of the C.S.S. Alabama
The remains of the CSS Alabama lie in French territorial waters approximately seven miles from the Normandy port of Cherbourg. After a highly successful two year cruise under the command of Raphael Semmes, the CSS Alabama was sunk during an engagement with the USS Kearsarge on 19 June 1864. In November of 1984 the wreck site was discovered by Lieutenant Commander Bruno Duclos of the French Navy minesweeper Circe. After examining material from the wreck recovered by French Navy divers and researching the history of the CSS Alabama, Commander Max Guerout verified the wreck's identity. Following his retirement from the Navy Commander Guerout joined historian Dr. Ulane Bonnel and several other individuals in establishing the Association CSS Alabama Challenge to support additional investigation of Semmes' ship. Since 1988 the French Association CSS Alabama Challenge has raised considerable French support and sponsored a series of annual investigations of the remains of that celebrated Confederate commerce raider.
In 1999, the newly formed American CSS Alabama Association joined the French association in actively supporting investigation at the wreck site. Under the direction of Mr. Robert Edington, the American association raised sufficient funds to make the 1999 field research project possible. Although weather and other complications prevented accomplishing most of the research objectives, the project provided the opportunity to reassess the condition of the wreck and make preparations for returning to the site during the summer of 2000. The CSS Alabama Project planned for the summer of 2000 will be supported by both the French and American CSS Alabama associations. The Institute for International Maritime Research, Inc., has also agreed to participate by providing archaeological expertise.
Investigation of the remains of the CSS Alabama proposed for the summer of 2000 will be designed to focus on several of the unachieved objectives of the 1999 project and also accomplish additional research. . The purpose of proposed research will be to conduct additional archaeological assessment, wreck documentation and artifact recovery. The 2000 CSS Alabama archaeological expedition 2000 is geared toward building on previous research at the site to develop an enhanced plan of the wreck. That plan will be used to control development of a photo-mosaic of the site that will provide the first image of the entire wreck. In addition photography, video and traditional measured drawings will be used to record specific features such as the vessel's machinery. Test excavations have also been proposed. Those will be located to generate data concerning the condition of and archaeological record associated with the forward part of the hull, the lifting screw and its association with the hull structure, the aft pivot gun and it's carriage and the aft fire pump. One of the CSS Alabama's Trotman Patent anchors, one of the Faucett and Preston 32-pounder cannon and the excavated fire pump will be recovered.
The remains of the CSS Alabama are the property of the United States of America. However the wreck lies in French territorial waters. By an international agreement between the United States and France, management responsibility for the CSS Alabama is shared by the U. S. Naval Historical Center in Washington, D. C. and the French Ministry of Culture. In accordance with that mutual agreement, all on-site research requires authorization from both the Naval Historical Center representing the owner and the Ministry of Culture representing the territorial authority. The interests of those agencies are protected by a Scientific Committee with members and advisors from both the United States and France. The 2000 investigation of the CSS Alabama has been approved by that Franco-American CSS Alabama Scientific Committee and authorized by both the Naval Historical Center and the Ministry of Culture.
Financial resources for the CSS Alabama 2000 Project will be provided by funding from the U. S. Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Project and other private sources. Those funds will be channeled through the American CSS Alabama Association to the French Association CSS Alabama and the Institute for International Maritime Research. Financial oversight is being provided by the Naval Historical Center.
Remote sensing and underwater archaeological investigations at the wreck site of the CSS Alabama have been scheduled between 17 and 29 June and 8 and 14 July 2000. Dr. Ulane Bonnel, President of the French Association CSS Alabama has secured permits from the Ministry of Cultural through the French Association and will manage and coordinate activities in France. Mr. Robert Edington, President of the American CSS Alabama Association, has directed fund raising activities in the United States. Dr. Gordon P. Watts, Jr., has been approved to serve as Principal Investigator. Conduct of the onsite research will be accomplished by an experienced team of French volunteers, the French Navy divers and American underwater archaeologists.
Click on the titles below for further reading on the C.S.S. Alabama artifact recovery efforts.
Artifact Recovery Main Page
Synopsis of Previous Research
Wreck Site Environment
Description of the Vessel Remains
Approved Scope of On-site Investigation 2000
Specific Research Methodology
Surface Support Vessels
Proposed Project Schedule