BSEE and NOAA Divers Document Sunken Civil War Era Warship in the Gulf of Mexico
September 20, 2012
BSEE Federal Preservation Officer and Senior Marine Archeologist Christopher Horrell assisted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week in documenting the remains of the USS Hatteras, the only U.S. warship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War.
Horrell, along with Doug Jones, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), participated as partners with NOAA, the Texas Historical Commission, Tesla Offshore and private citizens off Galveston, Texas. Over the last several years, hurricanes and storm activity along the Texas coast have removed some of the sediment and sand that once encased the vessel like a time capsule. Horrell collected sonar data using a sector scanning sonar as well as making several dives to the site to maneuver a high resolution multibeam sonar system to help create a 3D photomosaic of this unique site.
BSEE shares the responsibility with BOEM in protecting shipwrecks and other historically-significant archaeological and cultural resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Mandated by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), BSEE ensures compliance with both the Section 106 process as well as the inventory requirements under Section 110. BSEE’s primary archeological function is to ensure that these sites are not disturbed or damaged during offshore oil and gas exploration, development or during production activities; conducting investigations when offshore operators fail to comply with the mitigations and stipulations issued in their permits.
The USS Hatteras, a 210-foot, iron-hulled steamship the U.S. Navy converted into a gunboat, was lost off the Texas coast in a battle with the Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama on Jan. 11, 1863. Largely forgotten, the battle was part of the wartime events that saw the key southern port of Galveston change hands twice and remain open until war’s end as one of the last bastions of the Confederacy.
For more information, go to: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/press/2012/pr091012.html.
BSEE is helping NOAA study the USS Hatteras, the only US warship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War.