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Monday, April 21, 2014

HPO says underwater discoveries continue

The Historic Preservation Office vows to continue efforts to uncover more underwater discoveries in the Marianas to help preserve and enrich the indigenous culture and history.

Last year, HPO conducted a remote sensing survey using a marine magnetometer to record objects in the Saipan lagoon.

According to Secretary Cecilia T. Celes of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, over 1,500 targets were detected and mapped using the surveyors’ side-scan sonar, which divers used to identify a sample of the targets.

She said some objects had been identified by previous investigations.

Celes said that a Japanese vessel, a World War II-era Japanese commercial ship, was also identified by the survey.

She disclosed that 1,400 targets remain unidentified by the HPO.

“Most of them are wire cable, chain, and parts of equipment, but some are likely to be more interesting,” said Celes.

The official said that based on U.S. military records, other Japanese ships were destroyed on Saipan and in the waters of the CNMI but the exact locations of these wrecks are not known.

“NOAA navigation charts show many marked wrecks in and around the lagoon, but some have been removed over the years and others consist of only a scatter of debris. HPO is working to identify additional objects documented by the survey in or immediately outside the lagoon,” Celes told Saipan Tribune.

The DCCA chief said that HPO has identified two priority undertakings this year: One is a survey of a portion of Carolinas Heights on Tinian and the other is a proposal to document the Trust Territory government complex on Capitol Hill as a historic district.

She said that HPO staffer John Castro is now in Australia attending an underwater archeology workshop by Flinders University of Adelaide.

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