Historic Confederate Submarine Hunley Recovered
Under the direction of a National Parks Service team, the wreck of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was recovered intact on Tuesday after spending the last 136 years on floor of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina.
On the night of Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley became the first submarine in history to sink an enemy surface ship during battle. Slipping beneath Union ships blockading Charleston Harbor, the Hunley's nine-man crew maneuvered the 40-foot (12-meter) boiler-turned-submarine to within feet of the Union vessel USS Housatonic. Then, with a few last cranks of her human-powered propeller, the Hunley's crew rammed the Housatonic with a black powder charge attached to a 17-foot (5-meter) pole. The detonation sent the Housatonic to the bottom minutes later. Neither the Hunley, nor any of her crew ever returned from the mission.
It could take months to determine if any human remains are still on board the Hunley, according to the National Parks Service.
Historians also hope to determine exactly how the Hunley sank. Divers who first found the wreck five years ago reported a large hole in the side of the submarine. Whether the damage to the Hunley resulted from Union fire or from the same explosion that sank the Housatonic remains unknown.
The wreck of the Hunley will first be lowered into seawater storage tank built aboard the recovery barge Karlissa B. After being fully restored, the Hunley is slated to go on permanent display at the Charleston History Museum.
National Parks Department estimates place the cost of the 10-year search and recovery project at over $17 million. The Submerged Cultural Resources Unit of the National Parks Service has worked closely with the University of South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology in the location and recovery of the Hunley.
Later this summer, Navy divers hope to recover the engine of the Union ironclad USS Monitor, which sank in 1862 off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Earlier in the Civil War, the Monitor engaged the CSS Virginia, also know as the Merrimack, in history's first navel battle between two metal warships.
The CSS Hunley:
Weight (dry, without crew): 7.5 tons
Length: 39.5 feet
Width: 3 feet, 10 inches
Hull height: 4 feet, 3 inches
Hull construction: Iron (fabricated from a steam boiler)
Propulsion: Single propeller turned manually by hand
Maximum Operating Depth: Unknown
Armament: Pole-mounted torpedo - other unknown
Surface speed: 4 knots (4.6 mph)
Submerged Speed: Unknown
Civil War sub brought to surface
Details and photographs in this CNN story of August 8, 2000.
Early Drawing of the Hunley
Showing the incredibly small area allowed to house the crew of nine. From the University of South Carolina Institute of Archeology and Anthropology's Hunley Update Web site.
C.S.S. Hunley Recovery Information
More information on the project to recover the Hunley, plus a drawing showing how the submarine might have delivered its explosive charge.
Submerged Cultural Resources Unit - National Parks Service
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