Update by Della Scott-Ireton, Florida Public Archaeology Network
First day of the Mardi Gras Shipwreck Project! Today has been a day of hurry up and wait as project crew gather at the research vessel, Toisa Vigilant, docked at Port Fourchon south of New Orleans. Vigilant is owned and operated by Toisa and is leased to Veolia Environmental. She is 271 feet long, complete with a helipad and giant cranes on the aft deck to hoist the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) over the side. Most of the equipment for the project (take a look at the Research Design page) has arrived and is stowed, although I understand we’re waiting for some of the positioning equipment. Best part so far is the galley, where the catering staff prepare amazing meals (also, round-the-clock ice cream).
The crew from Minerals Management Service and Texas A&M University have arrived and we’ve all gotten a safety briefing and tour of the vessel. As the Safety Officer for the vessel said, “No matter how many artifacts are recovered, if someone gets injured the project is a failure.” Safety is certainly the first concern and we’re all careful to wear hardhats, safety glasses, and steel-toed boots on deck.
Tomorrow we should arrive at the shipwreck site, about 40 miles south of the coast of Louisiana. Then we have to wait while the underwater recording equipment is deployed and calibrated before the real archaeology can start.