Researchers complete survey of new shipwreck in the York River

York County

Courtesy of JRS Exploration

YORKTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — Researchers with JRS Explorations were able to complete a survey of the 11th shipwreck located in the York River since 1975. The eleven wrecks found played an important role in the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, the last major battle of the American Revolution.

What researchers say many people don’t know is the battlefield in Yorktown only shows half the story because the other half remains on the bottom of the York River.

According to their release, as many as 40 or more British ships were wrecked by enemy cannon fire or deliberately sunk near shore to prevent the French from landing troops on the beach behind the British position.

Now, almost 239 years later, the team with JRS Explorations wants to be sure the history buried in the York River is protected.

The team says “Wreck 11” was discovered in 2019 near the Gloucester Point area of the river and has at least seven iron cannons.

Researchers say Wreck 11 was the most difficult to survey due to near-zero visibility, strong tidal currents, and a thick covering of oyster shell.

Located near the wreck of the largest British warship, HMS Charon, Wreck 11 is believed to be one of the two transport vessels that collided with the Royal Navy ship. As a result, they were set afire and sunk.

Researchers say the location and size of Wreck 11, along with the number and size of the cannons, suggest it may be the transport Shipwright. More research will be necessary to be sure.

Dr. John Broadwater, JRS Explorations vice president and chief archaeologist, directed the York River survey.

John has also to the depths of Titanic, recovered sunken engines from the Saturn V boosters that launched Apollo astronauts to the Moon, and oversaw the recovery of major components from the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.

During the 1980s John directed the excavation of the British transport Betsy in the York River, recovering more than 5,000 artifacts. You can still catch some of those artifacts today in the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

“These shipwrecks represent a tangible part of one of the most significant events in the founding of the United States. It is a true privilege to be able to contribute to the knowledge of that moment in history through the study of these wrecks,”

Joshua Daniel | Archaeologist and owner of Seafloor Solutions, LLC

JRS is currently evaluating possible next steps for investigating the archaeological potential of two shipwrecks on the Yorktown side of the river.

Stay with for more local news updates.

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