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New View: See the Civil War Sub Raised From the Ocean Floor in 2000

Impossible to see clearly until now.

It was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship, and now for the first time since the Civil War the public can clearly see all that's left of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.

On Thursday, an enormous steel truss that had surrounded the wreckage of the H.L. Hunley was removed, allowing for an unobstructed view that had been impossible for 150 years. The truss weighed more than 8 tons, and had shrouded the sub since it was pulled out of the water off the coast of South Carolina in 2000.

The Daily Mail has put together some of the best photos of this amazing piece of naval history taken by the Associated Press, which you can see below:

The attack that cemented the place of the submarine Hunley in naval history was against the USS Housatonic using a torpedo, which was propelled from the submarine with a pole.  The crew of eight men inside powered the propeller by  turning a hand crank, which gave the vessel a maximum speed of around 4 knots.

There was enough air to keep the crew alive as a result of two four-foot pipes that extended just above the waters surface, though the hull itself could contain enough air for approximately 30 minutes of submerged operations.

The Hunley required multiple sea trials before it would see combat, as it sank and was recovered three times before its fateful sinking of the Union's Housatonic, which was part of a federal blockade effort.

Accounts differ on exactly what transpired during the Hunley's missions against the Housatonic, but On Feb. 16, 1864, under the cover of darkness, the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic off Charleston. The Hunley itself sank soon after the Housatonic went under for reasons that are still under debate.

Some postulate the sub was knocked out from the concussion from the blast. Others say the Hunley was struck by another Union ship rushing to the aid of the mortally wounded Housatonic.

The wreckage was discovered in May 1995 off the coast of Charleston and in August 2000 it was finally recovered.

Now that the world has a clear view of the Hunley, the next step in the undersea excavation project, according to the Daily Mail, will be:

"Modifying its conservation tank so chemicals can be used to dissolve the salt and encrustation on the hull. Mardikian says that should happen in about six months and then, after three months in the chemical bath, scientists will again drain the tank and begin using hand tools to remove the deposits."

 

The remains of the Hunley's crew were found nearly 150 years later, still at their stations, apparently nowhere near the escape hatch. Their bodies were buried in 2004 in what some called the "Last Confederate funeral."

For more photos of the Hunley, and additional reading on the excavation efforts and process, check out the Daily Mail's coverage here.

One last thing…
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