Ioppa Maritima Project – Institute of Nautical Archaeology https://nauticalarch.org Institute of Nautical Archaeology Thu, 07 Dec 2017 19:17:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Warship Part III: Identity? https://nauticalarch.org/warship-part-iii-identity/ Sun, 12 Oct 2014 00:27:11 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritima-project/?p=159 Ocean King returned to dock as the sun departed. While Ishay frantically tried to fix the ROV’s control system, our team of archaeologists started searching for clues to the ship’s identity. We were too absorbed to cook – so dinner was whatever was in the fridge. We sat, glued to our laptops, in the open air cockpit of the Lagoon 410 catamaran.

Dr. Shelley Wachsmann ponders the waves as Ocean King returns to dock.

Dr. Shelley Wachsmann ponders the waves as Ocean King returns to dock.

The first task was to narrow down the possibilities. The brief glimpse I had of the ship made me think that the vessel was built in the first third of the 20th century. In the moments before we lost power, we saw a second, possibly asymmetrically positioned gun turret on the starboard side of the vessel, meaning that the ship was definitely a gunboat. This narrowed our search to vessels built for service during WWI, or similarly aged vessels that were subsequently re-purposed and utilized during WWII or the following conflicts in Palestine.

Falls' 1930 Map of Gaza to Beersheba Line on 1 November 1917, from History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence Military Operations Egypt & Palestine from June 1917 to the end of the War, Volume 2, Part 1

Falls’ 1930 Map of Gaza to Beersheba Line on 1 November 1917, from History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence Military Operations Egypt & Palestine from June 1917 to the end of the War, Vol. 2, Pt 1

I pulled up Royal Navy records for British ships lost during WWI off the coast of Palestine, identifying two. Both were lost following the Third Battle for Gaza (November 1st – 2nd, 1917), during the Southern Palestine Offensive. At the beginning of November, forces directed by General Edmund Allenby broke through the defensive line that ran from Gaza to Beersheba, forcing the Yildirim Army Group to withdraw northwards up the coast – bringing the end to a long stalemate between British and Ottoman armies.

The Royal Navy had been relentlessly hammering Ottoman positions along the coast of Palestine. By the second week of November, Allenby’s rapidly advancing army had moved beyond the range of naval support. The shore bombardment vessels anchored within a line of defensive nets used to deter submarines. These precautions were not effective, and on November 11, 1917, the German U-boat U-38 penetrated the defensive perimeter, sinking two vessels, the HMS Staunch and HMS M15.
As I pulled up a blurry newspaper photo of the of the HSM M15, my pulse quickened and I said “Guys, I think I’ve found our ship!”

Historic photo of a M15 class monitor, possibly HMS M15. From Hartlepool Museum Service, http://hhtandn.org/relatedimages/829/hms-m15-1

Historic photo of a M15 class monitor, possibly HMS M15. From Hartlepool Museum Service, http://hhtandn.org/relatedimages/829/hms-m15-1

Historic photo of a M15 class monitor, possibly HMS M157. Image from Hartlepool Museum Service, http://hhtandn.org/relatedimages/832/hms-m17

Historic photo of a M15 class monitor, possibly HMS M157. Image from Hartlepool Museum Service, http://hhtandn.org/relatedimages/832/hms-m17

HMS M15 was a Monitor class warship, a type of shallow drafted vessel built for coastal patrol and bombardment. She was 54 meters long with a 2 meter draft. HMS M15 was armed with a foreword mounted 9.2″ Mk X gun for shore bombardment, as well as a 12-pdr. and a 6-pdr. anti-aircraft gun at the stern. As I looked at photos of one of the M15’s sister ships, the stern configuration seemed familiar. At 54 meters long, the HMS M15 was close to the bottom range of Ishay’s 60-80 meter estimate, (made from examining the sonar). Had we really found our ship?

A second ship was lost that day – the HMS Staunch. Could it also be a possibility?

Historic photograph of HMS Staunch

Historic photograph of HMS Staunch

The HMS Staunch was a 750 ton Acorn Class destroyer. Staunch was armed with two 21″ in. torpedo tubes, fore and aft 4 in. guns and two 12 pdrs. mounted on its port and starboard beams, directly behind the bridge. The vessel was 75 meters long, which fit well within Ishay’s estimates of 60 to 80 meters based on the sonar display. The mention of port and starboard-mounted guns intrigued me – we had seen a turret on the starboard side of our wreck. However, our vessel seemed like a smaller ship. Holly did some digging and pulled up historic photos and specs of the ship, confirming our suspicions – the HMS Staunch was nothing like the vessel we had seen 187 meters below the waves.

