This was the schedule for the 2017 Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival (2018 is sure to be equally GREAT):

Doors open at 8:30am. Exhibits are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm

Time Great Lakes

Main Auditorium

Dive the World

Seminar Room


Seminar Room

9:00am Bombs Away – Tuskegee Wreck

Ric Mixter

From Big to Small – Sea of Cortez

Jim & Pat Stayer

Nitrox – Then and Now

James Mott

10:00am Lost in Seven Minutes – Tug O. Wilcox

Tony Gramer

World Heritage Site – Tubbataha

Rudy Whitworth

Multiplying Muskies

Kathy Johnson & Greg Lashbrook

11:00am Fire, Smoke and Wind

David Trotter

Muck Diving

Frank Krasovec

40 Years of Training Sea Cadets

Luke Clyburn

12:00pm   Break and Exhibits  
1:00pm Frozen in Time – John V. Moran

Valerie van Heest & Craig Rich

WW II Zero, Sharks, Reefs – PNG

Jim & Pat Stayer

Don’t Fear the Carp

Kathy Johnson & Greg Lashbrook

2:00pm Lake Erie Stories

Ric Mixter

Hidden Treasures of the Philippines

Tony Gramer

Michigan State Police

Marine Services Team

Sgt. Parros & Sgt. Lynema

3:00pm The Wreck of the J.S. Seaverns

Dan Fountain

Dive Dominica

Rudy Whitworth

Submerged Sites in Lake Huron

John O’Shea – Univ. of Michigan

4:00pm Caught in the Vortex – Armistice Day

Valerie and Jack van Heest

Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

Frank Krasovec

Story of the Detroit River Cannons

Daniel Harrison


Diving the Great Lakes

  • Dan Fountain will tell of the history, sinking, crew stories, and search for the small wooded steamer J.S. Seaverns. This ship sank in the spring of 1884, after striking a rock while leaving the dock in Michipicoten Harbor. After several attempts to locate and salvage the Seaverns, the boat was forgotten for more than a century. Rediscovered in 2016, the wreck lies beautifully preserved in the cold, clear depths of Lake Superior.


  • The 123-foot tug Ozias Wilcox was built in 1869 in Detroit, and was best in class on the lakes, with an A2 rating. She was under charter to bring a raft of logs from Georgian Bay to Bay City, Michigan, when she met her fate in a large gale on August 29, 1893.  Tony Gramer will share the story of how the Wilcox went down in seven minutes in 25 fathoms of water approximately 15 miles from Tawas, Michigan.



  • Join MSRA directors Valerie van Heest and Craig Rich as they travel back in time as they explore the wreck of the John V. Moran beneath Lake Michigan. The Moran was sunk by ice in February 1899.


  • The Tuskegee Airmen fought more than Nazis in World War II. Racism chased them from airbases in Michigan, where the African-American pilots had received advanced fighter training at Selfridge and Oscoda airfields. Those training missions led to some accidents with P-39 Airacobras crashing or being ditched into Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.

Two of these aircraft have been located. Ric Mixter was invited to participate in an historical dive with the Michigan underwater archaeologist and a team of divers to chronicle one of the crash sites. Mixter shares insight from the team as well as an interview with a Tuskegee airman who flew alongside those who were lost off Michigan’s coastline.


  • David Trotter and his Underwater Research Associates Team has found and photographed two newly discovered shipwrecks in Lake Huron and will present them at the 2017 Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival. The Montezuma is a 140-foot schooner that was lost 145 years ago — October 3, 1871. The Venus, bearing a unique cargo of grindstones, sank 125 years ago. trotter-venus-wheel-cabina


  • MSRA directors Valerie and Jack van Heest commemorate the tragic Armistice Day Blizzard of 1940 in which five ships and 64 sailors were lost. They examine the wrecks of the Novadoc and Anna C. Minch. The only footage ever captured of the William B. Davock will also be presented. They provide insight as to what caused these massive freighters to sink when others survived the storm.


  • Join Ric Mixter as he shows what remains of the James Reed and hear an exclusive interview with a survivor of the collision in the middle of Lake Erie. Mixter will also feature one of the most terrifying storms to hit the lake, Black Friday of 1916: four ships were lost and two captains were the only survivors of their ships. Mixter will share underwater video of the Merida, Colgate, and Butters. Some wrecks off Pointe Pelee will also be showcased. This passage has an impressive collection of ships, including the Michigan-built George Stone and Conemaugh. His latest project is to record the remains of the tug Admiral, lost with its barge Cleveco in a 1942 storm.



Dive the World

Pack your sunglasses and don’t forget to apply sunscreen. We’re going to some wonderful tropical locations this year!

