The Dato is lying in approximately 14 metres depth on an easily disturbed silt bottom. The site is oriented NW-SE with the stempost at the NW end. The site can be thought of as being composed of two main components or sections, the first being the sheathed timbers and planking attached to the stempost and extending for almost exactly 30 metres towards the stern, and which comprises the main body of visible remains on the site. The second component is the keel/keelson located on average two metres south of the planking. It has been broken in at least two places, and extends from the seven metre mark on baseline 1 (two baselines were used in recording the site - baseline 1 was laid out with the zero end attached to the stempost) to approximately the 32 metre mark at the stern end of the site
There are no heavy timbers, sternpost or rudder/steering gear to identify the stern, rather in the case of both the planking and keel remains the timbers are extensively eroded and broken and 'disappear' into the silt at the 30-32 metre mark. As the Dato was recorded as having a length of 133ft 2in (41.05 metres), this absence of about a third of the remains from the visible body of wreckage despite a search of the surrounding seabed, would be the reason that no such heavy timbers were located. The possibility exists that the stern section, possibly disturbed by dredging activity or use of explosives, may lie elsewhere though nothing has been found in the near vicinity either by searches, echo sounding or side scan sonar on this and previous inspections (see Dato file).
The remains of the Dato represent an interesting case study for a number of reasons, which can be summarised as follows:
There are no heavy timbers remaining other than the stempost and keel/keelson. No frames, ribs, floors, knees, masts (the two masted Dato was recorded as having one mast remaining when it sank at its moorings) or previously mentioned stern section/timbers were located.
Despite this absence of larger timbers, a fair extent of the planking as previously described as belonging to the first component of the site remains, some of it (mainly the intact bow section) sheathed in Muntz metal (Henderson, see Dato file). The extent and good condition of this planking (and low visibility) was responsible for the idea that the Dato was a rare case of a ship which had sunk 'upside-down' (see reports Wolfe etc). Conservation assessments indicate that the sheathing has continued to fulfil its intended purpose by protecting the outer side of the planking where it has been attached to and where copper fastenings through the timbers have existed, though the inner side of the planking has been eroded where there is no copper and this planking is literally paper thin in some sections.
On the basis of the inspection and site work on this field trip it is now obvious that the Dato is not upside-down but rather has sunk with the keel buried in the silt, and at some stage the stempost and attached port side hull planking has been broken off and transported to lie with the gripe (lower) end of the stem and outer sheathed planking facing the surface, this giving the impression hull is facing upwards and the ship is upside- down.
At the 2.2 and 5 metre marks on baseline 2 and roughly following the lie of the major section of keel south of the stempost there are two similar pairs of conglomerations visible. These may be the concreted remains of large keel bolts with growths, and possibly are attached to the remains of a buried fore section of the keel (though this was not revealed by handfanning), which does not appear until the seven metre mark where it has been broken right through.
The two iron uprights located just north of the keel at the 25.5 metre mark have been identified as being part of the pump assembly rather than 'riding bitts' (see Wolfe, Dato report) which could otherwise have identified this part of the site as belonging to the bow section - the finding of the stempost can now discount this theory. The reason for attributing these uprights the role of pump assemblage are that they are hollow and extend into the bilge near the keel. Their construction matches the workings of either a chain or windmill pump as described in Parsons, Wooden Shipbuilding.
The only other iron objects observed on the site are two curved pieces of ironwork, one at the 15.5 and and the other at the 25 metre mark (near the pump uprights), which could possibly be the remains of davits. The piece of iron at the 15.5 metre mark initially appears attached to the keel and it was thought it might be a frame, though the Dato was of all wooden construction.