Promising Results from Search for John Paul Jones' Ship
Duprey, Susan, Sea Classics
In October, the shipwreck search team looking for the remains of John Paul Jones famous ship Bonhomme Richard returned from a month-long expedition off the coast of England. Conducting a detailed analysis of data collected during the search, the team has identified several wreck sites which they believe could be the famous Revolutionary War warship.
"We are certainly intrigued and excited by the five sites we've found," said Melissa Ryan, the Ocean Technology Foundation's (OTF) project manager, "but we cannot determine if one of them could be the Bonhomme Richard until we can get a much closer look at them. Also, there is another component to a shipwreck search that we should always keep in mind," said Ryan. "We might discover other wrecks that might be of cultural or historical interest, even though we weren't looking specifically for them. This is why we want to be very thorough in our investigations."
This summer, the team conducted surveys of the ocean floor using a magnetometer, which can detect large amounts of metal underwater, and a high-tech sonar system that can help to identify man-made objects at the ocean bottom. Next summer the team will use a Remotely Operated Vehicle, a type of robotic underwater camera, to conduct close-up investigations of the wreck sites.
The Naval Historical Center (NHC) is OTF's main partner in the search, and is the official history program of the Department of the Navy. Its Underwater Archaeology Branch advises the Navy in matters related to historic preservation of US Navy ship and aircraft wrecks. "When we started this project, finding the Bonhomme Richard seemed like the proverbial needle in the haystack," said Dr. …