News from the Connaught expedition! As many of you know, I am the research director for Endurance Exploration Group, a company that searches and recovers long-lost historic shipwrecks.
Our first shipwreck project is the Connaught, a large side-wheel steamer lost in 1860 with a cargo of gold coins. We rediscovered the shipwreck site in the waters off Boston using side-scan sonar in 2013 after mapping over 700 square miles and finding twenty-five potential shipwreck targets. In summer 2014, We returned with a remotely-operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and successfully identified the final resting place of the steamship Connaught.
So did Endurance learn from these high-resolution sonar passes? The wreck is still largely intact; with an “acoustic shadow” indicating that the machinery may still be over 50 feet tall. The bow section appears almost fully separated from the main body of the wreck, the possible result of a massive explosion when freezing water first reached the high-pressure boilers. There was a bit of chop on the waves during the day of the survey, resulting in the horizontal lines across the imagery.
So what’s next? There are a number of operational stages to this salvage mission. We’re currently removing sonar and anchor deployment gear and replacing it with a sophisticate Remotely-Operated Vehicle (ROV) equipment. This changeover will allow us to begin subsea operations, starting with a full video and image survey of the site. Once complete, we’ll begin removing overburden and sediment while we work to locate the Connaught’s lost gold shipment and other valuables. Stay tuned—more updates soon!