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ECWG Dinner: The Search For the Star of Bengal & Recongition of Emeritus Bruce Blanchard MED78

May 20, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Explorers Club members, member’s guests, associates, & friends are cordially invited to the May 2023 dinner & presentation  by shawn Dilles to be held at the Cosmos Club on Saturday, May 20th, 2023 at 6:00 PM.

With A SPECIAL PRE-DINNER RECOGNITION of ECWG Treasurer Emeritus Bruce Blanchard MED78 for his 25 years of dedicated and distinguished service

About the Presentation

The Star of Bengal departed Wrangell, Alaska for San Francisco on September 19, 1908. The ship carried 27 crew members, 110 cannery workers from China, Japan and the Philippines, and 50,000 cases of salmon. While the ship was being towed to open water a gale flared, and on September 20, the ship struck the rocks near the shore of Coronation Island and sank. The dead included 15 crew members and 97 cannery workers. The wreck helped to focus attention on the working conditions and treatment of Asian cannery workers. More than a hundred years later, this remains one of the worst maritime disasters in Alaskan history. In May 2022 the research vessel Alaska Endeavour retraced the last voyage of the Star of Bengal from the site of the former Alaska Packer’s Association dock in Wrangell to Coronation Island. The eight-member expedition included a marine archeologist, a professional diver, and cultural and remote sensing experts. The expedition located the wreck site and gathered the first precise data on the fate of the ship.

This presentation focuses on how geospatial analysis of historical maps, photographs, sketches, images and video were used in conjunction with oral and written accounts to narrow the search for the Star of Bengal and ultimately to help verify the specific location of the wreck site. No single piece of information provided an incontestable site location. Taken together the data permitted the expedition members were able to narrow the search to two small areas, leading to the wreck being located. Photographs taken at the first site were correlated with historic photographs of the area where the wreck occurred, confirming the location.

About our Speaker

Shawn Dilles retired from a career in government where he served as an analyst and executive in the broad area encompassing remote sensing, mapping and charting. He had the privilege of working with cartographers, geodesists, geographers, and other experts who produced the best nautical and aeronautical charts available. The same organization had earlier produced lunar navigation charts (Lunar Aeronautical Charts) used by the Apollo astronauts during their missions to the Moon.

Since retiring, Shawn has spent time volunteering at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and with colleagues from the U.S. Geologic Survey studying how the Earth changes through time. In addition to searching for the Star of Bengal, Sawn has worked with Dr. Bruce Molnia to document changes to Alaskan glaciers and Louisiana barrier islands.

About The Honoree – Bruce Blanchard, MED78

Bruce is well known for his precision and fidelity to the mission of The Explorers Club and ECWG. He received the prestigious Sweeney Medal in 2015, awarded to a member who has exhibited an outstanding interest in the welfare and objectives of The Explorers Club. He also served as the Club’s Treasurer in NYC for more than 4 years. Bruce was an indispensable member of ECWG’s Board of Directors from 1995 until he stepped down at the end of last year, and he served with distinction as ECWG’s Treasurer for 25 years. He received two degrees from MIT followed by 48 years in The U.S. Department of the Interior, including as staff for the Water Resources Council. Bruce served in several Senior Executive positions including as Director of the Secretary’s Office of Environmental Project Review, where he oversaw hundreds of significant environmental issues; as Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and as Special Assistant for Tribal Self Governance. He received the Department’s highest honors: the Distinguished and Meritorious Medals. Bruce was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1993 and retired as a Colonel in the National Guard.

Buy Using a Check

Please include the following information:

  • Number of seats Reserved ($55 each)
  • Guest names(s)
  • Number of vegetarian meals (if any) desired
  • Organization Affiliation if other than ECWG

Mail with check to :

Austin Ager
2707 Parkway Place
Cheverly, MD 20785-3029
Mobile & text: 301-646-5418

You can pay at the door or mail a check. Without exception, your rsvp and proof of vaccination must be received by Austin no later than 5 pm, Monday, MAY 15, 2023. Absolutely no changes or cancellations after 5 pm, Monday, MAY 15, 2023

ECWG COVID-19 Policy

ECWG adheres to all COVID-19 regulations set by the Cosmos Club and the District of Columbia. Masks and proof of vaccination are no longer required for entrance into the Cosmos Club but are recommended. Space may be limited to comply with Cosmos Club capacity regulations. Priority will be given to ECWG members and their significant others.


May 20, 2023
6:00 pm - 9:30 pm


Austin Ager


The Cosmos Club
2121 Massachusetts Ave NW,
Washington DC, 20008 United States
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(202) 387-7783
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