By Joe Hoyt
Principle Investigator, Maritime Archaeologist
Chris Horrell (MMS) readies the sonar system. (Photo: NOAA)
Today was our third day on site, and production is increasing as each member of the team becomes more familiar with the site. Visibility is still poor, especially due to the abundance of marine life. However, sea conditions today were simply remarkable. The ocean was literally a pond.
The calm seas were a great benefit as Chris Horrell redeployed the sector-scanning sonar. Russ Green and Dave Conlin were able to coordinate with the crew on the boat topside via 'acoustic through-water communications,' and succeeded in placing the tripod at three particular locations off the wreck site. This effectively scans the surrounding area with a 300 foot radius swath, which helps to identify material remains outboard of the wreck site. Since visibility is low and comprehensive divers searches are time consuming, this unit worked beautifully. Not only was the area well covered, but the search can now be represented graphically.
Once on location, the divers lower the sonar system into the water. (Photo: NOAA)
The priority now is detailed mapping. With the baseline established yesterday, the site is broken up into several sections which are divided among the archaeologists to systematically map each feature to scale underwater. This is a time consuming process, which requires much attention to detail. The more time spent staring at a small section of the wreck attempting to measure each piece, the more features, which previously seemed to be debris, begin to make sense. This process will allow us to reconstruct a very detailed and accurate scaled representation of the site.
Chris Horrell (MMS), John McCord (UNC CSI), and Tane Casserley (MHP) enter the water. (Photo: NOAA)