message Board EDUCATION RESOURCES SUNKEN CITIES RECENT DISCOVERIES SHIP WRECKS MAIN PAGE INTRODUCTION GLOSSARY TIMELINE LINKS CONSERVATION METHODS LOCATING THE WRECK EXCAVATION TECHNIQUES SHIPWRECK DATA BASE About This Site
In the decades after the H.L. Hunley went down many people have tried unsuccessfully to locate the submarine. In 1980 well known author, Clive Cussler sponsored the National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA) and was granted a state license to search for the Hunley. They identified abundant magnetic anomalies which they did not have time to fully look into.
Hunley Air box
In May 1995, After 119 years in the water the Hunley was finally found during a cooperative venture with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, NUMA . In an effort to preserve the priceless discovery of the Hunley, the South Carolina Hunley Commission was founded by the state legislature-three senators, three representatives, and three individuals selected by the Governor. Nautical Archaeologist Christopher Amer explains "The issue of site security loomed large in the days following the discovery with everyone voicing an opinion. To secure the site the Coast Guard created a 1-square-mile Regulated Navigation Area around the site, and prohibited diving, dredging, anchoring or salvage within the zone with stiff penalties for violations. The Navy set up 24-hour-per-day camera and infra-red surveillance of the area with scheduled flyovers."
Further concerns were expressed for the H.L. Hunley's future and In August 1996, a Programmatic Agreement was signed between the US Navy and South Carolina concerning the Hunley's future. This agreement allows the Hunley to physically remain in South Carolina and also gives custody in perpetuity. The submarine will stay in the ownership of the federal government.
In 1996 the South Carolina Hunley Commission and the US Naval Historical Center launched an investigation into the condition of the Hunley remains. The project was conducted by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and the National Park Service, Submerged Cultural Resource Unit, with the support of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and a host of private contributors who donated their services and high-tech equipment. These included Edgetech, Oceanneering (the group that recovered the pieces of TWA Flt 800), Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Jim Graham and Associates, Marine Sonic Technology, Ltd., and the University of South Carolina, Geology Department.
According to South Carolina Nautical Archaeologist Christopher F. Amer the following tools were used for this investigation:
Magnetometer-detects localized magnetic disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field. Purpose was to relocate the submarine and determine its local environment (debris field) in relation to the Housatonic. Mag hits.
Side-scan Sonar-acoustic "picture" of the sea floor and protruding objects. Purpose was to determine if site was completely buried, and if not, to gather data regarding exposure. Sonar picture.
Integrated with bathymetry and Roxanne sediment classification in a GIS format (like layers of an onion).
X-Star Sub-bottom Profiler-Purpose was to gather as much information as possible about density, depth below sediments, layers of shell/sand, condition of vessel before actually disturbing the site. First view of Hunley.
Coring-Purpose was to provide data regarding the burial history of the vessel. Coring performed 1/2-mile from the site as a control, in general area of the site, and above the site. Lead 210, cesium 135, oxygen, and ammonia analyses to date and document changes and disturbances to the sediments and pollen spores."
The next step of the investigation involved using water induction dredges to thoroughly remove sediments overlaying the hull. According to Amer, this painstaking work involved 29 diving days, 336 individual dives, and 247 person-hours approximately 1/4 of the hull was cleared of sediments and mapped. This represented approximately 1/2 of the port side of the hull. Archaeologists decided not to disturb the stern, propeller/rudder assembly, for fear of damaging these fragile artifacts.
The purpose of this investigation was to make a positive identification of the Hunley. Nautical archaeologists carefully investigated attributes known to be unique to the Hunley. They examined the forward hatch, cutwater, air box and snorkels, dive planes, keel, and aft hatch. They also assessed the condition of the hull The results of this investigation concluded among other things that the Hunley was longer than formerly thought-39', 6" from bow to hull stern and smaller in diameter-3', 10", not 5-feet in height.
Will the Hunley rise again?
A not-for-profit organization, known as "Friends of the Hunley" chaired by Warren Lasch is trying raising the 12 - 20 million dollars to raise the submarine, conserve it, excavate the interior, and exhibit the completed hull in an permanent museum. It is believed the Hunley will be raised around Spring 2001.
Researchers beleive the hull became quickly buried perhaps within most 9 months, the hatches within 15 to 20 years. This protected the Hunley and hopefully preserved the contents within. Archaeologist have performed corrosion tests that indicate that the hull is reasonably decent condition. Raising the craft will be a very painstaking procedure. researchers must consider the conservation and excavation of the interior. More importantly they must also remember that the Hunley is a coffin for the brave crew that went down with the Warcraft and proper recovery of the human remains must be considered. The exhibit and cataloguing of the artifacts will be tremendously expensive and time consuming. Once the Hunley is raised from its watery tomb it must be cared for evermore.