Tag Archives: Sonar

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


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.



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!


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.


All Hands on Deck!

What does it take to run a deep sea salvage company? Great gear and great people! From deckhands to directors, everybody at Endurance pitches in to mobilize for our upcoming recovery expedition.

M/V Manisee Mobilization

M/V Manisee Mobilization

Endurance director Steven St. Amour loading a sonar winch for transport from Florida to New England.

Endurance director Steven St. Amour loading a sonar winch for transport from Florida to New England.

Left, deep sea robotics launch and recovery system. Top right, Eclipse Group’s ROV “Mohawk 1”. Bottom right, inspection-class ROV deck maintenance.

Left, deep sea robotics launch and recovery system. Top right, Eclipse Group’s ROV “Mohawk 1”. Bottom right, inspection-class ROV deck maintenance.


Endurance Exploration Discovers Lost Treasure Liner Connaught

Endurance Exploration Group, Inc. (OTCQB:EXPL) (“Endurance” or the “Company”), a company specializing in shipwreck research, survey and recovery, announces the successful completion of Phase 1 of “Project Sailfish” with the identification of the wreck believed to be that of the Connaught, a mid-19th century steamship reportedly lost with a cargo of gold coins.

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.

Her routine voyage became perilous when she sprang a leak in a sudden storm, forcing passengers and crew alike to join forces in an effort to save her. Though the leak was brought under control, the doomed ship soon faced a far more dangerous adversary—a fire below her decks.

Smoke and flames drove passengers and crew alike to the top deck, building in strength so quickly that none of the gold cargo or valuable passenger belongings could be saved. Lifeboats were ordered lowered, but they were smashed by the violent waves.

Disaster seemed all but certain—until a tiny fruit transport sailed to intercept the burning ship. By this time the Connaught’s hulls were so hot they boiled the waves as they crashed against her. Heroism abounded as a line was thrown across decks, transferring women and children first, then the male passengers and crew. There were soon so many people on the tiny fruit transport that they stood on every available patch of deck, some even clinging to the tall masts and rigging.

The Captain of the Connaught was bound by tradition to leave last. Soon after he departed, both rescuers and rescued watched as the Connaught disappeared beneath the waves, over one hundred miles from the nearest land. It was a long and trying night, but every soul was safely delivered to Boston’s India Wharf the following day. Nearly 600 souls had been transferred from one of the largest ocean liners of the time to a tiny fruit transport without a single loss of life.

“It was a real thrill for me to be on board for our inspection mission and see the images of the Connaught paddle wheel come up on the screen, seen for the first time in 154 years,” said Endurance CEO Micah J. Eldred. “This is what we methodically worked for as we built our research data, patiently conducted our first search and now enjoy our first shipwreck find. Now, on to the recovery phase.”

Following in-house research efforts, the attempt to find the Connaught began with a 2013 Summer sonar search covering over 700 square miles, roughly equivalent to scanning an area of ocean bottom 30 times the size of Manhattan. Endurance returned this month with a remotely operated underwater robotics vehicle (“ROV”) to inspect the prime target, identifying the wreck by its distinctive iron hull, paddlewheels and artifacts within the debris field.

“Equally important to simply rescuing her valuable gold cargo, we are excited to piece together the final moments of the Steamship Connaught, and tell her amazing story,” said Taylor Zajonc, the Company’s Director of Research. He went on to add, “Endurance Exploration recognizes the importance of returning to the site at the earliest possible time. High-resolution sonar surveys reveal extensive trawling in the area. It’s already impacted the site, making it essential that we document and recover historically significant artifacts of this wreck as soon as possible.”

Endurance CEO, Micah J. Eldred, further commented, “Finding the Connaught represents a milestone for our Company, and changes our Company’s risk profile significantly. Not only have we located a valuable shipwreck carrying a documented shipment of gold coinage, but we have validated the operational mission statement we put into place when we established our company: using the most modern day subsea technology, coupled with exhaustive archival research, we are targeting merchant ships containing documented, valuable, merchant cargoes which have a clear path to legal title, that can all be found and salvaged in a manner that produces profitable results for our shareholders. We believe the Connaught represents exactly this type of project. The location and identification of the Connaught proves up our research, search and subsea capabilities, allows us to move a step closer to the salvage and monetization of her gold cargo, and also frees up our search and survey assets allowing us to move forward on our next planned deep-water search project.”

The Endurance Recovery Mission

Endurance has petitioned the U.S. Federal Courts for the Middle District of Florida for an arrest of the shipwreck, an appointment of Endurance as substitute custodian of the shipwreck and a salvage award or title to the shipwreck and its cargo. If granted, Endurance plans to return to the site next spring or summer to begin a systematic and well-documented recovery of cargo and artifacts. The Company also intends to make a documentary film or television special to fully tell the remarkable story of the loss of the Connaught.

About Endurance Exploration Group, Inc.:

Endurance Exploration Group, Inc. specializes in historic shipwreck research, subsea search, survey and recovery of lost ships containing valuable cargoes. Over the last 6 years, Endurance has developed a research database of over 1,400 ships that are known to be lost with valuable cargoes in the world oceans, and in 2013 began subsea search and survey operations.

The Company will be posting sonar and still images as well as video footage of the shipwreck to its website and to its Facebook page at the following links:


Forward Looking Statements:

Cautionary Information Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.

The Form 8-K and today’s press release include “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 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 October 3, 2014. Endurance Exploration Group, Inc. assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements contained in this press release as the result of new information or future events or developments.


Guy M Zajonc, J.D.
Director & VP of Business Development
(509) 448-1328
(509) 230-1177