“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sullivans Island in Charleston County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

H.L. Hunley Disappears

Discovering the Hunley

— The Hunley Recovery Project —

H.L. Hunley Disappears Side image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, May 3, 2010
1. H.L. Hunley Disappears Side
Inscription.  (Side One):
H.L. Hunley Disappears
To break the blockade of Charleston Harbor, the Confederate submarine the H.L. Hunley set out to attack the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864. After ramming a 135-pound torpedo into the ship's wooden hull, the submarine quickly backed away.

Seconds later a massive explosion shook the Housatonic, killing five crew members and sinking the vessel in 27 feet of water. The H.L. Hunley became the first submarine in history to destroy an enemy ship, but the Hunley and its crew never made it back to shore.

(Caption on the Right): William Alexander's 1902 drawings of the H.L. Hunley. The Hunley was the third in a series of experimental submarines. The Hunley sank twice during tests, killing thirteen crew members. Built from an iron steamboiler, the Hunley was 40 feet long and carried a crew of nine men. The captain navigated while the other crew members worked the crank that turned the propeller shaft. The torpedo was attached to a long wooden spar on the bow.

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Discovering the Hunley
Since the night of the attack, the H.L. Hunley and its crew escaped detection by amateur and professional divers. In 1980, novelist Clive Cussler and a team of underwater archeologists began to search for the submarine in the outer Charleston Harbor. Fifteen years later they found what they believed to be the lost sub, buried in sediment in thirty feet of water four miles southeast of Fort Moultrie.

Researchers from the National Park Service, the South Carolina institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Naval Historical Center soon confirmed the discovery of the Hunley and partially uncovered and mapped the vessel. Test revealed that the Hunley has sufficient hull strength to allow for recovery, conservation, and eventual display at the Charleston Museum.

(Side Three):
The Hunley Recovery Project
Federal, state, and private sector underwater archeologists teamed with engineers and divers from Oceaneering International to excavate and recover the H.L. Hunley. Oceaneering, a marine engineering company, has done recovery work on the USS Monitor and NASA's Liberty Bell 7 space capsule.

In mid-summer 2000, the team excavated the sub and supported it with a continuous series of slings attached to a specifically built
Discovering the Hunley image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, May 3, 2010
2. Discovering the Hunley
recovery frame. Each sling had a load cell to provide constant computerized monitoring of the hull stresses during recovery operations. Finally the Hunley was raised from its resting place and transported to a conservation facility in North Charleston, where the delicate work of conservation and preservation will continue for years.

Erected by Fort Moultrie, A Unit of Fort Sumter National Monument - Nationa Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: War, US CivilWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical date for this entry is February 17, 1864.
Location. 32° 45.534′ N, 79° 51.433′ W. Marker is on Sullivans Island, South Carolina, in Charleston County. Marker can be reached from Poe Avenue, on the right when traveling east. Located along the walking path on the sea-side of Fort Moultrie. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sullivans Island SC 29482, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Discovering the Hunley (here, next to this marker); The Hunley Recovery Project (here, next to this marker); Cannon Row (a few steps from this marker); Civil War Defense of Sullivan's Island (a few steps from this marker); 1860 Flanking Caponniere (within shouting distance of this marker);
The Hunley Recovery Project image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, May 3, 2010
3. The Hunley Recovery Project
13-Inch Seacoast Mortar (within shouting distance of this marker); 10-Inch Confederate Columbiad (within shouting distance of this marker); Harbor Defense 1898-1939 (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sullivans Island.
Also see . . .  Friends of the Hunley. Organization focused on the preservation and interpretation of the submarine. (Submitted on June 19, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
H.L. Hunley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, May 3, 2010
4. H.L. Hunley Marker
Credits. This page was last revised on June 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 19, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 813 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 19, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

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May. 29, 2023