ADMAT Press Articles  

St Kitts Maritime Archaeological Project 2003-2008Phase 1: White House Bay Wreck

St. Christopher Heritage Society Newsletter - April 2003.

 The St. Christopher Heritage Society hails the support of agencies and individuals for the success of the recently concluded

 Maritime Archaeology Study.

It was in July 2001 that Simon Spooner and Christine Nielsen of the Anglo Danish Maritime Archaeology Team (ADMAT) came into the office of the St. Christopher Heritage Society (SCHS) inquiring if the organisation might be interested in having a survey done of the wrecks in the coastal waters of St. Kitts. The idea found favor and they were asked to present a project proposal. Later that year the proposal for White House Bay arrived and was sent to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment under which the National Conservation and Environmental Protection Act falls. After receiving assurances that there would be minimal impact on the reef systems and fisheries and that the artifacts retrieved would not leave the island, the project was approved and a letter of endorsement was received on 28th February 2002. 

Between then and the commencement of the field survey on April 2 preparations were made with Mr. Spooner working on his side of the Atlantic trying to get the necessary sponsorship and support for the Project and the SCHS coordinating things on the ground and soliciting assistance here in St. Kitts. As the group would be camping on the beach adjacent to the dive site, it was necessary to get permission from the land owners, set into place a water supply, clear the area where the tents would be erected, clean up the site generally, ensure transport, security and garbage disposal were available, and prepare for the arrival, storage and transport of two containers shipped from the UK with the gear, equipment and supplies. It was a huge undertaking of coordination and it could not have happened without the help of individuals, Government Departments and businesses who rose to the occasion by providing the necessary assistance.

Everyone recognized that the Maritime Expedition could provide much needed promotion for St. Kitts in the European and North America market place where interest runs high for this type of activity. It was felt that such a project would not only inform us about our own maritime history but could have spin off benefits in terms of the tourism product, providing an additional attraction for visitors to our island.

The implications of exploring and finding the numerous historic wrecks in our off shore waters pose challenges for their protection. From the very beginning it was understood that the Coast Guard needed to be involved to ensure that whatever was found would be protected from looters many of whom have ravaged our underwater heritage in the past and continue to do so even more today as the technology advances. A Conservation Laboratory must be established with the necessary equipment to enable the preservation of the objects found. It is envisaged that the National Museum and the Military Museum at Brimstone Hill would display and interpret the items. To this end it is essential that both institutions are prepared for receiving the artifacts. The National Museum has some distance to go as it is still seeking funds to complete the replacement of the roof and the further restoration of the old Treasury Building where it is located. When the first phase of this project was completed on May 1, (it is anticipated that it will take place over a period of 5 years) part of an impressive wreck was revealed and over 300 artifacts discovered, all pointing to a significant find. A more complete story should unfold in the coming year of follow-up archival research.

The SCHS takes this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the following agencies and individuals in St. Kitts for their invaluable support with the execution of this project. They are: The Ministry of Health and Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Defense Force and Coast Guard, the Police Force, the Ministry of Finance, the Water Department, the Government Information Service, the Port Authority, Delisle Walwyn & Co. Ltd. (agents for Tropical Shipping), TDC, Dee & Cee Trading Co. Ltd., Delta Petroleum, Nova Foods, Cable & Wireless, CFB College, the Montessori Academy, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, Bernie Greaux, Vandel Berry, Kate & Steven Orchard, Hazel Brookes, Dierdre Stubbs, Greg Pereira, Mickey Brisbane, Ron Jorgenson, Penny Pereira and so many others who helped in other ways.

SCHS May 6, 2003