By Martha M. Boltz - Washington Times Communities
Word has been received that at long last, the H.L. Hunley has been rotated and put into her original upright position in the climate controlled tank at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, SC.
The Confederate submersible/submarine was resting on her starboard side at an approximate 45-degree angle when finally raised from the ocean floor in August 2009.
Due to the sediment inside which had not been disturbed in over 100 years, and the presence of the remains of the eight men who had sailed her, it was felt that a full examination of the contents should be made before any attempt was made to right the seven and one-half ton ship, which was 39’ long.
It took two days to accomplish the shift in position of the craft, which had been held in place by large slings. Moving in micro steps of two millimeters a day, the repositioning was finally accomplished, providing the scientists and conservators with the first glimpse of that side of the Hunley’s hull.
Apparently no specific damage was evident on the long-hidden side, which means that the scientists will still continue their hunt to ascertain what caused the ship to sink.
Talking with Kellen Correia, Executive Director of the Friends of the Hunley organization today, she said that “seeing the Hunley right side up has given us a whole new view of it – it looks stealth-like now.”
They will soon remove the keel block supports, she said, as well as the slings.
“It’s hard to realize that over a half million people have come to see the Hunley in the last ten years,” she related, “and we hope that the new positioning will bring even more to our facility.”
Ms. Correia continued that “within the next two to four weeks, the trusses will be completely removed” from the little craft, although what the ultimate preservation process will be is not known at this time.
History records the fatal steps that led up to the ultimate Hunley’s launching, which made her the first of her kind to sink an enemy ship during warfare.
On February 17, 1864, sliding out of Charleston Harbor late at night, she quietly approached the U.S.S. Housatonic, a Union blockade ship preventing ships from entering the Harbor, and fired a 135 lb. torpedo attached to a 150` detonation rope into the Housatonic’s side.
The Union ship sank in less than five minutes.
After coming to the surface to flash a signal to the crew waiting on shore, the Hunley sank beneath the waves, where she remained for over a century.