David Mearns

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David Louis Mearns, O.A.M., M.Sc., (born 10 August 1958), is an American-born United Kingdom based marine scientist and deep water search and recovery expert, specializing in the discovery of the location of historic ship wrecks.

Early life[edit]

Mearns was raised in Weehawken, New Jersey, where he attended Weehawken High School, graduating in 1976. He subsequently graduated B.Sc. in Marine Biology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1980, and obtained a Masters degree in Marine Geology from the University of South Florida in 1986.[1]

Oceanographic career[edit]

From 1986 to 1995 Mearns was employed in the commercial undersea surveying industry in a managerial capacity. In 1990 he worked on the criminal investigation into the foundering of the freighter Lucona, and in 1994 located the wreck of the ore-bulk-oil carrier MV Derbyshire. Relocating to England in the mid 1990s, he established Blue Water Recoveries, Limited, a commercial company that locates and researches historic deep-sea shipwrecks across the globe.[2]

In 2001, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Denmark Strait high seas confrontation between the naval forces of the British Empire and Nazi Germany during World War II, Mearns successfully led an expedition funded by Channel 4 Television to locate and film on the seabed of the North Atlantic Ocean the wrecks of the Royal Navy flagship H.M.S Hood, and its nemesis, K.M.S. Bismarck. An extended television documentary entitled The Hunt for the Hood was produced from the expedition.[3]

Blue Water Recoveries Ltd. holds three Guinness World Records, including one for the deepest shipwreck ever found, the German blockade runner Rio Grande, which was located at a depth of 5,762 metres (18,904 ft).[4]

In 2008 Mearns led a search team to find the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney and the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, which both sank following a engagement off of Western Australia in 1941 during World War 2. Prior to finding H.M.A.S. Sydney, Mearns said that it was, in some ways, "bigger than the Titanic" because of what it meant to Australia. "Nothing comes close to the Sydney."[5] At the end of 2010, he successfully led the search for another missing Australian shipwreck, the Hospital Ship Centaur, which was torpedoed off Queensland by a Japanese submarine in 1943.[6] On 1 November 2010, Mearns was awarded an honorary Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his work in locating and analyzing the wrecks of H.M.A.S. Sydney and A.H.S. Centaur.[7]

On 3 March 2015 Mearns was part of a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen which located the wreck of the Japanese battleship Musashi in the Sibuyan Sea.[8]

On 15 March 2015, Mearns jointly announced with the Ministry of Heritage & Culture of the Government of Oman the discovery of a shipwreck from Vasco da Gama's 1502-1503 Armada to India. The wreck is believed to be the Portuguese nau Esmeralda that was commanded by Vicente Sodré the maternal uncle of Vasco da Gama.[9] Having sunk in May 1503, the Esmeralda is believed to be the earliest ship from Europe's Age of Discovery ever to be found and excavated by archaeologists. Mearns published a paper, with co-authors D. Parham and B. Frohlich, on the discovery in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.[10]


  • Mearns, David and White, Rob, 1945- Hood and Bismarck. Channel 4, London, 2001.
  • Mearns, David L., The Search for the Sydney. HarperCollins Publishers, Pymble, N.S.W, 2009.


  1. ^ Hague, Jim. "Weehawken native finds HMS Hood on ocean's floor Mearns' six-year journey ends with mixed emotions; leads to documentary, book", The Hudson Reporter, November 9, 2001. Accessed December 29, 2016. "When David Mearns was a youngster growing up in Weehawken, he was always fascinated by water.... Upon graduating from Weehawken High School in 1976, Mearns headed to Fairleigh Dickinson University to major in marine biology. He graduated in 1980 after studying in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands for a semester, then headed to graduate school at the University of South Florida in Tampa."
  2. ^ Entry (dated 2017) for Mearns on the Linkedin professional profile website.
  3. ^ IMDb entry for 'The Hunt for the Hood'. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1318884/
  4. ^ A.B.C. (Australia) Report, 'The Hunt for H.M.A.S. Sydney', April 2008. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/hmassydney/whosinvd.htm
  5. ^ "'I'll find HMAS Sydney'". news.com.au. Sunday Telegraph. 2006-11-12. Retrieved 2008-09-01. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Fraser, Andrew (21 December 2009). "Discovery proves maligned navigator got it right". The Australian. p. 3. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Smith, Aaron (4 November 2010). "Shipwreck finder gets honorary OAM". Australian Geographic. Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Live video feed of sunken Japan WWII warship Musashi by Paul Allen research team". 13 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Vasco da Gama shipwreck Esmeralda near Oman from Vasco da Gama fleet". 
  10. ^ Mearns, David (14 March 2016). "A Portuguese East Indiaman from the 1502–1503 Fleet of Vasco da Gama off Al Hallaniyah Island, Oman: an interim report". International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. 46 (2): 1–21. doi:10.1111/1095-9270.12175. Retrieved 1 April 2016. 

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