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Institute of Maritime History:
Submerged Historical Inventory Project (SHIP)

Update as of 8/15/2007

We have almost finished work under the FY2007 grant from Maryland Historical Trust. We found several uncharted wrecks (some old, some new) and will finish mapping them during the next month or two. When those are done we will continue work wherever the Trust wants. The project ran over time but under budget, with much more volunteer participation than we had planned or hoped. Thanks to all who joined in the effort!

During the first week of October we will recon the area around Lewes, Delaware, for the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, in cooperation and with the generous support of the Archaeological Society of Delaware.

For a copy of the project plan, email


SHIP is a huge multi-state project designed to help State Historic Preservation Officers inventory, protect, and manage historic sites.  With professional guidance their volunteer divers and researchers scout for submerged sites, map them, gather archival data, and compile the findings into a computer database. Sites are not disturbed and artifacts are not recovered. All site data, especially locations, are kept confidential and are reported only to the states.

Sonar image of a 1912 wreck in Maryland

Sonar image of a 1912 wreck in Maryland

SHIP is voluntary and un-funded. IMH members provide their own gear and share project expenses (some of which may be tax-deductible). In addition private and government grants defray some costs. In return for their support projects like SHIP offer IMH volunteers numerous opportunities for diving and research but no souvenirs or bragging rights since the IMH is dedicated to protecting submerged cultural resources.

Aerial view of unidentified wrecks in the Potomac

Aerial view of unidentified wrecks in the Potomac

The IMH has investigated more than 80 sites so far. Fieldwork has focused on the Chesapeake and Delaware bays. During 2006 they will conduct a week-long harbor reconnaissance at New Castle, Delaware (July 2006), continue their reconnaissance in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay on weekends, and perhaps work in Maine, Florida, and Massachusetts in collaboration with other groups.

For more information you can visit the IMH website at:

I.M.H., Box 29, Kensington, MD 20895

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