James "Jim" Delgado headshot photo

James "Jim" Delgado

Co-Investigator Ashore
Senior Vice President

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

I study and document shipwrecks of the 19th and 20th centuries and have traveled the world and most of its oceans on projects. My focused interest is on steamships, warships, and submarines, but I also have worked on and have an interest in ships of other eras, and the rise of global trade as well as globe-spanning wars. I look at ships and shipping as a means to study the rise of the modern world of the last three hundred years. I have worked on wrecks in shallow water, on ships buried beneath urban landfill, and on deep water shipwrecks. I will travel anywhere, either diving, in a submersible, or using robotics and telepresence to learn more and study a shipwreck. 

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I was introduced to archaeology in the sixth grade and fell in love with the subject! I went on my first archaeological project at age 14. When buried ships were discovered in downtown San Francisco that dated to the Gold Rush of 1849-1853, I was able to work on them....and that changed by focus to ships and shipwrecks.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My teachers were a major influence from an early age, as were my parents, who encouraged and supported me in the quest into the past - even though they worried I might never make a living as an archaeologist!

What element of your work/ study do you think is the most fascinating?

It is finding and sharing history that has been forgotten or was lost.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I'm an archaeologist who has done my work in the field while also serving as a National Park Service historian and program manager, as a museum director, as a nonprofit CEO, as a NOAA program manager, and now as a senior leader in a cultural resources management team.

What are your degrees and certifications?

B.A. in History, San Francisco State University, 1981, MA in Maritime History and Underwater Research, East Carolina University, 1985, PhD in Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, 2006.

What are your hobbies?

Music, cooking, travel and meeting people and making new friends.

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Never let anyone tell you that something is impossible or can't be done. Be persistent and focused, but remember that the friends you make can and will be with you for the rest of your life if you are kind and generous.


James "Jim" participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: