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In an attempt to answer lingering questions about the Planter's fate, NOAA researchers reviewed historical documents and analyzed oceanographic and meteorological conditions that may have existed at the time of the Planter's loss.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

People & Company News

Caterpillar: Q3 Results Show Improvement

Caterpillar Inc. today announced its third-quarter results, in which it reported profit per share of $1.63 for the third quarter of 2014, an increase from third-quarter 2013 profit per share of $1.

Wärtsilä Expects 5% Sales Growth

Wärtsilä announced its third quarter results, reporting that it sees good development in order intake and profitability. According to Wärtsilä, third quarter

MacGregor Reorganizes into 7 Operative Divisions

MacGregor, part of Cargotec, announces changes in its operative structure and starts a reorganization into seven operative divisions which will become effective on January 1, 2015.

Workboats

U.S. Shipbuilding: ESG Nabs Two Z-Drive Tug Contracts

Eastern Shipbuilding (ESG) said that Suderman & Young Towing Company and Bay Houston Towing Company each exercised one additional Z-Drive Tug to be built at ESG.

FMT Orders Another Towboat from Eastern Shipbuilding

Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. is pleased to announce that Florida Marine Transporters, Inc. of Mandeville, LA exercised another additional 90’x32’x10’ “Canal

Zamakona Delivers Second Vessel to Jadran

On October 18, Zamakona Yards celebrated in Getxo, Bizkaia the delivery of tuna freezer vessel Ljubica to the owner group Jadran based in Ecuador and Panamá. The

Navy

Chief of Naval Personnel Visits Naval Special Warfare

Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) Vice Adm. Bill Moran visited Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Sailors during an all hands call on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Oct.

Video: USCG Medevacs Navy Sailor off Virginia

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) medevaced a man Wednesday from a Navy vessel off the Virginia coast after watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads in Portsmouth

WWII Wrecks Found 30 Miles off US Coast

The wreck of a World War Two German U-boat and a freighter that sank 72 years ago have been discovered off the North Carolina coast by U.S. researchers, officials said.

News

US Warns of Sanctions on Buyers of Islamic State Oil

The Obama administration on Thursday threatened to slap sanctions on anyone buying oil from Islamic State militants in an effort to disrupt what it said was a $1-million-a-day funding source.

Three Dead in Offshore Platform Accident

Three workers were killed and one is still missing after an accident at one of the offshore oil and gas platforms in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan, Azeri state energy company SOCAR said on Thursday.

Tuco Debuts New Wind Farm Service Boat

Less than a week before the Offshore Energy 2014 Exhibition and Conference in Amsterdam the coming week, Tuco Marine disclosed the newest vessel in the ProZero series of Fast Rescue Boats,

Vessels

Tuco Debuts New Wind Farm Service Boat

Less than a week before the Offshore Energy 2014 Exhibition and Conference in Amsterdam the coming week, Tuco Marine disclosed the newest vessel in the ProZero series of Fast Rescue Boats,

Bright Outlook for BWM Convention

The Danish Maritime Authority informed that the Ballast Water Management Convention is now one step closer to ratification following last week’s meeting of United

Chief of Naval Personnel Visits Naval Special Warfare

Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) Vice Adm. Bill Moran visited Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Sailors during an all hands call on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Oct.

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,

WWII Wrecks Found 30 Miles off US Coast

The wreck of a World War Two German U-boat and a freighter that sank 72 years ago have been discovered off the North Carolina coast by U.S. researchers, officials said.

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,

Unmanned Vehicles

Nordic Wins with Noble

Nordic Maritime, a leading offshore service operator, today announced a five year time charter for its DP2 IMR Subsea vessel, Mokul Nordic, which has been awarded by Noble Energy,

Northrop Grumman Sponsors Maritime RobotX Challenge

Northrop Grumman Corporation is expanding its support for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education across the globe by sponsoring the Maritime RobotX Challenge in Singapore, Oct.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators 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: 0.1942 sec (5 req/sec)