Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mystery Shipwreck

On a recent two-week mission to explore the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a team of NOAA scientists uncovered clues that may have solved the mystery of an unidentified shipwreck first discovered at French Frigate Shoals in 2005. Based on data gathered during the expedition, researchers have deduced that the vessel, a 19th-century wooden sailing ship, is most likely the four-masted schooner CHURCHILL, which sank in the area in 1917.

Large wooden schooners were the economic mainstay of American shipping between the Civil War period and World War I. The Churchill was carrying a cargo of copra (the dried meat or nut of the coconut) from Nukualofa, Tonga, to Seattle, Wash., when she ran aground on a reef at French Frigate Shoals on Sept. 27, 1917.

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