Navy in hunt for John Paul Jones' famous sunken ship, the Bonhomme Richard





Bob Neyland, chief archaeologist for the Navy's Underwater Archaeology Branch, is searching for the wreckage of the USS Bonhomme Richard, a Continental Navy ship captained by John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War that sank on Sept. 25, 1779, off the coast of Yorkshire, England. He has lots of competition.

For decades, thrill-seekers, archaeologists and professional treasure hunters have searched for the wreckage of the USS Bonhomme Richard, a Continental Navy ship captained by John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War that sank on Sept. 25, 1779 off the coast of Yorkshire, England, following a fierce sea battle where Jones answered a British captain's call for surrender by uttering the now-immortal words, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!"

But the ship is legally the property of the U.S. Navy, which is responsible for preserving whatever may be left of it. A big part of that job falls to Neyland, chief archaeologist for the Navy's Underwater Archaeology Branch, based at the Washington Navy Yard. The tiny unit is responsible for identifying and preserving sunken and historically important Navy vessels from colonial-era warships to World War II fighter planes.

Created in 1996, the branch has had as many as eight employees, but budget cuts have sliced that to four, including Neyland. After salaries, the branch operates on a budget of about $37,000. Neyland augments that by teaming up with other Navy offices, nonprofit groups, federal agencies and state governments....



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