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Iron ships under study in Hawaii by ECU maritime group

GREENVILLE, NC   (Sept. 21, 2007)   —   It’s not every semester that a student can earn six credits doing underwater dives on a remote Hawaiian island.

But a contingent from East Carolina University’s Maritime Studies Field School is letting more than a dozen students and faculty mix schoolwork with diving pleasure this month.

The group from ECU’s departments of maritime studies, economics and communication are spending September in Hawaii to learn about and document a pair of iron ships from the 1800s: the now-sunken Ivanhoe and its sister ship, Falls of the Clyde. They spent their first week in Hawaii visiting Clyde in Honolulu to get an above-the-water understanding of the ship and its structure, and are now visiting the site of the shipwrecked Ivanhoe on the island of Kauai.

“When they document the Ivanhoe, they’ll know what they’re looking at,” said Nathan Richards, ECU Maritime Studies professor and project leader. “They’ll see the knees of the deck, the way the stern is constructed. Part of this field school is teaching the anatomy of a ship.”

The Ivanhoe was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1868, and the circumstances of its 1915 sinking are unknown. The purpose of this field school is to begin to document what remains of the ship and to answer some of the questions surrounding the last few years of its existence.

The Field School project, The Ferrous Shipbuilding Tradition: A Comparative Nautical Anatomy, is funded in part by a $40,000 grant Richards received from ECU’s research development grant program.

Accompanying the maritime students are Michael Dermody, professor of communication, maritime studies professor Larry Babits, and ECU Coastal Resources Management PhD student Calvin Mires. Dermody is producing a documentary of the maritime program; Mires is working with ECU economics professor Craig Landry to conduct an economic study of the value people place on historical sites and monuments, such as the Clyde, which was closed recently to the public due to rust and disrepair.

The field study’s web site, blog and image gallery can be found at:


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481