Archaeologists working on the former Confederate submarine HL Hunley say they have uncovered a new clue in their search to discover why the vessel sank 155 years ago.
The Warren Lasch Conservation Lab team’s lead archaeologist Mike Scafuri said researchers found evidence of a broken pipe which may have allowed water to flow into the doomed submarine. The water intake pipe was designed to fill the front ballast tank with water when the Hunley needed to dive. However, Scafuri said it had broken off and left a gaping hole along the vessel’s hull.
But Scafuri emphasized much more research is needed before concluding the hole caused the Hunley’s demise in 1864. “It may have significance or the loss of the Hunley,” he said. “Or it may have been something that happened a little bit later. We can’t say for certain, but it certainly is an interesting and compelling clue.”
The Hunley became the first submarine vessel to ever sink an opposing ship in 1864 after it successfully attacked the Union warship USS Housatonic in Charleston harbor. However, the ship and its eight-man crew never returned home from its mission. Its location was not discovered until the 1970s and not made public until 1995. It was later recovered and transported to the North Charleston laboratory for continued research and restoration efforts. [Read more…]