Conservation of the First Automobile Torpedo of the United States Navy

Author(s): Claudia Chemello; Paul Mardikian

Year: 2016


In March 2013, U.S. Navy-trained dolphins found a torpedo during a training session off the coast of San Diego, California. The middle and after body sections of the torpedo were recovered and identified by the Naval History and Heritage Command Underwater Archaeology Branch as a Howell torpedo, one of three known to exist in the world. This presentation describes conservation efforts to preserve this complex technological object. Partial disassembly of the torpedo allowed for effective cleaning and stabilization, including removal of the forward bulkhead of the mid section and excavation of 80 lbs. (36 kg) of compacted sediment that had collected inside. Due to the torpedo’s design, the 131 lb. (59kg) forged steel flywheel could not be disassembled and was cleaned and stabilized in situ. This was an extremely difficult task due to severely restricted access to each side of the flywheel and its complex support structure and gears.

Cite this Record

Conservation of the First Automobile Torpedo of the United States Navy. Claudia Chemello, Paul Mardikian. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434304)


Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 587