Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Confederate Submarine Hunley

Charleston, SC - Day 1

The CSS Hunley is located at the old Naval Station in Charleston where it is undergoing restoration and is available for viewing by the general public. To me it is amazing that something made of iron and submerged in salt water for 150 years can be so totally intact. This was something that we just had to see.

The CSS Hunley was not the first submarine, she was however the first sub to successfully attack and sink an enemy ship. The Hunley was manned by 7 enlisted members who provided the hand-cranked propulsion for the boat and one officer who skippered the boat. 

From the beginning the Hunley seemed to be ill-fated. She was launched in July 1863. The first sinking of the Hunley was on August 29, 1863 when the skipper of the boat accidentally stepped on the lever that controlled the diving planes – and since the hatches were open – she flooded and sank with the loss of 5 of 8 crewmen. Her second sinking October 15, 1863, occurred for unknown reasons and all 8 crewmen, including the man behind the machine, H.L. Hunley, who had been at the helm, were killed. The third, and last, sinking was February 17, 1864. On this date the Hunley attacked and sank the USS Housatonic and shortly thereafter the Hunley sank killing all 8 of the crewmen.

In the years following the Civil War, explorers and treasure hunters tried in vain to locate the Hunley. It was not until 1995, when author Clive Cussler led an expedition to find the sub that she was located. She was in Charleston Harbor, 100 yards away from the Housatonic in 27 feet of water and buried under several feet of silt. She was raised, completely intact, on August 8, 2000 and is still today undergoing restoration. The remains of the crewmen indicated that the men died at their stations and were not trying to escape from the sinking sub. The remains of all 21 crewmen who died during the 3 sinkings of the boat are interred at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, SC.

We were not allowed to take pictures of the Hunley so – if you are interested in learning more and seeing pictures check this web site: Confederate Sub Hunley


~Cheryl said...

I never knew any of this. How very interesting -- exciting, too. Looks like very close quarters.

Lois said...

That is incredible Shelley. I always learn something new from your blog!