ECU's maritime studies assesses ship in Bermuda
(Dec. 18, 2007)
A research team led by East Carolina University Maritime Studies professors Nathan Richards and Bradley Rodgers is traveling to Bermuda this month to help officials there determine the origin and history of a shipwreck in Bermuda’s Great Sound.
While the main aim of the archeological survey was to determine the impact of a proposed cruise ship terminal off Ireland Island, Richards said that the shipwreck is useful to his growing body of research about iron ships and shipbuilding traditions.
“There is an ‘applied’ aspect to this project,” Richards said, “but this is a part of our ongoing research, and is sort of a follow up to the work we’d done in Hawaii.” This fall, Richards and Rodgers led a group of graduate students to the Hawaiian island of Kauai to conduct fieldwork on the shipwreck Ivanhoe. Richards had received a $40,000 grant from ECU’s Research and Graduate studies for the fieldwork.
Along with ECU Communications professor Michael Dermody, Richards and Rodgers and two students are conducting the work in Bermuda through Dec. 20, utilizing underwater cameras and surveillance tools to document the 65 foot long iron vessel, believed to be one of the original tugboats used to build parts of the Royal Naval Dockyard in the late-19th century. Dermody, working with ECU alumnus Kevin Wells, is producing a short documentary on the research. Richards noted that the group is testing out a new tool that would enable them to build – underwater – a three-dimensional model of the site. The three-dimensional virtual model will allow non-divers to view and interact with the site, he said.
Through a cruise ship consortium fund, the Bermuda Maritime Museum paid $27,000 in expenses for the ECU film and underwater archeology teams to conduct the research and produce the documentary. ECU graduate students Joseph Hoyt, of Maritime Studies, and Coastal Resources Management PhD candidate Mark Keusenkothen, is assisting with the study.
No matter what the archeological assessment means for the building of the cruise ship terminal, Richards said the material they produced could be included in exhibits in the Bermuda Maritime Museum or on the Internet, and could lead to future ECU field schools being held in Bermuda.