The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) was created in 1992 to incorporate members of the diving and non-diving public in a professionally organized and directed effort to study maritime history and marine archaeology sites in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay. RIMAP is a federally approved 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. As the scope of research developed, it became clear that Rhode Island's history should also include Rhode Island Sound and all of the connections between the colony and state and the wider world.
RIMAP investigation into local history includes Royal Navy ships lost in the American Revolution, the reputed 19th-century slave ship in Newport, the steam ship in Bristol, the World War II marine railway at the former US Army shipyard at Fort Adams, and many other sites under water and on land around the state. Rhode Island's maritime history is full of rich stories and people important in US history, but as RIMAP's work has matured, we have discovered many other relationships between Rhode Island and internationally significant maritime events.
For instance many young British naval and army officers, who served in Rhode Island during the Revolution, later went on to prominent careers. One young Royal Navy Lieutenant was in command of a small armed vessel lost in the Sakonnet River in 1778 and he later became an Admiral himself, serving with Admiral Nelson.
Captain James Cook's three voyages around the world (1768-1780) were the greatest feats of exploration and discovery in history. RIMAP now knows that: (A) the two vessels considered but rejected for Cook's first voyage were later in Rhode Island (ROSE that impeded local trade and bombed Bristol, and TRYAL that may have been lost at the north end of Prudence Island), (B) two of the four vessels that actually sailed on Cook's circumnavigations found their way to Newport as their last port of call (ENDEAVOUR on the first voyage and RESOLUTION on the second and third), and (C) the commander of the second vessel on Cook's second voyage was later commander of a frigate that ran aground at Point Judith (SYREN). Search for the RESOLUTION and SYREN await future resources and the ROSE wasn't lost in Rhode Island. However, RIMAP's field research has mapped eight potential sites in Newport that may be part of the fleet that included the ENDEAVOUR, and we have begun to investigate the remains of a ship at Prudence Island that may be the TRYAL.
The international interest in the the story of Cook's ships in Rhode Island has generated wide media coverage because no where else in the world has the chance to find so many ships associated with the greatest explorer in history. That part of RIMAP's research may be glamorous and internationally significant, but it has not impeded our continued investigations of other worthy local sites.
Note: Although our name is "Rhode Island" Marine Archaeology Project, and although we work all around the state, we have received no financial support through the RI state budget. Our financing comes from memberships, cash donations, federal grants, and state grants that are funded by federal programs. Although no dollars have come from state government, it is our local volunteers who donate the greatest in-kind value to support RIMAP's research and public outreach. Without their generosity, RIMAP's understanding of our state's maritime heritage would be diminished. But with their generosity, Rhode Islanders may now enjoy our state's glorious past and share its exciting future.
THE RIMAP MISSION STATEMENT:
"RIMAP will conduct studies of Rhode Island's maritime heritage under water and on land, and RIMAP will be an advocate for historic and cultural preservation of that maritime heritage."
RIMAP was established in order to:
- locate and identify the submerged cultural resources of Rhode Island waters. Cultural resources may include shipwrecks, debris fields, submerged man-made structures and inundated terrestrial sites.
- study the submerged cultural resources of Rhode Island waters in a manner consistent with appropriate underwater archaeology practices.
- determine those submerged cultural resources that are historically important.
- develop programs by which the historically important submerged cultural resources may be protected from damage.
- develop programs by which the submerged cultural resources of Rhode Island may be shared with the diving and non-diving public in a non-destructive manner.
- locate and study sites on land related to the industries and individuals that contributed to the maritime history of Rhode Island.
RIMAP products include:
- maritime history/marine archaeology training.
- fieldwork experience for divers and support activities for non-diver assistants, and similar land fieldwork experience.
- opportunities to work with historic artifacts and help with historical research.
- professional and popular publications and presentations to share the results of RIMAP's research with a wider audience.
- an artifact conservation, storage, and display facility that is easily accessible to the public.
- good members and volunteers.
Please use the Membership, Training, and Fieldwork applications that are listed under Participate.
MEET THE RIMAP LEADERSHIP
Board of Directors:
President: Elliott Caldwell, MLIS, MA, is an historian, archivist, certified appraiser and university professor.
Vice President: Kerry Lynch, Ph.D., is an archaeologist at the UMass Amherst ArchServices She is the RIMAP field supervisor in the study of the Newport Revolutionary War transport fleet.
Secretary: Lesley Sorenson is a retired British Foreign Service
linguist, living in Portsmouth with her retired American State Department
Treasurer: Steve Bastien is an avid sport diver and a Production Controller for the Supervisor of Shipbuilding Conversion and Repair in Groton, CT.
Board Member: William Burns is a Rhode Island native, now working as a professional archaeologist in California.
Board Member: John Cassese, M.D., is a pediatric radiologist practicing in Rhode Island.
Board Member: Greg DeAscentis is an archaeologist, freelance photographer, professional diver, and owner of the Aquidneck Mooring company.
Board Member: Debby Dwyer is an avid sport diver and a teacher's aide in the Bristol / Warren, RI school district.
Board Member: Joy Elvin, M.A. is an experienced marine preserve manager, with a special interest in submerged cultural resource protection.
Board Member: John D. Hoagland is a PADI scuba instructor and is retired from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is the immediate past Board President.
Board Member: Linda Jenkins is experienced in fund-raising and long-term planning and management in not-for-profit organizations.
Board Member: Kathy Lotz, CPA, advises on financial reporting requirements.
Board Member: Caleb Pifer is a professional fund-raiser for Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, raised partly in Australia, and with deep maritime ties to Newport.
Board Member: Jeffrey Siegal is a NYC businessman with a home in Portsmouth and is a specialist in historic Rhode Island maps and charts.
Board Member: Jeremy Wilmes is a financial adviser for Allstate Financial Services, formerly of Hawaii, now with homes in Florida and Portsmouth, RI..
Board Member: Joe Zarzynski, M.A., is an historian, archaeologist, professional diver and award-winning documentary producer.
D. K. Abbass, Ph.D., is RIMAP's founder and CEO, as well as the Principal Investigator for all research and author/co-author of all publications. She has been a university professor, museum director, and marine surveyor, and is now also the RIMAP senior instructor and webmaster.
RIMAP's American Patron:
Henry H. Anderson, J.D., has been a RIMAP supporter from the beginning, and with our discovery that the Endeavour Bark had been the Lord Sandwich sunk in the 1778 transport fleet in Newport Harbor, he has been our most loyal patron. Harry is a businessman, prominent yachtsman, sail training advocate, and avid maritime historian. His wise guidance has helped to make RIMAP the success it is today.
Note: When RIMAP's research discovered that we had the possibility of finding Captain Cook's Endeavour in Newport Harbor, we created a second not-for-profit organization called the "Foundation for the Preservation of Captain Cook's Ships." This is another 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and its mission is to help educate the local public about why Cook was so important in world history, and what the presence of his ships could mean to the State of Rhode Island, especially its tourism industry.
RIMAP is responsible for all research activities, but the members of the "Cook Foundation" provide advice and guidance about how best to share the multiple stories about Cook's men and ships in Rhode Island in the 18th century, and the exciting results of all RIMAP's research. When it can be announced that RIMAP has found Cook's Endeavour, the Cook Foundation will help to share that story.
Meanwhile, the need has grown to have a public facility to conserve, display, and store the artifacts generated by RIMAP's archaeological research, and especially to share all of Rhode Island' spectacular maritime history with the public. Therefore, the two organizations have been developing the organizational structures and operating procedures to enable the creation of such a facility, and we have begun with the long-range planning process needed to create the business model to support it.