Welcome to Underwater Archaeology! The Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) is responsible for the management, research, preservation, and interpretation of the US Navy’s sunken military craft. The Navy oversees one of the largest collections of submerged cultural resources, which includes over 2,500 shipwrecks and 14,000 aircraft wrecks dispersed globally. The UAB was established to manage these sites and to advise NHHC and the Department of the Navy on all matters related to the science of underwater archaeology and historic preservation as it pertains to military ship and aircraft wreck sites.
To accomplish this mission, the UAB serves four main functions:
- Archaeological Research - UAB conducts scientific research, excavations, surveys, and data analysis as well as oversees, monitors, permits, and supports third-party research on sunken and terrestrial military craft under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy.
- Policy Development and Cultural Resource Management - As stewards of the Navy’s ship and aircraft wrecks, UAB ensures Navy compliance with federal laws and regulations as well as develops, coordinates, reviews and implements historic preservation and cultural resourse management policy. While in situ preservation is preferred, NHHC has established a permitting program, pursuant to the Sunken Military Craft Act and 32 CFR 767, to allow for intrusive research and other activities directed at Navy's sunken and terrestrial military craft for archaeological, historical, or educational purposes. Click on Permitting Program to learn more.
- Artifact Conservation and Curation - UAB maintains the Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory for the stabilization, treatment, preservation, research, and curation of artifacts recovered from U.S. Navy sunken and terrestrial military craft.
- Public Outreach and Information Dissemination - An important objective for NHHC is public outreach and education, which the UAB accomplishes by disseminating information, issuing publications, developing education materials, and providing lectures to the Navy and the general public on underwater archaeology, conservation, history, and cultural resources management policy. We also offer internships for undergraduate and graduate students! Learn about the NHHC internship program.
To contact the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch, visit our Directory.