Connections Magazine

Summer 2016

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29 Connections Summer 2016 It ran lengthwise 22 meters (72 feet) above the keelson, which was preserved like other parts in the mud. "I began to have a respect for the people who did this. Whoever built this, really did a good job, because that wood is still going strong," Vega said. Given the location to the construction work, local authorities in Puerto Rico agreed to allow the wreckage to be relocated. Using Crowley's experience in salvage work, Vega's team dug a trench around the wreck, injected high-pressure air under the hull, to liberate it from the mud's suction, and inserted 11 air-filled lift bags for a combined 22 tons of lift. Next, with the wreck suspended in mid-water and a Crowley tugboat navigating in reverse, they carefully towed the wreckage 900 feet to a new location, protecting it with virtually no harm to the vessel or to the sea life that had attached itself. With the nature of the seafloor, sediment will soon obscure the wreck again, Vega said. Researchers have limited publicizing information about the location to protect the security of the discovery, too. To Vega, the discovery has significant potential. The wreckage is a new cultural resource for investigating the historical conditions in San Juan Bay, and a training ground for future nautical and maritime archaeologists. The wreckage also provides potential perspective on the commerce, shipbuilding and development of San Juan Harbor. Much of the previous focus on the harbor's history has been centered elsewhere at San Juan Islet and San Antonio Channel. "This is not one of the ships Cortés burned in Mexico, or the ship Columbus lost in the Dominican Republic," said Vega. "But history is more than the lives of famous people. The past is to be discovered primarily in the lives of ordinary people and the things they left behind." The location of this wreck south of Isla Grande, he noted, allows for research where many historians have not yet focused, making it valuable. "In a way, I was rediscovering the south side of the bay that hasn't been studied by archaeologists or historians," Vega concluded. Below: Melvin Torres, a Crowley driver, works at the Isla Grande terminal in Puerto Rico. Below: A Crowley barge passes through San Juan Harbor. The next generation of ships will add efficiency for the Puerto Rico trade. Researchers found a ceramic bottle and piece of a porcelain plate near the wreckage in San Juan Harbor. Learn more about... Crowley's Puerto Rico services at ? upon in times of crisis and need. Crowley, which has served that market since 1954, has the longest tenure of any Jones Act carrier. It also has more than 250 local employees on the island. Overall, Crowley is the top ocean carrier between the commonwealth and the U.S. mainland. Crowley's investments will continue the company's historic commitment to Puerto Rico, strengthening the ties – and furthering the milestones toward new investment – for years to come.

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