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Archeologists Study Howell Torpedo Found By Dolphins Off San Diego Coast (Video)

Remember back in March of last year, when Navy dolphins discovered a 19th century torpedo off the coast of San Diego? Now archeologists from the Naval History and Heritage Command are studying the artifact, hoping it will unlock some secrets from the past.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Paul Mardikian and Claudia Chemello, conservationists from Terra Mare Conservation, document the state of a Howell Torpedo at a Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) warehouse.

Scientists from the NHHC Underwater Archeology Branch joined conservationists from Terra Mare Conservation to open the Number 24 Howell Torpedo's midsection for the first time:

The torpedo was opened to access its flywheel, a device that is used to store energy and used to propel the torpedo.

The conservators opened the torpedo and found the section full of sediment - 141 pounds of it - but they believe there may be some man made pieces mixed in.

In March of last year, Navy dolphins "Ten" and "Spetz" discovered the mid and tail sections of Howell Torpedo, No. 24, make it one of only three Howell Torpedoes known to exist today.

In August, the NHHC was able to ascertain that the torpedo was from the USS Iowa, a battleship commissioned in 1897.

Terra Mare conservator Paul Mardikian says the team of underwater archeologists is learning a lot from the inside of the torpedo:

"When you are conserving a complex artifact, there are certain things that really are important. First, you really must understand the material you are dealing with, and second, every part of the artifact needs to be inspected for possible sediment or seawater.

"You cannot preserve an artifact unless you gain access to all parts of it. If it is locked with seawater and sediment inside it is going to rot. So it is mandatory for us to gain access for long term stability."

The NHHC plans to have its work completed within a year so the Howell Torpedo can be conserved for future generations.

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