The USS Revenge: Divers Claim To Have Discovered Wreckage Of Oliver Hazard Perry Commanded Ship
January 7th, 2011
The ship was commanded by US Navy hero Oliver Hazard Perry, known for defeating the British in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie and Ontario in the War of 1812, as well as the line: "I have met the enemy and they are ours."
His battle flag bore the phrase "Don't give up the ship," and to this day is a symbol of the Navy.
The divers, Charles Buffum, a brewery owner from Stonington, Connecticut, and Craig Harger, a carbon dioxide salesman from Colchester, Connecticut, say the wreck changed the course of history because Perry likely would not have been sent to Lake Erie otherwise. Sunday is the 200th anniversary of the wreck.
Mr Buffum said he has been interested in finding the remains of the Revenge ever since his mother several years ago gave him the book "Shipwrecks on the Shores of Westerly." The book includes Perry's account of the wreck, which happened when it hit a reef in a storm in heavy fog off Watch Hill in Westerly, Rhode Island, as Perry was bringing the ship from Newport to New London, Connecticut.
"I always thought to myself we ought to go out and have a look and just see if there's anything left," Buffum said.
The two, along with a third man, Mike Fournier, set out to find it with the aid of a metal detector. After several dives, they came across a cannon, then another.
They made their first discovery in August 2005, and kept it secret as they continued to explore the area and make additional finds. Since then, they have found four more 42-inch (107-centimetre)-long cannons, an anchor, canister shot, and other metal objects that they say they are 99 per cent sure were from the Revenge.
The Navy has a right to salvage its shipwrecks, and the two say they have contacted the Naval History & Heritage Command, which oversees such operations, in hopes the Navy will salvage the remains.
If the Navy does not, they said they hope to raise the money for a salvage operation so the artefacts can be displayed at a historical society.