American Battlefield Protection Program Grant

The St. Thomas Historical Trust was the recipient of an American Battlefield Protection Program Grant in 2010.  This dual-prong project focused on investigating, documenting, protecting and preserving Prince Frederik’s Battery, the 18th Century Danish fortification later used by British occupying troops during the Napoleonic Wars, and the surrounding waters.  Contracted experts undertook an underwater archaeological investigation and recording initiative, and an architectural study.  They completed architectural drawings of the existing structure, a baseline survey and a report recommending preservation work for the complex, digital laser scans of the battery, and a 3d virtual reconstruction of the site in the late 1700s.  Following the project, the Trust, in cooperation with the Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office completed the initial stabilization and restoration work recommended for the site in 2013.

The underwater project consisted of a proton magnetometer survey of the water area covered by the cannons of Prince Frederiks Battery, as well as probing for non-ferrous sites.  The results included locating previously identified 19th century ship debris, a ballast pile, and cannonballs, some of which were definitely associated with the battery.

Images from the architectural project:

Plotting locations with a GPS

Capturing data with a laser scanner

Taking measurements for structural documentation

Additional Reading

Prince Frederick’s Battery: KOCOA Analysis, Existing Conditions, and Stabilization Report by Arcadia Preservation, LLC

Documentation of the British Ships and Battle with the Danes on March 3, 1801, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies by Christopher H. Donnithorne

Submerged Cultural Resources Survey of an Area Adjacent to Prince Frederik’s Battery, Hassel Island, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands by Panamerican Consultants, Inc.

The following slides illustrate the results of the ABPP architectural project and the processes of the underwater survey:

  • Image from study highlighting areas in need of the most structural stabilization

  • Southwest corner of the battery guardhouse; Before stabilization (bottom right); After stabilization (top left)

  • View of the kitchen and latrine structure after stabilization and extensive vegetation removal

  • East side of the battery after stabilization and extensive vegetation removal

  • View of the approach to the stabilized site

  • Screen capture from 3d visualization of the reconstruction of the site

  • The Shell Seeker V, a 26-foot center-console, Grady-White employed for both survey and diving. Mr. Charles Consolvo, Board Memeber of the Trust, Project Manager of the investigation, and vessel owner is at the helm. Pictured is the magnetometer being deployed (courtesy of Erik Miles).

  • Pre-planned lines for the KOCOA-defined survey area

  • Sean Loughman conducting metal detector survey (courtesy of Erik Miles).

  • Cannonball located along the probing transect at the slope interface at the 450-foot mark. Shot, approximately 6 inches in diameter, is in the center of the photograph (red dots). Fabric or rope is outlined in solid red. Note coral rubble matrix that precluded further probing (courtesy of Erik Miles).