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rotating photos Maritime Archaeology/Marine Heritage

The Marine Heritage section is a collection of artifacts discovered by the Hawai‘i Undersea Research Lab dating back to our first discovery of a Navy Dauntless dive bomber in 1984. The surveyed items range from those of great historical significance, to unique artifacts from bygone Hawaiian eras, to strange items that are unknown, unusual or unexpected, and will leave the viewer wondering what exactly its life's story was, and  just how and why it ended up in its cold, dark, resting place at the bottom of the sea.

Until 2001, the historic artifacts we found were not recorded or surveyed to any great degree. For many of the early items, accurate positions, identifications, and even images are missing. Regrettably, some are recorded only in the pilot’s memories. Almost all of the items in this collection were discovered during the submersibles’ “test and trial” dives. These dives (usually three), are conducted at the beginning of each dive season. The main priority is for the submersibles, pilot’s, and crew to not only conduct operational exercises, but to also a number safety and rescue exercises. The actual time available in which to locate and survey artifacts is fairly limited. These trials also include the re-starting of operating equipment or the “breaking in” of new equipment. This includes the tracking and communication systems and video cameras. Growing pains with these systems can also affect the quality and quantity of a marine archaeological survey. Upgrades in cameras over time have improved many of the later surveys, but if adverse currents exist at a site, capturing perfect images can be difficult. Whether the limitations are due to equipment, weather, or time, the deep sea is always a challenging environment to collect history in.  Not everything compiled here is the best that could be hoped for, but is none the less a record of its existence. Many of the poor and incomplete surveys are included to display the vast quantity and types of artifacts encountered. This collection is likely only just scratching the surface of the seabed.

We have included each artifact survey with a HURL data sheet. This document provides basic facts and information regarding the item and also a short assessment and history. Some of the information is speculation or estimation. This information is marked in Italics. In a few cases the data may be written in normal text if the evidence for it is very strong, although not proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. Measurements are sometimes given for the current size of the artifact if damaged and may also include its actual historical measurements. Time built or launched will sometimes also include the number of this particular artifact that were made. In most cases, the position has been removed and the depth approximated to protect the artifact. For deeper history regarding these artifacts check out our Heritage Links Page.

In most cases, there is compilation of images from the artifact site. These are captures from the video or shot by the pilots through his viewport. We also try to include some historic photos of the artifact or a likeness during its era and any modern images of restorations. If available we include any pilots sketch or paintings for perspective. Also any drawings, schematics, sonar scans, side scans, multi-beam, or newspaper articles that might be informative are occasionally included. Much of this later data is collected from various sources or has been sent to us over the past decade. Most of the sources have not been documented. If this site includes any outside photos or documentation that should be credited, or is being displayed without authorization, please let us know and we will provide credit or remove it.

Hawai‘i Undersea Research Lab has no Historian or Marine Archaeologist on staff. All research on these artifacts has been conducted by a staff member largely outside of normal work parameters.  Therefore, any corrections, contributions, criticisms, and questions are welcome.

To request use of images, or obtain access to video or data, and general questions about HURL or the Website please contact Rachel Orange, Data Dept. Manager at:

For questions or contributions to a specific Maritime Artifact contact Steve Price at:



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