Skerki Bank Deep Water Wreck Survey

In the summer of 1997, we surveyed ancient ships in an area called Skerki Bank, located between Sicily, Sardinia, and Tunisia in the Mediterranean. We operated our ROV Jason from the US Navy's vessel Carolyn Chouest, which also acted as a tender for the US Navy's submarine NR1. While NR1 searched for new wrecks, we surveyed and sampled wrecks we had visited back in 1989 on the first Jason project (ISIS) as well as the wrecks discovered by NR1.

Our goal was to show that archaeology can be conducted on the deep seafloor to the same standards as on land. By combining fine-scale mapping and careful sampling with traditional archaeological and conservation techniques, we believe we have achieved this goal. We have prepared a publication that should appear in Deep Sea Research in the near future.

Dr. Robert Ballard served as chief scientist. Dr. Anna McCann was our project archaeologist. Our cruise participation was funded by the Office of Naval Research.

Here are some links:

National Geographic Article, April 1998

Dr. John Oleson, an archaeologist from the University of British Columbia and a member of our archaeological team, put together this account

Archaeology Magazine, news brief

ABC news brief

Last but not least, we significantly advanced our navigation, control, and mapping capabilities on this cruise. We combined our high-frequency transponder capability with an acoustic doppler navigator. You can find a technical paper written by Prof. Louis Whitcomb and others from our engineering team on Louis's web page. It's a postscript file, but we should have a PDF available soon.