Map of the approximate location of the Alabama wreck

Approximate location of the  Alabama wreck in the Channel.

Description

The Confederate States Ship (CSS) Alabama was launched in 1862 at the John Laird & Sons shipyard in Birkenhead, near Liverpool. During the American Civil War she sank sixty-four merchant ships and one warship before being sunk herself off Cherbourg by the United States Ship (USS) Kearsarge. Her wreck was discovered in 1985 lying in 58 m of water. Legally a possession of the USA, the CSS Alabama was excavated after 1988 under the supervision of a Franco-American scientific committee. Unfavourable environmental conditions (currents, depth, visibility) hindered the excavations and required the use of advanced techniques, a submersible, remote-controlled robotic device, battery-powered suction dredges, deflectors and so on. After a lengthy assessment of the site which produced a general plan of the remains, the excavations focused on studying the officers’ quarters in the stern and a Blakely swivel gun, which was subsequently raised. In addition to the gun, the excavations produced a large number of objects from the ship’s pantry as well as personal effects, including equipment for sewing and other handiwork, revolver bullets, a sperm-whale tooth, and coins.

Painting of the Alabama in battle
Underwater photograph of a diver excavating the wreck
Photograph of the Blakely gun

The battle of 19 June 1864 as painted by Lebreton.

© Max Guérout/Association CSS Alabama

This excavation required the use of sophisticated technical equipment.

© Max Guérout/Association CSS Alabama

Blakely gun raised from the wreck in 1994.

© Max Guérout/Association CSS Alabama

Operation managers

  • Max Guérout/Gran (1988-1995)
  • Gordon Watts (2000-2002)

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