Author Archives: Taylor Zajonc

Endurance Exploration Group Evaluating Proposal from Atlantic Marine & Aviation


Endurance Exploration Group (OTCQB:EXPL) is pleased to announce that it has received a proposal for the charter of the vessel Atlantic Explorer from Atlantic Marine & Aviation. The Atlantic Explorer is a 230 ft, DP-1 equipped vessel designed specifically for subsea salvage and construction work. The vessel is further equipped with a specialized, integrated load bearing ROV system capable of lifting 20 tons of material using her multi-tool “ROGE” system deployed from the vessel’s moon pool. The ROGE system is a multi-tool system that is capable of moving heavy and large quantities of subsea material using its various grabs, cutting tools, and sediment excavation tooling. The proposal from Atlantic Marine provides Endurance with the option of chartering either the vessel with the integrated ROGE system onboard, or chartering a secondary, mobile ROGE system for placement on a vessel of opportunity in the USA. The proposal includes a significant discount to the vessel and systems standard charter rate in exchange for a modest participation in the economic returns of various salvage projects undertaken by Endurance. The Endurance Board of Directors is evaluating the proposal, the equipment’s technical capabilities, the equipment’s availability and expected salvage weather windows, Endurance’s 2016 salvage budget and finances, and the overall economics of the proposal with an eye towards moving to a full charter contract.

Endurance CEO, Micah Eldred, commented, “We’re pleased to receive this proposal from Atlantic Marine & Aviation. LLP as well as the support of the Atlantic Marine team in our salvage projects. This is a highly specialized salvage system that, coupled with our current equipment, and subject to further due diligence by our Board of Directors and technical advisors on the system’s technical capabilities and subject to our own finances, may prove to be the right solution for the salvage of our first shipwreck project, the paddle ship, CONNAUGHT.”

 

“In Situ” Shipwreck Preservation? Not in Post-BP Gulf of Mexico

(First Posted on ExpeditionWriter.com)

Too often, it seems that we know little about the underwater world until something goes terribly, terribly wrong. In 2010 BP oil platform Deepwater Horizon exploded while drilling an exploratory well, blowing out at the ocean floor and spilling an estimated 210 million gallons of crude hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico.

Courtesy NASA

BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Slick, Courtesy NASA

While scientists are still working to understand the oil spill’s impact on oceanic and coastal flora and fauna, the fate of critical underwater shipwrecks and other archaeological resources has gone largely unnoticed—until now.

Since 2014, researchers with the American Geophysical Union have returned to several Gulf of Mexico shipwreck sites, including the World War 2-era German submarine U-166. They estimate that some 30% of the oil released from the Deepwater Horizon spill (alongside chemical dispersents and other debris) ended up deposited on shipwreck-rich regions of the ocean floor.

Courtesy BOEM/C&C Technologies, Inc.

U-166 Laser Scan, BOEM/C&C Technologies, Inc.

Courtesy National Geographic

U-166 Bow, National Geographic

“We are filling a huge void in our scientific understanding of the impacts of the spill,” said marine archaeologist and project co-leader Melanie Damour in an AGU press release regarding the ongoing study.

In a post-expedition paper presented at the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting, George Mason University and Naval Research Laboratory scientists demonstrated that oil and dispersants have a significant effect on the degradation of shipwreck hulls, a worrying trend to sites already impacted by fishing activity and other factors.

Hull of "Ewing Bank Wreck", BOEM/Deep Sea Systems Int'l

Hull of “Ewing Bank Wreck”, BOEM/Deep Sea Systems Int’l

“This is just one reason why I don’t agree that the best thing to do with shipwrecks is leave them untouched and forgotten on the seafloor, while they are slowly destroyed by natural and man-made causes,” said underwater archaeologist Dr. E. Lee Spence on a public internet post. “I am all for the commercial salvage of shipwrecks, as long as site-appropriate archaeological protocols are followed.”

