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nautical news and shipwreck discoveries


  • Underwater history : 255 artifacts found in Turkish seas

    Divers explore the Dakota C-47 aircraft, which was donated to the Kaş Underwater Association by the Turkısh Air Force and sunken in 2009 for diving tourism


    From Daily Sabah

    The underwater archaeological excavation and research ventures of Turkey, which has a coastline of approximately 8,300 kilometers (5,157 miles), were started by foreign teams with the work at the Bronze Age Gelidonya Shipwreck, near the Finike district of Antalya province on the Mediterranean coast, in 1960.

    Turkish scientists and divers have continued to bring important cultural heritage up from the depths of the blue waters ever since.

    While the excavations carried out in Yassıada in 1967-1969, in glass wreck salvaged from the Serçe harbor in 1979, and in the Uluburun Shipwreck off Kaş in 1984 constitute important milestones of Turkish underwater archaeology, a total of 10 underwater archaeological excavations were also conducted this year in the country.

    As part of the archaeological underwater research, 255 artifacts have been handed over to Turkish museums so far.

    The wreckage of the world's oldest trade ship from the Bronze Age contains works of art from the Archaic period and features the only statue examples found in the Mediterranean. The Ottoman shipwreck, which includes findings that will illuminate the Ottoman navy, is among the important discoveries of the latest archaeological excavations.

    Efforts are also underway to establish underwater archaeology museums on the coasts of Turkey's seas so that the artifacts that have been discovered in the scientific, underwater studies can be exhibited on site.

    Harun Özdaş, excavation head of Turkey’s Shipwreck Inventory Project, spoke with Anadolu Agency (AA) about his experience in underwater excavations and research.

    Özdaş, who is also an archaeology professor at the Institute of Marine Science and Technology at Izmir-based Dokuz Eylul University, said that shipwrecks lie at depths varying between 30-60 meters (98-196 feet) and each meter descended during the dive is a journey to the past.

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  • $250,000 for a visit to the Titanic shipwreck site

    Underwater image of the wreck of the Titanic

    By Lauren Harte - Belfast Live

    A new expedition to the wreck of the Titanic has been announced for summer 2022, but it comes at a hefty price.

    Only around 250 people have glimpsed the wreckage since it was discovered on the seabed in 1985, but a small group will make the epic two-mile journey to the site on the ocean floor next year.

    Oceangate Expeditions, which offers underwater expeditions across the world, has announced its second annual trip to the ship's final resting place. It will see ‘mission specialists,’ along with researchers, survey the vessel up close from inside the company’s submersible Titan.

    The group of citizen explorers will travel 12,500ft beneath the North Atlantic Ocean to survey the famous Belfast-built liner that sank in April 1912.

    The Titanic Expedition is conducted as a series of eight-day missions in May and June but each seat now costs $250,000 – a $125,000 increase on last year. OceanGate Expeditions Mission Specialist, Aaron Newman said of the 2021 trip: "It was something out of Discovery Channel or National Geographic. It was very surreal and amazing.

    "This is one of the most interesting and unique experiences I have ever had. Less than around 200 people have ever been down to the Titanic and seen the wreck in 110 years."

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  • Batavia shipwreck revealing new information

    Archaeologist Dr Jeremy Green photographing the Batavia shipwreck in the 1970s in its resting place near Beacon Island at the Houtman Abrolhos.

    By Natasha Harradine - ABC Mid West & Wheatbelt

    The Batavia shipwreck is revealing new details about the Dutch master shipbuilders of the 1600s. The ship sank off the coast of Western Australia on its maiden voyage in 1629.

    In the 1970s it was lifted from the sea bed and is now displayed at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle. It is the only surviving 17th-century ship from the Dutch East India Company.

    Lead author, associate professor Wendy van Duivenvoorde from Flinders University, said the vision of the WA Museum to lift and conserve the ship had created an international historic record for tree-ring studies.

    "The Batavia holds basically the only records that we have today that can provide us with information about what the Dutch were doing with their timber imports," she said.

    Dr van Duivenvoorde said the researchers were able to take more than 100 samples from the timber hull.

    "These are really beautiful oak that were easily 300 years old," she said. "I think the oldest tree ring that we have found in a plank comes from a tree that started growing in 1342, and I think from a frame 1340 or so."

