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H.L. Hunley

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H.L. Hunley

The Submarine H.L. Hunley

Photograph Courtesy of the US Navy

H.L. Hunley

  • Nation: Confederate
  • Type: Submarine
  • Displacement: 7.5 tons
  • Crew: 8
  • Wartime Service Dates: 1863-1864
  • Civil War Armament: Spar Torpedo
  • Notes: The Civil War spawned a variety of designs for submersible warships. Designed by Horace L. Hunley, James McClintock, and Baxter Wilson, the submarine H.L. Hunley was built privately by the firm of Parks & Lyons in Mobile, AL. Approximately forty feet long, H.L. Hunley sailed with a crew of eight and was powered by a hand-cranked propeller. Shortly after completing testing, H.L. Hunley was taken to Charleston, SC for use against the Union blockade. During trials in Charleston harbor, the submarine sank twice killing five of its crew the first time, and eight, including Horace Hunley, the second. On the night of February 17, 1864, Lt. George Dixon sailed H.L. Hunley out of Charleston to attack USS Housatonic. Diving as they approached the ship, the crew of H.L. Hunley successfully attached and detonated the submarine's spar torpedo (an explosive charge at the end of long spear). The detonation sank Housatonic, making it the first ever victim of a submarine attack. Despite its success, H.L. Hunley was lost at sea attempting to return to the harbor. The wreck of the submarine was located in 1995, and raised five years later. It is currently undergoing conservation treatment in Charleston.
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