The truth is, “in-situ” preservation of shipwrecks at depth remains an unproven theory. Indeed, much of the evidence collected to date shows that fishing activity and natural degradation over time has a profoundly adverse effect on these critical sites, a situation compounded by incidents such as the BP oil spill. As technology to find and recover historic shipwrecks continues to evolve by leaps and bounds, we must recognize our collective responsibility to find, document, monitor and excavate these underwater cultural resources. Given the confluence of factors working against us, now may be the only chance we have.

 

Further Reading:

Amazing New Video shows Deepwater Shipwrecks Corroded by BP Oil Spill (Washington Post)

Gulf of Mexico Historic Shipwrecks Help Scientists Unlock Mysteries of Deep Sea Ecosystems (American Geophysical Union)

 

Endurance Research Director Publishes New Novel!

wreckingcrew-7

Congratulations to Endurance Exploration Group Director of Research Taylor Zajonc on the official release of his first novel, THE WRECKING CREW! Taylor’s passion for history and adventure has translated into amazing undersea work here at Endurance; we couldn’t be more pleased to see him extend those talents into his exciting new book.

Freed from a secret Moroccan prison, deep-water salvage diver Jonah Blackwell leads a high-stakes search for a missing research team in the pirate-infested waters of Somalia. When his expedition threatens the ambitions of billionaire Charles Bettencourt, Jonah must hijack a hostile submarine and unite former adversaries against a team of ruthless mercenaries. At the center of it all is a mysterious red that that threatens the entire region–a plague that must be stopped at any cost.

Join the adventure and pick up a copy from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other book retailers everywhere!

wreckingcrew-9

 

Endurance Exploration Appoints Keith Holloway as Vice President of Shareholder Communications

Keith Holloway

Endurance Exploration Group (OTCQB: EXPL) is pleased to announce that it has appointed Keith Holloway as Vice President of Shareholder Communications. As Director of Discount Coupons Corporation (OTC PINK: DCOU) and former executive with Lamar Advertising, Keith brings 20+ years of marketing, advertising and public company experience.

“Keith’s role as Vice President of Shareholder communications becomes important in 2016 and beyond as we expect our operational results to begin to attract the attention of a larger group of public investors. We look forward to Keith’s involvement in serving our company and shareholders,” said Endurance CEO, Micah J. Eldred.

Holloway added, “I am excited to be part of the Endurance team and I look forward to what 2016 and beyond holds for our exploration sites, including the steamship Connaught.”

Endurance Exploration Group, LLC was formed in 2009 to explore, from an operational and financial perspective, the feasibility and potential economic return of recovering historic and modern day shipwreck cargoes. We began by developing a research methodology with three goals. The first goal was to establish a comprehensive understanding of the larger economic, technological and social trends that lead to the transport of physical wealth across oceans during different historical periods, along with creating a “High Interest” list of shipwrecks and their cargoes lost across various historical periods. Conflict, accidents and acts of nature claimed a percentage of all voyages, and many of the shipwrecked vessels are believed to have carried a valuable cargo. Our second objective was to identify, from this prior population of potential shipwreck losses, those shipwrecks that could be legally salvaged and recovered, and the cargoes sold, with a positive return on the capital investment required for their location and recovery. Our third goal was to move those projects which had the potential to generate positive investment returns into an operational phase with a high, risk-adjusted, chance of success; and, to develop a portfolio of projects in various stages of research, search, survey and recovery.

From these databases and other searches, we have developed an initial “High Interest” list of approximately 400 shipwrecks. In 2011, we began purchasing key equipment for operations. Our equipment purchases have included a 100-foot survey vessel, tethered side-scan sonar units, and light work-class and inspection Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV), “Shackleton 1” and “Squirt”. Projects code-named “Sailfish” and “Black Marlin” have now reached operational or pre-operational status. For project “Sailfish” we have now surveyed over 700 square miles in the Western Atlantic Ocean in search of a sunken passenger liner carrying a substantial cargo of gold coinage. In addition to this manifest cargo, we also expect to find additional valuables among the personal stores of the ship’s passengers. For project “Black Marlin” we have secured a three-year contract with a sovereign island nation in the Indian Ocean for the survey and recovery of a Colonial-era merchant vessel carrying silver. This contract also allows for other potentially valuable “targets of opportunity” within the territorial waters of this nation.

