RIMAP at Newport City Council

Published by Kathy Abbass on Thursday, 15th August 2019 - 11:00AM

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Part of the 2018 archaeology team for the Endeavour study L-R: Dr. James Hunter (ANMM), Kieran Hosty (ANMM), William Burns (RIMAP), Dr. Kerry Lynch (RIMAP), Greg DeAscentis (RIMAP) ©RIMAP 2018

THE STATEMENT MADE BEFORE NEWPORT TOWN COUNCIL, AUGUST 14, 2019

I am Dr. Kathy Abbass, of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP). Vice Mayor Susan Taylor asked for a brief report to Newport City Council about our recent activities, and she also asked for early notice about our media events. So please put Sunday, September 8, on your calendar, when RIMAP will announce the latest results of its Newport Harbor study, and if we have identified the Endeavour Bark of Capt. Cooks' first circumnavigation.

RIMAP is a not-for-profit organization created to train volunteers to participate in professionally directed marine archaeology research. More than 900 citizens have participated in more than 80 different RIMAP projects, but it has been our search for the Endeavour that has generated great international interest. The details of that study are readily available on our website and we now focus on one shipwreck in Newport's Outer Harbor for our 2019 excavations.

RIMAP gets no financial support from the State budget, and this year our work is supported such local businesses as Aquidneck Mooring, NewPort Architecture, Gurney's Resort on Goat Island, and What's Up Newport. A grant from the Australian government, through the Australian National Maritime Museum also supported RIMAP's creation of an artifact management facility to conserve the water-logged materials retrieved from such excavations. That is now located at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, and we have hired professional conservator Amelia Hammond to manage it. Next week the Australian archaeologists will again join RIMAP's archaeology team and our trained volunteers, for 3 weeks of fieldwork in Newport's Outer Harbor on the site that we hope will prove to be the Endeavour.

Unfortunately, the international interest in RIMAP's research has also generated a great deal of jealousy, and there have been some spectacular lies told about us by professional colleagues, and by local folks who have other agendas. Our lawyer stopped the worst of that behavior, but the public may still think RIMAP is out of business. This mistake is especially important to neutralize if thieves and vandals believe that RIMAP is no longer involved in the Endeavour research, and that there are no controls on access to that shipwreck. Even unintentional damage to the site could generate an international scandal.

So the Newport Town Council, and the public, need to know that RIMAP is still in business, that our plans for this year's fieldwork are set, and that we invite you all to hear about our progress on September 8. Whatever the outcome of our research, that shipwreck is important to US and Rhode Island Revolutionary War histories, but if we can identify the Endeavour in Newport's Outer Harbor, it will be an international success. Please join us!

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A later note: Ryan Belmore wants it known that What's Up Newport has not financially supported RIMAP. 

RIMAP lists a lot of businesses who give us in-kind help, but not dollars (like Gurney's Resort) and that support is often more valuable than money. In Ryan's case, his notice to us about a meeting was very important, because at that meeting untrue and biased testimony was taken that had a direct impact on RIMAP's ongoing research, and RIMAP wasn't even notified of the meeting. So our thanks to Ryan for his communication.

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