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The search for HMS Whiting is due to begin

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: May 12, 2010

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A SEARCH for the wreck of a long lost warship which sunk off Padstow will begin next Monday.

The Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) charity will be looking for the wreck of 12-gun HMS Whiting, a ship captured from America during the War of Independence and which sank on the Doom Bar in 1816.

The project will involve Padstow School and two schools in Maryland and Georgia, which will be using video conferencing to keep up to speed with how the search for the warship is progressing.

The pupils from the local primary school will also be undertaking research into the ship's history and subsequent court marshal of its master, Lieutenant Jackson, for losing the vessel off the north Cornwall coast.

HMS Whiting was stranded on the Doom Bar on an ebbing tide and although all 50 crew members were rescued, the ship sank soon after becoming stuck on the sand bar. The Baltimore Clipper, which was normally a two-masted vessel, was a colloquial name for fast sailing ships built on the south-eastern coastline of the United States and the Caribbean Islands. They were designed to be fast, with long slim lines and ideal for transporting perishable but high-value goods across the oceans.

Mark Beattie-Edwards, programme director, explained: "Over the past few months the team has been looking at historic accounts of the loss of HMS Whiting, as well as old charts to try and narrow down the possible location of the wreck.

"Also during a recent low tide, members of the team found wreckage of the right period from within the research area, which leads us to suspect we are on the right path to finding the wreck."

He added: "A lot of vessels sank in this area, it's not called the Doom Bar for nothing.

"But if we are confident that we have located the Whiting, we could return perhaps next year to carry out a more thorough investigation."

HMS Whiting started life as the Thomas Kemp-built schooner Arrow, constructed in Baltimore.

She was then captured by the British and put into Royal Navy service as HMS Whiting, where she served with Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn's squadron during the Peninsula Campaign and later on the North American Station during the war of 1812.

Padstow School will work with the two American schools and the results of the research will then be added to the findings from the research on the Doom Bar later this month.

Time Team's Phil Harding, who is president of the NAS, will be waiting with eagerness for the results of the research expedition to Cornwall.

Anyone who would like more details of the research or would like to pop along to chat to the team when they visit the Doom Bar in Padstow, is encouraged to get in touch with the NAS at www.nauticalarcheologysociet y.org

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