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2009 Maritime Heritage Remote Sensing Project

Throughout 2009, maritime archaeologists conducted remote sensing surveys as part of the sanctuary’s maritime heritage characterization and monitoring program.  Researchers used the NOAA R/V Auk to conduct side scan sonar and magnetometer surveys aimed at locating new shipwreck sites.  Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) surveys characterized these new sites and monitored previously investigated shipwrecks for site changes. The project’s highlight was a two-day ROV cruise in partnership with the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut (NURC-UConn) in September 2009 on board the R/V Connecticut.

Kraken 2 Launch
NURC scientists launch Kraken 2 off the R/V Connecticut to explore the sanctuary’s deepwater shipwrecks (courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn).

ROV Monitor
Archaeologists and scientists fly the ROV and monitor its video feed from this high-tech control van (courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn).

Researchers used the newly developed NURC-UConn ROV Kraken 2 (K2) outfitted with a high definition video camera and digital still camera to revisit the steamship Portland and investigate four other historic shipwrecks. NURC-UConn’s staff and technical capabilities allowed SBNMS to fulfill its National Historic Preservation Act mandates, which require the sanctuary to inventory the historic properties under its jurisdiction and assess them for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places.

Ceramic PitcherCusk in Steam Pipe
One of several ceramic pitchers found around the Portland is now home to a pair of Northern shrimp (left). A cusk hides inside one of Portland’s steam release pipes (right) (courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn).

Sanctuary archaeologists revisit the Portland on a nearly annual basis to document changes to the site from biologic, oceanographic, and anthropogenic forces.  The 2009 project recorded changes to the site, such as the presence of fishing gear, the movement of artifacts, and the destruction of hull features.  This information will inform management decisions seeking to preserve the shipwreck for current and future generations.  

Ceramic MugPorthole
A ceramic mug sits amongst twisted pipes on the Portland’s main deck (left). An open porthole on the Portland’s main deck hints at the Portland Gale’s fury (right) (courtesy of NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn).


Project support was provided by the NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Northeast Region.

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