Culture and heritage

Maritime heritage

Raising and conserving shipwrecks

Raising and conserving shipwrecks is:

  • a highly complex task
  • requires many skill areas.

Techniques and conservation are influenced by:

  • the type of ship (eg, wooden, iron),
  • the amount of time that the ship has been wrecked,
  • the depth and temperature of the water,
  • whether the water is in salt or fresh

Professional archaeological and conservation services are required before, during and after the ship has been raised.

Research is the main focus

Because of the complexity, cost and the fact that, if things go wrong, the process cannot be reversed once it has been started, shipwrecks are rarely raised. When they are it is usually only if there are important research questions that can be answered.

More information

For examples of specific projects where shipwrecks or shipwreck material has been raised in Australia visit the following websites:





Batavia: Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle.

The story of the wreck of the Batavia is one on betrayal, murder and infamy but the archaeological work on this 1628 Dutch East Indiaman was a milestone in Australia's investigation and protection of shipwreck heritage.




HMS Pandora: Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville.

Explore the results of archaeological work on this 1791 shipwreck.

Page last updated: 31 August 2012