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College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division


Previously Licensed Projects

Previous Intensive Survey/Data Recovery Licensed Projects

HMS Acteon Survey: In 2001, Ralph Wilbanks, working under the auspices of Clive Cussler and his organization National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA), obtained an Intensive Survey License to look for the remains of the HMS Acteon in Charleston Harbor. Acteon grounded during a failed British naval assault on Charleston during the American Revolutionary War in 1776. The vessel was set on fire by the crew to prevent its supplies and cannons falling into the hands of the Americans. Based on historical accounts, the remains of the warship were presumed buried in the shoals on which Fort Sumter was built. The anticipated general location of the vessel seemed to be corroborated by an event in the late 1800's, when a merchant vessel struck an obstruction, which upon inspection revealed several Revolutionary War-era cannons. These guns were salvaged shortly thereafter, and currently are located at Lafayette Park in St. Louis, Missouri. Apparently, the remaining guns that were salvaged were ordered thrown back into the sea and used as fill material for the Charleston Harbor jetties. This image most likely is the collection of Acteon's armament recovered from Charleston Harbor, note several carronades on top of the pile. NUMA’s remote sensing operations located a number of potential targets, but upon inspection were mostly modern debris. One anomaly, however, proved interesting, but deeply buried approximately 10 ft. (3.3 m) below grade. Judicious use of a prop blower, revealed wood and iron elements that is now believed to be the remains of the Confederate transport steamer, CSS Sumter, that was used to move men and materials in Charleston Harbor during the American Civil War. The wreck of HMS Acteon still remains elusive.

Historic Log Recovery: In 2000, R.H. Moore Company, Inc. received an Intensive Survey License to recover logs, both natural and deadheads, in the Waccamaw River. Acoustic survey undertaken by the project archaeologist, William Barr, revealed several concentrations of logs on the river bottom. Barr’s report concluded that recovery of the submerged timber would not adversely affect any archaeological sites in the area. The company then received a Data Recovery License in 2001 to recover a number of logs. Several of the recovered timbers revealed ways in which the timber was cut: chopping or sawing, as well as evidence of gathering sap from pine trees for use in the naval stores industry as tar, rosin, or turpentine. The bottom of these logs were sawn off at an appropriate length and donated to the Horry County Museum for display. The company intends to mill the logs into lumber for sale. A slideshow of images taken by SCIAA shows the process of recovering the logs from the river.

Mars Bluff Confederate Navy Yard: In 1996 the CSS Peedee Research and Recovery Team, a group composed of hobby-licensed sport divers and history enthusiasts, received an Intensive Survey License to investigate underwater components related to the adjacent Mars Bluff Naval Yard. The naval yard was one of five inland water naval shipbuilding facilities established by the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The group was also interested in finding and potentially recovering a number of cannons associated with the scuttled CSS Pee Dee, a Confederate gunboat, which now lies wrecked downstream of the naval yard. Archaeological recording of the finds was supervised by the late Dr. William Keeling, then director of the Horry County Museum. After detailed mapping of artifacts on the bottom, a number of the finds were recovered and conserved. Recovered artifacts included several artillery shells, shot, and canister, medicinal bottles, carpenter tools, and other objects. The team also reported locating three cannons believed jettisoned by the gunboat's crew prior to burning the vessel to prevent its capture by Union forces. The cannons still remain on the bottom of the river. Currently, some of the recovered artifacts are on display in Myrtle Beach at one member of the group's museum/business establishment.