The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) has been trying to locate the fleet of transport ships sunk in Newport's Outer Harbour during the Revolutionary War on 8 August, 1778. They were sank by the British to act as a blockade against the threatening French Fleet. Research by RIMAP has led them to identify the names of 13 of them, including the Lord Sandwich, which is thought by some to have been the Endeavour. (See Cook's Log, page 1618, vol. 22, no. 2 (1999))
Other sunken ships of interest on the area also being explored are the British frigates sunk on 5 August 1778 during the siege of Newport and the Empire State, a paddle-wheel steam ship burned and sunk in 1887.
Because contemporary documents provide conflicting information of where the transports were sunk, RIMAP has conducted four side scan sonar investigations over the last eight years. The area is littered with other lost vessels, etc. that generate false positives that must be checked. (See Cook's Log, page 1684, vol. 22, no. 4 (1999)).
One transport was extensively investigated in 1999 and 2000. Analysis indicate it is 18th-century, built in Europe, but which one of the is still to be determined. Another site was intensively searched during a three-week period in 2000. Progress was slow because the site could be visited only once a day, at slack tide, and bad weather. The small areas of wooden-structure exposed are insufficient to diagnose the ship's origin.
Further research will take a number of years to complete.
A sister organisation has been founded called the Foundation for the Preservation of Captain Cook's Ships. The title uses the plural because it is thought that the Resolution is also at Newport, having arrived there in 1793 under the name La Liberte. The original focus of the foundation was to provide administrative and fund-raising support for the Endeavour-related RIMAP work; it is now also planning its role should the vessel be found. Individuals can become a "Friend" of the Foundation for $35 per year donation to Cook's Ships, Box 1492, Newport, RI 02480, USA.
For previous articles on the fate of the Endeavour and Resolution see Cook's Log,
From information supplied by Brian Sandford
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1901, volume 24, number 4 (2001).
your email address will not be published