And on to vigilance of another sort. Underwater archaeologists with the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command are tending to 3,000 shipwrecks and 14,000 lost aircraft with a delicate hand and superior technology.
“A large percentage of the Navy’s history resides in sunken shipwrecks and aircraft, literally scattered around the globe,” says Robert Neyland, who directs the effort to locate, assess and preserve wrecks that are property of the U.S. government, regardless of what ocean they are in.
They uphold the Sunken Military Craft Act, which protects those craft from unauthorized disturbances, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act.
Global positioning, sonar and magnetometers are part of the toolbox, Mr. Neyland says, reaching sites that were previously inaccessible because of depth or location. But divers and scientists are “stewards” of the wrecks or artifacts brought to the surface for preservation — along with the remains of the dead.
“One of the really remarkable things archaeology can do is give these unknown sailors a face once again, and a history,” Mr. Neyland says. The underwater archeologists drew accolades on the Pentagon Channel last week (www.pentagonchannel.mil). Visit with them here: www.histo ry .navy .m i l / branches/nhcorg12.htm.
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