28 Aug 2013

1860 shipwreck identified

7:40 am on 28 August 2013

The wreck of a US steamship which sank in a collision with a schooner in 1860 has been identified off the coast of New Jersey.

The Robert J. Walker was built in 1847. It was one of the US government's first iron-hulled, side-wheel steamers.

It was a survey ship, returning to New York from a mission to chart the Gulf Coast the year before the Civil War.

The wreck was discovered in the 1970s by a commercial fisherman and is a popular destination for divers, but its identity was not confirmed until June this year.

The announcement was made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday.

Twenty of the steamship's crew of 66 were lost when it sank near Atlantic City on 21 June, 1860.