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2005 Aquanaut Cruise

The 2005 Aquanaut Program Maritime Heritage Cruise investigated several shipwrecks within the sanctuary using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The Aquanaut Program brings together marine scientists and students to conduct field research important to the management of the sanctuary. During each day of the cruise, sanctuary archaeologists, National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut (NURC-UConn) scientists and University of Connecticut students boarded the University of Connecticut's R/V Connecticut in Gloucester, MA for the trips into the sanctuary.

NURC-UConn technicians operated the investigation's primary research tool, the ROV Hela. Hela carried lights and cameras into the sanctuary's cold and dark depths allowing the archaeologists, scientists, and students to document the shipwrecks and their resident marine life.


ROV Hela
The ROV Hela is launched off the R/V Connecticut

The project's primary goal was a thorough examination of the coal schooners Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary. This investigation began with the stern of the Frank A. Palmer, where the research team made several discoveries. The team located and imaged the schooner's partially intact steering wheel along with artifacts from the captain's cabin such as dishware. Unfortunately, fishing nets caught in the wreck prevented the ROV from exploring further forward than the aftermost mast. Overall, the Frank A. Palmer's appears to have considerable archaeological integrity.

Dishware Frank A. Palmer
Dishware and other artifactual material lies inside the
Frank A. Palmer's hull and provide important archaeological information about the schooner's crew. Courtesy

Remains of a door, Frank A. Palmer Remains of a door, including the brass door knob,
in the Frank A. Palmer's aft cabin area.
Courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn

After exploring the Frank A. Palmer to the extent allowed by the entangled fishing nets, the ROV jumped the gap between the schooners and began exploring the starboard side of the Louise B. Crary. The Louise B. Crary appeared to be even more intact than the Palmer; however, entangled fishing gear prevented the ROV from safely examining the Lousie B. Crary's stern.

Copper sheathed step, Lousie B. Crary
A copper sheathed step on the side of the Louise B. Crary's hull. Courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn.

In addition to the Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary, the 2005 Aquanaut Program Maritime Heritage Cruise also investigated several previously undocumented shipwreck sites. At each site, the ROV ran video transects to record diagnostic information that will be used to characterize the site. Additionally, the video transects also served to characterize the marine life resident on the shipwrecks.

For more information on the schooners Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary click here.


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