Wreck Discovered In Gulf Of Mexico

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Black and Native American seafarers were crucial crew members on board. The wreck of a 207-year-old whaling ship named Industry was discovered on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico today, according to NOAA and partners. The wreckage of a 64-foot long, two-masted timber brig provides a glimpse into a little-known period in American history when descendants of African enslaved people and Native Americans worked as vital crew members in one of the country’s oldest businesses.

“Today we celebrate the discovery of a lost ship that will help us better understand the rich story of how people of color succeeded as captains and crew members in the nascent American whaling industry of the early 1800s,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D.

On February 25, 2022, a team aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer piloted a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the seafloor with guidance from partner scientists on shore via satellite connection, at a suspected location first spotted by an energy company in 2011 and briefly viewed by an autonomous vehicle in 2017, but never fully examined.

The team of shoreside scientists led by James Delgado, Ph.D., senior vice president of SEARCH Inc.; Scott Sorset, marine archeologist for the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); and Michael Brennan, Ph.D., also of SEARCH Inc., have now confirmed that the wreck is most likely the brig Industry, based on extensive research and video from the ROV.

The whaling brig was built in Westport, Massachusetts, in 1815, and spent 20 years hunting whales across the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. On May 26, 1836, it was lost when a violent storm destroyed her masts and exposed its hull to the sea. Whaling was done largely for sperm whales more than 70 miles off the Mississippi River’s mouth. Out of 214 whaling voyagesoffsite link from the 1780s to the 1870s, it is the only one known to have gone missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

While the Industry eventually sank, the fate of the crew remained a mystery. The crew’s fate has now been revealed thanks to new investigation by Robin Winters, a librarian at the Westport Free Public Library. Winters found an item in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror from June 17, 1836, stating that the crew of the Industry was picked up at sea by another Westport whaling ship, the Elizabeth, and returned safely to Westport.

source noaa

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