CSS Savannah

Twin screw towboat, b. 2004 by Hope Services, Inc., Dulac, La. 72 x 30.  Cummins KTA38-MO diesels, 1700 hp.  Twin Disc red.  6.39:1.  Operated by Carline's Geismar Fleet, Inc., Gonzales, La.

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CSS Savannah, a Richmond class ironclad ram, was constructed by F. Willink at the Savannah Shipyards. Its iron plates were manufactured in Atlanta, then transported to Savannah, where they were cut, drilled, and mounted. With a length of 172.5 feet, a 34-foot beam, and a 12.5-foot draft, the Savannah featured a conventional hull and casement with single screw, with 4 inches of iron armor over 22 inches of wood. The Savannah's armament included two 7-inch rifled cannons and two 6.4-inch Brooks guns. The engines, built in Columbus, were significantly underpowered. Although considered among the best ships built by the Confederacy, the Savannah boasted an estimated top speed of only six knots. It took almost thirty minutes to make a 180-degree turn. The crew consisted of 180 officers and men. Launched on February 4, 1863, the ironclad Savannah was transferred in June to naval forces under Flag Officer William Hunter on the Savannah River. The ship remained on the river and did not engage in battle until Union general William T. Sherman approached the city of Savannah in December 1864, at the end of his march to the sea. Unable to prevent the city's capture, the Savannah remained on the river for two days to protect William J. Hardee's withdrawal across an improvised pontoon bridge, built with the help of the Savannah's crew. On December 20, 1864, the ironclad engaged in a spirited daylong artillery duel with Union guns, becoming the last ship of the Confederacy to fight in Georgia waters. When the Savannah attempted to escape, the ship was trapped by the South's own torpedo mines, leaving it a "trapped lion," in the words of General Sherman. On December 21 Tattnall ordered the Savannah to be burned to prevent capture. The ironclad was run aground on the South Carolina shore and set afire. The ensuing explosion was reported to have lit up the night sky for miles.