  • Frank Krasovec will introduce us to muck diving, tropical style. He’ll discuss what muck diving is, where it started, the few requisite skills, and show the wild and wonderful sea life that can be found in the muck. Starting at the Blue Heron Bridge, Krasovec then covers some of the top-rated muck-diving sites in Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • Tony Gramer is taking us on a tour of Japanese World War II shipwrecks in the Philippines. We’ll be diving a piece of the Coral Triangle, Coron, Apo Reef, Puerto Galera, and Verde Island during this trip.


  • Jim and Pat Stayer will be taking us to Kimbe Bay in Papau, New Guinea. Kimbe Bay has seamounts covered with huge schools of barracudas, jacks, and several types of sharks. We’ll be treated to vibrant coral reefs, pygmy seahorses, and even an intact World War II Zero!


  • The Stayers will also take us on a journey to explore the length of the Sea of Cortez — from Los Cabo to Puerto Penasco. Entertainment will be provided by sea lions, exotic blennies, walls of fish, and hundreds of mobula!

  • Tubbataha, in the Philippines, is a remote offshore atoll that has been protected since 1993; UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site. This is a no fishing and no take area where access is limited exclusively to liveaboard boat diving for approximately three months each year.  Over 600 species of fish and over 70% of all coral species worldwide are found at Tubbataha. Enjoy the opportunity to see such remote and pristine diving through the lens of Rudy Whitworth.


  • We will also be going to the Caribbean island of Dominica with Rudy Whitworth. Dominica is best known
    for its volcanic mountain hiking and waterfalls. But it deserves to be known for its excellent diving and sperm whale watching. Divers are treated to healthy reefs and abundant fish life, as well as more critters than you can imagine.


  • Pristine coral reefs, an abundance of marine life, and prolific biodiversity await the diver in the Solomon Islands. A group of 922 volcanic islands spread across 1,000 miles of the South Pacific, the Solomons provide a wide variety of diving, including caverns, reefs, walls, wrecks, muck, sea mounts, and a few sites that have adrenaline-pumping current. Join Frank Krasovec as he shares the beauty of muck diving in the Solomon Islands.


Technical & Educational Seminars

  • James Mott is providing a fun education for divers of all levels who are certified in Enriched Air (Nitrox) or thinking about it. This seminar will answer many questions and review essential concepts that have been washed away from most modern courses.


  • The Michigan State Police Marine Services Team will present on the unit’s use of new diving equipment, including their use of stationary sonar and ROV for operations in the underwater environment. Topics include:
    • the unit’s organization and training
    • the use of the unit’s ROV to assist Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates in documenting the John V. Moran shipwreck during the summer of 2015
    • utilization of stationary sonar in diver deployment
    • the unit’s addition of surface-supplied diving equipment and its deployment


  • On October 5, 2011. an iron cannon barrel, corroded and covered with zebra mussels, broke the surface of the Detroit River. Since 1984, a total of six similar guns have been recovered from the same area. Join maritime archaeologist Daniel Harrison as he traces the paths that led to their watery fate. It is a tale of militarization of the Great Lakes as French, Native Americans, British, and Americans contested the control of economic resources and strategic waterways throughout the turbulent 18th century.


  • Muskie are one of the largest and fiercest-looking fish in the Great Lakes. These once rare fish are making a comeback with the help from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Kathy Johnson and Greg Lashbrook (of Gregory AD) are presenting a program which follows researchers as they capture, rear, and release hundreds of thousands of muskies!


  • Kathy Johnson and Greg Lashbrook (of Gregory AD) will also be telling us why we shouldn’t fear the carp. From Asian carp to zebra mussels, this program takes a fresh perspective on aquatic invasive species. The program highlights successful management projects and offers ways each of us can help to keep the Great Lakes GREAT!


  • The conduct of prehistoric archaeology underwater requires approaches that are distinct from the study of shipwrecks. This presentation by John M. O’Shea, curator of Great Lakes Archaeology at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropologic Archaeology, summarizes recent research by the University of Michigan Underwater Archaeology Program on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge and describes the techniques that the team has developed for working on 9,000-year old submerged sites. This is an updated program to show the latest 2016 status.


  • As the Noble Odyssey Foundation enters its 40th year of training Sea Cadets on the Great Lakes, Luke Clyburn is doing a slide presentation to highlight those 40 years. He will also be showing their first film (made in 1982) — Angels of the Sea — the story of the sinking of the steamship Emperor on Isle Royal.


  • The Michigan State Police Marine Services Team will present on the unit’s use of new diving equipment, stationary sonar, and ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) for operations in the underwater environment. Topics in this presentation include: the unit’s organization and training, the use of the unit’s ROV to assist Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates in documenting the John V. Moran shipwreck during the summer of 2015, utilization of stationary sonar in diver deployment, and the unit’s addition of surface-supplied diving equipment and its deployment.


And don’t forget to visit all the wonderful exhibit booths.

There will be representatives from dive shops, equipment manufacturers, underwater parks, dive travel agents, maritime artists, authors…the list goes on and on.