    She said a ship like the Batavia would use at least 700 trees. Dr van Duivenvoorde said the master shipwrights of the 1600s were very selective in the timber used, with Baltic oak preferred for the hull, which sat below the waterline.

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  • Italian WWII submarine wreckage discovered off Mykonos

    The “Jantina,” Italian submarine sunk by the Allied forces in 1941 off Mykonos

    By Tasos Kokkinidis - Greek Reporter

    A team of Greek divers has discovered earlier in the week the wreckage of an Italian submarine that was sunk by the Allied forces in 1941 off Mykonos.

    The “Jantina,” which sank on July 5 from the torpedoes of the British submarine HMS Torbay, lay at the bottom of the Aegean without anyone knowing its exact location for 80 years.

    Kostas Thoctarides, the leader of the team who located Jantina at a depth of 103 meters (338 feet) off Mykonos, told the Athens Macedonia News Agency (AMNA) that he knew that the wreckage was in the area, but “we did not know exactly where.”

    “It’s fascinating, you don’t come across a submarine wreckage every day, it’s a journey through history,” he said. The detection was made possible thanks to the submarine remote-controlled vehicles available to Thoctarides team in the context of inspections of underwater projects, such as pipelines and cables.

    Thoctarides, a naval history enthusiast and author, has discovered four modern shipwrecks at Mykonos, Skiathos, Kefalonia, and the Saronic Gulf. He says that only a portion of shipwrecks has been located in the Greek seas.

    “My estimate is that a quarter has been identified in total,” he said, based on his shipwreck record after years of study. “Greece is a country with a very important naval history. There is historical wealth in every region,” he added.

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  • Indonesia - Omnibus law on underwater cultural heritage

    Tang Cargo - Belitung - Photo by Jacklee

    By Natali Pearson - New Mandala

    Indonesia has had a moratorium on the commercial salvage of underwater cultural heritage since 2010. But a new and seemingly unrelated Law has reintroduced the prospect that Indonesia’s waters will again be “open for investment.”

    The Law in question is the Job Creation (or “Omnibus”) Law (Undang-Undang Nomor 11 Tahun 2020 tentang Cipta Kerja), and it resurrects a policy that calls into question how underwater cultural heritage is valued in Indonesia. To understand the relationship between the Job Creation Law and underwater cultural heritage, we need to wade through a lot of laws.

    Let’s start in 1989, when commercial salvage was first legalised in Indonesia. Suharto was President and there were almost no laws in place to protect and preserve the hundreds (some say thousands) of shipwrecks in Indonesia’s territorial waters.

    The only laws in place dated to the 1930s, and, as the Geldermalsen case demonstrated, they had proved completely ineffective in safeguarding the archipelago’s underwater cultural heritage.

    In August 1989, Suharto introduced Presidential Decree No.43 on the National Committee for the Salvage and Utilisation of Valuable Objects originating from the Cargo of Sunken Ships.

    The Decree legalised the salvage (pengangkatan) and utilisation (pemanfaatan) of valuable objects (benda berharga) from the cargo of shipwrecks (asal muatan kapal yang tenggelam) in Indonesian territorial waters. Salvage was defined as the research, survey and recovery of valuable objects from sunken ships, and utilisation entailed the sale of objects and other uses for the benefit of the Government.

    The Decree established the National Shipwrecks Committee, headed by the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security. Committee membership consisted of representatives from at least nine different Ministries.

    To salvage a site, a salvage company first had to apply for a survey permit. Given the number of Ministries represented on the National Shipwrecks Committee, this involved extensive bureaucratic wrangling as well as numerous fees.

    Then, if their survey identified a site of interest, they could apply for a salvage permit, involving yet more red tape and fees. The company was responsible for all costs associated with the survey and salvage process.

    Foreign salvors could be involved in surveying, salvaging and utilising valuable objects (benda berharga), provided they partnered with a local (that is, Indonesian) company. There were a number of conditions—for example, sites were to be excavated to accepted archaeological standards and Indonesia was to retain unique and scarce artefacts.

    But these provisions were not enforced.