We believe this survey and recovery capability combined with our proprietary research will allow us to conduct approximately two deep-water surveys per yearly weather window, should we have sufficient capital to undertake such operational surveys.

More information about Endurance is available at the follow sites:

http://www.eexpl.com/

http://www.facebook.com/EnduranceExplorationGroup

About the steamship Connaught

Built in Ireland and launched in 1860, the 380-foot iron-hulled side-wheel steamer Connaught was lauded as one of the largest and most luxurious ocean-going liners in service, a true Titanic of her time. Upon sinking on only her second voyage, the Connaught became best known for her tragic role in what has been called one of the most courageous and daring rescues in maritime history.

The elegant Connaught departed Galway, Ireland on September 25, 1860, bound for Boston by way of St. John’s, Newfoundland. She departed for the final leg to Boston with 50 first-class passengers, 417 in steerage and a full crew of 125. In addition, she was quietly loaded with £10,000 in gold coins, possibly bound for a visiting member of the British royal family.

Cautionary Information Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This Form 8-K and the attached press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. In addition to statements which explicitly describe such risks and uncertainties, readers are urged to consider statements labeled with the terms “believes,” “belief,” “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “will,” or “plans” to be uncertain and forward looking. The forward-looking statements contained herein are also subject generally to other risks and uncertainties including but not limited to legal and operational risks of offshore, historic shipwreck recovery.

Forward-looking statements contained in this Form 8-K and in the attached press release are made under the Safe Harbor Provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the anticipated. The information contained in this release is as of August 24, 2015. Endurance Exploration Group, Inc. assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements contained in this Form 8-K and attached press release as the result of new information or future events or developments.

Endurance Exploration Group Strategic Partner Acquires the R/V New Horizon

Annapolis, MD | December 28, 2015

Endurance Exploration Group strategic partner Eclipse Group, Inc. (EGI) announces the acquisition of the R/V New Horizon, a 170’ U.S. Flagged research vessel. The vessel has been renamed the Bold Horizon to reflect EGI’s corporate vision. The Bold Horizon is home ported at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal located in San Diego, California.

“The addition of the Bold Horizon significantly enhances both the capability and availability of Eclipse Group assets to our valued clients on the west coast,” said Steven Saint-Amour, Chief Operations Officer. “The Bold Horizon will serve as a powerful and flexible platform for tasks ranging from marine survey, sensor deployment, to air crash investigation.”

Features of the Bold Horizon include a large, open main deck with a standardized 2’x 2’ Baxter Bolt pattern, an articulated stern A-frame with 11,500-pound safe working load, J-frame, deck crane, CTD, instrumentation and 10,000-meter sidescan winches. The working deck has direct access to a “wet” ocean lab, “dry” lab facilities and a 15-person conference room with teleconferencing capability, office and other accommodations.

EGI’s 2,000-meter ROV Super Mohawk 15 has been installed and is operational at the time of this press release.

Eclipse Group ROV Pilots

Eclipse Group ROV Pilots with ROV Super Mohawk 15

The Bold Horizon is now available for charter to military, government, academic, industry, and private sector clients worldwide.

About Eclipse Group, Inc.

Based in Annapolis, Maryland, Eclipse Group, Inc. (EGI) specializes in subsea operations services for commercial and government customers worldwide. Our project managers, operations, engineering and support personnel average 25-years experience in subsea operations, thus providing our customers the technical edge necessary for successful maritime operations.

