Team looks for battle history under the sea

Alexandra Wood AN American-led team will begin the search in earnest later this month for one of the most famous wrecks in the naval history of the United States.

The remains of the warship Bonhomme Richard lie somewhere off the East Coast of Yorkshire – but for decades have eluded the best efforts of some of the top wreckhunters in the world.

It foundered after a battle with British warship Serapis in 1779, during the American War of Independence.

Now Connecticut-based Ocean Technology Foundation, an organisation involved in ocean exploration, marine research and education, believes it is in with a chance.

Members of a team from the foundation will be arriving in Bridlington this weekend as part of a build-up to the search beginning around July 17.

Members will set out to sea in a survey vessel fitted with state-of-the-art systems such as side-scan sonar and GIS mapping to examine the seabed. The 50ft catamaran will be berthed at Scarborough Harbour for the duration of the expedition.

Melissa Ryan, project manager for the Ocean Technology Foundation, said: "We received a great welcome from everyone we met when we visited Bridlington. We are looking forward to returning in a few days and, hopefully, establishing where this great warship is located."

OTF says a major part of the project is educational and members of the team not involved in the search at sea will stay in Bridlington giving presentations and leading activities in schools.

They include:

A presentation about Bonhomme Richard, together with activities, at Flamborough Primary School on Tuesday, July 11, (from 9.30am); at Wold Newton Primary School on Wednesday, July 12, (from 9am); and at Headlands School (Wednesday, July 12 from 2.35pm and Friday, July 14 from 9.05am). Members of the project team include Peter Reaveley, an expert on the Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779.

At the Historic Battle event at Sewerby Hall and Gardens (Friday, July 21, PM), Peter Reaveley will give a presentation on the battle (ring Sewerby Hall on 01262 673769 for information).

The Ocean Technology Foundation will give a presentation on the battle and what marine archaeologists do, at Bridlington Reference Library on Wednesday, July 26 at 7pm. This is free but by ticket only, available from the Reference Library.

Bridlington Regeneration Partnership chairman David Dowson said the partnership had provided support for the American team.