CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – For the first time in over a century, you can actually see the exterior of the world’s first successful combat submarine.
Until recently, the Hunley was completely encased in concretion, an encrusted layer of sand, sediment and shells that built up slowly over time while she was lost at sea.
This material is being removed so that a conservation treatment can be completed to ensure the artifact is available for generations to come.
Clemson University conservators have been chiseling away this encrustation, allowing the submarine to be fully visible.
During this year long process, they carefully removed approximately 1,200 pounds of concretion, roughly the same weight as a grand piano.
With the outside of the submarine completed, scientists are taking their work to the inside of the crew compartment, hoping to uncover new artifacts and clues that may help solve the mystery of the submarine’s disappearance.
The Hunley Project
On the evening of February 17, 1864, the H. L. Hunley became the world’s first successful combat submarine by sinking the USS Housatonic. After signaling to shore that the mission had been accomplished, the submarine and her crew of eight mysteriously vanished.
Lost at sea for over a century, the Hunley was located in 1995 by Clive Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA).
The innovative hand-cranked vessel was raised in 2000 and delivered to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where an international team of scientists are at work to conserve the submarine for future generations and piece together clues to solve the mystery of her disappearance. The Hunley Project is conducted through a partnership with the Clemson University Restoration Institute, South Carolina Hunley Commission, Naval History and Heritage Command, and Friends of the Hunley.