Contact Information

Eclipse Group Inc.
1997 Annapolis Exchange Parkway, Suite 300
Annapolis, MD 21401, USA
Tel: +1 410 972.4660
E-mail: sales@eclipse.us.com
Skype – ECLIPSEGROUPUS

Endurance Exploration Group to Present Operational Update

Endurance Exploration Group, Inc. (OTCQB:EXPL) plans to present to its core investor group at the annual Freedom Investors / KDC Financial conference in Milwaukee on Monday, September 21st and Tuesday, September 22 (www.freedominvestorscorp.com) regarding current success and future operations at the site of the shipwreck Connaught, a steamship lost in 1860 with a cargo of gold coins. The updated investor presentation is attached as an exhibit herein. In addition, Endurance has updated their corporate Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EnduranceExplorationGroup) with video and still imagery from their recent subsea survey and salvage work of the Connaught wreck site.

To date, Endurance Exploration Group has completed a detailed subsea video and navigational survey of the site, has been granted exclusive salvage rights by the US Federal courts, and has retrieved the first artifacts from the debris field. Before continuing, Endurance must clear a mass of man-made debris and large commercial fishing nets concentrated around the aft section of the wreck site. This debris has hampered operations around the critical aft section of the wreck site where the coins are believed to now lie.

“We knew the wreck had sustained extensive damage from commercial fishing net strikes,” said Endurance CEO Micah Eldred. “But the sheer scale of the problem exceeded the expectations of our entire team. Some of these lost nets measure two, three hundred feet across, complete with heavy rolling weights, floats and high-tensile steel cables. We’ll need to finish the job of clearing these nets before our people and equipment can safely resume recovery work on the site of the Connaught.”

Video survey and mapping efforts undertaken during the last six weeks will significantly aid the removal effort. Endurance intends to utilize a precision grapple system, coupled with subsea navigational systems, designed to remove the nets from the wreck, after which they can be safely disposed, clearing the way for continued salvage and recovery operations.

“These nets are a massive environmental and operational hazard,” said Endurance Research Director Taylor Zajonc. “The largest of the nets extend hundreds of feet above the wreck site and frequently shift position as currents change. Not only do they pose an immense danger to our subsea equipment, they continue to kill fish and other marine life. Removing them will not only make it safe to continue our mission, it will also render the shipwreck a more viable long-term wildlife habitat.”

In partnership with Eclipse Group (http://www.eclipse.us.com/), Endurance is working to build the tools necessary to remove not only any debris not dislodged by the precision grapple system, but also to carefully excavate the significant and heavy iron overburden of the targeted aft area. Endurance partner Eclipse Group is also in the process of developing upgraded subsea “power packs” and interchangeable tooling, allowing Endurance to lift and remove heavy iron plates, beams and any sediment obstructions.

“We intend to return to the wreck site with these new tools as soon as practical,” continued Endurance CEO Micah Eldred. “However, while we are all excited about the near term prospects of the gold coin recovery from Connaught, we must first methodically develop and execute an efficient plan to work around all of the hurdles we have encountered with this wreck site.   Those work-around solutions include: removal of the net obstructions, complete the build of the specialized subsea salvage tools enabling us to remove the heavy iron structures from the aft section of the wreck site, and the sourcing of an appropriately sized DP-class vessel for use in the deployment of the new gear. Given the task list and the short weather window we can work in the North Atlantic, we believe it is unlikely that we will be able to complete salvage operations in calendar 2015, however, we remain committed to the salvage of the Connaught and the recovery of her valuable cargo as soon as possible.”