Cautiously excited, we turned to the SeaEyes’ video recordings to look for more clues. We hadn’t had a clear look at the wreck before the ROV lost power. Megan had just finished processing our additional Go-Pro footage, providing us with a HD look at the vessel. The six of us crammed around her computer, watching as ship came into view. The elliptical stern, railing system, and anti-aircraft gun matched the photos, but the video raised more questions. Despite my enthusiasm, I had nagging doubts over the shape of the rudder and asymmetrical turret which did not match plans of M15 class vessels that I had found online.

The only way to test our hypothesis was to return to the ship.

Warship Part IV: Looking for Clues…

-Douglas Inglis, divingarchaeology.com

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Warship Part II: Disaster Strikes! https://nauticalarch.org/warship-part-ii-disaster-strikes/ Wed, 08 Oct 2014 20:52:13 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritima-project/?p=147 The on-deck generator sputters and dies. The computer screens all go black. There is a hanging moment of silence, and then a controlled pandemonium breaks out in the cabin.

One-hundred and eighty meters below, the ROV’s lights blink out and the propellers go silent. Lifeless, it begins to fall through the darkness toward the ship below.

The ROV lost power in deep water, floating dangerously above the mangled ship.

The ROV lost power in deep water, floating dangerously above the mangled ship (Photo: Douglas Inglis).

On deck, Ishay is shouting “pull her up, pull her up” in Hebrew. Megan and Leor are coiling the umbilical as quickly as possible. I drop my camera (I had been filming) and run to the swim step. Leor tosses me the cable and yells “pull, pull, pull!” I began hauling it in hand over hand, while Megan and Leor spool the slack as quick as I can drag it in. It is essential to get the ROV to the surface as quickly as possible – it could become entangled with the gun, railing, holes in the hull, and the drapery of lost fishing nets and line. At that depth, it would be either incredibly expensive or nearly impossible to recover the ROV.

As the ROV struggled in the current, it drew more power than our generator could handle.

As the ROV struggled in the current, it drew more power than our generator could handle.

The screen flickers as Mike gets the generator started again. The computers reboot, and we can see what the ROV is seeing – a great expanse of featureless blue water. This is good, because we can tell that it is not tangled with the ship. However, we no longer have positional data – no pitch, roll, depth, or heading – i.e., we have no idea where the ROV is, or where it is headed, except that it is somewhere below us hanging on a 100+ meters of cable. We pull on that cable as fast as we can.

Leor hauls in the umbilical as fast as he can.

Leor hauls in the umbilical as fast as he can (Photo: Douglas Inglis).

My arms are exhausted by the time we get the ROV back on board. Ishay immediately begins running diagnostics. A reboot restores communications with the ROV, but not all is well. Though we don’t know it at the time, somewhere in the Seaeye’s control station, the PCB circuit board (which integrates the heads-up display) has fried. Nothing Ishay does can restore the heads-up display. Either we can see the orientation data from the ROV, or we can see what it sees, but not both at once. This is the equivalent of barreling through traffic and having your car’s windshield go completely black every time you look at a map, phone, road sign, or your speedometer. With no progress on fixing the problem after 45 minutes, we call it a day. It’s too risky to operate in these conditions.

Leor and Doug pull the disabled ROV back aboard Sea King.

Leor and Doug pull the disabled ROV back aboard Sea King.

The mood on board is strange. The silhouette of the ship has us all excited. What was it? Did we really see a stern-mounted gun, or was it the encrusted boom of a deck crane? However, the ROV’s problems are a major source of consternation – if we can’t get it fixed, our survey project is shot. It could mean costly repairs as well.

Ishay examines the malfunctioning SeaEye control station.

Ishay examines the malfunctioning SeaEye control station (Photo: Douglas Inglis).

Unfortunately, SeaEye tech support is unable to resolve the problem in our control station, even when they pass us off to one of their engineers – so it comes down to jerry-rigging a solution. Thankfully, Ishay is an electrical engineer. He breaks the control station down, tests the circuit boards, and reroutes a few cables. Working late into the night, he is able to bypass the PCB board and split the SeaEye’s operational data and video stream across multiple screens. It’s not pretty, but it works!

We’re back in business!

Next: Warship Part III: Identity?

