my heart," Anderson, 83, said on a recent visit to New Jersey from her home in Norman, Okla.

But two years ago, professional diver Dan Crowell of Brick discovered the long-lost bow of the Murphy in 265 feet of water about 80 miles off Long Beach Island.

The discovery, and the resurgent interest in the history of the Murphy that attended it, prompted Ruth Anderson to tell her sons about the man she loved before she met their dad.

"She was like a tea kettle on simmer for 60 years," her youngest son, Tom, of Oklahoma City, said during a reunion of Murphy veterans at a Holiday Inn in Vineland earlier this month.

The discovery of the bow brought her to a boil, he said. Her own little piece of the Murphy's history has been whistling forth ever since.

The Murphy, a Benson-class destroyer, was 348 feet long and 36 feet across. It carried 260 enlisted men and 15 officers.

On that night in October 1943, the ship was assigned to escort a supply convoy from New York to the United Kingdom. The convoy was not far from New York when an unidentified target showed up on the radar. The Murphy was sent ahead to determine whether it was a German U-boat.

The target turned out to be another American ship, the SS Bulkoil. The Bulkoil's captain mistook the Murphy for a torpedo and turned toward it, the standard evasive maneuver, said Fred Sheller, a Californian who was working below deck in the fire control room of the Murphy that night. Rather than avoiding a torpedo, though, the tanker crashed into the port side of the Murphy, between the bridge and forward stack, cutting the destroyer in two.

"It was like a bus crashing through pane after pane of glass," Sheller said at the Vineland reunion. "I don't remember a jerk, or a bump, just a loud shattering."

Harper Anderson Peacock, a 3rd-class torpedoman from Tennessee, was on watch on the top deck that night, standing near the sonar room where Gilmor Weik was stationed. The impact was so jarring, he said he was thrown overboard.

He was wearing a headset with a 35-foot cord. The drop to the ocean was 40 feet, he recalled. When he reached the end of his line, his head snapped back violently, and he was knocked unconscious. The water was so cold that he came to quickly.

Covered in diesel fuel and numb from the cold, Peacock, Sheller and several dozen other survivors eventually were plucked from the water and hoisted onto the deck of a rescue ship, the USS Glennon. There, they were scrubbed clean and given shots of brandy to warm their bones.

Peacock never found out what happened to Weik, but he has carried the memory of him and the others who died with him ever since.

"You realize that those boys that suffered and died that night were no worse or no better than you were, but you survived," said Peacock, 82, who settled in Mississippi after the war and went to work as a lineman for the power company. "You always carry a little guilt about being saved when the rest went down. It's kind of a hard token."

The stern of the Murphy stayed afloat that night and was towed to the New York Navy Boat Yard with many of the crew still aboard, Sheller said. The bow was replaced, and the Murphy returned to duty seven months later.

Because a war was on, the Navy and Coast Guard never made much of an effort to find the bow of the Murphy or recover the bodies of the men who were lost, many veterans of the ship believe. For six decades, they had only a vague idea of where their ship had gone down.

That began to change in 2000. Crowell, captain of a dive boat called the Seeker, had a conversation with a local fisherman that led him to believe he might find the remains of a World War II Liberty ship at a particular spot off the New Jersey coast. He made his first dive on that spot in August 2000.

Though the wreck Crowell and his team of divers found that day was shrouded in discarded fishing nets, they saw enough of it to doubt that it was a Liberty ship. Because of weather and equipment problems, it wasn't until they were able to make another dive on it, in September 2002, that they could say for sure that it was a destroyer. After that dive, they used Navy records to identify it as the Murphy.

A small memorial with the names of the men who died that night has been placed in a park in Surf City, on Long Beach Island. The memorial was dedicated Sept. 16.

Crowell, a videographer, is working on a documentary about the ship.

Ruth Anderson, whose husband died the year Crowell identified the Murphy, heard about the discovery from a relative who saw a television news report about it.

The experience has brought back memories of things she has not spoken of in six decades. Memories of taking the train from her home in Elizabeth, Minn., to meet Gil in New York during his shore leave, of taking along the gravy spoon from the silverware pattern she had selected for their wedding, of going to the opera and a party, of being stricken with a sense of foreboding when they said goodbye at the end of his leave.

When he was reported missing, she said, she clung to the hope that he was alive somewhere, possibly with amnesia, trying to find his way back to her. She moved to Washington, D.C., to stay with her sister and continued to write him letters after the Murphy sank. One day, the postman brought them all back to her.

She gave up hope and took the train back to Minnesota. She destroyed the letters and gave the engagement ring to her brother. The only thing she kept was an ivory necklace Gil had bought for her at the Rock of Gibraltar.

She put that necklace away many years ago and kept it away, thinking it improper to wear it around the man she married.

But earlier this month, when she arrived in New Jersey with her son Tom for the reunion of the Murphy crew, she wore Gil's necklace.

"Ever since they found the bow," her son said, "she's been healing a thorn that's been in her heart all these years."

SOURCE - The Star-Ledger

Check this link.

The USS Murphy after beeing rammed.

Monday, September 27, 2004


New MA in underwater archaeology at UCL, London


Institute of Archaeology, UCL, London, starts up a new MA module in underwater archaeology to run this autumn (2004) and spring (2005):

Underwater Archaeology: Techniques and Methods One focus of this module will be the investigation of submerged settlements and cultural landscapes.

Due to their sometimes surprising preservation of prehistoric features they are seen as an extremely important research potential.

From 2005 a full MA programme in underwater archaeology will be available and allow integration with a wide range of other relevant courses.

Further information on the net site: or on (+44) 2076 794 790.

Please spread this information to potential students.


Ciclo de conferências



No Auditório da Biblioteca Municipal Orlando Ribeiro, em Telheiras, o IPPAR promove um ciclo de conferências especializadas sob o tema genérico OUTROS PATRIMÓNIOS através do qual pretende abrir um espaço de reflexão e debate sobre algumas facetas do património menos conhecidas do grande público, muitas delas encerrando tantos problemas e necessidades de conhecimento e salvaguarda como potencialidades enquanto recursos para um desenvolvimento regional e local, agregando um conjunto de desafios que interessa integrar no quotidiano.

Se se encontra genericamente já assimilado pela sociedade contemporânea o fundamental do património mais tradicional – os monumentos, os castelos, as igrejas, os palácios ou os conjuntos monásticos, por exemplo – OUTROS PATRIMÓNIOS existem que carecem ainda desse entendimento e desse reconhecimento. Rápidas e inevitáveis alterações na sociedade desestruturaram e ainda desestruturam modos tradicionais de viver, de configurar e construir os sítios e humanizar as paisagens, daí resultando naturais alterações nos referenciais necessários para as gerações se situarem face ao passado e face às projecções possíveis para futuro.

O património abrange actualmente uma crescente diversidade de campos tendendo para uma visão integrada, territorial e dinâmica, colocando os seus elementos, anteriormente vistos de um modo isolado, cada vez mais em relações sistemáticas entre si e com o seu suporte físico, ambiental, social e económico, aspecto que interessa aprofundar.

OUTROS PATRIMÓNIOS são os que todos nós retemos um pouco na nossa memória, cenários de passagens ou de experiências que nos referenciam a espaços e tempos muitos deles geracionais, cuja extensão e diversidade não permite nem permitirá uma classificação, mas cujo conhecimento possibilitará a sua inclusão no quotidiano de uma gestão territorial e urbana integrada.

Este ciclo de conferências conta com a colaboração da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, Divisão de Bibliotecas e Arquivos, através da cedência do Auditório da Biblioteca Municipal Orlando Ribeiro, instalada no antigo Solar da Nora, em Telheiras.

Informações: IPPAR - Departamento de Estudos - 21 361 43 36
IPPAR - Dr. Carlos Correia Martins - 21361 42 59
Biblioteca Municipal Orlando Ribeiro – 21 754 90 30

Sugestão do Do Fundo Do Mar:

dia 29 de Setembro:
Os faróis portugueses: memórias do passado, desafios do presente
Manuel Joaquim Boiça


Joint degree program combines two disciplines to teach students archaeological oceanography



PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The University of Rhode Island has designed a voyage to the bottom of the sea for students in an emerging field of scientific exploration - archaeological oceanography.

