NHHC Naval History and Heritage Command Underwater Archaeology Branch

Operating Status Summer 2023:

On-site (The internship will be performed entirely at the lab)

Student Requirements:

Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. (Dual citizens are eligible.)


To manage, research, conserve, and interpret the Navy's collection of sunken and terrestrial military craft.

About the Lab

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) is responsible for the management, research, preservation, and interpretation of the U.S. Navy’s sunken military craft. The Navy oversees one of the largest collections of submerged cultural resources, which includes over 2,500 shipwrecks and 15,000 aircraft wrecks dispersed around the world. The UAB was established in 1993 to manage these sites and to advise the Department of the Navy on all matters related to the science of underwater archaeology and historic preservation as it pertains to military ship and aircraft wreck sites. The US Navy’s marine artifacts are treated for long-term preservation, documented and analyzed by staff, made available to scholars for academic study, and presented to the public through scheduled tours. In addition to the Laboratory, UAB supports GIS and remote sensing data analysis projects of sunken military craft.

What is unique about this lab?

We are the only lab in the Navy that deals with submerged cultural resources. We take a multidisciplinary approach to help protect and manage the Navy's ship and aircraft wreck sites wherever they may be. Research topics are created with applicant interest in mind to foster growth in applicable or new skills.

About the Internship

Due to the multidisciplinary nature of the work conducted in the lab, NHHC UAB considers students seeking degrees in a variety of fields such as, but not limited to, conservation, chemistry, biochemistry, material science, environmental studies, maritime archaeology, anthropology, military history, naval architecture, computer science, engineering, and geographic information systems. Current research focuses on the effects of various conservation treatments on waterlogged organic, inorganic materials, and composite artifacts, conducting various conservation treatments, in situ preservation analyses, corrosion studies, artifact analysis, STEM outreach, 3-D scanning and printing of artifacts, and GIS mapping of sites and artifact distribution.

What will I do any given day as an intern at this lab?

Interns participate in lab functions in a number of ways including (but not limited to) assisting mentors with guided research projects; archival research; writing reports; networking with STEM professionals and other interns; attending technical meetings; engaging in team and leadership development; participating at outreach events; and other professional development activities. Some interns will also have opportunities to participate in archaeological field work.

What majors and disciplines are a good fit for interning at this lab?

  • Archaeology
  • Biology
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Forensics
  • Geology
  • Geo Science
  • History
  • Marine Biology
  • Material Sciences
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Meteorology
  • Oceanography
  • Public Policy
  • Radiology
  • Robotics
  • Social Sciences

What will I learn as an intern at this lab?

As part of the internship, you will learn what maritime archaeology is and how you can apply your unique field of study to assist with archaeological investigations, artifact treatment, public outreach and STEM activities under the guidance of experienced mentors in both archaeology and conservation to help preserve and protect military ship and aircraft wreck sites.

What kinds of projects do interns at this lab participate in?

Archaeological Research: As stewards of the Navy's ship and aircraft wrecks, UAB conducts scientific research, surveys, excavation, and data analysis in-house and in partnership with other Navy commands, federal and state agencies, academic institutions, and the public.

Policy Development and Cultural Resource Management: To protect U.S. Navy cultural resources, UAB develops, reviews, and implements historic preservation and cultural resource management policy. UAB also ensures Navy compliance with federal laws, regulations, and industry standards. While in situ preservation is preferred, NHHC has established a permitting program, pursuant to the Sunken Military Craft Act and 32 CFR 767, to allow for intrusive research and other activities directed at Navy's sunken and terrestrial military craft for archaeological, historical, or educational purposes.

Artifact Conservation and Curation: UAB maintains the Archaeology & Conservation Laboratory for the stabilization, treatment, preservation, research, and curation of artifacts recovered from U.S. Navy ship and aircraft wrecks.

Public Outreach: An important objective for NHHC is public outreach and education. The UAB contributes to this effort by publishing research, developing education and outreach materials, and giving lectures on underwater archaeology, conservation, history, and cultural resources management policy.