‘Ship Graveyard’ In Providence Harbor

Attention bad photographers: These pilings, and their reflections, will soon be gone. What follows was inspired by a piece in my URI alumni magazine, Quadangles“The Graveyard in Providence Harbor.”

A little background: Last year Middletown nonprofit Clean Bays pioneered a method for removing old pilings, docks, wrecked vessels, and marine debris using a boat equipped with an underwater chainsaw, which they call Aqualogger, but we have decided to call KrillDozer! With the help of $195,000 from the federal government, Clean Bays will be cleaning up the shoreline along the Seekonk and Providence Rivers. Hooray for the kayakers and sailors. Preliminary work has begun on the East Providence side, but the major cleanup will begin next spring. (ProJo 11.15)

It is just the start of a yearlong project that will cover about 14 miles of shoreline on the Providence and Seekonk rivers and 350 acres of the rivers themselves. The aim is to remove 165 tons of debris by November 2016.

Here’s where URI came into play: In anticipation of the proposed cleanup, an analysis of marine debris in Providence Harbor was commissioned, uncovering what appears to be Rhode Island’s largest “ship graveyard.”

David Robinson, a marine archaeologist at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, has determined that 26 wrecks in total are spread across a 33-acre area of Green Jacket Shoal off East Providence. Despite their age, many of the wrecks are relatively intact. Through this study, which was funded by Rhode Island Sea Grant, Robinson has also identified, with the assistance of Providence steamboat historian William H. Ewen Jr., the remains of two iconic Rhode Island paddle-wheel steamships, the Mount Hope and the Bay Queen.

Paddle-wheel steamships? Somebody call the History Channel. This has got to be more interesting than watching people look for the holy grail in Nova Scotia. And somebody should name a bar, or a beer . . . or a record label, “Green Jacket Shoals.”

3 thoughts on “‘Ship Graveyard’ In Providence Harbor”

  1. Yes, underwater footage of the wreckage would be amazing! I am also fascinated and curious about what it looks like under the surface of our waters. So intriguing.

  2. Do you know if there is video content yet of any of the wrecks? Traveling up Narraganset Blvd in Cranston with great views of the bay, the imagination always drifts to what must be right there under the water. This is fascinating. I hope we get a documentary, or a least a website with photos out of this…

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