Archive for the 'Archaeological Conservation' Category

Aug 18

‘The Stern Hit the Water with a Jar’

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 9:53 AM


Literally a flying aircraft carrier, the USS Macon (ZRS-5) featured a hangar that accommodated four scout planes.

For the first time since 2009, undersea explorers, with support from the NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, today are investigating the secret wreck site of the U.S. Navy airship Macon (ZRS-5). Remote-controlled vehicles from Robert Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus are mapping the site, located within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and evaluating the condition of the remains of the airship and her F9C-2 Sparrowhawk scout planes. The future of the Navy’s ambitious rigid-airship program was uncertain even before the 785-foot Macon crashed on the night of 12 February 1935. The USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) had gone down in 1925,… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 3

Return of USS HOUSTON Artifacts to NHHC

Friday, January 3, 2014 11:41 AM


Last week, the Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) received a trumpet and ceramic cup and saucer from World War II cruiser USS HOUSTON. The artifacts were returned to the US Naval Attaché in Canberra, Australia after their unsanctioned removal from the wreck site and made a journey of more than 10,000 miles to reach NHHC headquarters in Washington, DC. The artifacts will undergo documentation, research and conservation treatment at the UAB Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory.   USS HOUSTON, nicknamed the “Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast”, was a Northampton-class heavy cruiser that played an important role in… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 23

The Search for Bonhomme Richard: By NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch

Monday, September 23, 2013 8:32 AM


Captain John Paul Jones hailing HMS Serapis during the action from the deck of the frigate Bonhomme Richard, 23 September 1779. Artwork by Paul Moran.

The hunt for the remains of Bonhomme Richard continues in the North Sea. On September 23rd, 1779, Bonhomme Richard engaged in fierce combat with HMS Seripis during the Battle of Flamborough Head off the English coast. Captained by the formidable John Paul Jones, who is often credited as the “father” of the U.S. Navy, Bonhomme Richard emerged victorious from the battle, but proved irreparably damaged. Despite all efforts to save the ship, Bonhomme Richard sank into the North Sea on September 25th, 1779. Between 21 May and 9 June, 2012, the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), partnered with Ocean… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 14

Howell Torpedo

Friday, June 14, 2013 11:11 AM


In 1883 the United States Navy held a public contest to find new design concepts for torpedoes. After reviewing several proposals, the Navy Torpedo Board selected a design submitted by the head of the Department of Astronomy and Navigation for the U.S. Naval Academy, Lieutenant Commander John A. Howell. The Howell torpedo was initially conceived in 1870 and was an improvement to older torpedo models. A key enhancement to the weapon was the addition of a flywheel, which acted as both a means of propulsion and provided additional stability to the torpedo. The Howell torpedo was 11 feet long with… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 29

CSS Alabama Britten Shell and Box

Monday, April 29, 2013 3:09 PM


CSS Alabama, a screw sloop-of-war, was commissioned by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. It was built in Liverpool, England and launched on 24 August 1862. Alabama served the Confederate Navy as a commerce raider and captured more than 60 vessels during her two year storied career. On 19 June 1864, Alabama left port in Cherbourg, France to engage the USS Kearsarge. Approximately an hour after the first shot of the battle had been fired Alabama began to sink. The commander of Alabama, Raphael Semmes, then surrendered and the ship’s survivors were rescued by Kearsarge and the… Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 25

The Conservation of Enfield Rifle Barrels from USS Tulip

Monday, March 25, 2013 9:32 AM


The Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) manages the Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory which is primarily tasked with the documentation, treatment, preservation, and curation of artifacts from US Navy sunken military craft. Artifact conservation is an integral part of any archaeological investigation and allows for the long-term study, interpretation, and preservation of irreplaceable submerged cultural resources. Recently, the Archaeology & Conservation Lab has been treating a group of Enfield rifle barrels from the wreck site of USS Tulip. Purchased by the Union Navy during the Civil War, Tulip, a steam-screw gunboat, joined the Potomac River Flotilla… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 26

U.S.S. Scorpion Artifact Vignette: Surgical Scissors

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 8:49 AM


“It is no small presumption to dismember the image of God.” -John Woodall (1556-1643) The Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) has been conducting a multi-year investigation of a shipwreck in the Patuxent River believed to be War of 1812 vessel USS Scorpion. During the 2011 field season, several artifacts were recovered from the vessel’s hold including a pair of surgical scissors, SCORP-2011-53 (Figure 2). Previous investigation of the shipwreck in 1979 yielded another pair of surgical scissors, 99-69-AE (Figure 1). UAB has been conducting ongoing research to better understand the specific medical uses of these artifacts…. Read the rest of this entry »

May 24

NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch and MDSU2 Survey SB2C Helldiver Wreck

Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:34 PM


The Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) is currently cooperating with the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) and U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO (MDSU-2) to investigate a WWII-era SB2C Helldiver aircraft wreck off the coast of Jupiter, FL. The objectives of the investigation are to identify the aircraft using its numbered identification plates, measure and map the wreck site, and document the aircraft. Investigation operations are being conducted from USNS Apache (T-ATF 172), one of MSC’s four Fleet Ocean Tugs and one of the 14 ships in its Surface Support Program. USNS Apache’s… Read the rest of this entry »

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