What do Blackbeard the pirate and marine technology have to do with one another? Julep Gillman-Bryan can tell you. She is responsible for all the equipment used in an ongoing project to protect, research, document, recover, and interpret a shipwreck believed to be the famous pirate’s flagship.
In 1718 Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, sank at Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. An early eighteenth century shipwreck discovered just three years ago is believed to be this vessel. As the Equipment Manager for the Underwater Archaeology Unit in North Carolina’s Division of Archives and History, Gillman-Bryan is in charge of the technical side of this exciting adventure.
Of course, not all her work involves pirate ships, but she is regularly involved with underwater archaeological research. Her unit is charged with conducting and/or supervising surveillance, protection, preservation, survey, and systematic recovery of underwater archaeological sites throughout the state.
"I was hired the day I graduated, so I went straight from school to work"
Julep maintains, repairs, and replaces all field equipment (including vessels, scuba gear, pumps, and compressors). She assists in field operations and is in charge of scheduling, formulation of research designs, operating survey equipment in the field, and conducting underwater site excavation and documentation, including underwater still photography. She also holds a Coast Guard operator’s license.
Gillman-Bryan gathered the diverse skills and knowledge needed to do this challenging job through both formal education and her own life experiences. More than fifteen years spent living on a sailboat and working in boat yards gave her a good understanding of marine maintenance and repair. Then, several years ago Julep enrolled in the Marine Technology program at Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) in Wilmington, North Carolina – a MATE Partner - where she received her Associate of Applied Science degree in Marine Technology.
“I was hired the day I graduated, so I went straight from school to work,” she explains. “The only major difference was that I started getting paid; that’s how relevant my training was.” Her education included marine biology, oceanography, water analysis and chemistry, photography, motor mechanics, and a lot of hands-on learning aboard CFCC’s research vessel Dan Moore.
"Marine technicians are the support system for this kind of research"
Julep’s enjoys all aspects of her job, but especially the diving and the relationships with her colleagues. “Marine technicians are the support system for this kind of research,” she explains. “My associates really appreciate me; they tell me that all the time, which really feels good.” At the end of the day, however, “it’s a team effort,” she insists.
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