The next step in the study of the Civil War-era submarine H.L. Hunley is scheduled to start Wednesday when the process of raising and rotating the Confederate naval vessel begins in North Charleston.
Rotating the estimated 10-ton, 40-foot Hunley will be a major engineering feat. The process that turns the ship to an upright position will take an estimated 10 days. Dr. Michel Drews, Director of Clemson University’s Lasch Conservation Center, says a there is a major concern about the integrity of the vessel and the process of rotation will be a slow, methodical one considering the Hunley’s fragility.
On February 17, 1864, the Hunley became the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel. Soon after, the Hunley itself sank for unknown reasons, killing all eight of her crew when it was lost at sea. It was recovered in August 2000. Drews says, once the vessel is rotated and the supporting straps are removed, scientists will begin to study the ship in an attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding its sinking 147 years ago.