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In an attempt to answer lingering questions about the Planter's fate, NOAA researchers reviewed historical documents and analyzed oceanographic and meteorological conditions that may have existed at the time of the Planter's loss.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 November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Port of Houston Expecting Record Year

The Port of Houston Authority is expecting 2014 to close as a banner year for the port, with 34 million tons of cargo handled through November, Executive Director

Hapag-Lloyd Completes CSAV Merger Capital Increase

Hapag-Lloyd completed the planned capital increase of EUR 370 million (approximately $452.5 million) as part of the business combination with the Chilean shipping

Workboats

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

MARAD Publishes US ATB, ITB Database

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) released what it is calling a first-of-its-kind public database that chronicles U.S.-flagged, privately owned domestic

New Chinese Shipyard Launches First Ship

The new shipyard facility of Honghua Offshore Oil & Gas Equipment Company in Jiangsu, China, has launched its first ship, an IMT982 Platform Supply Vessel. The vessel,

Navy

Damen Outfitting First of Nine Bahamas Patrol Boats

The first of nine Damen Stan Patrol 3007s ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has arrived at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands for outfitting.

US Navy: Tortuga Allision Costs CO, XO Their Jobs

USS Tortuga's (LSD 46) Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Thomas Goudreau and Executive Officer, Cmdr. John Fleming, were relieved of their duties Dec. 16, due to loss of

Japan Gains Edge in Australia Submarine Deal

Australia and Japan appear to be inching closer to an agreement on the sale the top-secret technology from Japan to build a fleet of new generation submarines.

Salvage

NZ Report: Human Error to Blame for Rena Grounding

New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) published its final report into the grounding of containership Rena in October 2011. The TAIC’s

Workboats: Communications is Key Operational Tech

As we close out yet another year, I am constantly amazed at how much things change on the waterfront and the boats that ply the adjacent waters. Similarly, I like

Report: Dire Conditions in Indian Shipbreaking Yards

Report by Indian research institute reveals poor enforcement of occupational health and safety provisions   The working and living conditions at the shipbreaking yards of Alang,

News

Port Workers in Argentine Grain Hub End Strike

Port workers in part of the Argentine grains hub of Rosario lifted a work stoppage on Friday, only a day after they went on strike over demands for higher year-end bonuses, a union official said.

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Larger Tankers May Offer Better Return Chances

Investors looking for returns in the tanker markets can invest their capital in a variety of ways. Should an owner invest in a VLCC or an Aframax? How about an

Marine Science

NOAA: US to See More Floods from Sea Level Rise

Most of U.S. coast may see 30 or more days a year of floods up to 2 feet above high tides. By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened

Damen Shipyards Galati wins Dutch Romanian Award

Damen Shipyards Galati has been presented with the Dutch Romanian Business Award for its Corporate Social Responsibility plan, particularly the Group’s community investment initiatives.

Lowrance Renews Insight Genesis College Cup

Lowrance®, a world-leading brand in fishing electronics since 1957— announced today the renewal of its Insight Genesis™ College Cup. In its second year, the

Vessels

Damen Outfitting First of Nine Bahamas Patrol Boats

The first of nine Damen Stan Patrol 3007s ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has arrived at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands for outfitting.

MARAD Publishes US ATB, ITB Database

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) released what it is calling a first-of-its-kind public database that chronicles U.S.-flagged, privately owned domestic

New Chinese Shipyard Launches First Ship

The new shipyard facility of Honghua Offshore Oil & Gas Equipment Company in Jiangsu, China, has launched its first ship, an IMT982 Platform Supply Vessel. The vessel,

History

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar 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: 0.2750 sec (4 req/sec)