Born in 1947 Germany, Edward Lee Spence is a world renowned pioneer in underwater archaeology. He has studied and worked on the wrecks of Cruise ships, Great Lakes freighters, Civil War blockade runners, pirate ships and Spanish galleons. Needless to say, shipwrecks and sunken treasure are his specialty.
The Civil War submarine Hunley was discovered by Spence in 1970. (Although novelist Clive Cussler also claims to have been the first to discover it) The discovery of the Hunley was called the most important underwater archaeological find of the twentieth century. That statement was made by Dr. William Dudley, Director of Naval History at the Naval Historical Center.
Edward Spence has also been credited with discovering several historical shipwrecks including the SS Georgiana. Outside of the realm of the Sea, Spence also announced in 1989 that although Margaret Mitchell had claimed that “Gone with the Wind” was not based on fact, that she had indeed based much of it on fact. He said that Rhett Butler was based on the life of George Alfred Trenholm who was a shipping magnet from South Carolina. Spence made these statements after he had discovered some of Trenholm’s wrecked blockage runners.
Spence is mentioned in the Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks to have discovered the Constance, which was lost in 1864 and found in 1966; The Housantonic had been lost 1864 and found in 1970 and others. By Spence’s own account, he discovered the blockade runners; the Mary Bowers and Norseman along with many other ships.
Edward Spence has also published many maps and charts dealing with archaeological finds, historical events, and treasures. These would include the Hilton Head chart, Shipwrecks of the Civil War, Chart of Shipwrecks of Charleston, SC and more. Dr. Spence is the founder and owner of the International Diving Institute.