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CSS Alabama

From Academic Kids

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CSSAlabama.jpg



A painting of CSS Alabama
Career Missing image
Csnjack.png
Confederate Navy Jack

Ordered:
Laid down: 1862
Launched: July 29, 1862
Commissioned: August 24, 1862
Decommissioned: June 19, 1864
Fate: Sunk in battle with USS Kearsage
General Characteristics
Displacement: 1050 tons
Length: 220 ft (67 m)
Beam: 31 ft 8 in (9.7 m)
Draught: 17 ft 8 in (5.4 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h)
Range:
Complement: 145 officers and men
Armament: 6 x 32 lb (15 kg) cannons, 1 x 110 lb (50 kg) cannon, 1 x 68 lb (31 kg) cannon

CSS Alabama was a screw sloop-of-war built for the Confederate States Navy at Birkenhead in 1862 by John Laird Sons and Company, Liverpool, England.

History

Launched as Enrica, it was fitted out as a cruiser and commissioned 24 August 1862 as CSS Alabama. Under Captain Raphael Semmes, Alabama spent the next two months capturing and burning ships in the North Atlantic and intercepting American grain ships bound for Europe. Continuing its path of destruction through the West Indies, Alabama sank USS Hatteras along the Texas coast and captured her crew. After a visit to Cape Town, South Africa, Alabama sailed for the East Indies where the ship spent six months cruising, destroying seven more ships before redoubling the Cape en route to Europe.

On 11 June 1864, Alabama arrived in Cherbourg, France and Captain Semmes requested permission to dock and overhaul his ship. Pursuing the raider, the American sloop-of-war USS Kearsarge arrived three days later and took up a patrol just outside the harbor. On 19 June, Alabama sailed out to meet Kearsarge. As Kearsarge turned to meet its opponent, Alabama opened fire. Kearsarge waited patiently until the range had closed to less than 1,000 yards. According to survivors, the two ships steamed on opposite courses moving around in circles as each commander tried to cross the bow of his opponent to deliver a heavy raking fire. The battle quickly turned against Alabama because of the poor quality of its powder and shells, while Kearsarge benefited from the additional protection of chain cables along its sides. A little more than an hour after the first shot was fired, Alabama was reduced to a sinking wreck, causing Semmes to strike his colors and send a boat to surrender. According to witnesses, Alabama fired 150 rounds at its adversary, while Kearsarge fired 100. When a shell fired by Kearsarge tore open a section at Alabamas waterline, the water quickly rushed through the cruiser, forcing it to the bottom. While Kearsarge rescued most of Alabama's survivors, Semmes and 41 others were picked up by the British yacht Deerhound and escaped to England. During its two-year career as a commerce raider, Alabama caused disorder and devastation across the globe for United States merchant shipping. The Confederate cruiser claimed more than 60 prizes valued at nearly $6,000,000. For such devastation, according to the decision of a court of arbitration, the English Government had to pay heavy damages of three millions of money.

The Wreck

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Édouard_Manet-Kearsarge-Alabama.jpg
"The Battle of the Kearsarge and the Alabama" by Édouard Manet

In November 1984, the French Navy mine hunter Circé discovered a wreck under nearly 60 m (about 200 ft) of water off Cherbourg,France.[1] (http://perso.wanadoo.fr/cap.info/alabama.htm) French Navy The location of the wreck (WGS84) 49°45'147N / 001°41'708W. Captain Max Guerout later confirmed the wreck to be Alabama's remains.

In 1988, a non-profit organization, the Association CSS Alabama (http://www.css-alabama.com/), was founded to conduct scientific exploration of the shipwreck. Although the wreck resides within French territorial waters, the U.S. government, as the successor to the former Confederate States of America, is the owner. On October 3, 1989, the United States and France signed an agreement recognizing this wreck as an important heritage resource of both nations and establishing a Joint French-American Scientific Committee for archaeological exploration. This agreement established a precedent for international cooperation in archaeological research and in the protection of a unique historic shipwreck.

The Association CSS Alabama and the U.S. Navy/Naval Historical Center signed on March 23, 1995 an official agreement accrediting Association CSS Alabama as operator of the archaeological investigation of the remains of the ship. This agreement will be in effect for five years and is renewable by mutual consent. The signing of the agreement establishes a precedent for international cooperation in archaeological cooperation and the protection of a unique historic shipwreck. Association CSS Alabama, which is funded solely from private donations, is continuing to make this an international project through its fund raising in France and in the United States, thanks to its sister organization, the CSS Alabama Association, incorporated in the State of Delaware.

In 2002, a diving expedition raised the ship's bell along with more than 300 other artifacts, including cannons, structural samples, tableware, ornate commodes, and numerous other items that reveal much about life aboard the Confederate warship.

Roll Alabama, Roll!

The Alabama is the subject of a well known sea chantey, Roll Alabama, Roll:

When the Alabama's Keel was Laid, (Roll Alabama, roll!), 'Twas laid in the yard of Jonathan Laird (Roll, roll Alabama, roll!)
 'Twas Laid in the yard of Jonathan Laird, 'twas laid in the town of Burkinhead.
Down the Mersey way she rolled then, and Liverpool fitted her with guns and men.
From the western isle she sailed forth, to destroy the commerce of the north.
To Cherbourg port she sailed one day, for to take her count of prize money.
Many a sailor laddie saw his doom, when the Kearsarge it hove in view.
When a ball from the forward pivot that day, shot the Alabama's stern away.
Off the three-mile limit in '64, the Alabama was seen no more.



This article contains material from the Naval Historical Center and is in the public domain.

For other ships named Alabama, see USS Alabama.de:Alabama (Schiff) pl:CSS Alabama

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