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Underwater Robots Set to Probe Local Wrecks

From the St. Catharines Standard:

A St. Catharines company will help marine archeologists conduct a detailed survey this week of two War of 1812 schooners sunk near Port Dalhousie.

The five-day expedition set out Sunday night and will map and photograph the wrecks of the Hamilton and the Scourge, two American schooners that sank during an 1813 storm on Lake Ontario.

The survey is headed by the City of Hamilton, but has plenty of help, including the HMCS Kingston, Parks Canada, the coast guard and Garden City-based ASI Group (Aquatic Sciences Inc.).

“We’re pretty excited about it. We’ve been helping the City of Hamilton out on this for a few years,” said Carmen Sferrazza, who founded Aquatic Sciences in 1987.

“We’re looking forward to finally getting out there.”

The company has for years monitored the area around the ships, owned by the City of Hamilton but protected as a national historic marine site, with sophisticated radar equipment.

For the detailed survey — the first in a decade — archeologists will take advantage of the company’s hi-tech Remotely Operated Vehicles to get a close look at the wrecks.

“I call them underwater robots,” said Gill Bibby, chairman of the Hamilton-Scourge Society.

“It’s great technology, it should help us get a clear look at these vessels, which is what we need.”

The survey is necessary to figure out what the City of Hamilton can do, if anything, to look after the wrecks in the future, Bibby said.

Proposals to lift the ships abounded in the ‘80s and ‘90s, said Bibby, but he suggested cost and the uncertain state of the wrecks “have pretty much made that a no-go situation.”

Continue at the St. Catharines Standard

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