There was some concern over rights to the shipwreck site, as it was a Confederate naval ship in French waters. To avoid dispute, the United States and France drafted a research agreement in 1989. (Image: American and French dive teams in 2002)
The negotiations over rights to the wreck led to the conclusion that the CSS Alabama is the property of the United States of America and the management responsibility of the U. S. Naval Historical Center in Washington, D. C. As an underwater archaeological resource in French territorial waters, it falls under the administration of that country's Ministry of Culture. All on-site research activity requires authorization from both the Naval Historical Center, representing the present owner, and the Ministry of Culture, representing the territorial authority.