Survey efforts continue on British warship eluded by Paul Revere

Paul Revere

By Stefanie Geisler - Boston

A survey crew returned with high-tech equipment this afternoon to the Cape Cod National Seashore, where the wreck has resurfaced of the British warship that was guarding Boston Harbor the night that Paul Revere made his famous journey to Lexington.

Federal park officials have hired Harry R. Feldman Inc. to record the remains of the HMS Somerset III with three-dimensional imaging technology.

Although crews performed several laser scans last week, wind affected the measurements made in one of them, said Michael Feldman, president of the company.

"One of the scans that we had done had skewed data," Feldman said. "We wanted to rectify what could have gone wrong."

The crew had planned to return to the site to make more measurements anyway, Feldman added.

The tide dropped this evening, giving the surveyors the best access to the wreck. The wreck was last sighted in the shifting sands 37 years ago, but recent storms uncovered it again.

The news over the weekend of the wreck's reappearance on the beach in Provincetown has inspired some people to make the 1 1/2-mile trek down the sands to see it, said William P. Burke, historian at the national seashore.

"The sand is starting to kind of creep in on it, but people are still walking out to the site," Burke said.

The Somerset, which featured 64 mounted guns and a crew of about 400, served in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. In 1775, Paul Revere rowed across the harbor past the ship before beginning his ride to Lexington to warn the colonials that the British were on the move.

In his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,’’ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called it “a phantom ship, with each mast and spar/Across the moon like a prison bar/And a huge black hulk, that was magnified/By its own reflection in the tide."

A storm drove the Somerset onto the Peaked Hill Bars on Nov. 2, 1778. The US Park Service does not plan on excavating what remains of the ship, Burke said.

"We normally don't do that, unless it's something extraordinarily intact," he said. "With this wreck, there's no information to be gained from removing it. Probably only 10 percent or less of the original wreck is left."


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