Anthropology’s Ben Ford and graduate student Jonathan Crise
recently recorded the remains of Royal Savage, one of the oldest U.S.
warships, utilizing a 3D laser scanner.
The Continental Navy schooner Royal Savage was part of an
American squadron under the command of Benedict Arnold that successfully
stalled a British attack from Canada during the summer of 1776, giving the
American forces much-needed time to organize during the first year of the
Royal Savage was sunk during the primary battle of this campaign, the Battle of Valcour Island,
on October 11, 1776.
After more than a century and a half on the lakefloor, the
shipwreck was salvaged in 1934 and stored in a barn before it was sold to the city
of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as part of former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed’s
proposed museum of the Old West. However, as a warship, Royal Savage falls under
the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy and was transferred from Harrisburg to the Navy
Photo: Timbers of the Continental schooner Royal Savage being recorded with a 3D scanner at the Navy History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C. The scanner is visible at the left of the frame.
IUP Anthropology partnered with the Navy History and
Heritage Command to record and reconstruct the remains of Royal Savage. After
being roughly salvaged and then stored for more than 80 years in less than
ideal conditions, Royal Savage has been reduced to several dozen disarticulated
timbers and a partially intact stern assembly. However, using 3D laser scanning
it is possible to create a highly accurate digital model of the timbers and
then reassemble them in virtual space. Crise and Ford scanned the
timbers from December 16–17, 2015 and are currently building 3D models of each
timber. Once complete, the timbers can be printed using a 3D printer to piece
the ship back together. The Navy History and Heritage Command also has plans to
utilize a digital reconstruction of this important naval vessel in future