February 25, 2013
Trinity University, Northrup Hall, Room 040
Dr. Robert Neyland, Branch Head, Underwater Archaeology, Naval
February 17, 1864, Confederate H.L. Hunley became the first submarine to successfully be used to sink an enemy warship. The sloop of war USS Housatonic went to the bottom in a matter of minutes, but Hunley never returned to port and was also presumed lost. In 1995, best-selling author Clive Cussler discovered H.L. Hunley buried in the seafloor off the coast of South Carolina, not far from the wreck of its victim, Housatonic. Interest was keen to recovery the submarine in order to protect and preserve the sub, as well as to bring her crew home. Ownership of the submarine defaulted to the US Navy but the historical significance of the vessel to South Carolina was appreciated. Dr. Robert Neyland was assigned to oversee the recovery and interior excavation of the submarine. In 2000, the submarine and its contents were safely raised from the sea and transported to North Charleston where the state-of-the-art Warren Lasch Conservation Center had been built for that purpose. This presentation details Hunley’s discovery and recovery, and the archaeological excavation of the submarine’s interior and identification of the eight-man crew.
Dr. Neyland’s CV
Dr Robert S Neyland received his degrees in Anthropology through the Nautical Archaeology Program, Texas A&M University with his M.A. awarded in 1994 and his Doctorate in 1996. Prior to this, Dr. Neyland received a M.S in Public Administration and Planning from University of Texas in 1986 and a bachelors of science from Stephen F Austin University.
As a Nautical Archaeology Program graduate student, Dr. Neyland worked on INA field projects in Port Royal, Jamaica, Ulu Burun, Turkey, search for Columbus shipwrecks in St. Anne’s Bay, Jamaica, and several shipwrecks in the Ijsselmeer Polders, The Netherlands. As his Master thesis Dr. Neyland analyzed the oldest colonial boat remains, dating to early 18th century, from Lyons Creek, Maryland. In 1994, 1995, and 1996 Dr. Neyland led three excavations in the Netherlands which excavated and recovered 3 Dutch shipwrecks dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
From 1994 to 1996, Dr. Neyland worked as a Texas A&M University research scientist assigned to the Naval Historical Center in order to develop a program in underwater archaeology for the US Navy, where he oversaw development of Navy policy and management for US military ship and aircraft wrecks. From 1996 to the present, Dr Neyland has worked as a Department of Navy civilian in the Naval History and Heritage Command and has been the Principal Investigator for numerous Navy shipwreck investigations and excavations. These include the search for the 1820s anti-slavery & piracy schooner USS Alligator, excavation of a Revolutionary War shipwreck in the Penobscot River, Maine, survey of the D-Day invasion shipwrecks in Normandy, France, and surveys on the Civil War shipwrecks Florida and Cumberland. From 1998 to 2002, Dr. Neyland was on assignment from the Navy to the State of South Carolina, to plan and carry out the recovery of the Confederate submarine Hunley. Other accomplishments for the US Navy include the creation of a global database of Navy ship and aircraft wrecks, archaeological permitting program, and passage of the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004.
From 2006 to the present, Dr. Neyland is the archaeologist for the partnership with Ocean Technology Foundation, US navy, and the French Navy among others who have mounted seven expeditions searching the North Sea for the wreck of Bonhomme Richard. In Commemoration of the Navy’s role in the War of 1812, Dr. Neyland and Co-PIs Dr Julie Schablitsky and Dr Susan Langley have proposed a cofferdam excavation of the Navy’s vessel believed to be USS Scorpion flagship of Commodore Joshua Barney.
Separate from his work with the Navy, Dr. Neyland and CO-PI Dr Schablitsky have conducted 5 seasons of excavation in Scotland. These have focused on the Arbigland birthplace of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones and currently the excavation at Amisfield, near Dumfries at the site of the best preserved fortified tower house in Scotland.
Dr. Neyland has been the author of numerous articles, book chapters and monographs.
The CSS Hunley Shipwreck Charleston Harbor, South Carolina: The Recovery and Investigation of a Civil War Submarine. In Archaeology in America: An Encylopedia, Vol 1. Greenwood Press. Francis P. McManamon (Editor) 2009.
Voyage from Myth: Return of the Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley. In Hollywood and Archaeology. LeftCoast Press. Julie Schablitsky (Editor). LeftCoast Press 2007.
The Archaeology of Navies: Establishing a Theoretical Approach and Setting Goals. Underwater Archaeology, Proceedings from the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference. Atlanta, Georgia, 1998.
The Naval Historical Center’s Underwater Archeology Program and the Management of Naval Aviation Resources. Defense Heritage in Australasia and the Pacific: Proceedings of the Conference on Military Archeology in Australia and the Pacific, 1996.