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Maritime Museum Presents Lecture on Sunken Ships of the Pacific

Off the California Coast is one of the greatest underwater maritime museums in the country. There are thousands of prehistoric and historic submerged sites waiting to be discovered. 

West Coast Regional Maritime Heritage Coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Robert Schwemmer, who served as a principal investigator during 2014 and 2015, will share his research Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

In his lecture, he will reveal the final moments leading up to the sinking of various ships and the cutting edge technology used to record each wreck, one in nearly 3,000 feet of water.

Schwemmer coordinates and conducts archaeological surveys and research for the five National Marine Sanctuaries located along the Pacific West Coast. This work includes recording and mapping submerged sites utilizing SCUBA equipment, submersibles, remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV).

Deep-water projects include working from a manned submersible to perform a site assessment of the shipwreck Montebello, a WWII era oil tanker located at a depth of 900 feet off Cambria, Calif., that led to receiving the Award of Operational Merit from the United States Coast Guard for his exceptional service during this historic and unprecedented underwater assessment of the shipwreck.

Expeditions utilizing ​ROVs in California waters include a site assessment of the shipwreck Pacbaroness, a bulk carrier located at a depth of 1,500 feet off Point Conception, as well as the first archaeological survey of the USS Macon, a 785-foot U.S. Navy dirigible lost off Point Sur and now resting in 1,500 feet of water. 

Schwemmer has worked with other NOAA scientists on projects in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the Arctic, the Great Lakes and assisted topside during the recovery of the gun turret from the civil war navy ship USS Monitor off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

More recently he has served as a principal investigator during discoveries of new shipwrecks off the Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco and offshore Farallon Islands.

His discoveries and surveys in 2014 and 2015 include the passenger ships City of Chester, the City of Rio de Janeiro, termed the “Titanic of the Golden Gate,” the tramp steamer Selja off Point Reyes, the aircraft carrier USS Independence and a 100 year-old seagoing mystery tug off the Farallon Islands.

Schwemmer currently serves on the board of directors for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and is the current President of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Society. 

Entrance to the lecture is free to Maritime Museum members and costs $10 for non-members. It will be preceded by a members-only reception from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m.

To register, go to www.sbmm.org or call 805.962.8404 x115

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at 113 Harbor Way, Suite 190, Santa Barbara, California 93109. Please visit sbmm.org for more details.

— Dennis Schuett is the marketing coordinator at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.


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