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The S.S. Central America Project

Alan Scott, BSEE, MSE
Engineering Consultant

Wednesday, November 6, 2002
3:00 p.m. – Pacific Forum

The sinking of the Steamship Central America during a hurricane in 1857 was America’s worst peacetime sea disaster, claiming 425 lives and over 3 tons of California gold. Following a side scan sonar search in 1986 and site verification studies in 1987, the Central America was discovered and identified in 1988. It was found resting at a depth of 2,200 meters on the Blake Ridge, approximately 270 kilometers southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. In the three recovery years that followed, the Columbus-America Discovery Group, consisting of a small group of engineers, scientists, and support staff, reworked their home-brew undersea robot into a research submersible capable of performing complex and precise tasks at great ocean depths. Over 3,000 hours of videotape and 25,000 still photographs document hundreds of deep-ocean specimens and many artifacts that were recovered from the site.

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