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US Navy MDSU-2 Diving on the CSS Georgia

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Savannah – I’ve always been interested in history. More specifically, I’ve long enjoyed Civil War and Naval history, so I’ve been following the recovery of the CSS Georgia from the Savannah River with interest. Earlier today, I went out to Fort Jackson, where you can easily see what’s going on. While there didn’t seem to be any dive operations ongoing while I was there, you could clearly see the equipment and get an idea of what they’re up to.

Model of the ironclad CSS Georgia on display at Fort Jackson

Model of the ironclad CSS Georgia on display at Fort Jackson

Along with the CSS Atlanta and CSS Savannah, the CSS Georgia was part of the Savannah River Squadron, which was part of the defense scheme for the city of Savannah. More than likely, the Georgia probably didn’t have engines powerful enough to make her an effective mobile warship, so she was used as a floating battery in the city’s defenses off of Fort Jackson. In September 1864, Savannah fell to Union forces under General Sherman and the crew of the Georgia scuttled her in the river and joined the retreating Confederate forces under General Hardee.

After the war, parts of the Georgia‘s iron armor were removed and attempts were made to destroy the hull. Over the years, the location of the ship was forgotten until it was rediscovered during dredging operations in 1968. Since then, future dredging operations attempted to avoid damaging the remains of the Georgia, but undoubtedly more damage has occurred. Most of what is left of the ship is now parts of the bow and stern, engines and related equipment, armament and ordnance.

In recent years, the decision to deepen the Savannah River resulted in the decision to raise what remains of the CSS Georgia. To that end, the US Army Corps of Engineers and specialists from Texas A&M University have been working with US Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Company 23 (MDSC-23) of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 (MDSU-2) and EOD personnel from NSB Kings Bay to raise the remains of the Georgia. Their equipment is clearly visible from Fort Jackson if you’re interested in seeing what they’re up to (and it’s a great excuse to go visit one of Savannah historical landmarks). There are two barges and a tug boat anchored in the river for the divers, archaeologists, and workers to operate from. On those barges are two cranes, a number of conex boxes that appear to be configured for MDSC-23 to operate out of as well as some tents covering diving equipment.

Barges and Tug Boat anchored in the Savannah River being used for the recovery of the CSS Georgia

Barges and Tug Boat anchored in the Savannah River being used for the recovery of the CSS Georgia

Conex Boxes configured for MDSC-23 use and tents covering dive equipment

Conex Boxes configured for MDSC-23 use and tents covering dive equipment

An unknown boat and a US Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving boat tied alongside the barges

An unknown boat and a US Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving boat tied alongside the barges

The unknown boat left just before lunch heading back upriver toward Savannah

The unknown boat left just before lunch heading back upriver toward Savannah

US Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving boat and one of the cranes aboard the barges

US Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving boat and one of the cranes aboard the barges

This conex box with tent sides seemed fairly busy, with lots of personnel coming and going. I'm guessing it's an office or command center of some sort

This conex box with tent sides seemed fairly busy, with lots of personnel coming and going. I’m guessing it’s an office or command center of some sort

Tug Little Bully

Tug Little Bully

The larger of the two barges had a number of these dumpster/storage containers on it, all covered. I'm guessing that what they're pulling up is going in them.

The larger of the two barges had a number of these dumpster/storage containers on it, all covered. I’m guessing that what they’re pulling up is going in them.

Around lunch time, personnel began stirring about - you can see some of them under the tents to the right.

Around lunch time, personnel began stirring about – you can see some of them under the tents to the right.

A little bit closer view of the tents, you can see the signal flags for diving operations (Alpha and Diver Down below the flag for International Signals)

A little bit closer view of the tents, you can see the signal flags for diving operations (Alpha and Diver Down below the flag for International Signals)

From this angle, you can see what appears to be dive suits drying to the right of the photo

From this angle, you can see what appears to be dive suits drying to the right of the photo

Workers were moving equipment around the barges with one of the cranes

Workers were moving equipment around the barges with one of the cranes

Workers were moving equipment around the barges with one of the cranes

Workers were moving equipment around the barges with one of the cranes

Workers were moving equipment around the barges with one of the cranes

Workers were moving equipment around the barges with one of the cranes

US Corps of Engineers boat Survey Boat Gannett II passed by, but didn't seem involved in the CSS Georgia operations

US Corps of Engineers boat Survey Boat Gannet II passed by, but didn’t seem involved in the CSS Georgia operations

I spent some time searching for radio activity from the barge, but I didn’t see any portable radios being used and the only thing I heard were dive warning broadcasts from the tug on Marine VHF Channel 16 (156.800 MHz).


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