Portland Mission Partners

NOAA’s Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary provides federal protection to the wrecks of the Portland, Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary, and is leading this year’s survey of these historic vessels. The sanctuary was designated by Congress in 1992 as an area of special national significance. Virtually the size of the state of Rhode Island, the sanctuary stretches between Cape Ann and Cape Cod in federal waters off of Massachusetts. The sanctuary is renowned as a major feeding area for marine mammals, particularly humpback whales, and supports an ecosystem of diverse wildlife.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) administers Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The 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 in the process of designating the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve as a sanctuary.

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

NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration is a co-sponsor of this year’s historic shipwreck survey in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The Office of Ocean Exploration is NOAA's center for new activities to explore and better understand our oceans. The office supports expeditions, exploration projects, and a number of related field campaigns for the purpose of discovery and documentation of ocean voyages.

NOAA’s National Undersea Research Center (NURC) for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes, located at the University of Connecticut-Avery Point, is one of six research centers funded by NOAA’s National Undersea Research Program. NURC-UConn supports and conducts research in the waters off the U.S. northeast coast, including the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, the Southern New England Bight, Long Island Sound, and the Great Lakes. During this year’s expedition, NURC is providing an array of sophisticated sonar, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and video equipment to aid researchers in their effort to shed new light on the century-old wrecks. The R/V Connecticut, a research vessel owned and operated by UConn, is serving as the expedition’s floating base of operations.

The Science Channel joins the expedition to provide the team with high-definition video photography of the wreck and to produce a one-hour documentary special about the vessel and surveys of the wreck site. The Science Channel, a service of Discovery Networks U.S., which also operates and manages the Discovery Channel, will make all high-definition underwater video obtained during the research cruise available to NOAA and NURC-UConn for archival purposes and further analysis. The Science Channel’s special, “Science of the Deep: The Wreck of the Portland,” will premiere in early 2004.