For years, the scoured remains of a Civil War naval tragedy slowly rusted beneath the spinning propellers of gargantuan tankers and sky-scraping container ships.
The scuttled USS Westfield, a Union gunship, and the last vestiges of its 14 doomed crew lay obscured in sea floor sediment near the confluence of the Texas City and Houston ship channels.
On Wednesday, however, divers and salvage crews visited the all-but-forgotten site to begin recovering what is left of the ship in preparation for a planned 5-foot deepening of the Texas City Channel.
Since the dredging will damage or destroy the archaeological site, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District and Navy salvage experts stepped in to remove artifacts from the site, as required by federal law, Sharon Tirpak, Corps project manager for the Texas City Channel, said.
The Westfield sank in an ill-fated attempt by Union sailors to destroy the ship so Confederate sailors wouldn’t capture it, she said.