Graduates of the new five-year program will get a master's degree in history and a doctorate in oceanography. Five students were accepted for this year, and have already begun classes.

"It's a bringing together of two worlds that historically have not granted joint degrees," said Robert Ballard, the underwater explorer who found the Titanic - and the program's creator. "They're about as far apart as you can take two sciences and bring them into one."

Only about five per cent of the world's oceans have been explored, and much of the underwater archaeology, including exploring submerged cities and shipwrecks, has taken place in shallow waters.

The university program plans to take archaeology deeper. Technological advances with unmanned deep-sea submersibles and robotic excavators sensitive enough to handle artifacts much like a human would on land have invigorated the drive to explore what lies at the bottom of the world's oceans.

The students selected for the program say they're attracted to it because of its novelty and the opportunity to be part of major expeditions.

Next summer, the group is scheduled to assist Ballard and other scientists in searches for Phoenician and Minoan ships in the Mediterranean. They'll also help with studies of hydrothermal vents and deep-sea corals in the North Atlantic Ocean.

"I think that it's time that we put those tools to use that we have for other sciences . . . to go look for things that actually mean something to human history," said Katy Croff. The 26-year-old has an undergraduate degree in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a masters degree in maritime archaeology from the University of Southampton in England.

Other students have undergraduate or graduate degrees in subjects including anthropology, geology, marine science and maritime history.

Ballard said they're special because they have a background in human history and an academic foundation in physical sciences.

"I was looking for crossover students," he said.

The university, with its main campus in South Kingstown, has billed the program as the only one of its kind. Other schools offer graduate degrees in archaeology and oceanography, though none has rolled them into one formal curriculum, the university says.

Bonnie Clendenning, executive director at the Archaeological Institute of America, said the school is capitalizing on its strength in ocean sciences, while adding archaeology to the mix.

"That would make a great deal of sense for them to do this," she said.

A few other schools have similar credentials. Texas A&M University, for example, has a graduate program in nautical archaeology with about 10 new students each year. It also offers advanced degrees through its oceanography department.

The school, in College Station, Texas, has asked the state's Board of Regents to create a centre for maritime archaeology and conservation that would resemble the archaeology oceanography program at URI, said Donny Hamilton, head of the nautical archaeology program at Texas A&M.

The main difference is that the coursework would concentrate mostly on shipwrecks in shallow water, where extensive excavations can be done, said Hamilton, an archaeologist for nearly 30 years. URI's program is predicated on exploring deep water environments.

"To what degree is (archaeological oceanography) archaeology when you go down in a submersible, and you can only (retrieve) two pieces?" Hamilton said. "They call it archaeology, but I like it hands-on. Theirs is hands-on, but with a remote control arm."

The distinction doesn't matter much to Alicia Coles, whose parents told her about the program after reading about it in URI's alumni magazine.

"We're doing something that nobody has done before," said the 26-year-old University of Nebraska graduate with a masters degree in anthropology. "That kind of ranks you up there with people who have gone to space or (on) some other exploration."

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Dreams of sunken treasure lure ex-hostage back to South America


Associated Press

MORTON, Ill. - The last time Scott Heimdal set out in search of sunken treasure he ended up being the bounty instead, kidnapped and held for ransom in the jungles of South America for two months not knowing whether he would live or die.

Now, nearly 15 years after his central Illinois hometown raised the cash that bought his freedom, Heimdal is preparing to head back to Ecuador to resume a treasure-hunting dream that still burns hotter than his memories of 61 days at the mercy of Colombian rebels.

The 42-year-old former hostage says this trip will be much safer. Instead of guerillas, he says, his biggest worry will be finding a Spanish ship that sank off the coast of Ecuador in the late 1500s with a cargo he estimates could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"I've always been someone who likes to see things through. If you decide to do something, do it," the soft-spoken Peoria native said with a laugh.

Even his parents, who went to South America and negotiated their son's release in 1990, say they have no qualms about Heimdal rekindling a dream sparked by a documentary on shipwreck recoveries he saw as a teenager.

"What happened to him when he got kidnapped was just that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said his father, Roy Heimdal.

At the time, though, he had feared his son would never be released by the rebels alive - "It was awful, I almost lost my mind," he recalled.

Heimdal wound up within the rebels' reach after signing on with a mining company to support himself when the Ecuadorean government thwarted his bid for a permit to salvage a potential shipwreck he had spent years researching.

He was working on a gold mine being established deep in the jungle when rebels crossed over from Colombia and ambushed Heimdal's canoe from a riverbank. They killed his native navigator and abducted Heimdal, seeking ransom money to finance their efforts to overthrow Colombia's government.

Heimdal's captivity made international news as rebels demanded $1.5 million for his release, unaware that the gold mine was not yet operating.

They ultimately settled for $60,000, a deal negotiated by Heimdal's mother, Marge, using money from fund-raisers across central Illinois. More than 50 members of the insurgent group have since been arrested, though none has gone to trial.

Other rebel groups are still carrying on the decades-old insurgency, but Heimdal said he will be out of harm's way on this trip.

He will be working with the Ecuadorean Navy on the salvage project, operating under a deal based on a new Ecuadorean law to evenly split any coins, jewelry or artifacts that might be found on the ocean floor.
When Heimdal and his crew aren't with government officials, they will stay in a resort-like area along the Pacific Ocean.

"It's like anywhere, it really depends on where you are. If you're out in the middle of the jungle and you're close to the Colombian border, you need to be careful. The rest of the country, it's a wonderful country," he said.

Heimdal, who lives in Morton and works for a computer consulting firm, prefers not to dwell on his weeks as a hostage.

But he acknowledges his past could help as the new company he formed tries to attract investors for the nearly $500,000 salvage effort in Ecuador.

"If I had just been somebody that no one ever heard of and I wanted to do this, chances are it would have been much harder," he said. His Peoria-based RS Operations LLC has about 10 percent of the money it needs, and Heimdal hopes to collect the rest and launch the yearlong project by November.

Once the project starts, imaging equipment will be used to map the ocean floor in a 35-square-mile area about 15 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Crews will then dive about 50 feet to probe the best targets, using underwater blowers to excavate up to 20 feet of sand that could cover the ruins.

Heimdal is confident the search will yield wreckage from Spanish ships that traveled the South American coast hundreds of years ago with loads of gold, silver and other riches. Coins and other artifacts that have washed ashore are signs that more may lie beyond, he said.

"I have no doubt. The question is how much," Heimdal said.

Shipwreck salvage is a growing industry worldwide, said Laura Barton of Odyssey Marine, a Florida-based company that specializes in deep-sea projects.

High-profile projects like the 1985 discovery of the Titanic heightened interest in underwater treasure hunts, and technological advances like underwater robots have helped searchers reach deeper parts of the ocean, she said.

"As these projects get more press and publicity, more and more people are going to say, 'Wow, there's money down there," Barton said.

But salvage is also a risk business, Heimdal said. Projects could turn up nothing, or have staggering returns. A Civil War-era shipwreck discovered by Odyssey Marine off the Georgia coast last year has already yielded more than 50,000 gold and silver coins and is estimated to be worth more than $120 million.

Roy Heimdal thinks his son will be among the treasure hunters who cash in, using the same perseverance that got him through his hostage ordeal.

"He basically has a dogmatic determination to do this," he said. "It's kind of been a lifetime dream of his. He's just never given up the idea."


Saturday, September 25, 2004


Russian shipwreck rumored to be loaded with $124 billion in gold bars


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SEOUL, Korea (23 Sep 2004) -- President Roh Moo-hyun and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached agreements on a swath of political and economic issues during their talks this week, but another intriguing issue never made it onto the summit table. Bubbling under the surface of the two countries relations is a debate over the ownership of a shipwreck, believed to be a Russian warship carrying treasures that sank off the Korean peninsula during the Russo-Japanese War.

