Archaeological survey planned for Civil War shipwrecks

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NOAA and the U.S. Navy embarked Monday on a two-day research expedition to survey the condition of two sunken Civil War vessels that have rested for nearly 150 years on the seafloor of the James River in Hampton Roads, Va.

Using state-of-the-art sonar technology to acquire data, researchers will create 3-D maps of the two shipwrecks, the USS Cumberland and CSS Florida, to analyze current conditions and better understand the technological innovations of the time.

Cumberland was lost on March 8, 1862, during the Battle of Hampton Roads, where she served in the U.S. Navy’s North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She sank after being rammed by the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack) and went down with more than 121 men.

Florida was a Confederate commerce raider that had been captured by the U.S. Navy in Brazil. Towed to United States as a prize despite Brazil's protests, it was lost on Nov. 19, 1864, following a collision with a U.S. Navy troop ferry.

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