157 years since the H.L. Hunley’s sinking

Local News


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – It has been 157 years since the H.L. Hunley submarine sank off the coast of Charleston.

The nearly 40-foot Confederate submarine, named after inventor Horace Lawson Hunley, attacked and sank the USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864 – the ship was serving as Union blockade in the outer harbor.

The Hunley did not survive the attack either. All eight members of her crew were killed before it vanished.

But it wasn’t the first time the submarine sank, killing its crew. According to historical records, the ship first sank on August 29th, 1863 during a test run and killed five of her crew – and again on October 15, 1863, killing all eight members of its second crew. Among those killed was the inventor, who was not a member of the Confederal military. The vessel was recovered each time.

Lost after its sinking in 1864, the vessel was located off Charleston’s coast in 1995 and later raised from the ocean floor in August of 2000.

Famed author Clive Cussler, who founded his own National Underwater and Marine Agency, is credited with finding the submarine.

The vessel was gently lifted from her ocean grave and transported to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the former Charleston Navy Yard in North Charleston for study, excavation, and preservation.

Since then, scientists have worked to save the legendry submarine and find new details about its fate.

A new discovery in 2019 revealed a broken pipe may have caused water to pour into the submarine.

The in-take was meant to fill the forward ballast tank with water. But scientists found a nearly 1-inch gap from where the pipe should have been mounted on the sidewall of the vessel. They say that may have resulted in the sinking of the sub and the death of the crew.

The Hunley’s crew, which included Lt. George E. Dixon, Arnold Becker, C. Lumpkin, Frank Collins, J.F. Carlsen, Miller, James A. Wicks, and Joseph Ridgeaway, received a proper burial at Magnolia Cemetery in April 2004 after a memorial service at White Point Garden.

Guests can book exclusive weekend tours to view the Hunley and artifacts that have been recovered from the excavation mission.

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