The story of the sunken vessel surfaced four years ago when a South Korean construction company began a joint exploration project with the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (KORDI) into the shipwreck in the East Sea, suspected of being loaded with gold worth a whopping $124 billion. After the report, the Dong-ah construction company, then facing bankruptcy, saw its shares skyrocket.

The investigation team last year released reports suggesting the ship could be Russian warship the Dmitri Donskoi from Tsarist times, which sank off Ullung Island during the 1904-5 Russo-Japanese War. The announcement came after a joint investigation using state-of-the-art equipment including side scan-sonar and an ROV, or unmanned submarine.

According to historians, the Dmitri Donskoi may prove to be very valuable in that it could offer a rare glimpse of the lifestyles of Russians in the early 1900s. The 5,800-ton vessel also allegedly may contain over half a ton of gold, which could fuel a possible dispute over the ownership of the Russian warship.

Even if the rumors of gold prove true, however, it is unlikely to be a case of finders-keepers due to weak international law on such issues, according to legal experts. The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea does not deal with the ownership of sunken vessels in foreign territories, which means the countries involved have to negotiate to resolve the dispute.

"Though the vessel proves to be the Dmitri Donskoi, the matter of the ownership over the shipwreck would not be ours to decide,'' Yoo Hai-soo, a KORDI official in charge of the joint investigation, told reporters. "Because of a weak international legal base on such issues, it couldn't be resolved without negotiations between the two countries concerned.''

A case in point is the dispute between Japan and Russia in 1981 over the warship Nakhimov carrying 17 gold bars, which sank off the island of Tsushima in 1981. The Japanese government gave up its effort to salvage the sunken vessel as Russia had claimed ownership.

Chong Wa Dae officials said last week that the subject is not very likely to be brought up during the summit between the two leaders.

"It's not even clear whether the sunken ship is the Dimitri Donskoi, and we're also not sure whether there really is any gold and treasures,'' a government official said.

"It's a very sensitive issue concerning both countries, so we're not in a hurry to decide who will claim ownership of the vessel believed to be lying on the ocean floor,'' the official added. "If it turns out to be the Donskoi, the South Korean government has to go through very complicated negotiations with Russian counterparts.''

The South Korean oceanic research center and the company said they would continue to conduct close-up surveys to confirm their report that the sunken vessel is the gold-laden Russian warship. But the joint project on the sunken vessel has been stalled for over a year due to the Dong-ah Company's bankruptcy, Yoo said.

The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) developed out of the rival imperialist ambitions of Russia and Japan for dominance in Korea and Manchuria. It resulted in a surprise victory for Japan, establishing Japan as a major world power.

SOURCE - Jakarta Post

Check the Korea Times, BBC News.

Sunken Russian warship Dmitri Donskoi


Papua New Guinea divers find P-38 WWII warplane in 'immaculate' condition


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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (21 Sep 2004) -- Native Papua New Guinea divers have found a sunken P-38 Lockheed Lightning WWII warplane in immaculate condition in Milne Bay, a renowned dive traveler destination.

Henry Katura and his father Remigus discovered the wreck of the P-38 airplane while diving for beche-de-mer.

Remigus said he remembered that as a child during World War II, he and other villagers heard the crash of an airplane that ditched into the ocean, but they never found the pilot.

Although the details of the crash are unknown, the near-perfect condition of the wreck indicates the pilot may have survived the crash.

According to a liveaboard operator in New Guinea who has already been diving on the wreck, the cockpit cover is missing, which supports the theory that the pilot escaped alive.

Divers in New Guinea have also recovered the P-38's radio call sign - '2-12649' - which led to military archives that show the plane took off from San Francisco on August 12, 1942 bound for the 5th Air Force USAAF in Australia.

Why it crashed in New Guinea four months later is part of the mystery that makes war wrecks so interesting for divers.

P-38 Lockheed Lightning. WWII warplane
in Milne Bay.


Revealed by Isabel, mysterious shipwreck emerging piece by piece

By JASON SKOG, The Associated Press

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The big crane scooped out a soggy helping of muck from the bottom of Lynnhaven Inlet, then dumped it onto a barge. Nothing. Just sand.

Then another scoop. More sand.

It looked like a typical dredging operation Wednesday morning - an unremarkable start for an intriguing effort. The goal is to raise the remains of a mysterious shipwreck, perhaps 250 years old.

Slowly, the scoops started to change. A hunk of wood came up. Then a ballast stone. By Thursday morning, the gunky debris took up one-third of the 100-foot barge. The mystery was slowly revealing itself. Keith B. Lockwood scrambled over the piles, happily pulling out artifacts.

"Now we're looking down on top of it," he said, grinning after flipping over a 150-pound section of the keel. "That's pretty cool."

Lockwood is an environmental scientist with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is leading the recovery mission.

The operation is as much about creating a safe passage through Lynnhaven Inlet as it is about uncovering the past. Last year, Hurricane Isabel exposed the wreck, putting it in the path of passing boats. Once the wreck is removed, the corps will straighten the channel.

The shipwreck is on the western edge of Lynnhaven Inlet, roughly 2,300 feet north of the Lesner Bridge. The channel makes a sharp turn to avoid it, creating sandy shoals and a hazard for boats.

The abandoned wreck belongs to the commonwealth. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources agreed in May to let the corps remove it.

Crofton Construction Services of Portsmouth is doing the digging. Two barges work side by side to dredge an area, 100 feet by 100 feet, where most of the shipwreck remains.

Over the next few days, material will be hoisted to the barge's deck and the remains will be shipped to Craney Island in Portsmouth for cleaning and closer examination.

Because the wreck already is in small pieces, the operation is more concerned with recovery and discovery than preservation. It is basically a forensic exploration, akin to an episode of "CSI" on water.

David Whall is one of the lead detectives on the case. As a marine archaeologist with Tidewater Atlantic Research Inc. of Washington, N.C., he dived on the wreck last summer and helped map it.

On Thursday , he spotted pieces he remembered seeing on the inlet's floor. "It's easier to see the details when it's on the surface," he said. "But it's not together anymore, so it's a jigsaw puzzle."

The crane released another load.

"There's a section of the keel," Whall said. "So he's all the way to the bottom."

Whall hopped down with a roll of bright, orange plastic ribbon and tied it around a timber. Later, he grabbed a hunk of wood he had spotted 15 feet away and dragged one piece to the other.

"The puzzle sort of fits together," he said, lifting the smaller piece and dropping it into a notch in the larger one. "Like that."

If enough pieces fit together, the corps hopes to determine the name, age and origin of the vessel, how it was used and how it went down.

For now, they suspect the ship was either a sloop or schooner built in the late 1700s or early 1800s. It might have been a merchant ship, sailing goods along the coast, or a lightship that guided mariners. Perhaps it was a casualty of the War of 1812 - a Navy gunboat or an armed privateer licensed to raid British vessels.

Last summer, divers spotted parts of the hull and keel, a cast iron cannon shot, a shoe heel fastened with wooden pegs, a pewter spoon bowl, three wooden casks and parts of a lead bilge strainer.

On Thursday, four more lead bilge strainers were pulled up, along with a cannonball, bits of a wooden barrel and a bucket, a wheel to a pulley system, possibly used in sail rigging, and "bar shot" - two cannonballs linked by an iron bar designed to tear down enemy sails and lines.

None of it helped Whall learn anything for certain.

"We're getting a lot of info, and we may be able to narrow things down," he said. "It may open some other doors, too."

Strategic pieces of wood will be marked and sent to a lab. There, scientists might compare samples to known species of wood or put slices under a microscope.

Only part of the lower hull remains, and it rests in an area 35 feet long and 9 feet wide. The biggest pieces raised are less than 5 feet long.

Lockwood said he expects to be over the wreck site through Saturday, but that depends on what they find. "We'll keep going and going until we don't hit anything," he said.


U.S. Civil War Site Dedicated in France - CSS Alabama


The Daily Democrat online

CHERBOURG, France (AP) -- American cannon blasts bellowed in the English Channel 140 years ago, and bloodied bodies lined the deck of a sinking Confederate ship. Teary onlookers watched in horror from the Normandy coast.

On June 19, 1864, far from battlefields at home, the USS Kearsarge hunted down and sank a dreaded Confederate raider in one of the most important naval battles of the U.S. Civil War - off the coast of France.

The Confederate State Ship Alabama today lies where it sank under 198 feet of swirling currents about 7 nautical miles off the French town of Cherbourg.

On Thursday, the Civil War Preservation Trust, an American nonprofit group, named this English Channel town a historic Civil War site - the first outside the United States. Officials dedicated a plaque commemorating the battle at the Cite de la Mer museum, which is exhibiting a cannon recovered from the Alabama.

"This was one of the most notable naval battles of the Civil War, and one of the most unique in that it happened so far away from American shores," Robert Neyland, head of underwater archaeology at the U.S. Naval Historical Center, said from Washington.

The Alabama, built for the Confederacy by a company in Liverpool, England, was one of the most successful raiders ever. In 22 months, her crew boarded 447 vessels, including 65 Union merchant ships, and took 2,000 prisoners, according to the CSS Alabama Association.

"This ship caused a lot of panic in the United States," Neyland said, adding that its exploits made it known - and at times celebrated - in many parts of the world.

Five days before its last battle, the Confederate raider stopped for repairs in Cherbourg, where the Kearsarge tracked the ship after a long hunt. Capt. Raphael Semmes, who commanded the three-masted Confederate sloop, then challenged Kearsarge Capt. John Winslow to a one-on-one battle.

French witness accounts and Semmes's journal described a gruesome battle between the steam- and sail-powered ships lasting more than an hour.

The historical center said 10 of the Alabama's 155 crew members were killed in the battle, four drowned and another 15 went missing in action and were presumed dead.

Semmes' great-great grandson, Oliver Semmes, attended Thursday's ceremony.

A French naval mine sweeper discovered the 234-foot-long, 30-foot-wide boat in 1984. Divers and robots have retrieved relics - including the cannon, revolver bullets and coins - in more than 1,000 dives.

After a two-year pause, explorations will resume next year. The ship belongs to the United States, but is located in French territorial waters.

CSS Alabama painting.

CSS Alabama Association:


Divers discover, protect rare pre-Civil War steam engines off New Jersey coast


Powered by CYBER DIVER News Network

NEW JERSEY -- Two rare, pre-Civil War steam locomotives, almost completely intact, have been discovered sitting upright, side-by-side, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, several miles off the central New Jersey coast.

The submerged engines were discovered in 1985 by a charter-boat captain. But the significance of the find was not realized until two years ago, and not made public until Friday, when a federal judge ordered the relics protected.

In the next few days, a surrogate U.S. marshal will dive 90 feet to the ocean floor a few miles east of Asbury Park, to attach a laminated notice to one of the locomotives. The notice includes a marshals' warning that tampering or poaching is now illegal.

Two organized groups of amateur railroad and diving enthusiasts obtained the court order. They hope to retrieve and restore the distinctive and decorative steam engines, which are encrusted with a century and a half of barnacles and other sea life.

"It's a real archeological find - there are only a handful from that era that still exist," said David Dunn, director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, which is not involved. The six-wheeled engines are among the earliest American workhorse locomotives, designed during "an era when these machines were considered the space shuttles of the mid-19th century."

Jim Wilke, a railroad historian who lives in Los Angeles, said the find is unusual because "these machines are exactly as they were when they went down in the early 1850s." Most similar engines that survived to become museum relics, he said, were refitted again and again over decades, and represent hybrids with modernized parts.

"These engines are extremely rare," he said.

The Smithsonian Institution, for example, owns a similar one, the Pioneer. A somewhat smaller, slightly younger, eight-wheeled steam engine, the People's Railway No. 3, is on display at the Franklin Institute.
John H. White, a former railroad curator for the Smithsonian, described the discovery of the two steam engines near New Jersey as "unusual, an oddity."

"They don't tell anything we don't already know," White said. "It's just interesting that they survived all this time. We don't have much from the 1850s. These are new pieces that were unknown."

To recover the steam engines from the Atlantic, the leaders of the diving and train enthusiast groups acknowledge they will need professional help.

"This is, really, out of our realm," said Victor Crisanto, chair of the New Jersey Museum of Transportation, which won the legal protection for the engines. The private museum has operated the Pine Creek Railroad, a railroad preservation organization at Allaire State Park, since 1952.

The group took the first legal step on Friday, when it appeared before U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas to ask for custody of the abandoned steam locomotives. They presented him with several pieces of physical evidence removed from the engines, including a foot-long bell and a 38-inch piece of decorative trim that hung above a wheel.

"They could probably raise this thing without a court order because they are outside of New Jersey waters, but the real reason to do it is to protect their rights and keep interlopers away," said Peter E. Hess, a Wilmington lawyer who represented the group.

The discovery is bound to become more publicized this month, Hess said, and will be featured on a History Channel documentary tomorrow at 9 p.m.. "Everyone and their brother will want to go and try to grab a piece of brass off the trains," Hess said.

Crisanto and historians said they have little information about the engines' history - the precise year they were built, for example, or how they landed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But by analyzing certain clues - the wagon-top boiler and the valve controls, for example - historians believe the steam locomotives were manufactured in New England, probably Boston, between 1851 and 1854.

Beyond that, they say, little is certain, because railroad records were poor. Some historians suspect the engines slipped off a freighter headed south during a storm. But that is just a guess.

Apparently, the engines sat undisturbed several miles from Asbury Park for more than a century, until 1985, when a charter-boat captain, Paul Hepler, found them while checking netting.

"The captain told me about them years ago," said Dan Lieb of Neptune, the president of the New Jersey Historical Divers Association. "We were out on his boat, looking for lobsters, exploring shipwrecks. And when he told me about the locomotives, I thought, 'I don't want to look at trains,' I want to see shipwrecks."

Years later, Lieb said, he finally decided to see the trains for himself. He and fellow divers soon became infatuated. They took pictures and made drawings. Then he began making inquiries via the Internet.
At first, some speculated that the trains were sunk by the Germans during World War II, citing well-known attacks in the area at the time.

Eventually, the divers' information and details reached White, the former Smithsonian curator.

"They finally sent me a videotape - and I said, 'Aha! I think I know what these are,' " White said. "The cylinders were on an angle, a very antique feature. The double valves, one on top of each other, another antique feature."

They were tank engines, circa 1850.

Lieb, who had been reading White's book, American Locomotives: An Engineering History, 1830-1880, took the news to Crisanto and his fellow train enthusiasts. "They came to one of our board meetings and brought drawings, pictures, a few artifacts," said Crisanto, the all-volunteer museum's chairman. "And... our jaws kind of hit the ground."

SOURCE - Philadelphia Inquirer


Scientist makes the case for Aegean underwater museum


By Iota Sykka - Kathimerini

Marine archaeologists meet to discuss modern exploration methods

The one-day conference organized last week by the Ephorate of Marine Antiquities, in cooperation with the Hellenic Center of Marine Research, proved to be extremely challenging as well as interesting, as it discussed the use of new technologies in marine archaeological research.

Among the guests, including mostly scientists and representatives from a variety of international foundations and institutions, was Dr Robert Ballard, the scientist who investigated the sinking of the Titanic.

The acclaimed scientist had an interesting suggestion to make to Greek authorities: that there be a long-term program, with the cooperation of archaeologists and oceanographers, to explore the ancient trade routes of the Aegean, especially those around Crete.

The broad aim, he says is to shed new light on the Minoan civilization, though the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography has something more in mind — broadcasting the course of the research live.

This means that while the underwater explorations are actually taking place, scientists, university faculties and even schoolchildren would be able to witness the process in real time and in all its detail.

Over the past few years, the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography has used state-of-the-art equipment to discover several shipwrecks at great depths, such as nine ancient shipwrecks belonging to the Roman period and dating from between 100-300 BC.

Explorations off the coasts of Egypt and Israel have located two Phoenician wrecks (750 BC), while research conducted in the Black Sea, especially off the Turkish and Bulgarian coasts, has brought to light another four dating from Hellenistic and Byzantine times.

