Marine Aviation Research
Tracing the historical events of vessels, planes, and people.
Eric Wiberg has been finding artifacts internationally since the 1970s. MAR, or Marine Aviation Research, enables clients to harness his expertise and doggedness both in archives and on the ground, to find stories and things globally. A licensed captain for over 25 years, Eric has 250,000 miles of surface travel under his belt, passports covering the US & EU, a law license and a Masters in Marine Affairs degree. His specialty is tracing the events of vessels, planes, and the people on them, tracking and reporting the back story.
Most recently from landing on a deserted island to finding a A-20 Havoc aircraft lost for 80 years took five (5) minutes by Eric and his guide on foot. It started with finding a Neolithic tranchet axe head in Sweden in 1978, then an RAF bomb in Bahamas in 1980, and led to being the second and final person to persuade US Navy History & Heritage Command to reverse credit for sinking a WWII German U-boat and enter the correction into the Senate record, and re-allocating decorations as high as Distinguished Flying Cross.
Having built up databases on many hundreds of vessels and submarine movements, Eric is confident that he can trace or find yachts on the US eastern seaboard, tell you which ships and auxiliaries moved where from Halifax to Antigua to Key West in WWII, and probably who commanded them, plus every convoy and escort, every day, perhaps even hour of German U-boat patrols in that area and time, most oil spills and “places of refuge” incident in recent decades, who owned and financed most ships, which aircraft crashed where, starting in the Bahamas, and what remains of them.
He has databanks on ordinance from U-boats and much of the USN, USCG, CAP, USAAF, airships, RAF, and others dropped on USEC, Bahamas, and Bermuda, the vessel histories and bio-data of previous owners and fates of vessels, private, military, and donated/sold to the military in WWI and WWII. Finally, Eric has taken over 100,000 images and documented the working waterfront with over 100 short narrated films. In a journalistic career spanning nearly 35 years he has interviewed hundreds of people, so he can capture the oral histories of witnesses, participants, and family members.
As well as hundreds of articles and book reviews, Eric has published the trilogy U-Boats in the Bahamas, U-Boats off Bermuda, and U-Boats in New England, the 950-page encyclopedia Bahamas in World War II, several other books on World War II, Tanker Disasters, Yacht Voyages, and appeared in documentaries about the tanker Erika off France, the container shipping business, U-Boat POWs in USA, the rescue of the Potlatch men, and others. Among his over 40 books (some ghost-written) are a genealogy, travel diaries, business memoir, script, children’s book, and more. He is a frequent public speaker.
Eric’s methods at finding the answers for clients include dogged stubbornness, a fresh way to look at the evidence, and leaving the archives for the field.
Dogged: Eric’s Swedish-American-Bahamian family had no TV, just lots of books; most of them about World War II. His mother was a national champion in tennis and hammered through the concept of never giving up. His father, a diplomat, insisted on always giving back. And his hero, Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison beseeched him to get out and test knowledge hands-on.
As the author of more than 40 non-fiction books, most about vessels and aircraft and the people who man them, Eric knows who to call and where to look. On top of having visited and contributed to national archives, his friendly network of contacts stretches from Oslo to Sydney and between. Having obtained bachelors, juris doctorate, and masters degrees in universities in Boston, Rhode Island, New York City, Oxford, and Lisbon, he has been trained in navigating sources, and even worked in bookstores as well.
Since sailing professionally at age 18, Eric has been aboard over 500 vessels, operated nearly 200 of them, and boards tankers, bulkers, and car carriers on a regular basis. As someone who enjoys long solo hikes, he’s become familiar with the bush of the tropics and coasts far and wide, covering more than 85 countries and 250 islands and 250,000 miles of surface travel (total travel more than 1 million miles). In August of 2022 Eric dropped into a remote island in the Bahamas (pop. c.350), chose captains and guides, and on a budget managed to find a lost WWII aircraft 5 minutes after stepping on an uninhabited island, and hiked some 35 hours in the bush to find another four days later. He simply does not believe in giving up, and as a former record-setting swimmer he spent 3 weeks swimming daily alone to find another plane with a snorkel – in December.
Asked to find missing slaves ‘manumitted’ or ‘freed’ in the Bahamas, Eric dove in to contacts in the Triangle Trade world and found that a royal governor had both – allegedly – pocketed the reward for freeing them and then discretely helped have the poor souls sold off to the cane fields of Demerara. Having not been hired by a university or served for any government helps Eric keep an “outside the box” edge, and the ability and inclination to get out and find the objects. On a recent Friday someone mused aloud that they would like to know what happened to the yacht they owned in the 1980s. The next afternoon Eric was under the boat taking photos. Whether it’s determining who holds the note on a vessel, or what an object’s real history is, or where a boat sank and how, Eric will ferret it out for you. Projects are more than assignments, they become missions in his care.
