James P. Delgado has become known worldwide as the co-host, along with Clive Cussler, of The Sea Hunters, a documentary TV series shown by National Geographic International Television in more than 170 countries. His passion for combining maritime history and underwater archaeology has taken him around the world and made him one of British Columbia's most respected and prolific authors. Having produced more than 25 books, including The British Museum Encyclopedia of Maritime and Underwater Archaeology, Delgado is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Explorers Club and the Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum from 1991 to 2006 when he resigned to join the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University at College Station. He took up residence on the waterfront in Steveston, B.C.

Under Delgado's direction the Vancouver Maritime Museum opened its own bookstore and operated its own publishing program. He was named Naval History Author of the Year by the U.S. Naval Institute in 2003. His Simon Fraser University thesis attained in 2006 is a synthesis of 28 years of work on the rise of San Francisco as a port.

James Delgado was born in San Jose, California in 1958. Growing up in San Francisco, Delgado was taken to see Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's Gjoa, the first vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage in 1903-1905. He later visited the Arctic and undertook the first detailed archaeological study of the sunken remains of Roald Amundsen's ship Maud. As the director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, he found himself responsible for preserving the concrete-docked RCMP schooner St. Roch, the second vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage.

"For me," he once wrote, "the past lives because I have been fortunate enough to touch it... It includes walking over the wooden decks of ships buried in landfill during the California gold rush of 1849 and swimming along the sides of the sunken battleship Arizona at Pearl Harbour, past silent portholes with air and oil yet trapped behind them. It has meant picking up scattered bones, opening a hatch last closed by a long-dead hand, silently examining broken dishes and scattered silverware on a galley deck from a Sunday breakfast forever interrupted by a fatal attack on the morning of December 7, 1941... I have stood on grey gravel beaches, with the wind never ceasing... floated in frigid waters at the submerged bow of the wreck of Amundsen's Maud, and sat in the library in Greenwich, with the last record of the Franklin expedition in my hands. I have mused, alone for an hour, in the small cabin of Gjoa."

Delgado's many maritime titles include Pearl Harbor Recalled: New Images of the Day of Infamy; Beaver: First Steamship on the West Coast; Arctic Workhorse: The RCMP Schooner St. Roch; Adventures of a Sea Hunter: In Search of Famous Shipwrecks and Waterfront: The Illustrated Maritime Story of Greater Vancouver. When he received the BC Booksellers' Choice Award in Honour of Bill Duthie in 2006, shortly after announcing he was taking a new job to pursue more underwater archaeology research, Delgado said, "In many ways Waterfront is the Maritime Museum I hoped to build in this community." It was a co-winner of the 2006 City of Vancouver Book Award. [See press release below]. Waterfront City was followed by Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet, an account of the seafaring adventures of the Mongol Empire she Khan ruled the world's largest empire, from the China Sea to present-day Hungary, while inheriting--and ruining--the world's largest navy.

When Jim Delgado curated Continuity, Conflict and Change, a 1995 Maritime Museum exhibit about the activities of the Hudson's Bay Company on the West Coast, he was able to bring to Vancouver one of the most remarkable and little-known artifacts pertaining to British Columbia from the early nineteenth century--the HBC's Governor's Flag that was brought to the West Coast by HBC Governor George Simpson and raised at the founding of Fort Vancouver (located in present-day Washington State) in 1825. This same emblem, approximately five feet by eight feet, was later brought to the new HBC headquarters at Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island in 1849. Delgado was alerted to the existence of the HBC relic by Fort Vancouver Park Historian David Hansen in 1994. Gus Norwood of the Clark County Historical Society showed Delgado the cardboard box that contained the flag, faded and folded. It had been donated to the Historical Society by a Canadian when the fort was being redeveloped for tourism and historical purposes. Keenly aware of the significance of this rare flag, Delgado made arrangements for it to be shown at the Vancouver Maritime Museum in 1995. "It's a powerful artifact of the changing fortunes of the Company and the changing fortunes of the [British] Empire," says Delgado.


Sombras de la Noche: The Agustin Bernal Adobe, Its Inhabitants and Heritage. San Jose: Smith-McKay, 1976.

(With Christopher C. Wade) How California Adobes Were Built in the 1830s: A Simple Guide to a Lost Art. San Jose: Smith-McKay, 1977.

Witness to Empire: Antonio Maria Suáol. San Jose: Sourisseau Academy for California State and Local History, 1984.

Alcatraz Island: The Story Behind the Scenery. Las Vegas: KC Publications, 1985.