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Ishay test the control station PCB board (Photo: Douglas Inglis).

-Douglas Inglis

 

 

 

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Warship Part I: A Menacing Silhouette… https://nauticalarch.org/warship-part-i-a-menacing-silhouette/ Sun, 05 Oct 2014 21:14:20 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritima-project/?p=135 We have a ship on sonar.

It can’t be anything else.

The mood on deck is tense as 186 meters below, the SeaEye Falcon ponderously moves towards a very, very large object.

Ishay examines the screen, trying to gauge the length of the anomaly. “It must be 60 to 80 meters long.”

Progress is agonizingly slow. We have to be cautious. The last ship we found was draped in nets and surrounded by loose line. At this depth, any entanglement would be catastrophic, possibly rendering the ROV unrecoverable. Leor is on the stern, carefully feeding out the ROV’s umbilical, keeping as much tension as possible to prevent snags. Ishay moves the ROV forward in five to ten meter bursts, landing each time to check the surroundings. Thirty meters out, we begin encountering debris. Some is obviously trash, plastic bags and the like. The currents have scoured a pit around a large unidentifiable metal object – we circle it with the ROV, but cannot tell what it is.

As we move closer, a long, narrow box comes into view. Is it some sort of chest or locker? We see loose line hanging nearby.

Some type of box or sea locker lying next to the ship.

Some type of box or sea locker lying next to the ship.

A dark shadow fills the screen behind the box. Ishay slowly pans the SeaEye’s onboard camera upward to 50 or 60 degrees – the darkness ends abruptly, revealing the silhouette of a hull and railing against the blue. We’re in business!

Another burst of the thrusters and Ishay lands in a cloud of sediment. When it clears, the ROV’s lights illuminate a great, barnacle-encrusted metal hull, dripping with rusticles. To avoid obstructing Ishay’s line of site with Leor, I crawl in through the cabin door, beneath dangling cables, and sit below the big screen – my head craned back at an absurd angle to see.

Rusticles drip along the sides of the hull.

Rusticles drip along the sides of the hull.

Ishay moves right, panning along the side of the ship. The hull begins to curve and a large rudder comes into view. It is broad, and gently curves to the pivot point. It disappears into the mud, and the prop(s) is/are likewise buried. Mike speculates that perhaps it is a twin screw, but at our viewing angle, it is impossible to tell. As the camera pans upward, we can see the outline of a sweeping elliptical stern above.

The rudder, buried in the mud.

The rudder, buried in the mud.

The ROV begins to rise. Roughly six meters above the seafloor, we have a better view of the stern. A complex grid work of railing wraps around the end of the vessel. There is a dark silhouette in the center, barely visible in the gloom. Ishay pushes closer.

Veronica cries out “Look! That’s a gun!”

Is she right? We can see a long slender shaft, canted 30 degrees above horizontal. Is it gun? From my place on the floor, I suggest that perhaps it was the boom of a deck crane. Someone else suggests a toppled mast. Everyone in the cabin begins chattering.

Our first glimpse of the stern gun, silhouetted against the blue.

Our first glimpse of the stern gun, silhouetted against the blue.

Ishay shouts “Quiet!”

We need to see more, but we need to be careful, and Ishay needs to concentrate.

“I am going to fly over the top of the ship.”

The ROV momentarily hangs in the current above the ship, before...

The ROV momentarily hangs in the current above the ship, before…

We watch in silence as the ROV backs away and rises. Ishay angles the camera downward. The view is unsteady. As we move over the top of the vessel, the ROV jerks about in the strong current. We catch aggravatingly erratic glimpses of the features below – Hatches? Mangled railing? Toppled poles? Fallen lines? Deck guns?

And then nothing. The screen is black, and the ROV is plunging powerless through the dark.

Next:
Warship Part II: Disaster Strikes!

 

– Doug Inglis

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The Deepwater Search for One of Israel’s Lost Aircraft https://nauticalarch.org/the-deepwater-search-for-one-of-israels-lost-aircraft/ Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:54:43 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritime-project/?p=111 On 4 June 1948, during Israel’s war for independence, three Egyptian Navy ships sailed towards Tel Aviv in an attempt to establish a beachhead for landing armed forces. At this time Israel’s nascent navy consisted of only few ships and was ill-prepared to take on the Egyptian onslaught.

