State Rep. Greg MacMaster today commended the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for approving a permit allowing Great Lakes Exploration Group (GLX) to conduct test excavations to determine if the remains of a shipwreck in northern Lake Michigan are of the legendary French exploration vessel Le Griffon.
MacMaster, an experienced diver and volunteer forensic meteorologist for GLX, has been instrumental in helping the group get approval to conduct test excavations at the site. Le Griffon, built by Robert de La Salle and considered the first decked sailing ship on the upper Great Lakes, vanished in 1679.
“Le Griffon has tremendous historical and cultural significance for the entire region, and I’m delighted we may finally get an answer as to whether we have, in fact, found the ‘Holy Grail’ of Great Lakes shipwrecks,” said MacMaster, R-Kewadin. “It’s been a lengthy process to be sure, but it was important to get everyone on board with this expedition, including the governments of Michigan and France.”
GLX has faced many challenges over the last decade to begin the expedition. The DNR permit will allow the team to conduct three small test excavations into the bottomlands.
Approval for the expedition gained momentum when Gov. Rick Snyder and several northern Michigan lawmakers, including MacMaster, signed a special tribute that publicly supported GLX’s efforts to properly identify the shipwreck.
“I was excited to see the governor take an active role on asserting Michigan’s right to its bottomlands and seeing this project through,” MacMaster said. “If this vessel does turn out to be the fabled Le Griffon, it could be an incredible tool for education, help increase tourism and add to the ‘Pure Michigan’ experience.”
The expedition will likely take place in mid-June. France will be involved in the identification process with key experts arriving for the expedition early in June, MacMaster said. The French team will include world-renowned underwater archaeologist Michel L’Hour.
“GLX is elated to see the state moving forward on this exciting endeavor,” said Steve Libert, president of Great Lakes Exploration. “State Rep. Greg MacMaster understood the importance of this project and the rewards of having the private and public sector collaborating on this major event. I can say he has done Michigan a tremendous service in bringing this state into the 21st century of underwater exploration.”