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2012 Press Releases

U.S. Ambassador on 17th Century Shipwrecks Dive

Tobago shipwrecks

Dr. Kroum Batchvarov, Ambassador Beatrice Welters, Jason Paterniti, Dr. Levis Guy-Obiakor and Todd Jungenberg of the U.S. Embassy with the Explorers Club flag.

Tobago shipwrecks

Dr. Kroum Batchvarov delivering his lecture at NALIS

June 25, 2012: U.S. Ambassador Beatrice Welters last week got an opportunity to see first-hand some of the artifacts from the 17th Century Shipwrecks at Scarborough Harbor when she joined Dr. Kroum Batchvarov and his team of divers during a dive in Tobago.

The harbor is filled with remains from the naval battle between the French and the Dutch in 1677 including spoons, pipes, jars, canons and even pieces of clothing. Excavation of the shipwrecks will begin next June by Dr. Batchvarov and his team.

Ambassador Welters spent several hours with the dive team at Scarborough before she herself got into diving gear and accompanied Dr. Batchvarov into the waters to observe the exploration of the area where the shipwrecks are.

The Ambassador was impressed with the artifacts seen and expressed interest in a longer dive.

Ambassador Welters also attended a lecture by Dr. Batchvarov as part of visit, at the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS). Dr. Batchvarov’s presentation focused on the planned exploration and excavation. German Ambassador Stefan Schlüter also attended the lecture.

Over 1,500 persons died during the 1677 battle at the Scarborough Harbor, Tobago, where a large detachment of French troops attempted to wrestle control of the island from the Dutch West Indies Company and initiated one of the largest colonial battles fought in the Caribbean.

Numerous vessels, both French and Dutch, were sunk during the battle.

The excavation is being led by Dr. Batchvarov, lead archeologist at the American Institute of Nautical Archaeology and Assistant Professor of Maritime Archaeology at the University of Connecticut. It is a collaborative project between the United States Embassy, University of Connecticut, Tobago House of Assembly (THA), the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Loyola University, Chicago and The GEO’s Foundation.

The archaeological team will begin field work in June of 2013, including excavation and documentation of one wreck site, construction of a nearby conservation facility for treating objects recovered from Tobagonian waters, and recovery and conservation of discovered artifacts which will ultimately be delivered to the THA Department of Tourism for future generations to enjoy.

The archeological project in Scarborough Harbor will provide rare opportunities for local students to obtain practical experience and training in a variety of scientific disciplines, support the THA’s effort to establish Tobago as a leader in the protection and management of underwater cultural resources in the Caribbean region, and enhance Tobago’s reputation as a leading destination for cultural tourism.