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19th Century Shipwreck Off Jersey Coast Is Identified

By Alexandra Hill, WBGO News
August 27, 2013

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1852 W.A.K. Martin painting of The Robert J. Walker (credit:TheMariner's Museum)

A 19th century shipwreck off the coast of New Jersey that has been explored by diver’s for decades but was a riddle to historians has finally been identified.

The wreck is the remains of the Robert J. Walker, one of the first iron steamships ever built in the U.S. The ship played a vital role for the U.S. Government, charting waters from the gulf to the Atlantic coasts. James Delgado, head of maritime heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says they were able to identify the wreck while conducting post-Sandy surveys off the coast.

“By carefully comparing the original patent drawings for the engines, accounts of the sinking, and construction contracts for the Walker we were able to match a number of things up and say yes definitively, this is the Robert J. Walker.”

Twenty sailors lost their lives when the ship collided with a 250 ton schooner in June of 1860 making it the worst accident in the history of surveying the U.S. Coast. Delgado says the ship will remain there for divers to explore.

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