Lost Barge Discovered in Straits of Mackinac

Excerpts from Karen Gould’s original article published in the St. Ignace News and the Mackinac Town Crier Newspapers August 2009.

Long missing Barge is discovered by Research Teams aboard Sea Cadet Vessel! Scientists working with the Noble Odyssey Foundation aboard the Pride of Michigan training/research vessel, have located a sunken barge between St. Ignace, Michigan and Mackinac Island.

The barge, located in approximately 130 feet of water, has been named “The Clamshell Barge” after the huge digging device still hanging from it’s original place on the deck.

The barge had been lost during a storm over 50 years ago. Although it had been located once ten years back, the exact coordinates were lost and the location of the Clamshell Barge became a mystery until now.

In a coordinated effort between scientists and technicians assisted by sea cadets training for ten days with the Great Lakes Division, U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, the barge was once again discovered and accurate GPS coordinates established for it’s resting place.

Sonar operations were conducted by technician Jerry Knisley from HYPACK of Middleton, Connecticut on Wednesday, August 5, 2009. After six hours of searching, scientists believed they had found the barge.

With the position recorded, Sea Cadets, under the direction of Matthew Cook, president of SEA VIEW SYSTEMS of Dexter, Michigan, deployed the remote operation vehicle (ROV). Viewing the ROV’s cameras through an on-deck computer the scientists and cadets watched as the digging machine came into view. The atmosphere on the ship became charged with excitement as the ROV cameras revealed the apparatus poised upright in the water and intact.

Luke Clyburn, CO of the Great Lakes Division, NSCC and USMM Captain of the Pride of Michigan has been participating in Great Lakes research for about 50 years. He has included the sea cadets who train with his division in all of the projects he becomes involved in. An underwater film maker, Captain Clyburn has produced seven documentary films about Great Lakes Research and the Sea Cadets.

The barge will provide a new challenge to divers and require moderately advanced diving skills to descend to the depth it rests in.

“I love the fact that this thing is still hanging up in the water like it is ready to work”.

Dr. Elliott Smith, Science Advisor
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