NOAA Close to Finding Civil War-Era Steamer

Posted by Michelle Howard
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Planter at Georgetown, S.C. (Credit: Naval History and Heritage Command)

NOAA announced  it has determined the probable location of the remains of the Civil War-era sidewheel steamer Planter, which gained national fame in 1862 when a group of enslaved African Americans commandeered the Confederate Navy transport ship in a daring escape to freedom.
 

The announcement was made in Charleston, S.C., where NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries released a report on its search for the Planter and plans for an interpretative sign and future exhibit dedicated to the Planter's legacy. The effort to find the Planter supports NOAA's Voyage to Discovery initiative, which seeks to highlight African-American maritime history through education, archaeology, science and underwater exploration.
 


Under the leadership of Robert Smalls, the ship's steersman, crew members navigated the steamer out of Charleston Harbor on May 12, 1862, and delivered the vessel to the United States Navy. The New York Herald called the escape "one of the most daring and heroic adventures since the war was commenced."


 
The notoriety generated by the escape and capture of the Planter led to Smalls eventually becoming the first African-American master in the U.S. Navy and a member of Congress representing South Carolina - the state where he was born a slave. NOAA's report helps fill gaps in the largely untold story of Robert Smalls and the Planter, which wrecked on a beach in March 1876 while trying to tow a grounded schooner.


 
In an attempt to answer lingering questions about the Planter's fate, NOAA researchers reviewed historical documents and analyzed oceanographic and meteorological conditions that may have existed at the time of the Planter's loss. The likely site where the vessel came to rest, off Cape Romain between Charleston and Georgetown, S.C., was confirmed with magnetometer and hydro-probing surveys that detected the presence of large concentrations of iron consistent with the remains of a sunken ship. The vessel's remains are buried under 10-15 feet of sand and water in an environmentally sensitive area.
 
 
"Our interest in finding the Planter is about more than just unlocking the past and secrets of the deep," said Daniel J. Basta, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director. "This expedition is an opportunity to highlight African-American contributions to the country's maritime heritage and inspire young people to consider careers in marine science to help expand the boundaries of ocean exploration."
 


Following Smalls' commandeering of the Planter on May 12, 1862, the ship continued to be used by the U.S. Navy as a dispatch and supply vessel with Smalls as pilot. However, by September of that year, the Navy transferred the craft to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, where it supported Army operations around Charleston, Port Royal and Beaufort.


 
News accounts suggest that after the war, Smalls and the Planter were well known among local African Americans. As the Planter's captain, he transported many freed slaves to newly created farmsteads and communities at Hilton Head and Port Royal. With Smalls at the helm, the Planter was reported as the ship that carried black dignitaries and passengers to the ceremony of the symbolic raising of the Fort Sumter flag which had been lowered after the fort's capture by the Confederates.


 
On March 25, 1876, while trying to tow a grounded schooner, Planter sprang a plank in the bow and began to take on water in the hold. The captain elected to beach the steamer and repair the plank, hoping to get off the beach with the next high tide. However, stormy seas battered the Planter as the tide rose and the ship was too badly damaged and had to be abandoned. Upon hearing of its loss, Robert Smalls was reported to have said that he felt as if he had lost a member of his family.  
 

 

Maritime Reporter April 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

WCI Applauds Increased USACE Funding

Today WCI applauded the leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senate Energy & Water Development (E&WD) Appropriations Subcommittee

SoCal Beach Cleanup Could Take Months

The U.S. Coast Guard captain overseeing cleanup of oil spilled from a pipeline rupture that closed two California state beaches and fouled offshore waters near

MPC Honors Crowley for Tank Vessel Safety

Crowley Maritime Corporation’s petroleum services division has once again been honored by Marathon Petroleum Company (MPC) with its annual Elite Vessel Award, which

Navy

Myanmar Finds 200 Bangladeshis in Offshore Boat

Myanmar's navy found a boat carrying more than 200 Bangladeshis, the government said on Friday, after the military chief said some migrants landing in Malaysia

HMAS Anzac Visits Portsmouth, UK

The Royal Australian Navy’s helicopter frigate HMAS Anzac has arrived in Portsmouth, England, as part of her NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment.   Anzac departed Sydney in March 2015,

China, Russia Conclude Naval Drill

Russia and China naval forces concluded their first-ever joint military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea this morning, according to an online news briefing from the Chinese Defense Ministry.

News

USCG Tall Ship Sailing to the Bahamas

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is scheduled to arrive at Berth 14 at Prince George Wharf in Nassau, Bahamas on Thursday, May 28 as part of its 2015 cadet summer training deployment.

WCI Applauds Increased USACE Funding

Today WCI applauded the leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senate Energy & Water Development (E&WD) Appropriations Subcommittee

SoCal Beach Cleanup Could Take Months

The U.S. Coast Guard captain overseeing cleanup of oil spilled from a pipeline rupture that closed two California state beaches and fouled offshore waters near

Marine Science

IMO Adopts Polar Code Environmental Provisions

United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the environmental part of the Polar Code. Hereby, internationally binding regulations on

Volume Up in Dutch Maritime Technology Sector

The Dutch maritime technology sector has had a good year. Turnover increased by 17%, from EUR 6.4 billion in 2013 to EUR 7.5 billion in 2014. The sector employed 31,680 FTEs, up from 29,361 in 2013.

Two Hurt in Petrobras Platform Accident; Output Halted

Brazil's state-led oil company Petrobras was forced to stop output at its P-56 offshore oil production ship on Wednesday in the Marlim Sul field after an explosion

Vessels

Torqeedo Introduces New Deep Blue Inboard

Torqeedo now offers a shaft drive version of its 40 and 80 horsepower Deep Blue motor. An electric drive designed for marine use from the ground up, the Deep Blue inboard shares the safety,

HMAS Anzac Visits Portsmouth, UK

The Royal Australian Navy’s helicopter frigate HMAS Anzac has arrived in Portsmouth, England, as part of her NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment.   Anzac departed Sydney in March 2015,

SCI Back in the Black after 3 Yrs

The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI), India’s largest shipping company and a Government of India Public Sector Undertaking having reported losses for

History

Historic Warship Docked for Restoration

One of the world's oldest commissioned warships has entered dry dock for a planned multiyear restoration, the U.S. Navy reports.   On May 19, USS Constitution

IRClass is 40

IRClass, a leading Class Society in Asia has successfully completed 40 years in the service of Maritime industry. With the growth in India’s international trade,

PSC, BP Claims Against Transocean Resolved

Transocean Ltd. announced that it has reached two separate settlement agreements, with the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (the "PSC") and with BP Exploration & Production Inc.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2597 sec (4 req/sec)