NOAA 2003-R409
Contact: Glenda Tyson
NOAA News Releases 2003
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In a historic step toward better preserving and managing our nation’s maritime heritage, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) broke ground today at the site of NOAA’s new Maritime Archaeology Center (MAC) at The Mariners’ Museum. The groundbreaking was attended by Commerce Department Deputy Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere Scott B. Gudes, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), Rep. Bobby Scott, (D-VA), and The Mariners’ Museum President and CEO John Hightower.

“NOAA’s Maritime Archaeology Center will serve as the coordination point for the protection of cultural resources within our National Marine Sanctuaries,” said Gudes. “Since the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was designated the first National Marine Sanctuary in 1975, NOAA has been charged with the protection of historic shipwrecks and other submerged archaeological sites. By breaking ground today, we are taking a vital step toward strengthening NOAA’s commitment to protecting these unique and irreplaceable underwater resources.”

NOAA’s Maritime Archaeology Center, which will be located on the grounds of The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., will house NOAA staff dedicated to assisting the National Marine Sanctuaries in their efforts to manage and protect their maritime and cultural artifacts. The MAC also will provide assistance and consultation to other federal and state agencies on issues concerning submerged maritime and cultural artifacts and seek to develop new methods, tools, and partnerships for achieving program objectives. The office of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary will be co-located at the MAC.

"NOAA has played an extremely important role in preserving our local heritage, and promoting the commonwealth's and the nation's rich history," said Rep. Davis. "NOAA's work on the USS Monitor is indicative of their dedication to our heritage, and I applaud their efforts. The recovery and preservation of the Monitor is an important part of preserving our nations history."

“Locating, protecting, managing, researching and educating the public about archaeological sites throughout the sanctuary system is an important part of the overall mission,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of the National Marine Sanctuary Program. “As with natural resources, numerous user and interest groups – from archaeologists to recreational divers to salvors – seek to interact with these resources in a variety of ways. The cultural resources within our sanctuaries, if properly studied and interpreted, will increase public enjoyment and appreciation of our special and diverse sanctuary resources.”

“I am very excited about the sanctuary program’s increased emphasis on maritime and cultural artifacts that will be embodied in this new center,” said MAC Director and Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Manager John Broadwater. “Americans are, and always have been, a maritime people, beginning with the native coastal tribes, expanding with the European exploration and settlement period, and culminating in the greatest naval power the world has ever seen. One of the center’s primary goals is to emphasize and interpret America’s maritime heritage, thus adding a new dimension to the already well-developed natural resources programs.”

“The groundbreaking of NOAA's Maritime Archaeology Center on the campus of The Mariners' Museum is another significant moment for the partnership of the Museum and the National Marine Sanctuary Program,” said Hightower. “As plans continue to progress for the Museum's USS Monitor Center, NOAA's expansion of its concern for underwater cultural resources put both organizations on a path of continuing growth and endless educational possibilities.”

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. In addition, the NMSP is conducting a sanctuary designation process to incorporate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve into the national sanctuary system.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOAA Oceans and Coasts) manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. NOAA Oceans and Coasts balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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