Another U.S. company is counting on acoustic technology for its paycheck (see story beginning on page 8), but they are looking to the until-now-off-limits waters of Cuba. As a test project for their efforts to find wrecks and other submerged objects, Advanced Digital Communications, a Canadian-owned company now based in Havana, found the USS Maine in 3,500 feet of water. The Maine was mysteriously blown up in Havana harbor in 1898, an incident credited with being the impetus for the Spanish-American War. The Maine was subsequently towed offshore after a lengthy investigation and was scuttled about three miles off the harbor and the walls of the centuries-old castle El Morro.
Depths off the Cuban north coast drop to more than 1,000 feet just a quarter-mile off the beach, which apparently contributed to the excellent preservation of the wreck since extreme depth and the high salinity of these waters are believed to preserve even metal hulls for long periods of time.
ADC has chartered a Cuban govern(ent-owned ship and will begin searching for wrecks with the assistance of oceanography scientists from the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, Fla. "While we weren’t involved in the discovery of the Maine, we will be working closely with ADC to offer insight into ocean currents, temperature, salinity, and anything that can help them determine possible drift?or possible preservation rates of submerged wrecks," said Dr. Frank Muller-Karger, a professor at the University of South Florida and coordinator of the joint effort with ADC.
Images of the wreck can be seen on the University web site, www.usf.edu.