One of these ships was the Eliat A-16, which was a former American icebreaker. It had been fixed into an Aliyah Bet ship known as Jewish State and had attempted to land 2,664 Jewish refugees on the shores of Palestine despite Britain’s 1945 regulations aimed at preventing such immigrations. Jewish State was captured by the British Royal Navy in October 1947 and temporarily decommissioned in the port of Haifa. In May of 1948 she was outfitted for military service in the Israeli Navy and renamed Eilat A-16.

“USCGS Northland”- a coast guard icebreaker

Jewish State with refugees

Hagana Ship “Jewish State” carrying Jewish refugees

Israel’s navy ship Eilat A-16 happened to be patrolling the waters off Tel Aviv when the Egyptian trio arrived. Outnumbered and outgunned, Eilat called for air support. Two single-engine Israeli bombers arrived shortly thereafter: a Beechcraft Bonanza and a Fairchild Argus. Probably realizing that they had lost the element of surprise, the Egyptian ships decided to abandon their mission and had already turned back to Egypt when the Fairchild began its attack. David Sprinzak (b. March 20th 1924) was the pilot and Matti Sukenik (b. January 21st 1924) was the “bomb chucker” who was responsible for manually dropping bombs out a door of the aircraft. At 5:20 am the Fairchild and its crew were shot down by enemy fire. Eilat searched for survivors but found none.

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Photograph of the Fairchild Argus and its crew- pilot David Sprinzak (shown on the left) and “bomb chucker” Matti Sukenik (shown on the right)

On 10 September 2014 the crew of Ocean King, assisted by Meir Baram, investigated two targets (Targets 33 and 34) in a zone where the Fairchild purportedly crashed (based on eye witness accounts and ship logs). Mr. Baram, who is involved in recovering Israeli POWs, has been searching for the Fairchild and its two crew members for decades. The Fairchild has become something of a legend amongst the fishermen of Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Several speak of a secret fishing spot known as “the airplane,” while others recall pulling up the remains of a two-seated airplane. Despite these fishing tales, Mr. Baram has yet to find the Fairchild or her crew.

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Meir Baram discusses the ill-fated flight of the Fairchild Argus

We spent several days looking for the Fairchild but could no traces of the airplane. This is not surprising, however, as the body was constructed of perishable materials and it is possible that only the engine has survived. Despite our fruitless efforts, Mr. Baram remains optimistic that he will one day recover and put to rest the remains of the crew.

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Leor and Veronica tend the ROV umbilical while Skipper Mike makes sure we stay on target

 

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Ishay maneuvers the ROV along the seafloor while Shelley and Meir watch the screen

By Veronica Morriss

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Two shipwrecks before lunch… https://nauticalarch.org/two-shipwrecks-before-lunch/ https://nauticalarch.org/two-shipwrecks-before-lunch/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:53:33 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritime-project/?p=96 I am standing on the stern of “Ocean King” some 5 miles off of Tel Aviv. It is hot: brutal, baking. I look back at the six people crammed in the stuffy cabin of the catamaran, and I am glad I am not inside. As bad as it is out here, there is a glorious sea breeze.

The Mediterranean is calm and unbelievably, mindbedningly blue. A long yellow cable snakes off some 88 meters into the sea below. At the far end, a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV – a SeaEye Falcon) is scanning the darkness with its onboard sonar. It twin lights light the seafloor, and an onboard camera transmits video back to Ocean King. Every few minutes Ishay (its co-owner and pilot) fires up the thrusters, re-positions, and checks the sonar again.

The SeaEye Flacon ROV prepares to dive (photo: Douglas Inglis)

The SeaEye Flacon ROV prepares to dive (photo: Douglas Inglis)

I am idly tending the ROV’s umbilical cable under the light-hearted guidance of Leor, the ROV’s co-owner/engineer. The umbilical is coiled over two struts off the transom. We feed it out as the ROV dives and moves about, all the while keeping some tension on the cable so that it doesn’t drag on the bottom and kick up sediment. We pull it in as the SeaEye comes back towards us or rises. Leo stays in the heat of the sun and supervises as students cycle through, learning the difference between the surge, the current, and the movements of the robot.

Leor shows his son how to tend the ROV's cable (photo: Douglas Inglis)

Leor shows his son how to tend the ROV’s cable (photo: Douglas Inglis)

It’s been two days of fruitless searching. Hauling the tether in and out, in and out.

I am daydreaming while staring at the reflections and the distant Tel Aviv coastline when I suddenly hear “A ship! A ship!” from the cabin. We look at each other. Leo nods his head to the cabin. “Go look if you want.” I shrug and abandon my post.

