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NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer finds shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico

2019
May 16
Gulf of Mexico Shipwreck Discovered by NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
Photo:
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

A close-up view of the bow of a shipwreck discovered by NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in the Gulf of Mexico on May 16, 2019. Marine life is prevalent on the wreck, except on the copper sheathing which still retains its antifouling ability to keep the hull free of marine organism like Teredo navalis (shipworm) that would otherwise burrow into the wood and consume the hull or barnacles that would reduce the vessel’s speed.

On May 16, 2019, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer discovered a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico while conducting an "engineering dive" to test new remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipment. Researchers believe the wreck is likely a mid-19th century wooden sailing vessel. The find was made when ROV Deep Discoverer’s sonar picked up what appeared to be something in the shape of a shipwreck, and the team moved in to investigate. The primary purpose of this "shakedown" expedition was to test, calibrate and integrate equipment and train personnel in order to ensure the collection of high-quality data throughout the remainder of 2019. This differs from other missions on the Okeanos Explorer that are focused on exploring specific targets for scientific data collection and discovery. The shipwreck finding required a swift change in operations, illustrating the power of telepresence technology. After a flurry of phone calls and emails to marine archaeologists around the country, experts tuned in to live video from the seafloor, lending their expertise as they virtually joined the dive. With a cadre of experts watching the dive, the ship’s commanding officer and the mission team agreed to extend the dive three hours longer than planned, enabling a more thorough characterization of the wreck. Learn more at: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/explorations/ex1902/welcome.html

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Reviewed: June 10, 2019. Contact us with page issues.

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