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Maritime Heritage Program Team at Tern Island, French Private Shoals.
Maritime Heritage Program Team at Tern Island, French Frigate Shoals.

The Maritime Heritage Program is headquartered at ONMS' headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Contact the director at

photo of Jim Delgado
James P. Delgado, Ph.D.
Director of Maritime Heritage

James P. Delgado, PhD, FRGS, RPA, has led or participated in shipwreck expeditions around the world. His undersea explorations include RMS Titanic, the discoveries of Carpathia, the ship that rescued Titanic's survivors, and the notorious "ghost ship" Mary Celeste, as well as surveys of USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, the sunken fleet of atomic-bombed warships at Bikini Atoll, the polar exploration ship Maud, wrecked in the Arctic, the 1846 wreck of the United States naval brig Somers, whose tragic story inspired Herman Melville's Billy Budd, and Sub Marine Explorer, a civil war-era find and the world's oldest known deep-diving submarine. His archaeological work has also included the excavation of ships and collapsed buildings along the now-buried waterfront of Gold Rush San Francisco.

Dr. Delgado is Director of NOAA's Maritime Heritage Program. Previously, he was the President and CEO of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University for nearly 5 years, and was the Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for 15 years. Before that, he was the head of the U.S. Government's maritime preservation program and was the maritime historian for the U.S. National Park Service. During his nearly 14-year tenure with the VMM, Dr. Delgado co-hosted The Sea Hunters along with best-selling author Clive Cussler, from 2001 to 2006. Other television credits include specials for the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Explorer, A&E, the History Channel, and ABC. His active participation in the study and preservation of shipwreck sites and maritime heritage has included a founding membership in the International Commission on Monuments and Site (ICOMOS) committee on underwater cultural heritage and the presidency of the Council of American Maritime Museums. He also led the crew that restored Ben Franklin (PX-15), a 130-ton oceanographic research submersible originally built in Switzerland for famed undersea explorer and scientist Jacques Piccard and most famously employed on a historic 30-day "drift mission" along the eastern seaboard of the United States in 1969.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Explorers Club, Dr. Delgado is the author or editor of over 32 books and numerous articles, most recently Nuclear Dawn: The Atomic Bomb from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War, Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada, and Gold Rush Port: The Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco's Waterfront. His books Lost Warships: An Archaeological Tour of War at Sea and Across the Top of the World: The Quest for the Northwest Passage are both international best-sellers published simultaneously in North America and Britain. Other books include Waterfront: An Illustrated Maritime Story of Greater Vancouver, Adventures of a Sea Hunter: In Search of Famous Shipwrecks, the Encyclopedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology; Ghost Fleet: The Sunken Ships of Bikini Atoll, Pearl Harbor Recalled: New Images from the Day of Infamy, Great American Ships, To California by Sea: A Maritime History of the Gold Rush, and three books for children; Wrecks of American Warships, Native American Shipwrecks, and Shipwrecks of the Westward Movement.

photo of Tane Casserly
Tane Casserley
Maritime Archaeologist

Tane Casserley is a maritime archaeologist for NOAA's Maritime Heritage Program and his office is located at the Maritime Archaeology Center in Newport News, Virginia. He specializes in 19th-century warships and deep-water archaeology. Tane has surveyed more than 40 submerged cultural resource sites, from Kure Atoll to Maine, and has worked on several projects sponsored by NOAA and the National Undersea Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. In 1998, he received a Graduate Certificate in Maritime Archaeology and History from the Marine Option Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His research focused on the maritime history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and conducted surveys on Pearl and Hermes, and Midway atolls. In 2005, Tane received his master's degree from the Program in Maritime Studies at East Carolina University. Tane's thesis focused on the steamer Queen of Nassau, the former Canadian warship CGS Canada, lying in 230 feet of water within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. He has conducted projects using technical diving, remotely operated vehicles (ROV's), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV's), as well as manned submersibles. Tane is a dive instructor and certified trimix diver with the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI).

West Coast Region

photo of Robert Schwemmer
Robert Schwemmer
West Coast Region Maritime Heritage Program Coordinator

Robert is the West Coast Regional Maritime Heritage Program Coordinator for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program based at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. He coordinates and performs archaeological investigations and research for the five National Marine Sanctuaries along the Pacific West Coast. This work includes recording and mapping submerged sites as well as the development of museum shipwreck exhibits correlating to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Santa Barbara region. Deepwater projects include submersible work aboard Delta to perform a site assessment of the shipwreck Montebello located at a depth of 900 feet off Cambria, CA. Other expeditions include a site assessment of the shipwreck Pacbaroness located at a depth of 1460 feet off Point Conception, CA. After a nineteen-year career with Warner Bros. studios, Schwemmer pursued maritime research as a consultant to Federal and State Government agencies, including private and non-profit organizations. Past projects have included systematic research in developing shipwreck assessments for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park, and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and Dry Tortugas National Park. Schwemmer serves on the board of directors for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is a charter member and current President of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Society. He currently serves as Vice-President of research for the Coastal Maritime Archaeology Resources organization.

Pacific Islands Region

photo of Hans Konrad Van Tilburg
Hans Konrad Van Tilburg
Pacific Islands Region Maritime Heritage Program Coordinator

Hans was originally introduced to the ocean on board his father's sloop Brunhilde at the age of eight. Since then he has worked as a carpenter and also a sport diving instructor and a science diver in California, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. He holds a geography B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, a Masters degree in maritime history and nautical archaeology from East Carolina University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Hawai`i, where he focused on the maritime history of Asia and the Pacific. For several years he headed the graduate certificate program in Maritime Archaeology and History at the University of Hawaii, teaching a number of field schools among the Hawaiian Islands. He has also taught university courses in maritime history, world history, and European expansion. Currently he is the maritime heritage coordinator for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries Program in the Pacific Islands region. He is married to Maria DaSilva, and has one daughter, Sabina (who dives).

photo of Hans Konrad Van Tilburg
Kelly Gleason
Pacific Islands Region Maritime Heritage Program Archaeologist

The opportunity to combine a passion for both the ocean and history led Kelly Gleason to pursue a career in maritime archaeology. Following a Bachelors Degree at the University of Notre Dame, Kelly spent a year teaching junior and high school literature before pursuing a masters degree in nautical archaeology at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Before deciding to begin the Coastal Resources Management PhD program at East Carolina University, Kelly participated in a University of Hawaii field school surveying a portion of "Shipwreck Beach" on the north shore of Lanai. While at East Carolina University, she focused on the interdisciplinary management of submerged cultural resources, and ways to develop potential for cooperative management of shipwreck sites. Kelly is interested in the interaction between shipwrecks and their environment and would like to explore the potential for greater collaboration between natural and cultural resource managers. She is the recipient of NOAA's Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Award and plans to complete her doctoral work at ECU in the fall of 2005.

As a maritime archaeologist with the Pacific Islands Region, Kelly supports the activities of the Maritime Heritage Program in this Region. Specifically these activities include planning and logistical support of field activities, as well as updating web outreach from field surveys. Public outreach is an important follow up to field operations and Kelly is involved in the development of educational materials for the Maritime Heritage program in the Pacific Islands. In support of the education outreach mission of the Maritime Heritage Program, Kelly has given talks at local schools and participated in local lecture series in addition to contributing to several professional symposia and conferences. Kelly's job requires collaboration with other state and local officials including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. Her work with the National Park Service includes participation in annual monitoring and survey dives on the USS Arizona with the NPS Submerged Resources Center.

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