Eldred further commented, “To understate the obvious, deep-water subsea salvage work is extremely difficult. Our operation should not, and cannot, be compared to one that consists of a few shallow water divers, operating from a small boat, kicking around in the mud. We operate at the other end of the spectrum. Our survey and recovery operations are being conducted on a significant scale with expensive and sophisticated remotely operated equipment at depths beyond the capability of divers, and the operating environment, pressures, and tolerances are constantly challenging the equipment and crew. However, we are fortunate enough to have surrounded ourselves with a solid management and operational team with many years of experience who possess a proven track record of success in this space; and, we are confident in our team’s ability to deal with the obstacles that we encounter in this and any project. We appreciate the long-term nature and support of our core investor group who have also embraced our multi-year, multi-project, strategy of building shareholder value; and, who, in particular, share our belief that rewards often come only after overcoming life’s challenges.”

In addition, Endurance believes the advanced tooling currently under construction will greatly expand their subsea capabilities, enabling the company access to greater numbers and complexity of possible future shipwreck projects. Endurance maintains a research database of over 1000 shipwrecks, and the new tooling being currently built will significantly expand the company’s capabilities for future projects.

Built in Ireland and launched in 1860, the 380-foot iron-hulled side-wheel steamer Connaught was lauded as one of the largest and most luxurious ocean-going liners in service, a true Titanic of her time. Upon sinking on only her second voyage, the Connaught became best known for her role in what has been called one of the most courageous, daring and successful rescues in maritime history. All 591 of the ships passengers were saved by the heroic effort of a tiny fruit transport ship, the Minni Schiffer and her Captain, John Wilson. The Connaught sank on her way from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Boston, Massachusetts with a shipment of £10,000 in gold coin.

Endurance Exploration Team Completes Video Survey, Recovers First Artifacts

Endurance Exploration Group (OTCQB:EXPL) is pleased to announce that it has completed a video survey of the shipwrecked paddle steamer Connaught and retrieved the first artifacts from the surrounding debris field. These artifacts, including bottles and chinaware, are currently undergoing conservation. Initial video footage of the site will be released soon.

Underwater view of shipwreck Connaught debris field

Underwater view of shipwreck Connaught debris field

“This represents the first big step as we begin the careful excavation of the shipwreck Connaught,” said Endurance CEO Micah Eldred. “Artifacts from the debris field are giving us an up-close look into the condition of the ships’ cargo after 155 year of submergence and fishing net strikes. This information is critical to our exploration of the Connaught’s interior as we work to locate her gold cargo.”

2.Endurance Exploration Group and Eclipse Group crewmen investigate a bottle recovered from the wreck of steamship Connaught.

Endurance Exploration Group and Eclipse Group crewmen investigate a bottle recovered from the wreck of steamship Connaught.

Built in Ireland and launched in 1860, the 380-foot iron-hulled side-wheel steamer Connaught was lauded as one of the largest and most luxurious ocean-going liners in service, a true Titanic of her time. Upon sinking on only her second voyage, the Connaught became best known for her role in what has been called one of the most courageous, daring and successful rescues in maritime history. All 591 of the ships passengers were saved by the heroic effort of a tiny fruit transport ship, the Minni Schiffer and her Captain, John Wilson. The Connaught sank on her way from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Boston, Massachusetts with a shipment of £10,000 in gold coin.

1.Chinaware logo of the Atlantic Royal Mail Steam Navigation Company, Ltd., colloquially known to passengers and public as the “Galway Line”

Chinaware logo of the Atlantic Royal Mail Steam Navigation Company, Ltd., colloquially known to passengers and public as the “Galway Line”

As indicated by the high-resolution sonar imagery and video footage from Endurance’s 2014 expedition, the Connaught’s bow is relatively accessible. However, the engine compartment and stern are covered with commercial fishing nets, some of which measure hundreds of feet in length. The impact of these nets has severely damaged the aft section and triggered a number of structural collapses. These nets pose an immediate danger to our underwater robotics system. In response, our research ship has temporarily returned to port to reconfigure our ROV loadout to compensate for this threat. We will redeploy with a custom-made net-removal tool to remediate these environmental and structure hazards.  This operation is of particular importance as we currently believe the gold cargo and other valuables are most likely located in the aft portion of the wreck.