Ballard also made special reference to the significance of being able to reach great depths, pointing out the Titanic as an example of a very well-preserved shipwreck.

Research at these depths has to be conducted on three levels, he explained, with one ship above water, one underwater monitoring vessel and one remote-controlled submersible.

Research conducted in the Black Sea in 2003, furthermore, used three-dimensional images that were so impressive and clear that scientists at the surface could make out the details on a ship’s mast.

These technological advances mean that scientists no longer have to go underwater to investigate lost treasures, though Ballard admits, the live transmission system costs some $20,000.

The researcher also stated that, in his view, the biggest museum in the world lies underwater and that he dreams of an “underwater museum.”

What transpired from the conference was that archaeologists cannot be left behind in benefiting from technological advances. The potential for new discovery is enormous, as a recent project around the islands of Chios and Samos has proved after locating two ancient shipwrecks, among other interesting finds.

Robert Ballard, the scientist who investigated
the wreck of the Titanic, has called for a long
-term research program to follow the Aegean’s
ancient trade routes and hopes the underwater
exploration can be broadcast live.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Future Of Battleship Texas Uncertain Without Repairs


LA PORTE, Texas -- Age, relentless corrosion from saltwater and tight budgets are doing what no bombs, torpedoes or bullets could accomplish.

Sixteen years after the state spent $14 million to help preserve it, the nearly century-old Battleship Texas -- the only remaining battleship to survive World Wars I and II -- needs an overhaul to keep it from rusting away.

"The ship is in need of significant repair," said Steve Whiston, director of the infrastructure division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which maintains the 573-foot-long, 34,000-ton vessel in a berth on the Houston Ship Channel. "There is corrosion at the water line. We're continuing to experience problems that cause us concern. And the ship, given its age, is pretty fragile."

So fragile that chronically leaky air tanks -- known as blisters and added to the exterior during the 1920s for stability -- sprung a serious leak one recent night. Workers were greeted the next morning with the ship sporting a 4-degree starboard list.

"It got all of us excited but we're satisfied it's stable," Whiston said.

The water was pumped out and the leak was patched, at least temporarily.

"If you are going to acknowledge you're going to keep some historic ships, there is a very strong argument this is at least as good, if not the best, one to keep," said Barry Ward, curator of the Texas.

Ward said the ship is a unique piece of technology in terms of the time period it represents. "This goes from the very beginning of the age of flight through the nuclear age," he said.

The oldest of the eight remaining American battlewagons, the Texas is the last of the Dreadnought class, patterned after the British battleship that featured unprecedented speed and armaments at the turn of the 20th century. Launched in 1912 and commissioned two years later, the Texas was touted as the world's most powerful weapon.

In World War I, it served as U.S. flagship in the British Grand Fleet. In 1940, it was named flagship of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, took part in D-Day in 1944, later experienced casualties when hit by German artillery off France and provided Pacific support for World War II battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Decommissioned in 1948, the Texas eventually went under the care of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which keeps the ship as part of the San Jacinto Battlegrounds State Park near Houston.

In 1988, a major restoration -- the first in 40 years -- required it be towed to a Galveston shipyard where the hull essentially was replaced. And despite what turned out to be a Band-Aid solution, Ward said he believes the work saved the ship from an almost certain demise.

"Possibly, within a year or two, if they hadn't done that, this ship would no longer have been able to be towed anywhere for repair," he said.

The same kind of decision looms now -- without money or a convenient place for repairs.
"A ship like that really needs significant dry-dock repairs every eight to 10 years, so we're really past our cycle," Whiston said.

The Texas Legislature approved about $12 million for bonds to pay for renovations but didn't provide debt service -- the money -- to the issue bonds, Whiston said. Park officials hope to remedy that with a budget request when lawmakers return to Austin in January.

But since the last round of extensive repairs, the Galveston dry-dock where the Texas was towed ceased business and there's doubt any shipyard in Texas can do the job. The Parks and Wildlife Department hasn't been immune to state budget trimming. And there's uncertainty whether the ship could endure the rigors of a move.

"It's fine floating in one place but when you put a ship of that age in open water, that stress, we were concerned we may lose it," Whiston said.

One proposal calls for building a dam around where the ship's now docked, along with a dry dock, allowing engineers to remove the water as needed to make repairs. Another idea is to permanently elevate the ship from the water on a kind of cradle.

"As long as the state decides to have this, it's my job to do the best I can to take care of it and guide the state in the decision-making process of how to take care of it," said Ward, who has been in charge of the ship for the past five years.

For now, that means an almost continuous painting effort with Measure 21 Dark Blue, the color the Texas wore at the end of World War II. The wood deck, originally teak, was replaced decades ago with less expensive southern pine, then at some point after decommissioning was covered with cement -- an error that's led to maintenance problems. The deck is in the process of being scrubbed of cement and repainted. Deck replacement, even with pine, easily would top "seven figures," Ward said.

Inside the Texas, some of the living quarters and working areas are being restored with as many actual ship items as possible. Ward has been scouring Internet auctions for artifacts. Some equipment that can't be replaced, like small light fixtures over desks, are being handmade to duplicate originals.

The curator said he'd like to equip areas of the ship with taped audio presentations for the 150,000 annual visitors whose $5 admission fee goes into the department's general fund.

Areas closed off to the public show how difficult the work is. Lead paint and asbestos must be removed and rust and dirt are everywhere. And except for a few scattered hang-on units that obviously weren't original, there is no air conditioning.

A project under way will restore the quarters of the ship's physician. Another involves restoration of the radio room. In an eating area, Ward found a painted wood wall section with dozens of pinholes. It turned out to be the old location for a dartboard, and he was able to find an exact match.

Victories like that are small for a ship where "challenges are everywhere you turn," the curator said.
"I'm a museum specialist, a historian and archaeologist by training," Ward said. "This is the kind of thing you are not schooled to be an expert in. You become one."

USS Texas fires shells towards Omaha Beach
during the invasion of Normandy, France.


Odyssey Announces Preliminary Second Quarter Earnings and Effects of Weather on Operations


Press Release
Friday September 24, 12:44 pm ET

TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 24, 2004--Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc (AMEX:OMR - News), a leader in the field of deep ocean shipwreck exploration has estimated revenue and earnings per share for the company's second quarter of the current fiscal year, which ended August 31, 2004.

Based on preliminary financial results, Odyssey expects total consolidated revenue to be approximately $6.2 million and after tax earnings to be approximately $2.4 million or $.06 per share for the second quarter.

This would result in estimated year to date total revenue of approximately $9.6 million and after tax earnings of $2.9 million or $.07 per share. Actual second quarter results will be reported in the upcoming Form 10-QSB, which will be filed in mid-October.

"While the recent hurricanes have understandably interfered with operations on the Republic project, our personnel, equipment, facilities and inventory have not sustained hurricane damage," stated John Morris, Odyssey's co-founder and CEO.

"Not surprisingly, weather-related issues have also affected the delivery and installation of new equipment required for the Sussex project. We are now making final preparations to begin the Sussex project, including obtaining the British Government's final approval of our current staffing plan."


Brooch is 600 years old - found while beachwalking


The Montrose Review
By Mark Dowie -

A CHANCE glance in the right direction led to an unusual find for local man Alexzander McBeath.

Mr McBeath was walking along the beach near Ferryden when his attention was drawn to an object lying at the edge of a rockpool. He thought it was a regimental cap badge from World War II and took it to the local museum who sent it on to the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh for further examination.

Mr McBeath has now received a letter telling him the object appears to be part of a late mediaeval pewter brooch originating in the Netherlands and dating from around 1350 to 1400.

Stuart Campbell of the Treasure Trove Advisory Panel Secretariat told Mr McBeath that such brooches are reasonably common finds in the mudflats of the Thames and Low Countries but not in Scotland.

"I was quite excited by that as I've never found anything like this before," said Mr McBeath. "I handed it in not thinking it was anything that special and for them to come back and say it could be around 600 years old is amazing. There's no clue yet, though, as to how it got there."

Mr Campbell told the Review this type of brooch appears to be an early form of costume jewellery, mass produced in base metal alloys in the same styles as the more expensive precious metal brooches of the day to be affordable to the average person.

