Scientists examining the former Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley are disputing a new report from Duke University alumni who say they’ve concluded what sunk the submarine in Charleston harbor.
The Duke biomedical engineering project concluded it was the shockwave from the Hunley’s own torpedo which killed the crew shortly after it sank a Union vessel in 1864. Former doctoral student Rachel Lance performed explosive experiments on a scale model of the Hunley using compressed gas, then scaled black powder to simulate the submarine’s weapon.
“[The pressure wave] caused a really sharp, really fast deformation in that hull. And that little motion was enough to create a secondary pressure wave inside the boat,” Lance told the Duke Chronicle. “That secondary pressure wave inside the boat was of sufficient amplitude that it would’ve caused lethal blast traumas to the crew inside.” She speculated the explosive concussion caused fatal trauma in the lungs of the Hunley crew, explaining the apparent lack of injuries on their bodies. [Read more…]