The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) will announce recent research progress in the Search for the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour at:
10 a.m., Wednesday May 4, at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission
Old State House, 150 Benefit Street, Providence, RI.
Centuries after it was lost, Rhode Island marine archaeologists say they have likely found the HMS Endeavour, which Capt. Cook sailed on when he discovered Australia, sunken in Newport Harbor.
The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) has mapped 9 archaeological sites of the 13 ships that were scuttled in Newport Harbor in 1778, during the American Revolution. A recent Australian National Maritime Museum grant allowed RIMAP to locate historic documents in London that identify the groups of ships in that fleet of 13, and where each group was scuttled. One group of 5 ships included the Lord Sandwich transport, formerly Capt. James Cook’s Endeavour Bark. RIMAP now knows the general area of Newport Harbor where those five ships were scuttled, and in previous work had already mapped 4 of the sites there. A recent analysis of remote sensing data suggests that the 5th site may still exist, too. That means the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project now has an 80 to 100% chance that the Lord Sandwich is still in Newport Harbor, and because the Lord Sandwich was Capt. Cook’s Endeavour, that means RIMAP has found her, too.
On May 4 RIMAP will describe its 2016 plans to confirm the 5th shipwreck in the limited study area, and will outline what must be done in the future to determine which of the 5 sites there is which ship. The next phase of the archaeological investigation will require a more intense study of each vessel’s structure and its related artifacts. However, before that next phase may begin, there must be a proper facility in place to conserve, manage, display, and store the waterlogged material removed from the archaeological sites. Therefore RIMAP has begun the capital campaign to create the facility to satisfy those technical requirements and allow the intense archaeological fieldwork to begin. The ships in Newport were scuttled in the days leading up to the August 1778 Battle of Rhode Island in Portsmouth, and RIMAP hopes to build its facility at Butts Hill Fort, the center of the American line during that Battle.
May 4, 2016, is Rhode Island’s 240th birthday because it is the anniversary of the Rhode Island Colonial legislature’s disavowal of loyalty to the King of England on May 4, 1776. That was two months before all the colonies issued the formal Declaration of Independence. Tourism related to Rhode Island’s magnificent history is a major economic driver for our state, and the submerged cultural resources here are an as yet undeveloped aspect of that industry. All of the 13 ships lost in Newport during the Revolution are important to American history, but it will be a national celebration in Australia when RIMAP identifies the Lord Sandwich exEndeavour. So for RIMAP to be closing in one of the most important shipwrecks in world history, for that ship to be found in Newport, and for it to have an international reputation, should be an intriguing birthday gift for all of Rhode Island.
The May 4 event is open to the public, and RIMAP representatives will discuss the “Search for Endeavour,” there will be summaries of past research, and the opportunity to ask questions about future plans. That day graphics and other materials related to this effort will also be placed on this website for public review.