NHHC considers the issuance of an applicable permit under 32 CFR 767 to constitute a federal undertaking under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. In general, as part of the permit application evaluation process, the NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch will provide information to the public on applicable proposals below and seek public input on those proposed undertakings. Input will be solicited over the course of 15 days in the case where an undertaking carries a “proposed no adverse effect to a historic property” determination, or 30 days in the case of an undertaking that carries a “proposed adverse effect to a historic property” determination. In either instance, comments may be submitted in writing by e-mailing NHHCUnderwaterArchaeology@navy.mil.
Information regarding applications presently open for public comment are presented below.
APPLICATION NUMBER: (2020-02)
PROJECT TITLE: USS Housatonic Investigation (2021)
APPLICANT: South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology / College of Charleston / Warren Lasch Conservation Center at Clemson University
LOCATION: Offshore South Carolina, U.S.A.
SUMMARY: The Applicants seek additional information relating to life aboard the Union blockader USS Housatonic during the siege of Charleston in the American Civil War, as well the events surrounding its attack by Confederate submarine HL Hunley.
METHODOLOGY: The Applicants propose to conduct a two-phase project consisting of non-intrusive remote-sensing operations using marine geophysical instruments (sub-bottom profiler) followed by documentation, selective excavation, and recovery of diagnostic artifacts from the site. The selective diver-based excavations will aim to investigate the areas of the starboard stern of USS Housatonic, to determine evidence of damage caused by Hunley’s torpedo, as well as work, storage, and living spaces aboard the warship near to the midship area of the buried wreck, in addition to assessing site formation processes. The selective excavation phase, which will involve hydro-probing and dredging using a water induction pump, is planned to last four weeks in early Fall 2021 and to involve six underwater archaeologists, one terrestrial archaeologist, and one conservator, along with volunteers. Site remediation will involve purposeful back-filling of sediment and natural infilling or the otherwise barren, sandy seafloor. Recovered artifacts, which will be limited to 300 or less, will be conserved by the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, and will ultimately augment interpretive exhibits at the planned museum dedicated to HL Hunley. Additional public and professional outreach initiatives form part of the proposed activity.
32 CFR 767 DETERMINATION: The NHHC has found that the proposed activity pertains to a sunken military craft under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy and falls within the scope of the 32 CFR 767 permitting program, intended to authorize disturbance of such craft for archaeological, historical, or educational purposes. All other permit requirements and considerations, including qualifications of the Principal Investigator and Proposed Budget, have been met.
PROPOSED SECTION 106 DETERMINATION: NHHC proposes that this activity constitutes a site characterization effort of an archaeological site eligible for the National Register of Historic Places that does not rise to the level of constituting an adverse effect on the historic property.
PUBLIC COMMENTS ACCEPTED BETWEEN: (05/01/2021 – 05/16/2021)
PUBLIC COMMENT SUBMISSION METHOD: Please submit any comments to NHHCUNDERWATERARCHAEOLOGY@NAVY.MIL