Experts find clues in H.L. Hunley mystery
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
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Consensus on how to notify data breach victims lacks
- Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation
- Expats renounce citizenship over U.S. tax hassles
- Obama losing close adviser to end 9 years of service
- El Nino could bring relief to U.S.
- Obama gets in some golf on family trip to Key Largo
- Kansas public school funding unconstitutional
- Former National Security Agency contractor Snowden’s leaks to cost billions, take years to fix
- California man named as bitcoin creator denies involvement
- Spyware in government computers ‘has Russian paw prints all over it’
- Immigrant detainees on hunger strike