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Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
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Mission Blog: May 14, 2009
Visiting the past

By Aulani Hall, Scientific Support

Launching small boat.

Churchill shipwreck as seen below the surface. (Photo: NOAA NMSP)

Today, a crew consisting of Maritime Archaeologists, Biologists, and Scientists, visited the shipwreck site of the four-masted schooner Churchill, which sank in the area in 1917. I was accompanied by Kelly Gleason, PhD, Maritime Archaeologist and Chief Scientist of this 25-day research expedition, and had the opportunity of receiving first-hand knowledge of the history of Churchill. Gleason was one of the NOAA scientists present on the 2005 two-week mission to explore the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, in which they gathered data to help solve the mystery of this unidentified shipwreck. Prior to 2005, the Churchill was an unidentified shipwreck.

I couldn't help but recall other significant events in Hawaii that occurred in 1917, including war registration in July, draft day and the death of former Queen Liliuokalani at Washington Place in November. Although these events are not related to this shipwreck, I was reminded of the events that occurred in Hawaii, simply because of its significance to the place I was born and raised in. In 2005, NOAA uncovered clues to solve this mystery of this unidentified shipwreck, and in 2010, I visit this area for the first time, and although it is at least 90 years later, speaking from my own cultural perspective, I sense that the area has still not fully healed itself. As a result, I felt it was appropriate during my snorkel of the area to say my own Hawaiian pule, or prayer.

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