Dr. E. Lee Spence

Dr. E. Lee Spence

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Dr. E. Lee Spence

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  • Children: 1 son
  • Location: Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
  • Education: doctor of marine histories (underwater archaeology)
  • Profession: underwater archaeologist and shipwreck historian
  • Birthday: October 28, 1946

About Me

Always an adventurer, I designed and built a self-contained breathing apparatus at age 12. Having never seen real scuba gear, my design was poor and it almost drowned me, but I still managed to find 5 shipwrecks that year (1959/60). I have continued finding shipwrecks (some quite important archaeologically and/or historically). Because of my early start, and the encouragement of Mendel Peterson at the Smithsonian, Doc Edgerton at MIT, and others, I started documenting my work and became one of the pioneers of underwater archaeology. I am now in my 60s and recently discovered a Revolutionary War era shipwreck. I have worked on wrecks in the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, etc. Most of my work has been in shallow water with very limited visibility, but I have done projects in deep water using saturation divers and/or robotics. My finds have ranged from pirate ships to Civil War blockade-runners. My discoveries have been reported in archaeological papers and in the popular press. My most important discovery was the wreck of the Confederate submarine Hunley, which I found in 1970. In 1995, I donated my rights to the wreck to the State of South Carolina at the official request of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. Most of my work has been funded by private enterprise but I have also served as a government archaeologist and as the principle investigator in projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, etc. In an effort to share my knowledge, I have published numerous articles, papers, charts, and books on shipwrecks.

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32 weeks 1 day ago

This story incorrectly gives the year of discovery (of the wreck of the Hunley) as 1995. I discovered the partially exposed wreck in...

4 years 4 days ago

I think it is great that artifacts from the wreck of the CSS Georgia will be saved, however their recovery and preservation should not...

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