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Richard Hendren

PhD
Areas of Speciality
  • Ph.D. Nautical Archaeology
Contact
  • rhendren@tamu.edu
First Year In the Program
2016
Program
Naut

Bio

I am a thirty-year veteran of the United States Navy and spent most of my career in the Submarine Service. After retiring from the Navy, I spent the next ten years working in maritime, petroleum, and hydrographic industries. In 2016, I dropped out of work and came to Texas A&M University (TAMU) to begin graduate studies in the Anthropology Department’s Nautical Archaeology Program.  Advised by Dr. Kevin Crisman, I am researching the American submarine USS H1.

H1 was launched in 1913 and represents a transition in early submarine construction. Designed as the most heavily armed US submarine of her day, the sub carried eight torpedoes and was also equipped with state-of-the-art reversing diesel engines.  She was the first boat of the most prolific class of allied submarine deployed in the First World War era. H1 herself would not see combat and spent the war years on the East Coast serving primarily as a training platform.

On the return voyage to her homeport of San Pedro, California, H1 ran aground on the night of 12 March 1920 off Isla Margarita, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Lieutenant Commander James Webb, H1‘s commanding officer, ordered his 24-man crew to abandon ship and swim ashore.  Webb and three others drowned, although the rest of the sailors reached safety. The navy sent the salvage ship USS Vestal to recover the sub. Vestal pulled H1 into deeper water, but heavy weather had already beaten her hull to the point where it was no longer watertight, and she sank in 15m of water.

My research focuses on the innovational aspects of H1 and the class of boats that followed her. I hope to visit H1’s wreck site this winter at the kind invitation of Dr. Roberto Junco Sanchez of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia and with the funding generously provided by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the Anthropology Department of TAMU. Dr. George Schwartz, of the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch, has graciously provided technical documentation and guidance. The goals of my initial visit are to gain an understanding of the site and the condition of the wreck.

Archival research in the national archives of United States and Canada, Britain’s Imperial War Museum, and several other repositories is planned to gain insight into the history of H1, the H-class submarines, and the lives of submariners of the period.

Anyone with knowledge of these unique vessels, especially those whose family members may have served aboard these early submarines, are kindly requested to contact me at subvetpiper@gmail.com.