Archival Investigations for Potential Colonial-Era Shipwrecks in Ultra-deep Water within the Gulf of Mexico
- Michael Krivor (Search Associates Inc.)
- Document ID
- Offshore Technology Conference
- Offshore Technology Conference, 2-5 May, Houston, Texas, USA
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2011. Offshore Technology Conference
- 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training
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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEM), as an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, is charged with the responsibility of considering the effects of its actions on significant submerged cultural resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). To protect such resources from the effects of oil and gas activity within the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the BOEM sought to amass and assess primary archival material relative to early vessel losses (ca. sixteenth to eighteenth century) in Ultra-Deep Water (UDW) (>5,000 feet) within the GOM. From 2008 through 2009, Southeastern Archaeological Research, Inc. (SEARCH) conducted archival research at a variety of national and international repositories thought to contain primary documents relative to early vessel losses within the GOM. Results of the investigation successfully identified previously unknown, early-colonial-period vessel losses located within the GOM. This presentation will discuss the methods, results, and recommendations of the investigation.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, (BOEM) as an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, is charged with the responsibility of considering the effects of its actions on significant submerged cultural resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) of the United States, from State Waters to the limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone. In an effort to protect submerged cultural resources from potential effects of oil and gas activity within the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), BOEM seeks to amass and assess primary archival material relative to early vessel losses (ca. sixteenth to eighteenth centuries) in Ultra-Deep Water (UDW) (>5,000 feet) within the GOM.
To achieve project goals, BOEM requested that various repositories (international and national) be identified and visited in an effort to gather primary archival resources. Relevant documents were to be transcribed and translated to English by a professional paleographer. Historical data and imagery acquired under this contract was to be analyzed to identify each vessel casualty and establish its type, date of construction, nationality, ownership, use history, mission, and cargo at time of loss, as well as factors contributing to its loss.
Ultimately, a greater understanding of the likelihood and presence of historic shipwrecks within UDW of the GOM will enable BOEM to anticipate and protect these sites. Archival information relative to colonial-era shipwrecks will augment BOEM's ability to utilize adaptive management strategies in its regulation of OCS oil and gas activities within the GOM in an effort to minimize impacts to potentially significant submerged cultural resources.
Southeastern Archaeological Research, Inc. (SEARCH) of Pensacola, Florida, was subsequently contracted to conduct research for the project titled Archival Investigations for Potential Colonial-Era Shipwrecks in Ultra-Deep Water within the Gulf of Mexico.
The fact that wooden sailing ships foundered and sunk in the GOM during the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries is well established, but little effort has been made toward compiling a comprehensive inventory of potential deepwater shipwrecks. Most ships that sank in the open sea disappeared without a trace, usually with no survivors; thus, whatever archival record is found must be carefully analyzed to arrive at a hypothetical location for any particular loss. Spain is not the only country to have lost ships in the region; France and England also suffered historic vessel losses within the GOM.
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