Eclipse Group ROV Pilots

Eclipse Group ROV Pilots

“We’re committed to working the site of the Connaught as long as the season will allow and, if necessary, return in 2016,” added Eldred. “We’re not done until we’ve finished excavation and fully told the story of the great ship Connaught.”

Underwater view of shipwreck Connaught ribs and hull plates

Underwater view of shipwreck Connaught ribs and hull plates

Sonar – How Does it Work? What Does it Reveal?

KleinSonar

What is side scan sonar? And how does it help find shipwrecks?

SONAR (Sound Navigation And Ranging) refers to the use of underwater sound waves to detect objects. Typically towed behind a ship, a sonar unit sends out sound waves and records the strength of the returning echo. Rocks, obstructions and man-made objects stand out from the surrounding seabed, as their smooth or irregular shapes typically reflect sound more easily than the ocean bottom and any object rising from the ocean floor will create a “shadow” behind it, further clues to the shape and size.

SonarEndurance Exploration Group’s first shipwreck project is the Connaught, a large side-wheel steamer lost in 1860 with a cargo of gold coins. Endurance 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, Endurance returned with a remotely-operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and successfully identified the final resting place of the steamship Connaught.

SonarDeployment

ConnaughtSearchArea

ConnaughtFirstFootage Returning in 2015, Endurance surveyed the site with 500 kHz high-resolution side scan sonar from multiple angles to map the shipwreck hull and debris field. Check out the new images below:

HighResConnaughtSonar2 HighResConnaughtSonar1

So what 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!

Stage 1 of Connaught Mission Complete!

IMG_0049

Endurance Exploration Group is pleased to announce that Stage 1 of our summer 2015 survey and recovery mission to steamship Connaught has been successfully completed! Our ship is now back at dock to swap out gear and personnel for the next stage.

What have we done so far? It’s been a busy few weeks of mobilization and offshore work for Endurance. Our crew first re-established the exact location of the wreck site and associated debris field using data collected from our 2013 and 2014 expeditions. Next, we surveyed the site with 500 kHz high-resolution side scan sonar from multiple angles to map the shipwreck hull and debris field. Finally, we deployed a three-point anchor mooring system. This meant dropping three 2,000lb anchors, 2,000lbs of anchor chain and 4000ft of heavy-duty wire rope, a system that will keep us on station regardless of wind and tide.

So what’s next? As we’ve discussed in our Q&A, 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 sophisticated 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!

 

Project Connaught Q&A

hi-res-1Interested in learning more about Endurance Exploration Group’s expedition to the steamship Connaught? Check out our Q&A below!

What’s the story of the steamship Connaught? What is the history and how did she become a shipwreck?

Launched in 1860, the Connaught was a steam‐powered packet ship, part of a fast and indispensable transatlantic mail and passenger link between Britain and the United States. Large for her time, she was a side‐wheel steamer constructed almost entirely of iron.

On her last voyage, the Connaught left Great Britain, bound for Boston. She carried several dozen first-class passengers, more than four hundred steerage passengers and a full crew of nearly 130. The Connaught also disembarked with a cargo of gold coins, and the Captain assumed a short, uneventful voyage to Boston.

When heavy seas set in, the Connaught began to roll heavily. Though the initial problem was temporarily fixed, twelve hours later the same roll started again. Making matters worse, fire broke out. Buckets and pumps were manned, but the water rose rapidly and extinguished the furnaces, rendering the ship immobile. The fire quickly spread, driving the passengers above decks.

The purser and two men attempted to rescue the gold shipment, but were driven back by the smoke and flames. A nearby ship came to the rescue, bravely maneuvering close to the Connaught and running a line between the two to facilitate transfer of passenger. Per age‐old protocol, the Captain was the last man off the ship.

Why do some call the story of the steamship Connaught the greatest rescue in maritime history?

