What did you do over the weekend of the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic disaster? For some 30 shipwreck enthusiasts they took part in an underwater archaeology workshop that was put on by the Great Lakes Historical Society (GLHS), and the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST), at the site of GLHSs new National Great Lakes Museum which opens next year in Toledo, Ohio.
The goal of the workshop was to teach divers skills they can use to help document Ohio’s underwater cultural resources, otherwise known as shipwrecks. By creating final products such as site maps, reports and dive slates they can educate the general and diving public about the multitude (approximately 1400 estimated) of wrecks that are in our backyard.
The workshop was composed of first year and second year participants. Presentations for Saturday included historical research, Ohio, federal and international shipwreck laws, diving/boat safety, survey logistics and equipment, measuring techniques, and identifying ship parts, just to name a few.
On Sunday, the second year students were responsible for running the survey of the Col. James M. Schoonmaker a 1911 metal bulk freighter which was conveniently parked just a short distance from the new museum location.
The ship was divided into survey sections and the first year students were assigned tasks. On the first “dive” the surveyors could talk to each other and ask questions of the second year students. On subsequent dives they were to remain silent (there is no talking under water after all) and were to communicate using signals, tugs and by writing notes to their dive buddy.
After the assigned measurements were taken, the divers went to rooms in the vessel to plot their data. Upon finishing that task, they “re-entered the water” and took additional measurements until their section was completed. After all the sections were finished they were collected and put together so the students could see how the whole site plan looked after just a few hours of work.
The next step for these divers will be to do a practice survey in White Star Quarry in Fremont, OH on May 19th and 20th. This will be the first time they will use their newly acquired skills underwater. Upon completing the workshop, the students will be official MAST members and can then participate in one of several planned surveys later this summer.