Historic Great Lakes Shipwreck Possibly Discovered

Posted by Eric Haun
Monday, June 30, 2014
Main: diver uses Diver Mag on reef. Top: diver searches with PT-1. Bottom: Le Griffon.

Steven Libert, president of the Great Lakes Exploration Group, announced he has located what is believed to be the remains of Le Griffon, the first European ship to have sailed the upper Great Lakes.

The 45-ton barque carrying seven cannons was built by the legendary French explorer Rene-Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle who was attempting to establish a Northwest Passage through Canada. La Salle wanted to provide a faster way to connect France with its trading partners in the Far East and Le Griffon was to be a vital link in the route between Niagra and Illinois. On its maiden voyage the ship sailed through unchartered waters across Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan. On its return trip Le Griffon and her crew of six disappeared.

Libert has spent the last 30 years researching historical records and conducting exploratory dives in upper Lake Michigan. On one of his these dives last summer Libert and his group discovered an area with a large hand-hewn wood timber protruding from the bottom. It is thought to be the vessel’s bowsprit and carbon dating tests done on a sample by Beta Analytic Laboratories in Miami and the University of Arizona are promising, but not conclusive. To confirm the exact identity of the vessel requires locating more items from the site, but with much of the ship entombed in the lake bottom, some high tech equipment is needed. Key artifacts to find would be one or more of the seven cannons. To effectively search the football field size area, Libert has acquired JW Fishers PT-1 pinpointing magnetometer. A powerful detector of ferrous metal, the PT-1 can easily locate individual ferrous artifacts even on a wreck site littered with many iron objects. To protect the scientific and historic value of this incredible find, a partnership has been established with the state of Michigan and the Republic of France. Work is continuing as weather permits.

Another explorer utilizing the magnetometer is professor and maritime archaeologist Greg Cook at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. “The thrill of discovery is what I love about archaeology,” Cook said. “When you pick up an artifact that is more than a century old, it’s like travelling through time.” The professor works with the university’s Archaeology Institute, which is both an educational and research facility. Part of their mission is the examination of historic and prehistoric sites, both on land and underwater. In addition to a professional staff of nine archaeologists, the institute has artifact conservation labs, exhibit space, and other special equipment including remote sensors for the marine environment. One of these devices is Fishers Diver Mag 1 hand-held magnetometer which can locate a large wreck at more than a quarter mile away. Another device is Fishers Pulse 8X underwater metal detector which helps in locating the nonferrous metal artifacts.

The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands. Over the centuries, explorers from around world have traded with its inhabitants, and over the years thousands of ships have crashed on its reefs, sunk in typhoons and been plundered in wars. The area is a veritable graveyard of historic wrecks which caught the attention Captain Steve Morgan, who was fascinated by the tales of those lost ships and their valuable cargoes of porcelain, jewels and riches. Morgan formed the company Black Coach Management in the 1990s and began to acquire the men and equipment needed to find these historic time capsules. Three of the pieces the group picked up were JW Fishers SeaOtter ROV, a remote operated vehicle with high resolution video camera capable of descending to depths of 500 feet, a Diver Mag 1 magnetometer, and the Pulse 8X metal detector. One of the first wrecks the Black Coach team began to hunt was a Spanish Galleon that had sailed from the province of Palawan in the late 1700s carrying three large bronze bells for the newly constructed catholic missions in California. The ship was attacked and sunk by pirates and for more than 200 years lay hidden on the bottom of the South China Sea. The remains were discovered by local divers who came upon what they described as “a reef on the bottom that is not really a reef.” That “reef” proved to be the ship’s cargo arranged in a pile 60 feet long, 10 feet high and more than 25 feet wide. Morgan and his team, working with Philippine archaeologists, used the ROV to survey the wreck lying at a depth of 170 feet. Divers were then sent down with the metal detector and magnetometer and recovered hundreds of artifacts from the site.

A few of the many other explorers and archaeologists using Fishers detectors are Dr. Bridget Buxton with Univ. of Rhode Island, Dr. Charles Beeker at Indiana Univ., Clive Cussler’s NUMA, Mel Fishers’ Salvors Inc, Cultural Resources Dept. Biscayne Ntl. Park in Florida, Odyssey Marine Exploration, North Carolina’ Dept. of Cultural Resources, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Max-Planck Institute in Germany and Sea Heritage Panama.

jwfishers.com
 

Maritime Reporter March 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

News

Baltic Sea Freight Index Edges Higher

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, edged higher on Monday as rates rose for vessels across all segments.

Rotterdam Gate LNG Terminal Expansion Started

Dutch gas network operator Gasunie and tank storage service provider Vopak said on Monday that the expansion of their Gate liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Rotterdam has begun.

MARIN, Cruden, Tree C Technology Forge Small Ship Simulator

Severe vibrations and shocks of up to 9G over an average of 1000 hours per year. That’s what instructors of fast small ships such as the Fast Raiding, Interception

History

Drydocks World, Maritime World Win Excellence Awards

Drydocks World and Maritime World have won the Excellence Award given by the International Maritime Club at the Golden Bells Awards 2015 - Middle East. Drydocks

China Maritime Silk Road to Touch India for Namesake

Chinese officials on Saturday fleshed out some details for the country's ambitious 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) project in its “one belt, one road,” action plan.

Chile Desert Rains Sign of Climate Change

The heavy rainfall that battered Chile's usually arid north this week happened because of climate change, a senior meteorologist said, as the region gradually

Great Lakes

Soo Locks Open for Great Lakes Shipping Season

At 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially opened the Soo Locks for the start of the 2015 Great Lakes shipping season.   The locks at Sault Ste.

Soo Locks Open for Cargo Ships

Despite the chilly temperatures and heavy snowfall the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Soo Locks for the start of the Great Lakes shipping season.    The Edwin H.

Pacesetter Award Winners Announced for 2014 Navigation Season

The U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) has announced that eight U.S. ports in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System are receiving the prestigious Robert J.

Underwater Engineering

Keppel FELS Delivers 11th Jackup to Mexico

Keppel FELS Limited (Keppel FELS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (Keppel O&M), has delivered a KFELS B Class jackup rig to Mexican national oil company,

US Navy to Roll out Underwater Spy Satellites

The robotic series that remade crusade in skies will shortly extend to a low sea, with underwater view “satellites,” drone-launching pods on a sea building and unmanned ships sport submarines,

Statoil: Polarled Pipe-Laying Kicks Off

On 26 March, the Solitaire pipe-laying vessel started on the first stage of the Polarled installation project. The 482-kilometre long pipeline will transport gas

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3559 sec (3 req/sec)