A Flinders archaeologist, Dr Jennifer McKinnon, has received an award from the Governor of Saipan for her work in developing an underwater heritage trail of Second World War relics on the Pacific island (now part of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands).
Dr McKinnon received one of the four Saipan Governor’s Humanities Awards sponsored by the Office of the Governor and the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.
Dr McKinnon, who is director of Studies of the Flinders University Department of Archaeology, was cited as “the driving force behind the World War II Maritime Heritage Trail,” which chronicles the history of the Battle of Saipan through nine popular dive sites. The Trail “provides a unique dive experience that can be found only in the CNMI,” and is an excellent example of a geotourism project for the islands.
One of 12 small islands in the Mariana archipelago, Saipan was the scene of fierce and protracted fighting between Japanese and American forces in 1944. Its shallow coastal waters are littered with battlefield remnants, including the wrecks of ships and landing craft, fragments of aeroplanes and even stranded tanks. As well as documenting the relics, the project provided interpretive material, including dive guides, for visitors.
In her statement of acceptance, Dr McKinnon thanked all agencies, groups, and individuals involved in the project. Its major funding came from the US National Parks Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.