SAVANNAH- Divers hit the water this morning to extract the second cannon from the CSS Georgia. It marks nearly a month now since Navy divers and Army Corps of Engineers have worked to recover pieces of the civil war era ironclad ship.
It’s an early morning start for Navy divers and EOD technicians as they wait for the river currents to play fair during their retrieve.
“It takes a lot of work to get up early in the mornings to hit those three dive schedules but we’re doing it safely, responsibly and as of right now tracking on time to be complete are our schedule permits,” says EODCS Richard Bledsoe out of the EODMU6 Kings Bay.
By mid morning three Navy divers are suited up and the dive supervisor goes through a check list; oxygen levels, suit restraints, and tightness of the scuba gear all have to be looked over with keen eyes. A little after seven in the morning green and red diver hit the water working through the river current and zero visibility to find the second cannon.
“Once you put your hand on it down there, you’re really not thinking of anything else except get to work get it done, I’m here for a job, once the job is done there’s a huge sense of satisfaction absolutely,” says Cody Bumpass, Navy Diver 1st Class.
This morning marked a clean recovery for the dive team, which is something to celebrate given the past weeks set back with mechanics and weather.
“The CSS Georgia is by far the biggest project weight wise we’re looking at a minimum 45 to 50 tons of material being sent back to the lab for conservation and this is an interesting challenge for the lab because it’s definitely the biggest project we’ve dealt with,” says archeologist Jim Jobling working out of the Texas AM Conservation Lab.
Weight and age alone carry high risk for this project. Navy divers and explosive ordinance disposal technician though have to take into account the currents, diver safety, and zero visibility underwater to extract the thousands of pieces left of the ship.
Yet it’s all in a days work for these guys.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity, it takes time but we bring the cannon to life so people can see it, appreciate it and enjoy it,” says Jobling.
The Navy dive crews look to extract another cannon later Tuesday evening as well as first thing Wednesday morning. They are on track to raise larger items hopefully come this weekend when Old Fort Jackson hosts its “Raise the Wreck” viewing party and all day event watching the divers and conservations teams go to work.