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In an attempt to answer lingering questions about the Planter's fate, NOAA researchers reviewed historical documents and analyzed oceanographic and meteorological conditions that may have existed at the time of the Planter's loss.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 March 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

ABS CEO Lays Out Vision for Technical Leadership at CMA Shipping

During the recent CMA Shipping 2015 conference in Stamford, Connecticut, ABS Chairman and CEO Christopher J. Wiernicki provided the conference's keynote address

Oceanex Named One of Canada’s Best Managed Companies

Oceanex Inc. was named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies Gold Standard Members in 2014. This national award is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, National Post,

Navy Awards Austal $691M for Two Littoral Combat Ships

The U.S. Navy has ordered two new littoral combat ships from Austal, the shipbuilder said in a press release today. The two orders, worth $691 million, are part

Workboats

Palfinger Chooses NAMJet Waterjets

Netherlands-based Palfinger Boats has launched the first of two Damen-designed FRSQ 1200 fast-rescue/oil response vessels.   Built in Harderwijk, Netherlands,

IMCA DP Proposal to be Basis for Updating IMO Guidelines

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed to use the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) proposals as the basis for the review of

Shipping Season Opens on the Mississippi

First tow marks unofficial opening to Mississippi River navigation season   M/V New Dawn arrived at Lock and Dam 2 near Hastings, Minn. Wednesday morning, marking

Navy

Largest All-Electric Pipe Bender Starts Operations at Newport News Shipbuilding

Unison has commissioned what is believed to be the largest all-electric tube bending machine ever produced. The machine has started operations at Newport News Shipbuilding,

Damen Delivers Stan Patrol Vessel to RBDF

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) has taken delivery of the fourth and final Stan Patrol 4207, named HMBS Rolly Gray. The four Stan Patrol 4207s form part of the six-year Sandy Bottom project.

China's Artificial Islands in South China Sea Raises U.S. Concerns

China has been building artificial islands on reefs in the many disputed areas around the South China Sea. The unprecedented land reclamation currently being conducted

News

Bulk Carrier Runs Aground in Delaware River (Link to Video)

Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay is investigating a ship aground in the Delaware River near the Burlington Bristol Bridge, which connects Burlington, NJ and Bristol Township, PA.

Largest All-Electric Pipe Bender Starts Operations at Newport News Shipbuilding

Unison has commissioned what is believed to be the largest all-electric tube bending machine ever produced. The machine has started operations at Newport News Shipbuilding,

Oceanex Named One of Canada’s Best Managed Companies

Oceanex Inc. was named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies Gold Standard Members in 2014. This national award is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, National Post,

Marine Science

USCG Approves KR BWMS Lab

Korean Register (KR) - an IACS member classification society – announces that it has been accepted by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) as an Independent Laboratory (IL) to undertake tests,

India, Japan Reaffirm Strong Maritime Ties

India and Japan have discussed a specialized 24-nation maritime construct to enable real-time sharing of data of all shipping including merchant and naval warships,

US Navy to Roll out Underwater Spy Satellites

The robotic series that remade crusade in skies will shortly extend to a low sea, with underwater view “satellites,” drone-launching pods on a sea building and unmanned ships sport submarines,

Vessels

Hapag-Lloyd Improves Safety of Dangerous Goods Transportation

Last year, Hapag-Lloyd discovered 2,620 cases of incorrectly declared dangerous goods that were prevented from being shipped. Dangerous goods experts at Hapag-Lloyd investigated over 162,

Baltic Sea Freight Index Down on Lower Rates

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, fell on Wednesday, pulled down by a fall in rates across all vessel segments.

Blaze hits Mexico Oil Platform, 300 Workers Evacuated

Mexican state-run oil company Pemex said on Wednesday that it was fighting a fire on oil platform in Campeche Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, home to the country's biggest oil field,

History

Largest Vessel to Call ICTSI, Rijeka

Adriatic Gate Container Terminal (AGCT), International Container Terminal Services, Inc.’s (ICTSI) container handling facility in the Port of Rijeka, Croatia, recently

Focus on Environment at Suny Maritime

The State University of New York Maritime College’s 140th Anniversary Speaker Series presented a panel discussion on March 26 in the College’s Maritime Academic Center.

Drydocks World, Maritime World Win Excellence Awards

Drydocks World and Maritime World have won the Excellence Award given by the International Maritime Club at the Golden Bells Awards 2015 - Middle East. Drydocks

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 0.2121 sec (5 req/sec)