The U.S. Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) will begin a multi-phase salvage operation to survey and relocate historic artifacts from CSS Georgia, a Civil War-era Confederate Navy ship Nov. 7.
The operation comes in anticipation a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers channel-deepening project in the Savannah Harbor that would disturb the historic shipwreck.
“SUPSALV has the expertise and unique capabilities available for a project of this type,” said Rick Thiel, SUPSALV project manager. “We understand the sensitivities related to the recovery of historic artifacts and the ability to safely and quickly remove those using innovative methods.”
CSS Georgia, a Confederate iron clad, was used as a floating battery to defend the city of Savannah, Ga., during the Civil War. After a 20-month operational life, CSS Georgia was scuttled in December 1864 to prevent capture by advancing Union troops. It is located on U.S. Navy property and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Under the oversight of the Naval History and Heritage Command, the operation will be conducted in phases. During phase one, SUPSALV will direct a dive survey of the wreckage site and recover a small portion of the upper deck structure with the protective iron cladding. Phase one recovery will be used to evaluate the condition of the hull material and develop a plan to recover and relocate the historic artifacts during phase two. SUPSALV will work with Mobile Salvage and Diving Unit Two who will be providing diver support, conducting underwater survey and rigging and topside rigging support.
SUPSALV will complete the first phase of the operation in mid November, weather permitting. The second phase is set to take place in 2014. The Office of the Director of Ocean Engineering, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving is part of the Naval Sea Systems Command and is responsible for all aspects of ocean engineering, including salvage, in-water ship repair, contracting, towing, diving safety and equipment maintenance and procurement.
Press Release, November 1, 2013; Image: NAVSEA