RIMAP TO ANNOUNCE FIELDWORK PROGRESS IN THE SEARCH FOR THE LORD SANDWICH ex ENDEAVOUR
The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) will announce recent fieldwork progress in the Search for the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour at 10 a.m., Thursday, September 29, at the Hyatt Hotel on Goat Island, Newport, RI.
RIMAP reported in May its intention to determine the exact number of shipwreck sites still to be found in the limited area of Newport Harbor where the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour is now known to have been scuttled in 1778. RIMAP divers have spent 3 weeks in meticulous ground-truthing of selected remote sensing targets in what is now known as the LSexE (pronounced “El Sexy”) Study Area. A grant from the Australian National Maritime Museum helped to support this work, and two of the museum’s archaeological divers joined RIMAP professional archaeologists and volunteers in this work.
The September 29 event is free and open to the public, but there will be no early media interviews granted because the fieldwork is ongoing. The presentations will include:
· RIMAP’s description of the Newport Harbor fieldwork, an interpretation of the archaeological data collected, and a discussion of the next steps.
· Announcements of how the archaeological shipwreck sites are to be protected by the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, by the Coastal Resources Management Council, and possibly by the NOAA Marine Sanctuaries program.
· What the discovery of the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour might mean to Australia and the wider world, especially in Britain and around the Pacific Rim in the upcoming 250 anniversary remembrances of Cook’s voyage in the Endeavour.
· What the discovery of the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour might mean to Rhode Island.
· The next steps for RIMAP’s archaeological research.
RIMAP and ANMM staff and volunteers will be available for questions and interviews.
The next phase of the archaeological investigation will require a more intense study of each existing vessel’s structure and its related artifacts. However, before that next phase may begin, there must be a proper facility established to conserve, manage, display, and store the waterlogged material removed from these archaeological sites. Because the transport fleet the included the Lord Sandwichex Endeavour that was scuttled in Newport Harbor in 1778 (in the days leading up to the August 1778 Battle of Rhode Island in Portsmouth, Rhode Island), RIMAP plans to have its central facility at Butts Hill Fort, the center of the American line during that Battle.
The September 29 event is free and open to the public.
Further Background Details:
Capt. James Cook was the British Royal Navy officer who explored more of the world than any other person in history, but he is important to Australia because he claimed part of that continent for England while on his Endeavour voyage. That action enabled the first English settlement there, and that is why the Endeavour is considered to be Australia’s founding vessel. Staff from the Australian National Maritime Museum have participated in past RIMAP fieldwork, and a grants from that museum have helped to support RIMAP’s archival and fieldwork studies in 2016.
The Endeavour was a sturdy but nondescript vessel built in Whitby, Yorkshire, to carry coal from northeastern England to London. It was similar to the commercial vessels in which Cook had apprenticed before joining the Royal Navy, and this ship was selected for a trip around the world (1768-1771) because she could easily carry Cook, his crew, selected scientists, and all their supplies and equipment. Cook then sailed around the world again in the Resolution and on his third voyage was killed at Hawaii in 1778. Meanwhile the Endeavour continued in Royal Navy service until 1775, when she was sold to a private owner who changed her name to Lord Sandwich. Under that name she was a transport to carry British and Hessian troops to North America during the American Revolution. The Lord Sandwich was in the fleet that carried troops to occupy Rhode Island in 1776, she was used as a prison ship in Newport Harbor, and then was scuttled in August of 1778 to protect the city from the French threat that led to the Battle of Rhode Island.
The Lord Sandwich then lay forgotten on the Newport Harbor floor for more than 200 years. Meanwhile another vessel was mistakenly identified as the Endeavour and artifacts made from her timbers were taken into museums and private collections around the world. One piece was even taken into space in the Endeavor space shuttle. RIMAP’s archival work has overturned that spurious Endeavour story and RIMAP’s archaeological research has shown instead that the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour may still exist to be found in Newport.
The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that trains members of the public to volunteer in professionally directed maritime history and marine archaeology research. Since its founding in 1993, more than 900 volunteers have taken RIMAP training and participated in 85 research projects that included a reputed slave ship, World War II sites, unidentified vessels emerging from local dunes, and other ships lost in the American Revolution.
The value of RIMAP’s work is estimated to be more than $5,750,000, and it has all been done with no funding from the Rhode Island state government’s budget. Instead RIMAP’s research has been sponsored by its members and donors, and grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the DOD Naval Legacy Program, the National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program, the National Maritime Heritage Program, and by federal pass-through funds from RI Sea Grant, the RI Committee for the Humanities, and the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. The special grants from the Australian National Maritime Museum in 2016 contributed to the archival research and the Newport Harbor fieldwork where Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour was scuttled.