Ships of Exploration and Discovery Research, Inc. (Ships of Discovery) researchers are headed to Peleliu to undertake a Phase I remote sensing survey of the WWII invasion beaches.

The project is funded through a 2017 NOAA Ocean Exploration Research grant with additional support from an NPS American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant.

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This project will be the first comprehensive survey for underwater cultural heritage remains of the Peleliu invasion beaches, fringing reef, and lagoon. Integral to the project is an examination of the impacts of the pre-invasion blasting of the reef by Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs). The reef study will be the first of its kind to document the WWII impacts and to quantify the interactive role of the corals and WWII materiel on both resources. Photogrammetric documentation of underwater cultural heritage sites and the reef will result in 3D interactive models for in-depth analysis and that will be publically viewable through SketchFab.

This project is a cooperative effort between Ships of Discovery, East Carolina University (ECU) Maritime Studies Program, University of Hawi’i Hilo, SEARCH Inc, the US Navy Joint Region Marianas, and the Palau Bureau of Cultural and Historical Preservation. Fieldwork will begin on April 2 and run through April 12.

Previous research in the Pacific by Ships of Discovery and ECU includes several projects in Saipan and Tinian under the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP). Their work includes the creation of an underwater heritage maritime trail, consisting of twelve submerged and semi-submerged archaeological sites including four aircraft wrecks, two shipwrecks, three tanks, two landing craft and one Amtrak. Waterproof guides (in English and Japanese) including a site map and historical information, posters that included images of the wrecks and more in-depth information, and an 18-minute interpretive video created for the NPS are part of their Saipan work. The video is also available on Ships YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/ShipsOfDiscovery

Special thanks and gratitude is deeply owed to the Office of the President and H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., Minister Baklai Temengil-Chilton, Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs and most especially to the Honorable Governor of Peleliu State, Mr. Temmy Shmull for their support to make this research possible that will contribute to the deep understanding and preservation of the Republic of Palau’s WWII underwater heritage. (PR) [/restrict]