Shipwreck off Provincetown goes digital

By Mary Ann Bragg - Cape Cod Times

The mighty British man-of-war HMS Somerset III, wrecked off Truro in 1778 during the Revolutionary War, received a high-technology treatment yesterday.

Land surveyors hired by the Cape Cod National Seashore created the first digital archive of the remaining visible timbers of the wreck using a three-dimensional laser scanner.

The surveyors also identified the wreck’s exact longitude and latitude measurements using global positioning, according to the Cape Cod Times. The idea is to create the first permanent digital archive of the wreck of a ship that played a critical role along the East Coast during the War of American Independence.

The digital archive can be used by future researchers and historians. It provides precise, 3-D images of the wreck if it were to ever be destroyed — or disappear, never to return.

More than a dozen heavy, water-soaked ship timbers were sticking out of the sand at low tide yesterday, about two miles east of the Race Point Beach ranger station in Provincetown.

The timbers, most likely uncovered by the heavy winter storms, last poked up out of the sand about five years ago. They also appeared once in the 1970s and once in the 1870s, according to Seashore historian William Burke.

"We were never sure we’d see it again," Burke said.



America war shipwreck archaeology

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