"The interesting thing is that Mr McBeath's find is of the same style as a find in the Netherlands," he said. "In a sense this isn't too surprising as there were close cultural and trade links between Scotland and the Low Countries. A lot of the mediaeval pottery found in Scotland came from the Netherlands for example, as did a lot of decorative metalwork and so forth.

"It is the case that a lot of east coast towns had particularly strong links with the Low Countries so this find is a nice illustration of what these cultural links meant for a specific town."

Brooch will be claimed as Treasure Trove as an artefact of cultural significance.

In Scotland archaeological objects found in the soil are national property - belonging to the "Crown" - although the finder receives a reward equating to the object's market value. The system aims to ensure that objects of cultural significance are on display or in museums for the public benefit.

The allocation of the object to a museum is the Treasure Trove Advisory Panel's responsibility. The panel is an independent organisation and Mr Campbell said the initial presumption currently is for allocation to a local museum.

Although Mr McBeath has never been a metal detectorist or had a particularly strong interest in archaeology, he said he will be keeping his eyes peeled from now on for any further finds.


Ranger finds gem in old wreck



For those who've been excited about finding pocket change or an old spoon on the beach, imagine pouring sand out of an old, washed-up bottle and discovering a diamond plopped into your palm.

National Park Service (NPS) Cultural Resource Management Specialist Doug Stover did just that after Hurricane Isabel, but he hasn't retired to the Bahamas just yet.

Stover said Park Service rangers now routinely scour the national park beaches after major storms looking for artifacts. There are hundreds of shipwrecks offshore of the Outer Banks, and whatever's submerged in national waters falls under the aegis of the State Underwater Archaeology Office. When the waters get stirred, and the wrecks break up, any washed-up debris is managed by the Park Service.

Stover was walking the beaches on the north end of Ocracoke Island after Hurricane Isabel when he located a huge section of wreck. "It had wooden tree pegs, no metal nails, and looked to be 18th century," he said. A little later he said a wave brought in another piece right in front of him. That one had the nicest solid brass square fittings he had ever seen, and copper plate sheeting, indicative of a warship. "It was two huge finds in one day," he noted, saying they were sections from two different ships.

The park service did a sonogram of the first ship and noticed a small bottle wedged inside. Stover couldn't believe it when the diamond rolled out of it. But duty-bound, he didn't pocket the little beauty. Federal law requires all finds on national park grounds to be turned in, Stover added.

"The bottle was mold-blown and had a hand-finished lip dating back to 1850 to 1900," he said. The gemstone inside the bottle turned out to be a 1.06 carat Herkimer diamond, actually a quartz crystal that looks like a diamond. Park service archeologists said someone may have cut the stone to look like a diamond, but it was more likely that the faceted shape of the quartz was a natural occurrence.

More Finds

Stover has a list of hundreds of items discovered on the beaches, and here are just a few ... a "late archaic stemmed projectile point" (scientific phrase for Indian arrowhead), large mammal bones, iron axe head, oriental porcelain, fossilized whale bones and several coins from the 1800s.

In addition, he said that after Hurricane Alex he found exposed shipwreck timbers , and what appear to be 1 piastre Egyptian coins of uncertain age, but probably from the post-World War II era. He surmised they might have come from one of the German U-Boats sunk off our coast during the war.

Churned waters from the recent hurricanes brought in another ship of apparent 1700's vintage, in Salvo. That was only a couple weeks ago, and Stover said the sands have already 90 percent buried it.Another report claims that several bottles of corked rum with the date, 1750, washed up a couple years ago.

Stover said when park service employees find timbers they document them with photos and drawings, and map the remaining ship fabric in detail. They take wood samples for species identification, radiocarbon dating and tree-ring analysis.

What do you do with it?Stover said he sends anything of consequence to the National Park Service's Regional Archeological Research Center in Tallahassee, FL. He said park service archeologists clean and treat sea-stained woods, and catalog the discoveries. "We have an inventory of everything on loan, and we can call back anything we send down," he added. Many of the artifacts are on display at the various visitor centers in the county.

He added that it's unlawful to collect, excavate, remove and disturb any artifacts on National Park Service property, under the Archeological Resource Protection Act.

Anybody who finds artifacts on the national beaches should contact Stover on 473-2111.

This hull planking is studded with small brass
tacks, square brass fasteners and copper sheeting,
and may be from an early 19th Century military
ship. It washed ashore after Hurricane Isabel right
in front of the National Park Service's Doug Stover,
when he was scouring the beach in search of such
treasures. Stover points out the copper in photo
above. Ed Beckley photo


New Laboratory Brings Shipwreck Relics From California Coast to Indiana University


BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Sept. 20 (AScribe Newswire) -- Charles Beeker's new laboratory isn't fancy, but it's functional.

Located in the basement of Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the 1,000-square-foot facility is abuzz with fans and archaeological activity. Sinks and tubs of water protect such shipwreck finds as 19th-century china from Hong Kong headed for the California gold fields, pig iron ballast, and hand-blown glass ale bottles from Germany. An occasional whiff of ocean water can be detected.

The crusty, algae-covered relics, a representative sampling of items found at two shipwrecks off the coast of Northern California, are awaiting the scrutiny and care of the students in HPER's Underwater Science Program, directed by Beeker. The students, with the help of IUB's Department of Physics and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, are learning conservation techniques necessary to remove harmful ocean salt from the objects so they can be cleaned and returned to California, where they will be displayed in museums near the shipwreck sites.

The public and university community can learn more about the laboratory, the Underwater Science Program and maritime archaeology during an open house and lecture series on Sept. 26-27, in conjunction with Discovering Archaeology activities at the Mathers Museum.

Visitors to the laboratory's open house from 1-4 p.m. on Sept. 26 can watch as Beeker and his students lower a corroded cannon into a tub of water where low-voltage currents of electricity will try to lure destructive chlorides from the cannon during the next 18 to 24 months. Visitors can learn about other conservation techniques and USP activities involving archaeological explorations and the creation of underwater parks in California, Florida and the Caribbean.

On Sept. 27, the public is invited to free lectures by three maritime archaeologists, who will speak from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Mathers Museum. Visitors will hear from Deborah Marx and Matthew Lawrence, both with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Scituate, Mass., and Sheli Smith, a maritime archaeologist with Napa Valley College and an adjunct lecturer with IUB's Department of Anthropology. The lecturers will discuss underwater archaeological investigations of shipwrecks, underwater parks, and the conservation of artifacts recovered from such sites.

Beeker and IUB have been involved in underwater archaeology, water quality analysis and the establishment of underwater parks in California, Florida and the Caribbean for 20 years. The relics in the new lab come primarily from the 1850 shipwreck of the Frolic, a Baltimore clipper that sank after colliding with a rocky reef off the Mendocino, Calif., coast. Some relics also come from the 1908 shipwreck of the Pomona, a steamship that sank in Fort Ross Cove, 90 miles south of the Frolic's resting place.

Students in Beeker's program can achieve a variety of certifications, culminating in the underwater resource management certificate. Students also can receive a bachelor's degree in underwater archeology in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology. Students involved in the program this semester are pursuing degrees in such diverse majors as music, animal behavior and journalism.

Danielle Leedy, a senior biology major, plans to pursue a graduate degree in marine science after graduating from IUB. She cannot imagine better preparation, despite IUB's Midwestern and nearly landlocked location.

"It's hysterical," she said. "No one would ever guess it, which is one reason it's so cool. The program is absolutely perfect."

Beeker's program received two grants from the California Department of Parks and Recreation to pay for the conservation work.

The new lab is located in the basement of HPER, which is on Seventh Street across from the Indiana Memorial Union. The stairway to the lab is located next to the racquetball courts. The stairs also lead to the men's locker room.

For more information, contact Beeker at 812-855-5748 or The IU Underwater Science Program's Web site is at

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Historic wrecks beckon divers to Lake Champlain



By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

BENEATH BURLINGTON BAY, Vt. — Many of the bricks the canal schooner O.J. Walker was carrying when it sank a century ago in a Lake Champlain gale are still on deck today, stacked in recognizable, if falling over, piles.

