Welcome to Underwater Archaeology! The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) is responsible for the management, research, preservation, and interpretation of the U.S. Navy’s sunken military craft. The Navy oversees one of the largest collections of submerged cultural resources, which includes over 2,500 shipwrecks and 15,000 aircraft wrecks dispersed around the world. The UAB was established in 1993 to manage these sites and to advise 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 is dedicated to four main functions:
- Archaeological Research — As stewards of the Navy's ship and aircraft wrecks, UAB conducts scientific research, surveys, excavation, and data analysis in-house and in partnership with other Navy commands, federal and state agencies, academic institutions, and the public.
- Policy Development and Cultural Resource Management — To protect U.S. Navy cultural resources, UAB develops, reviews, and implements historic preservation and cultural resource management policy. UAB also ensures Navy compliance with federal laws, regulations, and industry standards. 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.
- 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 ship and aircraft wrecks.
- Public Outreach — An important objective for NHHC is public outreach and education. The UAB contributes to this effort by publishing research, developing education and outreach materials, and giving lectures on underwater archaeology, conservation, history, and cultural resources management policy. We also offer internships for undergraduate and graduate students through NHHC Internship Program. UAB is currently accepting virtual internships as well. Application material and questions should be sent to the email below.
To contact the NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch, email NHHC_UnderwaterArchaeology@us.navy.mil.