SHIPWRECK DIVING  Shipwreck Identification
The complete Diver's guide to the skills, sources and techniques of shipwreck identification.




   Capt. Dan Berg's Wreck Valley Collection   


By Capt. Dan Berg

Identifying an unknown shipwreck is no easy task and there are no easy to follow rules. The most positive identification is only made through the retrieval of artifacts from the wreck, but even this seemingly foolproof method can deceive the most learned researcher. I'll describe some past experiences. All of these wrecks are off the south shore of Long Island, N.Y.
Photo: Capt. Steve Bielenda with Windlass cover from the Kenosha

While researching information for a previous book, WRECK VALLEY, I tried to find information on a local lobster wreck called the Fire Island Lightship. I found two reference books that listed her sinking due to a collision, but after diving the wreck, I knew something was wrong, and I could not simply duplicate an error in my book. Since diving the site, I knew that this low lying wood wreck could not possibly be a steel hulled light ship but was a unidentified wreck named, possibly by fishermen, for her location near the old lightship station. I researched and found that although the lightship had been in a collision, she had never sunk. A few years later, we dove her again and a friend, Mark Weiss, brought up a bronze windlass cover. On it was the name "Madagascar." We all assumed that the identification process was over. We were wrong because I could find no records of a ship called Madagascar sinking in our area. After a few weeks and after calling in a few favors from a friend at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., I found out that the Madagascar had changed names, and the wreck we knew as the Fire Island Lightship was really a freight steamer named Kenosha.
On another wreck which had long been known as the Good Gun Boat, a diver, Billy de Marigny, found a brass bell which bore the name "Tarantula" on it. When I went to research this wreck, I knew her name and approximate age, and I also knew she was armored. I conveniently found a Tarantula built for Vanderbilt which had been converted during World War I to a gun boat in the Canadian Navy. I then came across and purchased a beautiful topside photograph, wrote an article about the wreck and was about to deliver the text to the printer when luckily I decided to check just a little deeper. In no time at all, I found that the Tarantula I was researching had never sunk; she was still in dry dock in Canada. The wreck turned out to be another vessel named Tarantula also built for Vanderbilt and converted during the war by the U.S. Navy into the USS Tarantula. It definitely doesn't pay to take any short cuts or to make any assumptions.

On one more site, the G&D wreck, I was led astray once again. By checking shipping records and a location given by newspaper articles, I was told by a respected researcher that this was almost certainly the wreck of the Durley Chine. Two years later, diver, Rick Jaszyn, found and recovered the bell of the Durley Chine on another wreck miles away.

When trying to identify a wreck, first try to gather as much information as possible from local divers or historians. Diving the site and recovering artifacts can be very helpful especially if the object retrieved, like a bell or windlass cover, has the ship's name on it. Otherwise, objects found could be related to a ship's cargo or the age of the vessel, but it is difficult to establish this. I recommend diving as often as possible. Finding the first clue may take years, but once found, it's an invitation to open a time capsule which could have otherwise perished. 


The Shipwreck Diving E-Book  Instant Downloadable E-Book 

Shipwreck Diving, by Capt. Dan Berg is a complete how to book about the sport of wreck diving. This book is packed with information and heavily illustrated with over 80 sensational color photographs.


Shipwreck Diving ebook
The complete diver's guide to mastering the skills of shipwreck diving.

Buy Now   only $9.95
6 MB instant download, printable  PDF file

Shipwreck Diving is a complete how to ebook about the sport of wreck diving. This downloadable PDF e-book is packed with information and heavily illustrated with over 80 sensational color photographs. Daniel Berg, a noted wreck diver, instructor and author of ten shipwrecks related books, describes all the basics of wreck diving. Topics include everything from equipment modifications, communication, and wreck penetration to artifact preservation. Dan also tells how to navigate on a wreck and be able to return to the anchor line after the dive. Why some divers find more artifacts and explains how to catch lobsters. Shipwreck Diving also covers such diverse topics as shipwreck research, photography, spear fishing and how to use an underwater metal detector. This exciting book tells all the tricks of the trade that until now have only been learned through years of experience. Shipwreck divers of all caliber will find Shipwreck Diving informative, rewarding and entertaining

Check out Capt. Dan's other shipwreck and Diving eBooks



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Copyright Capt. Dan Berg / Aqua Explorers Inc

2745 Cheshire Dr
Baldwin NY 11510


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