While searching for the sidewheel steamer, SS Republic, Odyssey Marine Exploration discovered the remains of an American coastal trader (Site BA02), located at a depth over 1000 feet, 70 nautical miles off Jacksonville, Florida. The area was brought to Odyssey’s attention by fishermen, whose nets had snagged ceramic wares over the last 40 years. A small selection of artifacts was recovered in 2003. The site was revisited by Odyssey in 2005 which brought to light disturbing additional impacts caused by fresh dragging of trawl nets in the interim years. The site clearly in imminent danger, Odyssey chose to conduct a “rescue archaeology” excavation which included documenting the site and recovering as many intact artifacts as possible in an effort to identify and date the remains, and for further study and exhibit before the Jacksonville "Blue China" site underwent more extensive destruction.
Without information to confirm the shipwreck's actual identity, the site was called the Jacksonville "Blue China" shipwreck due to the presence of a large quantity of blue-decorated ceramics found at the site. The ship was likely lost in a hurricane, with the storm of September 1854 the most likely candidate, supported by analysis and dating of the recovered artifacts. The Jacksonville “Blue China” wreck appears to be the remains of a two-masted schooner typical of the East Coast’s thriving regional maritime trade based in New York. Its mixed cargo of largely ceramics and glassware reflects the lure of high status, yet relatively affordable, Staffordshire and US products that prevailed across middle class America.
Archaeological papers providing more information about this shipwreck site are available here.