Rest assured that the riddle you need solved, whether maritime, aviation, military, civilian, genealogical or academic, it will be in good hands with Eric. Part of this self-reliance and tenacity stems from his having spent most of his life on islands in places like Nassau, Newport, England, Singapore, and Manhattan. That and sailing on small boats for months at a time have forced him to find solutions as though one’s life depended on it.
- National archives in the US, Bahamas, Germany, Norway, Canada, and beyond.
- Deck logs, crew lists, of US Navy, US Coast Guard, i.e. DD, DE, PC, SC, airships
- Accident reports for aircraft in USAAF, USAF, RAF, and beyond
- KTB or daily war diaries for German submarines (U-boats) in English
- Commercial and privately-owned vessels can be tracked and located.
- Targets for prospective acquisition can be verified, background provided.
- Port logs for military & civilian ships, ability to track officers & crew
- Having operated over 100 commercial tanker vessels globally helps.
Areas of Proven Expertise
- Yachts anywhere but particularly with nexus to Atlantic, US, yacht clubs
- Finding aircraft, vessels, and graves particularly in Bahamas & New England
- Merchant ships in World War II, particularly Cuba-US-Canada-Bahamas
- Naval escorts & convoys, esp. Cuba-Canada-Bahamas
- Civilian & military personnel
- Aircraft accident reports and matching attacks with known U-boats
- U-boats West of the Azores, inclusive Italian & French
- Aircraft losses in Bahamas, US & Caribbean
- Accounting for slave ship ownership, interdiction, and fates of slaves
- Of or relating to persons, land, genealogy, buildings, items of interest in Bahamas
- Preserving historic craft, shipyards, planes, airstrips, people, places, things on
- Oral history
- Articles, books, and moving images.
Leading historians from the UK (RAF), Bahamas, Bermuda, Uruguay, Germany, Scandinavia, USCG, and the merchant marine have endorsed Eric with forewords, etc. He has active relations with researchers at NARA in the US, TNA in Kew, UK, and networks in the US, Cuba, Canada, Bahamas, Bermuda, and several academies as well.
Ten Recent Projects
- U-84: led to re-allocation of credit for its sinking by the US Navy, DFC issued
- Discovered the wrecks of 3 UK & US WWII aircraft in Bahamas in 8 months
- Found 3 yachts from the 1989 Marion-Bermuda Race between the Gulf & Northeast
- Between Key West, Guantanamo, Bermuda and Boston have identified and tracked the following World War II movements:
- Every convoy, and each ship; c.200 of them attacked, thousands convoyed
- Every German & Italian submarine: hundreds of patrols
- Every contact between Allied military & Axis submarine
- Can name all but a handful of combatants and civilians killed at sea
- Found the graves of a Norwegian in Abaco and African-American in Acklins
- Traced remains of German, Italian and Allied KIA to various US cemeteries
- Located the plane in which 2 RCAF pilots were KIA
- Helped identify the wreck at the base of Paradise Island Light as SS Karnak
- Traced the histories of over 400 vessels, 350 of them mailboats in Bahamas
- Uncovered the fate of slaves from an 1800s slaver captured in Bahamas.
Credentials & Certificates
- US Merchant Mariner Credential, valid to 28 June, 2027
- US Passport, valid to May 9, 2031
- MA law license, BBO/Board of Bar Overseers #662856
- Maritime Law Association of the US, since 2005
- TWIC card valid to March, 2027
- MA driver’s license, valid to August, 2023
- Liberian Seaman’s Identification and Record Book, valid to May 4, 2027
- Swedish (EU) passport
- Other licenses and certificates include MA Notary Public, MA Realtor’s License, etc.
Boards, Affiliations, Governance
Current: Steamship Historical Society of America, Library Committee, New York Yacht Club
Previous: India House (NYC), Portside NY, American Friends of HMS Mary Rose
Marine Society of New York, Maritime Law Association, Peabody Essex Museum, Boston Athenaeum, Bahamas Historical Society, Propeller Club, National Maritime Historical Society, North American Society of Oceanic History, Association for Research and Dissemination of Cuban Naval History, and others.
Born New York City. Dual Citizenship, Sweden (EU), USA. Published 3.5+ mm words, 120 articles. Traveled 4 times round the world. U-Boats in New England was Book of the Week in third-leading US news source, The New York Post for Dec. 2019. Recipient of the substantial Roger Williams University School of Law Scholarship, and at age 17 essay on Alexander the Great was chosen for the inaugural issue of the national student historical journal The Concord Review. Published in the national Bahamian paper Nassau Tribune at age 18, and front page, for Hurricane Andrew, at age 22. Developed four courses for New England Maritime Institute / NEMO in 2021, uploading on rolling basis. A frequent speaker, recently on Nantucket, Fishers Island, Maine, Mass.