Conservationists say they are ready to reveal a side of the H.L. Hunley that has not been seen since before the submarine was lost at sea more than a century ago.
Charleston Senator Glenn McConnell is also a member of the Hunley Commission and says the Hunley has sat at a 45 degree angle, in the same position since found.
The last people who saw it were the people who left on it on its journey into history on February 17, 1864. The Hunley, when it went down, it coasted to the bottom. It apparently laid over on its starboard side. It has remained on its starboard side.
The Hunley was the first successful combat submarine–sinking the USS Housatonic. However, after that, the crew of eight vanished–taking the Hunley with them. After more than a century, the Hunley was found in 1995 and first raised in 2000.
McConnell says although it was originally raised in 2000, the side being revealed next week was still not shown. He explains the process the Hunley will undergo this week–
The maneuver that we are getting ready to do now, the straps that go underneath it also hide it and so does the concretion that’s on it. So, when we rotate the sub, and that’s what we are going to do: Wednesday we are going to lift the submarine up around three feet up off the bottom of the tank. We will then begin inserting new foam flexible pods into the belts that have suspended the Hunley in this sling.
McConnell says once they do that, they will begin to very slowly rotate the submarine to reveal the unseen side.
The senator says a week from this Friday, the Hunley will be sitting up right as though “she” were sailing through the water.
When we take that concretion off we are going to see the bare metal. Then we are going to have an opportunity to see the footprints of time, what happened that night, why she didn’t come home. This is just a tremendous feat. Nobody has ever done what we are doing.
The Hunley is scheduled to be raised Wednesday (June 15) and rotated on the week of June 20.
The Hunley is 10 tons and is 40 feet long.