Has the HMS Gaspee been found? Is the submerged hulk that has been spotted emerging from the sands off Gaspee Point the remains of the British vessel that was torched by colonial freedom-fighters, in what was one of the earliest events in the young country’s fight for independence?
A documentary film, “In Search of the HMS Gaspee,” will be premiered in Warwick Thursday, November 13, at thePilgrim Senior Center. The film will be shown at 7 p.m., followed by a panel discussion of individuals featured in the film who have been actively involved in the hunt for the remains of the British vessel.
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) was responsible, in collaboration with the Gaspee Days Committee, for the creation of the film, which was produced by Capitol TV, the television branch of the Rhode Island General Assembly.
Representative McNamara, who chairs the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and who has been actively involved in the annual Gaspee Days events in Pawtuxet Village, said he wanted to produce an educational film about the ongoing search for the HMS Gaspee in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Gaspee Days celebration.
The 38-minute documentary catalogs the work of Rhode Islanders, including oceanography professors from theUniversity of Rhode Island, to locate the remains of the vessel that was attacked and burned by colonists on June 10, 1772, in the shallows off Namquid Point (now Gaspee Point). The British ship had been sent to Rhode Island by King George III to enforce the maritime trade laws. As it chased a sloop heading from Newport to Providence, it ran aground on a sandbar. Near daylight on June 10, a small band of patriots in eight longboats set fire to the Gaspee, burning her to the waterline.
“Because of the 50th anniversary of Gaspee Days, because of the continuing interest in the 1772 event and because of renewed excitement that the remains of the vessel may have been found, it seemed a very appropriate time to produce this documentary,” said Representative McNamara, who thanked all those involved in its preparation. “We hope those who attend the premiere enjoy what’s been put together, and we hope this film can be shown in educational settings around the state.”
The November 13 film premiere at the Pilgrim Senior Center is free and open to the public.