The H.L. Hunley may not hide its secrets for much longer.
Today, scientists at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center will immerse the Civil War-era submarine in a caustic bath of sodium hydroxide and water to begin a long-awaited conservation process that is expected to last about five years.
But within a few months, conservators and archaeologists expect to get their first look at the sub’s iron hull - and it may hold clues that finally reveal why the Hunley sank off Charleston 150 years ago.
"We have been waiting for this for years," said conservator Nestor Gonzalez. "Everything we’re doing here is to preserve the Hunley as it was and to preserve information recorded on the sub. Now we will finally get to see the hull." Read more.
Researchers in Hawaii have found a mammoth World War II-era Japanese submarine scuttled by the U.S. Navy in 1946 to keep its advanced technology out of the hands of the Soviet Union.
The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii discovered the I-400 in 2,300 feet of water off the southwest coast of Oahu, according the school.
"Finding it where we did was totally unexpected," lab operations director and chief submarine pilot Terry Kerby said in a university statement. "All our research pointed to it being further out to sea." Read more.
For the first time since the U.S. Civil War, the Confederate vessel H.L. Hunley—the world’s first submarine to sink an enemy ship—was revealed on January 12 after 11 years of conservation work.
Shown in a South Carolina conservation facility, the Hunley sank the U.S.S.Housatonic off Charleston in 1864. Within minutes the sub itself sank too-killing its eight-man crew and creating an enduring mystery.
Five years after the Hunley wreck’s discovery in 1995, conservators raised the sub using a special steel truss that was removed only weeks ago.
"No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete," said engineer John King on January 12 as a crane lifted the truss at Clemson University’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, Reuters reported on January 13.
"We’re going to see it today."
Suspended on slings beneath a steel truss, the Confederate submarine Hunley is raised from the Atlantic Ocean off Charleston, South Carolina, on August 8, 2000.
At only about 4 feet (122 centimeters) tall and 2 feet (61 centimeters) wide, the interior of the Hunley was so cramped that its eight crewmen couldn’t trade places after they’d taken their stations.
The Hunley’s propeller had been protected by a curved iron shroud, part of which has been torn away, probably sometime after the Hunley sank in 1864.
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. —Confederate Civil War vessel H.L. Hunley, the world’s first successful combat submarine, was unveiled in full and unobstructed for the first time on Thursday, capping a decade of careful preservation.
"No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete. We’re going to see it today," engineer John King said as a crane at a Charleston conservation laboratory slowly lifted a massive steel truss covering the top of the submarine.
About 20 engineers and scientists applauded as they caught the first glimpse of the intact 42-foot-long (13-meter-long) narrow iron cylinder, which was raised from the ocean floor near Charleston more than a decade ago. The public will see the same view, but in a water tank to keep it from rusting. Read more.
The Key Largo-based Aurora Trust, a not-for-profit ocean exploration and education foundation, has solved a World War II British mystery.
On May 8, 1942, under the cover of darkness, the British submarine HMS Olympus (N35) was attempting to leave the British Naval Base in the Grand Harbor of Malta, a tiny island nation just south of Sicily and north of Tripoli that was blockaded by the Germans and Italians.
But the Olympus didn’t get far before striking a mine and sinking.
For nearly 70 years, nobody knew exactly where the 283-foot sub’s final resting spot was in the Mediterranean Sea. Only nine of the 98 men aboard survived, swimming about seven miles in cold water and without lights to guide them due to the wartime blackout. Read more.
Authorities are trying to determine the nationality of a submarine wreck found off the Papua New Guinea town of Rabaul, which was a major Japanese military base during World War II.
The Australian Defence Department says in a statement that the governments of Japan, the United States, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand have been informed of the find in Simpson Harbour on the South Pacific island nation’s northeast coast.
The statement says the wreck is probably World War II vintage, but identification could take days.
The discovery was made by Australian and New Zealand warships involved in an operation to clear the Southwest Pacific of World War II-era explosives. (source)
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship is upright for the first time in almost 150 years, revealing a side of its hull not seen since it sank off the South Carolina coast during the Civil War.
Workers at a conservation lab finished the painstaking, two-day job of rotating the hand-cranked H.L. Hunley upright late Thursday.
The Hunley was resting on its side at a 45-degree angle on the bottom of the Atlantic when it was raised in August 2000, and scientists had kept it in slings in that position in the lab for the past 11 years.
But they needed to turn it upright to continue with the job of conservation.
Scientists hope the hidden side of the sub will provide clues as to why the Hunley sank with its eight-member crew in February 1864 after sending the Union blockade ship Housatonic to the bottom. Read more.
Confederate sub rotated a few millimeters at a time; should be upright today
The H.L. Hunley was never a fast boat, but it probably never moved this slowly.
On Wednesday, engineers and scientists at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center began rotating the Confederate submarine into an upright position — 3 millimeters at a time. The pace was plodding, the progress barely visible, but then speed wasn’t the objective. The idea was to right the sub without putting any stress on its iron hull. This was accomplished by slowly adjusting the 15 straps that cradle the Hunley, and keeping a laser sight running from stern to bow that would detect any twisting of the hull.
"We’re just trying to be cautious," said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator on the Hunley project. "The movement was very smooth. The laser was perfectly aligned."
Barring any complications, the rotation should be finished sometime today. Read more.