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Coalition Closer To Locating Shipwreck Remains
November 21, 2006

A coalition of scientists, historians, and nations get closer than ever before to locating the shipwrecked remains of the Bonhomme Richard, one of the most famous ships in U.S. history using computer modeling technology provided by Rhode Island company Applied Science Associates.

The Bonhomme Richard, captained by American naval hero John Paul Jones, sank in the North Sea in 1779, after claiming victory over the British ship HMS Serapis in one of the most pivotal battles of the Revolutionary War. The shipwreck search effort is organized by the nonprofit Ocean Technology Foundation (OTF) in Groton, Connecticut, and the Naval Historical Center (NHC) in Washington, D.C. As part of the search efforts, OTF brought Applied Science Associates (ASA) and JMS Naval Architects & Salvage Engineers onto the project to help pinpoint the wreck site.

Melissa Ryan, OTF’s project manager for the expedition, said of the modeling techniques used in the search, “As far as we know, no one has ever attempted to input as much historical data before.” The data include details given by people who witnessed the battle from afar and by sailors on both the U.S. and British sides of the fight. The famous battle took place off a spit of land named Flamborough Head and was seen by hundreds on shore.

Planned for summer 2007, the team will conduct more surveys of the ocean floor using a magnetometer, a sonar system, and a Remotely Operated Vehicle, a type of robotic underwater camera. Applying this high-tech equipment, the OTF survey team will conduct close-up investigations of five possible wreck sites that the teams have narrowed the search to. JMS and ASA’s computer modeling work enabled the promising results from the OTF’s 21-day survey during the summer of 2006.

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