Everyone is crowded in the cabin. Megan, Holly, and Skipper Mike are watching the big screen TV mounted on the wall, and Veronica is logging the dive. Shelley is sitting next to Ishay, who is piloting the vehicle. There is barely room enough for us all. It’s hard to see details on the TV – there are too many reflections from the cabin windows, despite the drawn shades. Suddenly, a black wedge materializes out of the blue, and resolves into the side of a ship. It’s hard to have any perspective through the camera lens – at first I think it must be 3 or 4 meters tall before I get my bearings – it is much shorter, perhaps protruding only a meter above the soft sediment.

{CREW INSIDE}

Ishay flies the ROV alongside. Someone points out that there is writing on side of the ship – though the scratch marks are covered with marine growth and completely unintelligible in the fuzzy video. We fly over the top, and can see that both ends meet in a sharp V, making it a small double-ended vessel. It is rather small, just a few meters long. Ishay maneuvers the ROV to the side, and letters come into focus: “TOLYA KOMAR”.

Screenshot from ROV investigation of target 5, a lifeboat from Tolya Komar

Screenshot from ROV investigation of target 5, a lifeboat from Tolya Komar

We are ecstatic. This is our first real find of the project. Megan whips out her cell phone and begins trying to identify the vessel. The internet provides a few tentative clues that we will have to investigate when we return to land. “Tolya Komar” is the name of a Russian cargo ship built in 1971. It is still in operation. We wonder, could this be a decommissioned lifeboat from that vessel? The small boat certainly looks in good condition…

Photo of Tolya Komar, taken Marcel Gommers off Portishead in 1997 (Marcel Gommers (c) 1997)

Photo of Tolya Komar, taken Marcel Gommers off Portishead in 1997 (Marcel Gommers (c) 1997)

We recover the ROV and head to another target identified in the multibeam data. We drop anchor, and slip the ROV overboard. As soon as is settles 74 meters below, the SeaEye’s onboard sonar shows a very large object sitting on the seafloor just a few dozen meters from our position. Ishay engages the ROV’s thrusters, sending up a dense cloud of sediment. The ROV punches through the fog and skims over the barren landscape. He lands, checks the sonar display, corrects his heading and is off again.

The side of a ship is visible on the sonar display. Holly and Ishay monitor the video feed (photo: Douglas Inglis)

The side of a ship is visible on the sonar display. Holly and Ishay monitor the video feed (photo: Douglas Inglis)

Suddenly, a huge shape materialized out of the darkness. At first, it is only a shadow in the nearly black water. Ishay cuts the motors and lands the SeaEye. As he pans the onboard camera up, the water fades from black to blue, revealing the silhouette of a ship’s prow. We a give cheer in the cabin. The ROV takes off again, and approaches the hull.

Something is wrong with the silhouetted form. As the ship comes into range of the ROV lights, we see the problem – the ship is shrouded in a massive trawling net; there are ropes hanging everywhere. Ishay and Dr. Wachsmann look at each other, and simultaneously concluded “We have to get out of here!”

These nets are a serious danger. Our ROV has a very limited range of visibility, and there are numerous places on the hull that a stray line could ensure us. Worse, we do not have direct control over the umbilical. Either the current or our movements could easily push the dangling cable into the surrounding debris. We are in a very bad spot indeed. Leor hauls in the cable as Ishay slowly backs the ROV from the ship. It made me sad to leave her in the darkness without learning more, but at this stage, it is not worth risking the equipment and the rest of the field season. We have a lot of searching yet to do!

A big grin on his face, Leor prepares a feast to celebrate a successful morning. Two shipwrecks – before lunch!

Leor makes fried flatbread (photo: Douglas Inglis)

Leor makes fried flatbread (photo: Douglas Inglis)

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Project Update- Shipwrecks! https://nauticalarch.org/project-update-shipwrecks/ Thu, 11 Sep 2014 21:10:58 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritime-project/?p=86 We are about a week and a half into the survey and have completed 14 targets. Among the unremarkable finds are boat junk and rocks, but we are happy about video documenting three shipwrecks so far. Two of these are especially intriguing:

This is probably a lifeboat or tender from a Russian cargo ship built in 1971. The Tolya Komar still sails and we assume this smaller vessel went down close to the 70’s based on the level of deterioration. 2014.08.03 Target 5 (Tolya Komar)

The second ship is very interesting and we’re re-visiting the site tomorrow to try to get a closer picture of the bow. We’ve seen the stern in two separate dives and Douglas Inglis lead us in making a tentative identification of it as the M-15 HMS, a Monitor class gunship from WWI. We welcome any thoughts or suggestions!

