The development of the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail – Battle of Saipan was funded by a National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program grant (ABPP) awarded in 2009. The project was undertaken in 2009-2011 by Ships of Exploration and Discovery Research, Inc., a non-profit research organisation in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Flinders University’s Maritime Archaeology Program, in Adelaide, South Australia. The project involved the identification and documentation of selected submerged archaeological remains of the Battle of Saipan for the creation of an underwater heritage trail. A combination of archival research and systematic archaeological survey and mapping was conducted for each site. This project and trail encouraged local involvement in the preservation of submerged sites through consultation, training and volunteer opportunities. The end result will provide economic benefits to the community and a sustainable program for interpreting and preserving WWII heritage.
In February 2012 under a second ABPP grant, a team of researchers returned to Saipan to continue recording and researching archaeological sites on the trail. This project included collecting 3D imagery of the trail and creating a film about the Battle and the sites. The 3D capture was completed under contract with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab. Winward Media served as the producers of the 18-20 minute interpretive film, which will be shown at American Memorial Park (Saipan) and War in the Pacific Park (Guam). It will be available in early 2013. We gratefully acknowledge the advice and expertise of the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center in this effort.
Researchers also worked with conservation scientists from the Western Australian Museum to collect conservation survey data of the sites to assess their degradation and corrosion potentials. The data will help the island to develop plans for managing and preserving these sites into the future.