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    Digging up the past: Salvaging CSS Georgia

    CSS Georgia

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Hyatt | 150709-N-XJ695-057 SAVANNAH, Ga. (July 9, 2015) Navy Diver 1st Class Spencer Puett, a...... read more read more

    SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Navy Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 6, in conjunction with archaeologists, conservationists, Naval History and Heritage Command, and the US Army Corps of Engineers, are diving the Savannah River in support of the salvage of Civil War ironclad CSS Georgia.

    Literally plunging into history, the team is in the water recovering Civil War-era ordnance and projectiles, rendering the site safe for the next stages of the mission.

    “We have already recovered upwards of 100 pieces of unexploded ordnance and discarded military munitions from the river bottom,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jason Potts, on-scene diving and salvage commander. “Once this portion is wrapped up, we can move on to cannon recovery and large artifact removal.”

    The salvage of the CSS Georgia from the Savannah River is necessitated by the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP. In order to deepen the river — from 42 to 47 feet for larger ships — the ironclad needed to be removed, otherwise it would be demolished with the expansion, as the wreck sits right on the shoulder of the channel used by commercial ships entering the Port of Savannah. Planning took efforts from several sources, starting with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

    “The project has huge national benefits,” said Russell Wicke of the Army Corps of Engineers Corporate Communications Office. “An economic study shows the transportation cost savings could be upwards of 174 million dollars a year.”

    With the project in early planning stages, USACE reached out to the Navy for assistance.

    “The Army Corps of Engineers sent a request asking for help to the U.S. Navy,” said Rick Thiel, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) project manager. “That is how we got involved and coordinated all of the units out here.”

    The Savannah River is an 18-mile stretch water the connects the Port of Savannah to the Atlantic Ocean. The dive site location controls when and how the team goes about the recovery process.

    “The environment in the Savannah River is unique,” said Potts. “With the strong current, civilian and commercial boat traffic, and the Georgia weather in July, we have had challenges, but with careful planning, we came prepared to meet those challenges.”

    MDSU 2 and EODMU 6 conducted training throughout May and June to prepare for the CSS Georgia salvage operation. During this time, the units had to build cohesion between the two different groups. The team also trained to familiarize themselves with the equipment they are using, and the murky conditions of the river.

    “The first couple of days we worked out the kinks, and now we are all really settling into a nice groove,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Justin Wallace, assigned to MDSU 2. “Everybody really knows their job, and we are working together flawlessly.”

    The team is utilizing high-tech sonar, underwater imaging equipment and variety modern-day dive equipment, but the historical importance of the mission isn't lost in slew of technology.

    “I'm just really proud of my Sailors, and we are all very proud to work on this piece of history,” said Potts.

    Navy Divers are in the water every day, throughout the world, performing a diverse array of mission sets. With 2015 serving as The Year of the Military Diver, the CSS Georgia is a perfect illustration of their capabilities as they dive into history.

    U.S. Navy EOD is the world's premier combat force for countering explosive hazards and conducting expeditionary diving and salvage.

    For more news from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2, visit



    Date Taken: 07.09.2015
    Date Posted: 07.09.2015 22:47
    Story ID: 169587
    Location: SAVANNAH, GA, US 

    Web Views: 959
    Downloads: 2