USS Massachusetts (BB-2) in June 1901

The USS Massachusetts (BB-2) in June 1901.

Professional Archaeologist Nicole Grinnan of the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) will present on Tuesday the findings of three historic shipwrecks in the Panhandle.

The Panhandle of Florida is the site of hundreds of historic shipwrecks—the result of centuries of maritime commerce, conflict, and travel.

Grinnan will feature three of these wrecks in her presentation, including the USS Massachusetts (BB-2), the nation’s oldest battleship sunk for target practice off Pensacola; the SS Tarpon, a merchant vessel famous for its weekly trips between Mobile and Panama City until it was lost in a gale; and the Vamar, sunk at Port St. Joe under mysterious circumstances during World War II.

"The three sites in this presentation were selected because of their fascinating histories, the fact that they span the Northwest Florida coast, and because they are all a part of the Florida’s Underwater Archaeological Preserves program," Grinnan wrote in an email to Mainstreet Daily News. "This presentation is a great one because it gives participants a background on what underwater archaeology is (and is not) and introduces them to three very notable shipwrecks in our area."

FPAN and the Northwest Regional Library System are presenting the virtual event, which will begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday. It will include an opportunity for participants to ask questions at the end of the presentation (duration is about one hour total).

Space is limited, however, and a password will be required for access. RSVP for this presentation online

Grinnan currently works with the FPAN, a program of the University of West Florida, as a research associate and public archaeologist for Florida’s northwest region. Her research interests include maritime archaeology and history, public interpretation of maritime cultural resources, and social history.

Before joining FPAN as a public archaeologist in 2012, she worked as an outreach assistant with FPAN, an intern with Biscayne National Park, and as an assistant with the NASA History Division. Grinnan is also a registered professional archaeologist, a certified interpretive guide through the National Association for Interpretation, and a SCUBA instructor. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Society for Historical Archaeology and for the American Academy of Underwater Scientists.

Grinnan earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of West Florida and the University of Central Florida. She is currently working on a doctoral degree in cultural heritage with the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham (UK).

"I started my education in history, but, when I was exposed to anthropology during a general education course during my undergraduate years at the University of Central Florida, I become hooked on anthropology and archaeology," Grinnan said. "Underwater archaeology offered me the opportunity to study the history and anthropology of maritime communities, but combined it with the technical challenge of utilizing SCUBA to do that research."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with quotes from Nicole Grinnan. 

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