Some are scattered off to the side of the boat in about 60 feet of water. The handcarts used to move the bricks and other cargo lay undisturbed on the muck alongside the boat. The boat itself sits upright, providing an underwater look into the 19th century commercial history of Lake Champlain. It's accessible to certified divers as part of a Lake Champlain underwater historic preserve, run by the states of Vermont and New York.

The wreck site is marked on the surface with a yellow buoy. The anchor chain leads to a concrete pad and from there another chain leads to the wreck itself, where divers are greeted by a sign that warns them to stay out of the wreck and that it's illegal to take artifacts off the wreck.

Art Cohn of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum helped create the underwater preserve and considers it to be an integral part of the ever-expanding system of museums and exhibits that can explain the long and rich history of Lake Champlain.

"Every one of these underwater sites connects us to a historic period and specific circumstances that is a really unique connection to the past," Cohn said.

The wrecks are owned by the states of Vermont and New York and it doesn't cost anything to dive to them. But divers need to register prior to using the underwater preserve and reserve a time slot in advance before exploring the O.J. Walker and the Water Witch, a barge that was carrying iron ore when it sank in an 1866 storm off Diamond Island in southern Lake Champlain.

Four of the eight preserve sites are near Burlington harbor, in the 19th century one of the most important commercial waterfronts in the country. Three others are in Vermont waters; one is in New York.

Cohn estimates there are about 30 additional wrecks in Lake Champlain that could eventually be added to the preserve system.

For scuba divers, the water in Lake Champlain isn't as cold as the North Atlantic, but it's not the Caribbean, either. Divers need a complete, cold-water wet suit that only leaves small parts of the face directly exposed to the water.

But the need for cold water diving gear means lake diving is as good in May or October as it is in July or August, when, for non-divers, the lake is not at its most swimmable.

The preserve opens in May and closes at the end of October when the buoys that mark the wrecks are pulled from the water.

Cohn, who has been diving in Lake Champlain for more than 30 years, said October was his favorite time for diving.

"There's nobody on the lake. The water is still warm," Cohn said. "The visibility is usually at its best and the foliage and grandeur of the surrounding environment is as good as it gets anywhere in the world."

The underwater preserve first opened in 1985 after Cohn and others realized that people would dive to the wrecks anyway and it would be best to control it.

"We were the first program in the country to provide mooring systems to make access to these sites safer, easier and less destructive to the wrecks," Cohn said. Since dive boats can tie up to the buoys, they don't need to drop an anchor that can damage the wreck. "I have to say that the dive community here has been extraordinarily supportive of this approach," Cohn said. "It was largely designed to run on good intentions by the dive community. Almost 20 years later I can say that that has been successful."

The O.J. Walker was carrying its load of bricks from Malletts Bay to Shelburne Farms in 1895 when it was caught in the gale. Rather than being piled in the hold, the bricks were stacked on deck, a labor-saving device for the crew that ended up costing them their boat.

The stresses of the top-heavy load caused the Walker to spring one of its planks. The boat partially capsized, spilling part of the load into the lake and then righting itself before sinking. The wreck now rests upright about three-quarters of a mile off the Burlington waterfront in about 65 feet of water.

The masts of the O.J. Walker still crisscross the deck where they fell when the boat hit bottom. Most of cargo was rectangular building bricks. Others are round, hollow drainage tiles.

The Walker was one of the vessels used by Cohn and the Maritime Museum to design the Lois McClure, the just-completed canal schooner that is once again plying the waters of Lake Champlain as a modern ambassador of 19th century commercial life on the lake.

In an ironic benefit to scuba divers, nonnative zebra mussels that are covering Lake Champlain and threatening the existence of the wrecks, are keeping the lake clearer than it used to be. Millions of zebra mussels strain the water.

It's not uncommon to find visibility of 30 to 40 feet on the Walker, unheard of before the mussels were first discovered in 1993, Cohn said.

But the zebra mussels are also covering the wrecks, prompting fears their weight could eventually collapse them. The process is accelerated by a chemical reaction caused by the mussels that is eating away at the iron pieces that hold the wooden boats together.

The General Butler is another wreck in the underwater preserve system. It's a canal schooner similar to the O.J. Walker that wrecked on the Burlington breakwater in an early winter storm in 1876. It's an easy dive, in only about 40 feet of water.

Farther north, off Colchester Shoal, lays the remains of the Phoenix, one of the first steamboats to sail on Lake Champlain. It caught fire during an overnight run between Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Burlington in 1819 and then was run up onto the shoal. Six people died.

After the accident, the Phoenix settled on the shoal where work crews managed to salvage the boilers. Cohn said it's believed that ice moved the Phoenix off the shoal to where it sank and rests today.

The stern of the Phoenix lies in more than 100 feet of water and at that depth Lake Champlain is dark. But the burn marks on the ribs of a vessel that sank more than 180 years ago can transport a diver back to the early 19th century.

Toby Talbot, AP
A diver prepares to explore
one of first underwater historic
preserves in the United States.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Puzzling artifacts and noises rise from canyon's depths


Terrace Standard

KITSELAS CANYON is giving up more of its secrets.

A series of artifacts have been found in the mud of the canyon this summer after the Skeena River's high water receded.

And it's set the Kitselas people abuzz with speculation that some of them might be from the Mount Royal . the old paddlewheeler that sank in the canyon almost a century ago.

The first find was what was initially suspected to be the hub from the riverboat's paddlewheel.

The cylindrical item, found last month by Gitaus subdivision resident Ron Gerow, was examined by Terrace city freeman Bill McRae.

It's not from a riverboat, he decided, but appears to be the hub of a wagon wheel with historic value in its own right.

Most upriver freight bypassed the canyon via a mile-long wagon road so the paddlewheelers could make the tricky run empty.

Another artifact unearthed from the sandbars appears to be a part McRae believes came off an old Cat bulldozer.

The newest discovery has been spotted embedded in the bar, but not yet unearthed, says Wilfred Bennett Jr., who heads the band's development of a national historic site in the canyon.

It appears to be a door with a port hole window in it . and again the hope is it could be from the Mount Royal.
"We're waiting for low water to go in and have a look at it," Bennett said.

"The bars change shape and form each year," he said. "Every time they change there's new stuff that washes up."

Getting McRae's advice about the canyon finds paid other dividends for the Kitselas. The city freeman took the opportunity to give the band an old adze carving tool that had once been found in the canyon and passed on to him.

"Hopefully we'll have a display built for them," Bennett added.

The sinking of the 138-foot Mount Royal on July 6, 1907 has long been one of the region's most famous tales from the riverboat days.

Records indicate there was a safe on board, but it sank to the bottom of the canyon when the ship capsized.
"Some people say there was gold in it," Bennett said. "That's one of the stories I've heard."

The passengers on the vessel escaped but six crew members died when the sternwheeler drifted sideways through the canyon and overturned.

And if that's not eerie enough, some Kitselas band members say they can sometimes hear strange noises emanating from the canyon's waters.

"They say you can hear a kind of a knocking sound, like metal hitting the canyon rocks," Bennett says.
He hasn't heard the noise.

But band office employee Frances Bennett says she has.

Her father would take her down to the canyon to watch the wild water.

"We'd go down to the canyon when it's at high water and you can hear a knocking and it's not rocks," she says.
Pieces of something . maybe the Mount Royal .are wedged deep underwater inside the canyon, and bang around when the current is at its most powerful, she and others believe.

"To me, I think it's a boat .that old sternwheeler," she says.

Copyright 2003 terrace

GITAUS subdivsion resident
Ron Gerow holds the mystery
artifact he found in the waters
of Kitselas Canyon last month.
It is believed to be the hub from
an old wagon wheel.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


150 Year-Old Rudder is Restored on Famous Ship


11:00 - 17 September 2004

The restoration of Brunel's ss Great Britain took another step forward when the ship's 150-year-old rudder was lowered into its new home. Workers inched the 16-tonne rudder into position next to the famous ship, where it will form the centrepiece of an interactive museum, expected to open next year.

