Is this Ship Covered? The Intersection of Law , Geography , and Management of Sunken Military Craft

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Barry James Bleichner (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: The legal framework protecting historic shipwrecks and other underwater cultural heritage in the United States is largely fragmented and not always effective. Factors that may influence the legal protection afforded a shipwreck can include the type of ship , the location of the ship , the history and age of the ship , and the ship's country of origin. Management of historic shipwrecks may be spread across both federal and state agencies and without formal protocols that establish leadership. Many of these shipwrecks are also foreign in origin and protection for those resources is frequently determined by what some consider outdated and inapposite rules of law. Fortunately , the need to protect and properly manage historic shipwrecks has received increased recognition in legislative bodies and in the courts. One of the stronger pieces of federal legislation protecting shipwrecks is the Sunken Military Craft Act , which covers sunken military ships and aircraft around the globe. Under the act , warships , naval auxiliaries , and vessels owned and operated by a government on military noncommercial service at the time of sinking are protected from unauthorized disturbance. Considering the protective benefits afforded those sunken military craft covered by the act , the research presented here was designed to assess what types of vessels fall under the definition of protected vessels. To that end , the author consulted caselaw , applicable legislation , legal authorities , and the historical record as it applied to two types of vessels€”Liberty ships operating during World War II and the privateers active during the Revolutionary war and War of 1812. The evaluation concluded that the two vessel types may be covered under the act depending on the particular voyage or activity in which the vessel was engaged at the time of sinking. The research and analysis presented is also intended to inform future evaluations of ambiguous classes of vessels to determine if they meet the statutory definition of included vessels. Many historic shipwrecks face continual threats from human factors , such as commercial fishing , recreational diving , commercial salvage , and offshore energy infrastructure. The application of federal and state legislation designed to protect historic shipwrecks from these and other hazards will often depend on the particular location of the resource. To assess the risks faced from anthropogenic hazards , the author created a risk model that incorporated the threats and protections confronted by shipwrecks in federal and state waters off the coast of North Carolina. The assessment involved production of a GIS through which each shipwreck included in the analysis would be assigned a value , which was output to a Shipwreck Vulnerability Index. Particular attention was paid to foreign shipwrecks , and the analysis presented herein includes discussion of the management issues facing foreign sunken military craft located in US waters.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Sunken Military Craft, Shipwrecks, Underwater Cultural Heritage, Liberty Ships, Privateers, Risk Model

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