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Group to map the wrecks of L.I. Sound

A Connecticut team will develop a database that pinpoints shipwrecks on the estuary’s seabed

A Connecticut team will develop a database that pinpoints shipwrecks on the estuary’s seabed

Heritage Consultants, of Newington, Conn., has received a $25,000 state grant to conduct a research study documenting the locations of historic and modern day shipwrecks in the Connecticut waters of Long Island Sound.

Read the other story in this package:   Search for wrecks: L.I. Sound and beyond

Last December the group received permission from the state to move forward with the project.

“We’re going to scour old newspapers, boat insurance logs and miscellaneous other documents in order to find out where shipwrecks are located,” says Cathy Labadia, president and principal investigator of Heritage Consultants. “We will then put the information we gather into a geographic information system — an informational database that’s linked to a digital map — which will pinpoint the location of the wrecks.”

The purpose of the research is to assist the state Department of Environmental Protection, which helps plan underwater projects, in knowing where shipwrecks are located, Labadia says. “For instance, if a company proposes the route for a new underwater natural gas pipeline, the DEP will be able to reference our database and know if a historic shipwreck is in the way.”

Since relying on sources like newspaper reports and insurance logs isn’t always completely accurate, each case will have varying degrees of preciseness. “Maybe next year we’ll receive more funding and be able to use sonar equipment and have divers verify our locations,” Labadia says.

The staff at Heritage Consultants has worked on a number of federal, state, municipal and private sector historic preservation projects in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Heritage Consultants staff has also worked closely on projects with groups such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Labadia and her team have begun assembling a list of possible resources for their work, such as the Mystic Seaport, the National Archives and the Connecticut State Library. Labadia says they hope to complete the project by the end of the summer of 2007.

“We don’t know yet what we’re getting ourselves into, but we hope that the results will be useful and that the process will be fun,” she says.