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  • Indonesian divers discover treasures from Sriwijaya empire

    Buddha statue found by divers

    By Livia Gershon - Smithsonian Magazine

    Local divers exploring Indonesia’s Musi River have found gold rings, beads and other artifacts that may be linked to the Srivijaya Empire, which controlled sea trade across large swaths of Asia between the 7th and 11th centuries C.E.

    “In the last five years, extraordinary stuff has been coming up,” British maritime archaeologist Sean Kingsley, who reported on the discoveries in the autumn issue of Wreckwatch magazine, tells the Guardian’s Dalya Alberge.

    “Coins of all periods, gold and Buddhist statues, gems, all the kinds of things that you might read about in Sinbad the Sailor and think it was made up. It’s actually real.”

    Among the discoveries are a life-size Buddhist statue covered in precious gems, temple bells, mirrors, wine jugs and flutes shaped like peacocks, reports Stephanie Pappas for Live Science.

    The kingdom of Srivijaya began in Palembang, a city located on the Musi River on the island of Sumatra.

    Per Encyclopedia Britannica, the empire controlled the Strait of Malacca—a key route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans—and established trade with groups in the Malay Archipelago, China and India. Srivijaya was also a center of Mahayana Buddhism.

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  • X-rays are revealing new clues about the Mary Rose

    The Mary Rose

    By Rahul Rao - Popular Science

    In 1982, before the eyes of watching television cameras, the wooden remains of the 16th-century English warship Mary Rose were lifted from its underwater grave. Since then, it’s proven a veritable time capsule into Tudor Britain. But, as you might imagine, nearly 500 years under the sea doesn’t do wonders for keeping the ship in shape.

    That’s where some very modern X-ray scanning has now come on board. Researchers have turned to techniques used in chemistry and manufacturing to scan wood from the Mary Rose.

    Unlike previous techniques that rely primarily on finding one specific element, this X-ray technique allows researchers to scan a relic and see any potential contaminants and where they are. The researchers published their work in the journal Matter on October 27.

    “It is vital when dealing with precious materials that you get as much information you can in one go, and this is what this technique offers,” says Eleanor Schofield, one of the study’s authors, and head of conservation at the Mary Rose Trust, the charity that takes care of the ship.

    First, a bit of history. When the Mary Rose was built in 1511, it was one of the largest ships in the English fleet. And the ship was no stranger to battle; early 16th century England, during the reign of King Henry VIII, was a time of frequent wars, particularly with France.

    It was in 1545, amidst one of those wars, that the French were planning to land an invading army on English soil. The Mary Rose was called to help fight them off.

    That brought the ship to the Solent, an offshoot of the English Channel that separates Great Britain from the Isle of Wight. It was there that the Mary Rose would sink, taking most of her crew down in the process.

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  • Famed Iredale shipwreck hits Oregon coast

    The barque Peter Iredale ran aground near Warrenton

    From Oregon Coast Beach Connection

    115 years ago today – October 26, 1906 – that the news of this dramatic stranding hit the world, starting with the Morning Astorian's first edition of that day. According to their reports – and plenty of subsequent historical accounts – those wee hours of the morning of October 25 were stormy and raucous.

    The four-masted Peter Iredale was on her way into the mouth of the Columbia River after coming from Mexico, a British-based ship made mostly of steel. This was her ninth time coming into town, according to the rather tedious logs of incoming ships that were routinely published in newspapers at the time.

    It was at 2 a.m. that Captain H. Lawrence first saw the lights of Astoria, but due to the gale and windstorm swirling around them this view flickered in front of him, making it an uneasy route in.

    Lawrence stuck to his training and decided to wait until daylight to try and enter, however the wild conditions caused him and the crew to lose their bearings in the night and with just a few moments notice they found themselves about to ground on the beach.

    One crew member screamed “breakers dead ahead” from a lookout, and Lawrence immediately gave the order to steer the ship away. In these conditions, the wheel wouldn't work properly and within minutes the crew was struck with horror at the sound of the boards beneath their feet grinding onto land.

    By this time it was 7:45 a.m.

    The jolt was gargantuan: everything onboard went flying the direction of the stop. The masts snapped off with the enormous force, and even the anchors and chains mysteriously went flying off the ship, later found quite a ways away.

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