The Cambrian Foundation’s research activities in the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary consist of two distinct and separate phases. Although the expeditions are separate, they share common goals and Phase II will pick up where Phase I leaves off.
Phase I is the Cambrian Foundation’s 1999 Regional Ecosystem Education Series, USS Monitor Expedition. Phase I is a continuation of the research activities that have been occurring for the previous five years. Until last year all Cambrian research activities on the site were conducted as a private research team with no official government involvement other than the permitting process and the stationing of a NOAA observer on board the research vessel to oversee operations at the site. Each year Terrence Tysall has applied for a permit to conduct research activities in the sanctuary. The biggest single difference in the Cambrian approach is to not view the NOAA observer as a necessary evil, but as an integral part of the research team and to work in concert with the sanctuary personnel.
The personnel involved on the Phase I expedition must have successfully completed a number of prerequisites before being allowed to attend. They must be an active member of Cambrian Foundation, and have fulfilled all of the requirements and be classified as a Cambrian Foundation Temporary Scientific Diver. The required training needed in advance, for a site like the USS Monitor is a trimix rating in order to work on the bottom. If a diver wishes to be a support diver a deep air rating is a must and training in support diving techniques as utilized on a Monitor type expedition are also needed. Since the Foundation pays none of it’s personnel, all parties are required to pay their portion of the expenses (i.e., lodging, food, boat, gas, etc.).
The research goals and techniques used are the same as for the joint expedition, so one expedition isn’t more real than the other. Most of the data collected has come from this style of expedition. It is due to expeditions exactly like this in previous years and the effectiveness of them that prompted NOAA to work with the Foundation. The reason the Cambrian foundation continues to conduct operations like this is so that regular (qualified but regular) members of the general public get the same chance that we had years ago to help save the United States’ most historic shipwreck!
The members of the 1999 Cambrian Foundation REES USS Monitor Expedition are:
The goals of this year’s expeditions will focus on continued survey and assessment of the engine room, artifact recovery, and excavations in the turret. Specific goals will include:
- Document, through drawings, measurements, and photography, the hull, stem to stern; the stern; the turret; and the lower hull and machinery spaces.
- Map and recover exposed artifacts beneath the hull that may be damaged by planned shoring activities.
- Excavate inside and at the base of the turret and map the excavated areas.
- Inspect permanent mapping datums, replace as necessary, and measure between datums.
- Document on film and video, to the extent possible, both surface and subsurface expedition operations and activities.
- Obtain video and still images, with scales, of the entire midships bulkhead.
- Identify and tag several key frames to be used as reference points.