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First Recipient of the Bass Publication Grant is Named

Please join us in congratulating Dr. John Broadwater for receiving the first-ever George and Ann Bass Award for Nautical Archaeology Publications! In 1978, Dr. Broadwater became the first State Underwater Archaeologist in Virginia, where he directed the Yorktown Shipwreck Project for nearly a decade and conducted shipwreck surveys in Virginia and North Carolina. Until his retirement in 2010, Dr. Broadwater was Chief Archaeologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. He is currently focusing his efforts on the final publication of the Yorktown Shipwreck Project and the British collier brig, Betsy, which sunk in 1781 during the pivotal Battle of Yorktown. We all look forward to reading the finished product!

More about the project and final publication:

The Yorktown Shipwreck Project was unique in several ways. Research proved that Betsy, the well-preserved ship chosen for excavation, exhibited very unique construction features. Betsy was excavated from within a steel cofferdam where the enclosed water was filtered to improve excavation conditions—the first time a shipwreck was excavated in that manner. John Broadwater, project director throughout the project, will serve as editor and principal contributor for the final publication, and more than a dozen additional authors will contribute sections on topics ranging from hull description and analysis to interpretation of all categories of material culture. An unpublished 1500-page draft report, completed in 1996, will serve as the foundation for the final publication. The draft manuscript opens with a description of the Battle of Yorktown, framed within the broader context of the American War of Independence. The history is followed by a description of early salvage and archaeological activity and a comprehensive survey of the entire fleet anchorage that located ten shipwrecks from the Battle of Yorktown.

The remainder of the text covers the excavation and analysis of Betsy, the best-preserved of the located wrecks. The introductory chapters will be followed by detailed analyses of various aspects of Betsy’s hull and contents. Most of the original contributors have agreed to assist with revising and editing their chapters, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources has offered support with access to the artifacts and records, as well as assistance in producing artifact drawings and photography.

The Yorktown Project has a direct connection to INA and Texas A&M University’s Nautical Archaeology Program. The project, created after a successful 1976 INA survey and directed by Dr. George Bass, documented the significance of the Yorktown Shipwrecks. Texas A&M Nautical Archaeology Program faculty and students were involved throughout the project, including a field school in 1980 that identified HMS Charon, the largest British warship at Yorktown. Additionally, several chapters in the draft report were written by NAP students. Unfortunately, the Yorktown Project was abruptly terminated by the state in 1989, before conservation, analysis and publication could be completed. Dr. Broadwater has no institutional support, so funds from the George and Ann Bass Endowment for Nautical Archaeology Publications have ensured that professional analyses, illustrations, and editing will be conducted for this incredibly consequential shipwreck.