Software raises hopes of finding sunken ship

It was a dark and stormy night when the USS Bonhomme Richard sank in the North Sea in 1779 – wasn’t it? We may finally know, thanks to modeling and simulation software from Applied Science Associates (ASA).

Next summer, members of the Naval Historical Center, the Ocean Technology Foundation, and JMS Naval Architects and Salvage Engineers will use the new software in a renewed effort to find the sunken ship.

ASA’s software attempts to narrow down the location of the wreck by inputting data from tidal and wind information from the period and multiple eyewitness accounts.

“As far as we know, no one has attempted to input as much historical data before,” said Melissa Ryan, a project manager at the Ocean Technology Foundation.

U.S. naval hero John Paul Jones was captain of the ill-fated ship. It sank after engaging and defeating the HMS Serapis, a British ship, during the Revolutionary War. Efforts to locate the wreck have been futile. The simulation software may be the best bet for searchers.

“What we needed to do existed in two separate software programs, so ASA built us a hybrid application -- combining their oil spill prediction software and their Coast Guard search and rescue software," said Rick Fernandes, a naval graphics expert at JMS.

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