(Editor) The Log of the Apollo: Joseph Perkins Beach's Log of the Voyage of the Ship Apollo from New York to San Francisco, 1849. San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1986.

(Editor) Proceedings of the Annual Conference on Historical Archaeology, Reno, Nevada. Ann Arbor: Society for Historical Archaeology, 1988.

(With Stephen A. Haller) Shipwrecks at the Golden Gate. San Francisco: Lexicos, 1989.

To California By Sea: A Maritime History of the California Gold Rush. University of South Carolina Press, 1990. Second edition (paper) 1996.

National Parks of America. New York: Crescent Books, 1990.

(With Tom Freeman) Pearl Harbor Recalled: New Images of the Day of Infamy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1991.

(With J. Candace Clifford) Great American Ships. Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1991. Second Edition, 1996.

Alcatraz Island. San Francisco: Golden Gate National Parks Association, 1991.

Dauntless St. Roch: The Mounties' Arctic Schooner. Victoria, B.C.: Horsdal and Schubart, 1992.

Beaver: First Steamship on the West Coast. Victoria, B.C.:Horsdal and Schubart, 1993.

Ghost Fleet: The Sunken Ships of Bikini Atoll. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.

The British Museum Encyclopaedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology. London: British Museum Press, 1997.

Made for Ice: The Wreck of the Polar Ship Maud. Vancouver: Vancouver Maritime Museum/Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, 1997.

Encyclopaedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.

Across the Top of the World: The Quest for the Northwest Passage. Vancouver and Toronto: Douglas and McIntyre/New York: Facts on File,/London: British Museum Press, 1999.

Lost Warships: An Archaeological Tour of War at Sea. Vancouver and Toronto: Douglas and McIntyre / New York: Facts on File/London: Conway Maritime Press, 2001.

USS Arizona: Ship and Symbol (with Joy Jasper and James Adams). New York: St. Martins Press, 2001.

Beaver: The Hudson's Bay Company's 1835 Steam Ship (with John McKay and Leonard G. McCann). Toronto: Vanwell Press, 2001.

Racers and Rovers: 100 Years of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. (Douglas and McIntyre, 2003)

Arctic Workhorse: The RCMP Schooner St. Roch. (Victoria: Horsdal and Schubart/Heritage House, 2003).

Adventures of a Sea Hunter: In Search of Famous Shipwrecks (D&M, 2004).

Waterfront: The Illustrated Maritime Story of Greater Vancouver (Stanton, Atkins & Dosil, 2005).

Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada (D&M 2008).


Shipwrecks: Native American Craft; Danbury, Connecticut, Franklin Watts, 2000.

Shipwrecks: The Westward Movement; Danbury, Connecticut, Franklin Watts, 2000.

Shipwrecks: American Warships, Danbury, Connecticut, Franklin Watts, 2000.

AWARDS: Annual Prize Essay Contest in American Maritime History, Marine Historical Association, Mystic, Connecticut, for the article "Murder Most Foul: San Francisco Reacts to the Loss of the S.S. Central America," 1983. Special Achievement Award, National Park Service, 1987. Distinguished Public Service Award, South Street Seaport Museum, New York, New York. Awarded to the National Maritime Initiative, 1989. John Lyman Book Award, for Across the Top of The World, from North American Society for Oceanic History, 1999. BC Booksellers' Choice Award in Honour of Bill Duthie, 2006, for Waterfront.

EDUCATION: B.A. History (American History), San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, magna cum laude, 1981. M.A. History (Maritime History and Underwater Research), East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, 1985. Ph.D. (Candidate, Department of Archaeology), Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, anticipated graduation 2003.

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY: Executive Director, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. ril 1991- Present. Maritime Historian of the National Park Service and Head of the National Maritime Initiative, National Park Service, Washington, D.C. March 1987-April 1991. Historian, United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, California. June 1979-March 1987. Assistant to the Regional Historian, United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Western Regional Office, San Francisco, California. May 1978-June 1979. Curator, Roberto Adobe, San Jose, California, a privately owned 1835-1847 private house museum. 1977-1978. Assistant Curator, New Almaden Museum, New Almaden, California. A small, privately owned museum specializing in mercury mining, local Native American culture and local history. 1974-1975; 1977.

PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT: Host, "The Sea Hunters";, National Geographic Television Series, 2000 - Present. Archaeologist/Lecturer, Zegrahm/Deep Sea Expeditions, 1999 - Present. Monthly Columnist, Harbour & Shipping Magazine, Vancouver, 1997 - 1999. Instructor, University of British Columbia, School of Continuing Education, 1994-1999. Instructor, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, 1984, 1986-1987. Instructor, East Carolina University, Department of History, Fall 1985. Instructor, San Francisco State University, Department of Anthropology, Summer 1984. Instructor, San Francisco State University, Department of Humanities, 1983-1984, 1986-1987. Historian/Lecturer, Special Expeditions, 1994 - 1999. Guest columnist and writer, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Globe and Mail (Toronto) and the Vancouver Sun, 1987-Present.

PUBLIC AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICE: Liaison, San José Youth Commission to the San Jose Historical Landmarks Commission, 1973-1974. Commissioner, San José Bicentennial Commission, 1974-1975. Commissioner, San José Historical Landmarks Commission, 1976-1978. Member, Mayor's Blue-Ribbon Commission for a San Francisco Historical Museum, 1982. Founding Board Member, National Maritime Alliance, 1990-1992. Member of the ICOMOS (International Committee of Monuments and Sites) Committee on the International Underwater Cultural Heritage, 1991-2002. Board Member, Council of American Maritime Museums, 1992-1994. Vice-President, Council of American Maritime Museums, 1996-1999. President, Council of American Maritime Museums, 1999-2001. Executive Council Member, International Congress of Maritime Museums, 1997-2001. Editorial Board Member, Journal of Field Archaeology, 1996-2002. Editorial Board Member, The American Neptune, 1996-Present. Trustee, Option Youth Society, Vancouver, 1998-1999. Judge, Better Newspaper Competition, BC-Yukon Community Newspaper Association, 1993 - Present. Nominations Committee, Register of Professional Archaeologists, 2000-Present. Nominations Committee, National Council on Public History, 2000-Present. Knight of St. John, Order of St. John/Knights Hospitaller, 2003-

ACCREDITATION / FELLOWSHIPS: Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society, London.
Fellow (International) of The Explorer's Club, New York. Registered Professional Archaeologist.


Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver, B.C., 1991-Present

Principal Projects

Wreck of S.S. Beaver, Vancouver, 1991-Present. Survey and documentation of steamship wreck (1835-1887). Principal Investigator.

Wreck of Schooner Vancouver, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, 1994. Survey and preliminary documentation of 1836 wreck of Hudson's Bay Company trading vessel. Principal Investigator.

Maritime collections, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 1994-1995. Reanalysis/documentation of archaeological collections excavated at Fort Vancouver between 1948-1978 for maritime archaeological materials. Principal Investigator.

Wreck of Maud, Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada, 1996-1997. Survey and documentation of Arctic exploration vessel (1918-1931). Principal Investigator.

Wreck of Brig Isabella, mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon, 1997-Present. Ongoing survey and documentation of 1830 wreck of Hudson's Bay Company supply vessel.

Wreck of HMS Terror, King William Island vicinity, Nunavut, Canada, 2000. A search for Captain Sir John Franklin's exploration ship, HMS Terror (1845-1848), 2000.

Wreck of RMS Titanic (1912). Archaeological reconnaissance dive in submersible Mir 2, 2000.

Wreck of RMS Carpathia (1918) Celtic Sea, off Ireland. Survey and identification of the wreck of the ship that rescued Titanic's survivors, 2000.

Wreck of Mary Celeste (1885) Rochelois Reef, Haiti. Survey and identification and ongoing analysis of artefacts from a merchant ship previously found abandoned at sea in 1872 in a case that remains a notorious maritime mystery, 2000-2002.

Wreck of L-26, near Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada. Survey and identification of British 1920's submarine scuttled after World War II, 2001.

Wreck of HMCS Clayaquot (1944), near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Survey and identification of Canadian minesweeper sunk by a German U-Boat, 2001.

Wreck of US Collier Merrimac (1898), Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Survey and identification of first warship sunk during the Spanish-American War.


Secret Subs of Pearl Harbor, National Geographic Explorer.

Bikini: Forbidden Paradise, ABC World of Discovery.

Alcatraz, American Justice.

Navigation, Propulsion, Design and Construction and Ordnance in the Great Ships series, A&E.

Alcatraz, Sightings.

Bikini Atoll, Extreme Diving.

The USS Somers: Billy Budd's Ghost Ship, Discovery (US).

Submarine Rescue, SS Central America. Arts & Entertainment.

Chinatown, Arts & Entertainment

Co-host, live 2-hour Shark Week broadcast special from Bikini Atoll, Discovery (US).

Host, The Sea Hunters, a monthly series, now in its fourth season, with author Clive Cussler, National Geographic (International, US and Canada) and History Television.

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2008] "Maritime"