Protecting Our Heritage

Shipwrecks, aircraft wrecks and other underwater archaeological sites are protected like historical sites are on land. They are non-renewable resources and although ships and planes continue to sink every day, there will never be another WWII aircraft wreck or submarine chaser wreck. These sites are important because they provide us with the details of history and represent the men and women who served during the conflict.

Japanese Freighter_Photo by Jon Carpenter (12)

Japanese Freighter

All underwater sites including shipwrecks, aircraft wrecks and other vehicles are protected under CNMI Public Law 3-39. This law protects all archaeological sites on Commonwealth-owned or controlled lands and submerged bottomlands from unauthorized disturbance, excavation, or removal of artifacts. Furthermore, they are also protected by U.S. Federal law under the Sunken Military Craft Act.

Historic wrecks located in Commonwealth waters are protected just as natural resources are protected, so that future generations may visit, learn from, and enjoy these unique examples of our underwater heritage.


For more information about the protection of underwater heritage or to report a possible infraction, please contact the CNMI Historic Preservation Office.