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.19.30 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.19.03 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.18.16 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.17.45 PM

 

Our team is having a great time trying to identify these wrecks!10703751_10152693422294834_7947989836864176370_n

 

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Technology and Education while Exploring the Mediterranean Sea https://nauticalarch.org/technology-and-education-while-exploring-the-mediterranean-sea/ Sat, 06 Sep 2014 16:22:44 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritime-project/?p=66 A remote operated vehicles (ROV) is allowing two Texas A&M (TAMU) students, two former TAMU students, and a TAMU scholars to examine parts of the Mediterranean Sea that until 6 days ago had never been explored.

Prepping the ROV

Scuba divers, even while diving with mixed gases, are unable to reach depths achieved by ROVs. Although archaeologists have made astounding discoveries by exploring underwater wrecks in shallow waters, only about 2% of the sea bottom has been investigated at depths less than 50 meters (150 feet) and a much smaller percent of deep water has ever been studied. Hence, this exploration utilizes deep submergence technology in order to examine vessels that have been lost to human knowledge. Targets identified by previously gathered multi-beam echo sounder data has enabled the Ioppa Maritima project to explore 16 targets in a mere six days of deep sea surveying. The merits of deep water surveys have been unveiled over the last decade due new technologies identifying a number of precisely located submerged sites. This hands on project is allowing four TAMU students to develop into the next cadre of archaeologists trained to utilize these new technological methods.

Laying out ROV cable

These students each specialize in a variety of cultures pertinent to shipwrecks and downed airplanes. Further, by incorporating data from high definition cameras, utilizing acoustic sensors, and learning the various tasks required to explore with ROVs the underwater world will undoubtedly divulge insightful findings. By collaborating with other scholars and with continued advancement of the deep sea survey tools, work on the ocean bottom will continue to allow underwater archaeologists to make future discoveries and draw enlightening conclusions about ancient cultures.

Manipulating the ROV

 

 

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Welcome to the project blog! Updates from the field… https://nauticalarch.org/welcome-to-the-project-blog-updates-from-the-field/ Thu, 04 Sep 2014 19:11:50 +0000 http://nauticalarch.org/blogs/ioppa-maritime-project/?p=20 We have all arrived on site in Marina Herzeliya at our home for the next three weeks: four students from Texas A&M’s Nautical Archaeology Program coming from Hawaii, Texas, and Seattle to join Dr. Shelley Wachsmann in Israel for the Maritima Ioppa Project searching for deepwater shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. During our time here we’ll be out every day with the ROV and ship Ocean King provided by Vampyro Marine Exploration, piloted by Ishay Nazhan and assisted by  Lior Ohana and Captain Mike.  We’re getting a little bit of a late start with the blog so in this post I’ll describe the first few days. The first day was spent fighting jet-lag and preparing ourselves and our equipment.

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Project members Holly Perdue, Veronica Morriss, and Douglas Inglis prepare for the day’s targets.

Our project’s goal is to investigate multibeam sonar targets with a work-class ROV capable of diving to our target depths of up to 300m. The multibeam data comes from an area to the immediate west of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Israel. We plan to use the ROV’s on-board camera to investigate the targets in real-time, as well as examine footage captured with an HD camera that is also on-board the ROV, but not sending data in real-time.

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IMAG5156 IMAG5157IMAG5158   Doug Inglis assists Lior deploying the ROV.

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Once the ROV is down Ishay pilots it to our target and we investigate, hoping for a shipwreck!

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Holly Perdue on the data log.

Dr. Shelley Wachsmann trying to keep cool on the boat.

Dr. Shelley Wachsmann trying to keep cool on the boat.

Seas are calm so far and the weather is beautiful, so we’ve been out every day since September 1st. We’ve had two positive hits on modern wrecks so far, and two targets that remain unidentified as of yet. Some of our unidentified targets are covered with net and are dangerous to get close to with the ROV. We take HD footage of these and try to get a clearer idea of what the target is when we review the footage at the end of the day. We hope to identify as many targets as possible, and not just shipwrecks either- today we took a member of Israel’s MIA research and recovery unit on board in case the target we investigated was a hoped-for missing aircraft.

We will try to make regular updates over the next three weeks, please join us via the web on our project!


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