PVS Crew Discover Parts of Shipwreck at Lalo
* Updated June 26, 9:45 AM
Two large anchors discovered in the French Frigate Shoals by voyaging canoe crew members of the Hikianalia are thought to be remains of an old whaling ship from the 1800s.
Since arriving at Lalo (French Frigate Shoals) on Tuesday, June 22, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crew members have been spending time underwater to conduct the first marine survey of the area since Hurricane Walaka swept through in 2018. While surveying the reefs Wednesday, June 23, Hikianalia crew members discovered two large anchors in about 20 feet of water in Lalo’s 14-mile wide lagoon, as well as two pots about two to three feet wide.
Although not yet verified, circumstantial evidence indicates that what they found is possibly part of an 1800s whaling ship located near the area where the Two Brothers ship from Nantucket was identified in 2010 by NOAA maritime archaeologists.
“We’re here to explore and it’s exciting that our canoes are participating in the process of discovery with NOAA, one of the great stewards of this place,” said Nainoa Thompson, Polynesian Voyaging Society President and Pwo Navigator. “The experts from NOAA say it’s a significant archaeological site. To feel like we’re helping and contributing to the body of knowledge of the ocean and this place is a privilege and a gift to those voyaging these canoes. To give us reason to support the great work, makes the voyage all the more meaningful and to have multi-generations of teachers and students on these canoes, it couldn’t be better.”
The Two Brothers Ship was captained by George Pollard Jr., who was also on the whaling ship Essex, which inspired Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick. Capt. Pollard died in the shipwreck at Lalo in 1823.
The Hikianalia crew took photos and video of the archaeological find. NOAA Research Coordinator and Hōkūleʻa crew member Randy Kosaki said the anchors were situated in a way that indicates they were not deployed but rather stored on the bow.
It may take another two years for NOAA archaeologists to return to Lalo and further investigate, document and verify the possible identity of the findings, Kosaki said.
“We’re off to a really good start,” Kosaki said. “A lot of corals in the lagoon survived and now they’ve found an 1800 shipwreck, I’m over the moon about all of it.”
As the shipwreck is old and now home to ocean life, it is now unofficially referred to as “Hikianalia Reef.” The crew members who discovered the shipwreck parts are from Hikianalia, Hōkūleʻa’s sister canoe. The canoe is sailing with Hōkūleʻa on all of the training voyages and will be part of the Moananuiākea Voyage.
NOAA worked with the State of Hawaiʻi to designate the area of the Two Brothers shipwreck, which is near this discovery, as a site on the State and National Historic Register.
“This discovery links traditional voyaging and early-modern seafaring across time,” said Athline Clark, NOAA’s superintendent for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. “Hōkūleʻa used traditional Native Hawaiian navigational skills to voyage to the site and connect to an early American (1800s) seafaring vessel.”
The “Navigating the Kupuna Islands” Training Voyage is the second in a series of deep-sea training sails to prepare crew for the Moananuiākea Voyage, a circumnavigation of the Pacific scheduled to launch in May 2022. The 42-month, 41,000 mile journey will cover 46 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories and 345 ports. Focused on the vital importance of oceans, nature and indigenous knowledge, the goal of the Moananuiākea Voyage is to develop 10 million new crew members, navigators and leaders for the planet.