The C.S.S. Hunley
Hunley Image

The wreck of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was discovered early in May, 1995, off Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. The 40-foot Hunley sank in the aftermath of her maiden attack on February 17, 1864, after ramming the Union warship USS Housatonic with a harpoon torpedo mounted on an iron shaft extending from the bow. All nine men aboard the Hunley were lost. The wreck of the Hunley is considered priceless because of its historic significance--it was one of the first submarines, and the first to be used successfully in warfare.

Documents indicate that the Hunley was propelled by a human powered direct-drive shaft extending along the length of the vessel. The harpoon torpedo mounted on the bow was designed to be driven into the wooden hull of opposing ships, after which the Hunley would back off and detonate the charge from a distance using a lanyard. Survivors from the Housatonic, which sank in minutes, saw these events occur, confirming the success of the Hunley's attack. Their last sight of the Hunley was as she reversed her course and returned towards Charleston Harbor. The Hunley never arrived.

Return to Main Page
Copyright © 2000, C.C. Broome 
Contact: Chris Broome