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Historic ship re-sinking to start next month at Ben Brenman Park

Work is scheduled to start next month on one of Alexandria’s more bizarre projects: putting a set of historic ship hulls recovered in Old Town back underwater.

Ben Brenman Park Pond (4800 Brenman Park Drive) near Cameron Station will be playing the part of Davy Jones’ Locker for the project. The city is hosting a meeting on-site next week to discuss the project.

“The public is invited to attend a Community Pre-Construction Meeting about the upcoming project to place the Robinson Landing Site historic ship timbers in Ben Brenman Park Pond,” the city said in a release. “The meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 19, 5:30 p.m. at Ben Brenman Park at the maintenance access point on the pond along Deer Run Court.”

After the ships were uncovered in 2018, they were kept in tanks of water to prevent the wood from decaying. The timbers keep their shape when submerged but if the wood dries out they could crumble. Some pieces of the largest ship have been undergoing restorative treatment and study at Texas A&M, but timbers from the other two ships have been taking up space in a DASH bus facility since their discovery.

In an earlier meeting, City Archaeologist Eleanor Breen said Ben Brenman Park Pond was chosen as having the least risk of contamination or damage to the frames while also being the easiest to access. Breen said signage will be added to the park explaining the history of the ship fragments. Meanwhile, a study of a potential waterfront museum is scheduled to start later this year and could be a permanent home for at least one of the ship hulls.

The city release said fieldwork at the park is expected to run from May 2 to May 27.

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