National Geographic : 1994 Dec
On Assignment usty and encrusted after 131 years under the English Channel, the cast-iron Blakely cannon from the C.S.S. Alabama-a massive, shell-firing, pivoting gun-looked beautiful to Capt. MAx GUEROUT (above), who writes about the long-lost Confeder ate shipwreck in this issue. "For three years we planned to recover that cannon," he says. Poor visibil ity, 180-foot depths, and fierce cur rents off Cherbourg, France, limited Gu6rout's volunteer divers to 15 minutes of bottom time per dive during a three-week summer sea son. Last June a shipboard crane finally pulled up the 3.2-ton cannon-and Gu6rout's spirits. Born in a Parisian suburb, Gu6 rout has lived his life on the sea. He was an officer in the French Navy for 29 years. In his spare time he specialized in underwater archaeol ogy, investigating shipwrecks throughout the Mediterranean. His career honors include being named a chevalier of the French Legion of EMORYKRISTOF Honor and a laureate of France's Acad6mie de Marine. In 1988 Gu6 rout retired from the navy and became the chief archaeologist of the C.S .S . Alabama Association. "It was a challenge," says freelance photographer ROD M. FARB (left) of diving on the wreck. "The conditions there are horren dous. Even in summer the water temperature is only about 49°F, and it's so dark sometimes you can't see a thing." The author-photographer of two books on shipwreck explo ration, Farb began diving at the age of 13 in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. "When I was growing up, the Alabama's Capt. Raphael Semmes was remembered as a minor deity," he recalls. "He came back here to live after the Alabama sank. Mobile County even has a Semmes Elementary School." "I have always loved shipwrecks," says Farb, who has a graduate de gree in biology. "They're like time capsules with the clock stopped at the moment of sinking." He is cur rently at work on a book about the wreck of the U.S.S. Monitor off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. When not underwater Farb is a pho tographer for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC (ISSN 0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLY BYTHENATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY,1145 17THST. N.W ., WASHINGTON,D. C. 20036-4688. $24.00 A YEAR,$2.65 A COPY. SECOND-CLASSPOSTAGEPAID AT WASHINGTON,D. C., AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SEND ADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P.O. BOX2174, WASHINGTON,D. C. 20013.