Crews checking Ashley River for sunken War of 1812 ship - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Crews checking Ashley River for sunken War of 1812 ship

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By Ava Wilhite
awilhite@abcnews4.com

Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) — Bobbing up and down on the Ashley River is the magnetometer, the instrument the Coast Guard is using to help them find the sunken War of 1812 cutter the Gallatin.

"Ninety-eight-point-five percent in a harbor is going to be modern rubbish, 1.5 percent might be mildly interesting," said Jim Spirek with the South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology

He is searching for what he calls the 0.5 percent -- shipwrecks.  He's leading a survey team that's searching the Charleston Harbor for a ship that sank 200 years ago off a pier that no longer exists.

"They were left to clean their muskets and while they were cleaning their muskets a spark hit something in the gun powder room and the ship blew up, at least the stern part," said Spirek. 

Spirek said the crew's job was to enforce federal customs and had just returned from a five-day security trip. He said most of the crew survived the sinking ship, but not much is known beyond that.

"This wreck is sort of that window into the history to look at the War of 1812 fought here in Charleston," said Spirek.

Large iron objects like the cannons on board could give the crew a good reading and they're able check readings as the information is brought to light.

"What we are looking for here on the side scan is something that's casting a shadow that might be sitting up off the bottom," said Ashley Deming, a maritime archaeologist. 

Divers with the Charleston City Police are expected to suit up Thursday and search the areas the crew suggested have large iron objects.

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