The crew and passengers of the Connaught were in terrible danger. Thrashed by waves and driven above decks by fire, prospects for survival grew grimmer by the minute. During this time period, there were few evacuation safety procedures, and it was unlikely there were enough lifeboats for everyone. Even those who could have escaped by lifeboat may have only prolonged the inevitable—with no radio to signal distress or coordinate a rescue, they would either need to find a way to sail for shore, or wait for fate to bring them a passing ship.

Captain Wilson of the tiny ship Minnie Schiffer took his first huge risk steering his ship to the Connaught. Seeing the burning liner, he could have just as easily continued on his course. One stray ember could have ignited his sails, consuming his ship as well. And at just 300 tons, his ship was less than a tenth of the size of the 4,400 ton Connaught—taking on more than 500 passengers and crew. By the time the rescue was complete, there was standing room only aboard the tiny rescue ship, and some survivors had even taken to the rigging—but every man, woman and child had survived.

Many of the immigrants found loved ones at the wharf, husbands reunited with wives, relatives found each other, and families once more became whole. But others found out those they were to meet had died, and they had arrived both penniless and friendless. Charitable organizations stepped in to meet this need. The Merchant’s Exchange Reading Room disseminated the news across the wire and packet services, newspapers picked up the story as front-page news internationally.

Though Captain Leitch of the Connaught was commended for his behavior, the true hero of the event was Captain John Wilson of the Minnie Schiffer. His rescue lost not a single life, and crowded more than five hundred people onto a ship of only 108 feet in length with a 25-foot beam.

John Wilson called New Orleans home. He was known as a kind and unselfish man. With no children of his own, he and his wife had adopted and raised several orphans. Both he and his crew were awarded accolades, money, and prizes for their gallant actions. The Captain was to be awarded some $3,000 from the insurance agencies. However, the Civil War broke out soon after, and Captain Wilson joined the southern cause. The money was withheld, and never delivered after the war. By 1870, John Wilson was ill, unable to work, and reduced in circumstances. Some publicly pressed for his recognition, and for the delivery of his award money. It is not known if the money was ever awarded.

The Connaught rescue now stands as an incredible example of the power of leadership and heroism, and is believed by many to be the greatest rescue in maritime history.

How much Project Connaught work has been completed to date? Have you made any recoveries?

Following extensive archival research efforts, Endurance conducted a sonar survey of over 700 square miles off the coast of Boston in 2013, mapping a total of twenty‐five potential shipwreck targets for further evaluation, including the sonar target believed to be the wreckage of the steamship Connaught. In summer 2014, we returned with a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and successfully identified the wreckage of the steamship Connaught. During this expedition, we also recovered a token amount of ships’ wreckage in order to aid our legal arrest proceedings.

We are currently scheduled to the site during summer 2015 to complete survey operations and recover the Connaught’s gold cargo.

What do salvage operations entail?

Upon returning for our Summer 2015 expedition, we will begin by examining the Connaught, her debris field and other associated and non-associated features, objects and debris with high-resolution sidescan sonar.

Next, we will set up our anchor system so that we can remain “on station” during operations. We’ll begin by securing the site, removing “ghost nets,” lines and any other modern intrusion. This will ready the site for capturing the complete shipwreck and debris field survey using video and still imagery.

Finally, recovery operations will begin in earnest. This means making our way through the shipwreck itself, carefully excavating sediment and other overburden until we reach the cargo. We intend to recover coins and other important artifacts, recording video and capturing still imagery at every step.

What does the wreck site look like?

After one and a half centuries on the ocean floor, the Connaught has somewhat flattened out with the exception of her machinery. Large timbers and heavy iron sections are typically among the last features to disintegrate. Though there is unlikely to be much superstructure remaining, parts of the hull flush against the seabed are offered some protection from the elements and may be relatively well preserved. We will also see a significant amount of coal on the bottom, though far less than she was loaded with. Her capacity was 1200 tons, but she sank with far less.

