TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Experts find clues in H.L. Hunley mystery

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Researchers said they may have the final evidence needed to solve the mystery of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, which never resurfaced when it became the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship, taking its eight-man crew to a watery grave.

Scientists said on Monday that the Hunley apparently was less than 20 feet away from the Housatonic when the crew ignited a torpedo that sank the Union blockade ship off South Carolina in 1864. That means it may have been close enough for the crew to be knocked unconscious by the explosion, long enough that they may have died before awakening.

For years, historians thought the Hunley was farther away and had speculated the crew ran out of air before they were able to return to shore.

The discovery was based on a recent examination of the spar — the iron pole in front of the hand-cranked sub that held the torpedo.

The Hunley, built in Mobile, Ala., and deployed off Charleston in an attempt to break the Union blockade during the Civil War, was finally found in 1995. It was raised five years later and brought to a lab in North Charleston, where it is being conserved.

Conservator Paul Mardikian had to remove material crusted onto one end of the spar after 150 years at the bottom of the ocean. Beneath the muck he found evidence of a cooper sleeve. The sleeve is in keeping with a diagram of the purported design of a Hunley torpedo that a Union general acquired after the war and is in the National Archives in Washington.

“The sleeve is an indication the torpedo was attached to the end of the spar,” Mardikian said. He said the rest of the 16-foot spar shows deformities in keeping with its being bent during an explosion.

It may be that the crew, found at their seats when the sub was raised with no evidence of an attempt to abandon ship, may have been knocked out by the concussion of an explosion so close by, said Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, a member of the South Carolina Hunley Commission.

“I think the focus now goes down to the seconds and minutes around the attack on the Housatonic,” he said.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Warnings on youths, codeine unheeded; lack of effectiveness, dangers had been raised
  2. Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
  3. Art from ‘Dick and Jane’ series set for auction
  4. Postal Service overhaul expected to appeal to Dems
  5. Wyoming officials to drill at landslide’s crest
  6. Navy endorses 24-hour sleep cycle for sailors
  7. Study of corn waste as fuel source finds gasoline less damaging to atmosphere
  8. Space station receives Easter cargo delivery
  9. Ruling on Cleveland police chase questioned
  10. Seafood study: Up to 32 percent imported to U.S. is caught illegally
  11. SpaceX supply ship makes Easter cargo delivery to space station
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.