Fall Field School 2020: Short St. Schooner Wreck

ECU student documents shipwreck in Washington NC

Maritime Studies graduate student prepares for a dive on the Short St. Schooner.

Amidst a global pandemic (COVID-19), faculty, staff and graduate students from East Carolina University’s (ECU) Program in Maritime Studies investigated a shipwreck near the site of the old Eureka Lumber Mill in Washington, NC as part of the program’s fall field school. Named the “Short St. Schooner,” the unidentified vessel lies submerged in 4 feet of water on northern bank of the Tar River. Despite poor visibility, students were able to generate a full site plan for the wreck, along with photographic documentation of unique artifacts, and spatial recording of diagnostic features using an RTK GNSS. The working theory for the wreck supposes that the schooner was moored to extend the existing wharf structure and assist with moving timber between barges and the mills. Over time, the vessel likely fell into a state of disrepair before sinking in place. Research on the vessel continues.

Faculty and staff discuss fieldwork plans on Short St. Schooner

Faculty and staff discuss the daily plan for the Short St. Schooner wreck site.


Special protocols for the field school were required to deal with the ramifications of COVID-19. Social distancing in vehicles and at the site, disinfecting equipment, and virtual data entry and compilation were all required to make the field school safe and effective. For more information, see the ECU News story on the fieldwork.