Iron shipwrecks are characterized by disintegration and massive “rusticles”, rust structures similar to stalactites formed by the iron oxidation process. The remaining iron is likely to be extremely weak and brittle.

Though the Connaught was built of iron, her upper works, including decking and fixtures, would have most likely been constructed largely or entirely from wood. At the time of her sinking, there is evidence that these upper works may have been structurally compromised, as evidenced by trunks, light cargo and other pieces of her upper works coming free and floating away. Much of her listed cargo consisted of textiles and other degradable materials. However, many of her bottles survived the sinking, some still holding their contents. Unfortunately, deep sea trawling nets have a significant impact on wrecks. Fishing activity may have expanded the debris field, as well as torn away lighter artifacts and weaker structural elements.

We may see surviving signs of fire. This may include singed wood and cargo, the melting or destruction of artifacts with low resistance to heat, warped or buckled metalwork.

As she sank by the stern, she may have also impacted by the stern, shifting machinery, coal reserves, loose cargo towards the rear. Though contemporary accounts have the Connaught sinking without breaking up, sonar imagery appears to show a detached bow section.

Where is the shipwreck?

The steamship Connaught is located some distance east of Boston, outside state and territorial waters.

How long will Endurance remain at the shipwreck site?

We may remain at the site for up to three months, we believe this is more than enough time to accomplish all primary data collection and recovery objectives. We may end operations earlier should we complete work ahead of schedule.

How can you tell if you found the right ship?

The steamship Connaught was successfully identified based on her unique construction characteristics, including site footprint size, key ‘landmarks’ such as portal design and placement, date estimations of artifacts captured on still and video camera. This, combined with her unusual and highly unique paddlewheel design, confirmed her identity beyond all reasonable doubt.

What valuable cargo do you expect to find aboard the Connaught?

The £10,000 in gold coins is a confirmed cargo, as it is explicitly stated across multiple sources within the historical records. We believe it remains within the shipwreck, as it is also recorded that two men and the purser attempted to save the coins, but were driven back by smoke and flames. Further, the purser himself jumped into the sea to save a woman, making it unlikely that he’d personally recovered any of the gold cargo.

Firsthand accounts of the sinking indicate that the first-class passengers had stores of money aboard, and their money and valuables were lost with the sinking. Unfortunately, there have been no records located in reference to the amount, form, denomination, owner, or current-day values. However, Endurance Exploration Group has both the ability and the intention to seek these additional stores.

When will you make announcements?

As a publicly-traded company (OTCQB:EXPL), we are obligated to provide timely notification of all material events, including any discoveries. You can follow along with our announcements on this website, our Facebook page or through our SEC filings are available at the following link: http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/browse-edgar?company=endurance+exploration+group&owner=exclude&action=getcompany

What is the legal status of the wreck?

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida has granted Endurance Exploration Group the exclusive right to salvage the wreck site of the Connaught. Upon recovery of the items of cargo, Endurance Exploration Group, as substitute custodian (in lieu of the United States Marshal’s Office) and will conserve and preserve the finds in a secured location in preparation for sale.

What will happen to the shipwreck after you leave?

Endurance Exploration Group will maintain legal custody of the shipwreck Connaught as long as possible and reserve the right to return to the shipwreck site. It is important to note that the marine environment can be very tough on shipwrecks. Not only will she continue to loose large portions of her iron construction to rust, passing trawl nets will likely continue to snare the wreck, pulling apart major features, spreading the debris field and destroying artifacts. In situ preservation for shipwrecks is a controversial topic, but we’ve seen firsthand what both nature and man can do—that’s why we feel an obligation to record as much data and recover historically important artifacts from this wreck before it’s lost forever.

Are there any human remains at the site?

Absolutely not! Historical records show that everyone made if off the Connaught prior to her sinking. However, it is Endurance’s policy to treat all human remains with the utmost care and dignity under international best practices.

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