Divers will soon take 3D photos of the USS Hatteras, an iron-hulled steamship that the US Navy converted into a gunboat during the Civil War.
The USS Hatteras was sunk by the CSS Alabama, a famous commerce raider, during the battle and was the only Union warship to be sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The wreck of the ship sits about 57 feet underwater, smothered in sand and silt. With recent storms, however, some sediment has been removed, allowing NOAA scientists an opportunity to study the wreck before it can be reburied by the shifting sands.
MSNBC notes that a team of archaeologists and technicians will use sonar to create a 3D image of the exposed remains of the ship this week. James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for NOAA’sOffice of National Marine Sanctuaries, stated:
“This will create a detailed visual representation of a long buried wreck in murky waters that we can share with the public while also using it to plan for USS Hatteras’ long term protection as an archaeological site and war grave.”
The NOAA and other organizations have examined sunken Union and Confederate warships along the East Coast, including two of those who sank at the bottom of a Virginia river. Two of the Hatteras crew members went down with their ship, and their bodies were never recovered. The NOAA statement says that they are presumed to lie inside the buried hull of the ship.