Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Florida Secretary of State Proposes Florida's Twelfth Underwater Archaeological Preserve

seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
December 28, 2011

Chris Cate

Secretary Browning Announces Proposal for New Florida Underwater Archeological Preserve

USS Narcissus proposed to be designated Florida’s twelfth Underwater Archaeological Preserve.

TALLAHASSEE – Secretary of State Kurt Browning today announced today that the Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources has officially proposed the USS Narcissus to be designated Florida’s twelfth Underwater Archaeological Preserve. The site was nominated by Mike Terrell of the Florida Aquarium and maritime archaeologists John William Morris III and Nicole Tumbleson Morris. The USS Narcissus would be unique among Florida’s archaeological preserves in that it is still the property of the US Navy, which has made recommendations that are incorporated into the proposal.

“The USS Narcissus provides not only a fascinating underwater preserve to explore, it also offers a unique and adventurous look into our nation’s naval history,” said Secretary Browning. “The site would be an exciting addition to Florida’s underwater archeological preserves.”

The public proposal is a response to the Florida Aquarium’s nomination of the site, and is being made available to area stakeholders and members of the public for comment. If public response is favorable, the site of USS Narcissus will be designated Florida’s Twelfth Underwater Archaeological Preserve. The preserve program encourages state, county and city officials, local organizations and individuals to work together to protect and interpret Florida’s maritime history. The proposal is available online at www.flheritage.com/archaeology/underwater/docs/USS_Narcissus_Proposal.pdf

A Civil War-era steam tugboat, USS Narcissus was lost in a storm off Egmont Key in 1866. Built in 1863 in East Albany, New York, the vessel was purchased by the US Navy. During the Battle of Mobile Bay the tug witnessed the attack in which Union Admiral David G. Farragut uttered the famous words, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” On her way to New York where she was to be decommissioned the tug ran aground in heavy seas in Tampa Bay. The boiler exploded, killing all on board.

Florida’s Underwater Archaeological Preserves must meet several criteria such as safe public access, be located in state waters, be an identified wreck with recognizable features, and have abundant marine life. The Bureau of Archaeological Research has determined that USS Narcissus meets these criteria. If designated as a preserve, the site will be more made more accessible and better interpreted for divers, with brochures, posters, underwater maps and a website. In addition, the site will be marked with a bronze plaque.

Florida’s unique Underwater Archaeological Preserves include Urca de Lima, a Spanish galleon off Ft. Pierce; USS Massachusetts, the nation’s oldest battleship sunk off Pensacola; Half Moon, a racing yacht near Key Biscayne; and Georges Valentine, a steel barkentine off Stuart. Visit www.museumsinthesea.org for more information on Florida’s Underwater Archaeological Preserves.

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