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New shipwreck discovered in the Gulf of Mexico

Jan 1, 2003

In February 2001, ExxonMobil reported its discovery of a ship's hull as they conducted a video inspection of a newly laid pipeline 2,650 feet beneath the surface. The company reported the discovery to the federal Minerals Management Service, the agency responsible for artifacts discovered on the outer continental shelf.

Marine archeologists with the service conducted investigations of the site using an ROV (remotely operated vehicle). The remains of the wreck were videoed and artifacts from the site collected for analysis. They discovered that the ship's American white pine hull was sheathed in pure copper plating. This costly construction may provide clues to the ship's identity, since most shipbuilders had switched to cheaper copper alloys by the mid-1800s.

The Mineral Management Service will conduct an archeological expedition this summer in cooperation with Texas AandM University and the U.S. Navy, in hopes of identifying the vessel. The expedition will employ the Navy's nuclear research submarine and other ROVs, with technology similar to that used to explore Titanic.

Over 300 wrecks have been discovered in the course of oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. ExxonMobil and BP will be paying most of the $250,000 needed for this project.