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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Civil War Submarine Update

Friday, July 20, 2018

Confederate sub HunleyCOLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA—Archaeologist Michael Scafuri of The Hunley Project announced that the levers controlling the keel blocks on the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley were still locked in the regular position, according to an Associated Press report. Corrosion, silt, and shells have accumulated on Hunley since it disappeared in Charleston Harbor shortly after its crew of eight placed explosives on the hull of USS Housatonic, a ship in the Union blockading squadron. Scientists have been carefully removing concretions from the inside and outside of the vessel and looking for possible clues as to why it sank. Scafuri explained that releasing the 1,000-pound keel blocks, which helped to keep the hand-cranked vessel upright while underwater, would have helped the Hunley crew to surface quickly in the case of an emergency. “It’s more evidence there wasn’t much of a panic on board,” he added. For more on the submarine, go to “History's Greatest Wrecks: USS Monitor and H.L. Hunley.”

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