Professor Kathy Abass, Director, RI Marine Archaeology Project Director presented Keynote Speech

Published by MM Editor on Monday, 6th March 2017 - 2:50PM

RIMAP team preparing to dive Newport Harbor

SUNY Maritime, Australian Consulate-General partner hosted conference

In three voyages in the 1700s, Capt. James Cook transformed humanity’s understanding of the world’s geography, its people, plants and animals. His maps, especially of Australia and New Zealand, were so good that many were still in use well into the 20th century.

On March 7, SUNY Maritime College and the Australian Consulate-General hosted a conference, “Capt. Cook and the HMB Endeavour: Australia and America – An Enduring Bond Between our two Nations,”  and examined the famous mariner’s significance today.

“The Endeavour sank off the coast of Rhode Island, which isn’t too far from here, and there is quite a bit of Australian interest in finding the wreckage,” said David Allen, a maritime historian and humanities professor at SUNY Maritime. “In addition to having one of the largest maritime museums in the area on campus, we have several Capt. Cook artifacts in our library’s archives. There is a natural synergy here around this voyage.”

The conference, which was organized by humanities professor Mark Meirowitz,  included presentations from several Maritime faculty members, as well as the Hon. Nick Minchin, Consul General of Australia; John Berry, retired American ambassador to Australia and president of the American Australian Association; and Kathy Abbass, director of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project.

In a series of talks and panel discussions, the conference focused on the efforts to find the wreckage of the Endeavour, Capt. Cook’s significance to indigenous Australians and the intercontinental maritime links formed by the ship and its famous captain.

“Capt. Cook was one of the world’s greatest explorers,” said Minchin. “His first voyage on HMB Endeavour charted the east coast of Australia, circumnavigated New Zealand, and had a huge impact on our understanding of the world at that time.

“The Australian Consulate-General was excited to partner with SUNY Maritime College to deliver this conference and explore the importance of Capt. Cook and HMB Endeavour to both Australia and America.”

Cook’s first voyage was on the HMB Endeavour, a three-mast sailing ship. The voyage was intended to help determine how to measure longitude by tracking Venus. After that portion, Cook and his crew went on to “discover” Australia. His significance to Australia today is roughly equivalent to Christopher Columbus in the United States.

Cook went on to map New Zealand and most of the northwestern portion of the North American coastline up to the Bering Strait on subsequent voyages. He was killed in Hawaii in a conflict with the island’s residents.

For more information, contact Dr. Mark Meirowitz, conference organizer and assistant humanities professor, at

“Capt. Cook & the HMB Endeavour: Australia and America – An Enduring Bond Between Our Two Nations”

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