The Northwest Shipwreck Alliance is a Washington nonprofit created to discover, recover, and preserve the most important shipwrecks of the Pacific Northwest.

Who We Are

The Northwest Shipwreck Alliance (NSA) is a Washington state nonprofit, recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 public charity, created to bridge the gap between local and regional nonprofit historical organizations/museums and the technology and expertise required to discover, recover and preserve shipwreck artifacts and other important submerged historical resources.

Discover: Locating shipwrecks and submerged historic resources is outside the capability of most local historical societies and museums. While a particular shipwreck or submerged resource might play an important role in the history of the community or region it serves, its ability to present that story in the fullest and most engaging way is highly limited due to the research and technical difficulties associated in seafloor, lake and river bottom searches.

Recover: Even if an underwater site location is known, it needs to be approached under the auspices of trained underwater archeologists coordinating with the state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction over these resources. In addition to those basic requirements, water depths and other environmental conditions often place these sites well beyond the reach of recreational SCUBA and even commercial divers, making the use of advanced underwater exploration and recovery technology mandatory.   

Preserve: In some cases, “preservation” can entail the costly and complex procedures of working with actual physical relics or even entire vessels recovered from the bottom, but in other cases the optimal means of preserving a wreck or resource might be simply making a detailed sonar and photo/video survey of the site, a technique employed with great success and to the general public’s fascination with such shipwrecks as the HMS Titanic and German battleship Bismark.

In addition, the NSA preforms extensive independent historical research and underwater exploration of its own projects and seeks to record those efforts through documentary film production.

The NSA has devoted itself to assisting nonprofit historical organizations in accessing shipwrecks and submerged resources so they can present those stories to the communities they serve. By creating alliances between the historical nonprofit community and the marine technology commercial sector, the NSA makes possible underwater projects previously deemed impossible.        

Private: Projects – SS Pacific

SS Pacific

The SS Pacific was a side wheel steamer built in 1850 for the California gold rush. It collided with the clipper SV Orpheus on November 4, 1875, off the coast of Washington state. It is the worst maritime disaster in west coast history: 325 souls perished and only two survived.

“Long will be remembered the year 1875, when Death, clad in all his hideousness, rode the wave ; and, while the restless sea has supplied Northwestern history with many pitiful tales of disaster, this fatal year has never been equaled in the number of lives and amount of property sacrificed. No greater calamity was ever visited on the people of this Coast than the loss of the steamship Pacific

– Edgar Wilson Wright, Lewis & Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1895)


The Pacific Project is a collaboration between Rockfish, Inc. and the Northwest Shipwreck Alliance (NSA). On November 23, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Senior US District Judge James L. Robart awarded exclusive salvage rights to the wreck of the SS Pacific to Rockfish, to recover the vessel’s express cargo under contract with the original underwriters based in London. The Northwest Shipwreck Alliance is tasked with preserving and displaying the artifacts in a new museum to be located in the Puget Sound region. 

Ad from the Puget Sound Dispatch, September 30, 1875.