The Alabama Historical Commission Maritime Heritage Program works to protect maritime archaeological sites in Alabama waters and to advance awareness and understanding of the role of maritime affairs in the history of Alabama. Through leadership, assistance, and expertise in maritime history, preservation, and archeology we help to interpret and preserve our maritime heritage by:

• Maintaining inventories of historic maritime properties in Alabama waters

• Providing preservation assistance through consultation

• Educating the public about maritime heritage

• Co-issuing and monitoring permits for maritime archaeological investigations in Alabama waters 

Among the most recent projects, in May 2019, after a comprehensive assessment and months of research, the Alabama Historical Commission announced experts and archaeological evidence determined the identity of the Clotilda - the last-known slave ship to enter the United States. Visit our Clotilda page for more information.


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We work in partnership with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and are advised by the Maritime Advisory Council (MAC). Partners represented on the MAC include the Mobile District of the US Corps of Engineers, the Maritime Heritage Program of the National Parks Service, the Mobile Historic Development Commission, the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, the Baldwin County Historical Development Commission, and the Alabama Lighthouse Association.


The Alabama Underwater Cultural Resources Act (AUCRA) was written in response to the federal Abandoned Shipwrecks Act of 1999. It is a state law that manages and protects shipwrecks and archaeological sites in Alabama waters. See full text of the law at 


If you are interested in applying for a maritime archaeological investigation, contact State Archaeologist Stacye Hathorn 334-230-2649 or