It was bubble-wrapped for its own protection during the operation, which took months of meticulous planning and several days to carry out.The rudder and lifting frame, made in 1857, helped steer the Bristol-built ship for much of her sailing life, which in total covered one million nautical miles - the equivalent of 32 times around the world.

The lifting frame, one of the largest iron forgings of its time, was designed to maximise speed and reduce drag when the ship was under sail by lifting the propeller out of the water.In the three-day operation, which started on Monday and finished on Wednesday, the iron and wooden artefacts were taken down, placed in a stabilising cradle, and taken on a low loader for some 250 metres. A crane then lowered them between roof girders into their new resting place.Experts from Eura Conservation Limited managed the operation, which was watched by the ss Great Britain Trust's curatorial team.

Matthew Tanner, the trust's director, said: "It is important for us that we tell the ship's story well and this is why we are building a new museum including original artefacts and imaginative interactive displays next to the ss Great Britain."Director of Eura Conservation, Robert Turner, said: "The move was particularly difficult on account of the rudder's size and weight and also because it's very fragile.

"Dr Kate Rambridge, ss Great Britain Trust's interpretation manager, said: "This is really the first step in achieving one of the key interactives which will be part of our new museum. The lifting frame will be transformed into a huge interactive area, probably bigger than any seen in a museum in this country.

"By next May visitors will be able to step aboard the ship from the interactive museum via a gangplank linking the two.They will also be able to learn how to operate the rudder and steering through state-of-the-art technology.

The final rest.

See the unofficial web site, and the official.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Keys Treasures Traveling to Big Apple

By Mandy Bolen - Citizen Staff Writer

KEY WEST — The 1622 hurricanes off the coast of Cuba, which sent eight Spanish galleons to the ocean floor — and hundreds of sailors to their deaths — also may have served to preserve some of the last remnants of handmade silver and gold objects from that period of history.

Upon discovery of the treasure-laden wrecks of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita off the coast of Key West, salvagers rescued the artifacts from the salty depths of the turbulent ocean and painstakingly conserved the metal objects that came from Mexico, Peru and other then-unknown places in the New World. The objects were being brought back to Spain to help fund an ongoing war.

They never made it to Spain, but came to their final place of prestige in the galleries of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

Despite more than 350 years of saltwater submersion, the gold still sparkled, and the careful hands of conservators cleared away centuries and revealed intricate etchings and ornamentation on items including silver buttons, golden plates and a poison cup.

Such rare antiquities caught the attention of exhibition experts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art who have developed an exhibition detailing "The Colonial Andes: Tapestries and Silverwork, 1530-1830" scheduled to open at the end of the month.

Officials from the prestigious New York museum asked Madeleine Burnside, executive director of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, if she would be willing to lend the artifacts to the New York exhibit.

Burnside was eager to participate in such an exhibit, but questioned whether the nation's most prestigious museum would want pieces from a shipwreck.

"Met officials told me, 'You don't understand,'" Burnside said. "You have some of the only examples that exist from this period and the only samples in existence in America."

In the coming weeks local museum officials will carefully pack up about seven artifacts and deliver them to New York for the exhibition, which will include a gold footed platter, a silver beaker, a silver condor plate and a gold poison cup.

The poison cup, with its intriguing ominous name, is one of the local museum's most popular objects, and visitors' eyes regularly grow wide as tour guides explain its use in the 17th century.

"The poison cup has a setting inside it for a bezoar stone," Burnside explained for the umpteenth time on Friday. "That particular type of stone neutralizes arsenic, which was the poison of choice at that time."

The artifacts from Key West will remain until December part of The Met's exhibit, which includes "more than 175 works of art and focuses on two uniquely rich and inherently Andean art forms that flourished during the colonial period, presenting the finest examples of Inca and colonial garments and tapestries, as well as ritual and domestic silverwork," The Met's Web site states.

Members and supporters of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum interested in seeing The Met exhibit with its local connections are encouraged to learn more about an upcoming three-day trip that includes a behind-the-scenes tour and reception at The Met, along with a cocktail reception aboard The Waterford yacht hosted by Mel Fisher Museum Board Member Guy Ross and John Evans.

The weekend also includes private receptions and tours of the American Museum of Natural History, lunch and a private tour of the New York Historical Society.

Participants are responsible for hotel and airfare arrangements, but museum officials have selected The Lucerne as the host hotel.

Anyone interested should contact Lisa Malcom or Adam Fiallos at (305) 294-2633 ext. 21.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Divers net 4 tons in undersea trash - Hey! That's archaeology in the future.


Herald Staff Writer

Divers combed the ocean floor off the Monterey Peninsula, bringing up everything and the kitchen sink, not to mention a toilet bowl and a mattress.

Divers weren't looking for housewares, but rather trying to help clean up the ocean floor as part of the annual beach cleanup along the Peninsula. Dozens of divers searched the bottom of the ocean looking for anything manmade that was thrown into the ocean either by accident or on purpose.

"The first dives happened about 15 years ago, and it was a series of dives to clear out the marina," said Stephen B. Scheiblauer, harbormaster for the city of Monterey, which sponsored the dive.

Saturday's dive was organized by the Central California Council of Diving Clubs and the San Francisco Reef Divers club. About 60 divers, ranging in age from 14 to 77 years old, pulled up about four tons of junk, including metal cables, tires, car batteries, boat ladders, and flashlights, as well as a kitchen sink, a toilet bowl and a bed mattress.

"This year wasn't quite as interesting as in the past," said Pierre Hurter, a member of the reef divers club. "The year before last we found a headstone."

"This year was more just junk," said Gerda Hurter, Pierre's wife and the event coordinator.

While the dive did not turn up anything as interesting as a tombstone, it did bring in its share of unusual objects. In fact, the prize for the most interesting object pulled up ended in a tie, with three different people who pulled up fire hydrant caps sharing the honor with a diver who found an "adult" cigarette lighter.

"It was a lighter with erotic scenery," said Gerda Hurter.

The most bizarre object found was a .45 caliber bullet, while the most expensive object was a key to a BMW.
"Whoever picked up the BMW key can find it in the parking lot and drive off with it," quipped Gerta Hurter.

Complementing the ocean dive was a beach cleanup that brought dozens of volunteers all across the coastline. Donning plastic gloves and carrying garbage bags, the volunteers picked up broken glass, bottle caps, and cigarette butts. Lots of cigarette butts.

"In less than five minutes, we've picked up about 17 cigarette butts," said Theresa De La Vega of Santa Clara, a volunteer who was visiting the beach.

A group of Girl Scouts from Salinas also took part in the beach cleanup. Hoping to earn their "Sign of the World" badges, the girls dealt with the cigarette butts as well as something they called "squishies."

"It's actually pretty clean out here. Just mainly cigarette butts and squishies," said Jesse Drogemuller, 10.


Maritime Archaeology Field School


The 2004 Maritime Field School will be held during the non-teaching week in Semester 2 (around the end of September). Written assessment will be submitted by the end of semester.

Costs associated with the field school will be approximately Aus$500. For more information, contact the Head of the School of Anthropology, Archaeology & Sociology.

These are the preliminary details for the above course. Please read all of the details closely, since there are several pre-course requirements and payments.

Because this is a field-based course which requires us to book (and pay for) vehicles, boats and equipment in advance, it is essential that you if you are already enrolled, you confirm your interest or that you wish to withdraw, by emailing the course coordinator, as soon as possible.

Academic Prerequisites
Any JCU student with 12 points of first year subjects can enrol in AR2402/AR3402. The course is designed to allow non-archaeologists to participate.

Diving Prerequisites
Open Water dive certification - with 15 hours of dive time (logged). This will be sighted by the JCU Dive office at the Dive Register Test (see below).

Listing on the JCU Dive Register – (this is a JCU requirement and separate to the course, but there is no cost involved). A special session for this class will be held either in the several days before the field school – details to be advised.

Provisional Programme
Mon 27 September – Saturday 2 October (mid-semester break)

The general course description is available on the JCU website, but in brief the emphasis is on basic field methods for recording shipwrecks and other intertidal or submerged sites.

Check in here the rest of the details.

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