Human Remains Found In Bizarre Civil War Submarine

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Researchers from a laboratory in North Charleston in South Carolina finally unveiled the crew compartment of the H.L. Hunley, which was sealed thanks to more than a century of being exposed to the ocean along with sediment that was encrusted.

One of the conservators, Johanna Rivera, said that it was one of those moments in life where the only word is wow and taking a step back and realizing just what has been achieved.

Hunley Was First Confederate Navy Submarine Sunk In Battle

The H.L. Hunley belonged to the Confederate Navy and it was the first of the submarines to be sunk in battle, which sent the USS Housatonic to the floor of the ocean in February 1864. Five crew members of the Union vessel lost their lives and 150 were rescued, however, the Hunley also sank and all of the eight crew members lost their lives.

The Hunley was raised from the seabed in 2000 and conservation work started. Now the entire crankshaft of the submarine has been exposed and this was used by hand to propel the vessel.

Tooth Embedded Into Sediment Found On Crank Handle

The researchers have also found a tooth believed to be from one of the members of the crew that was embedded into the sediment that had formed on one of the handles of the crank. Officials had said that it had ended up their post-mortem following decomposition of a crew member.

Researchers also located the remains of textiles along with a metal wrap on the hand crank, which revealed how the crew members had operated the submarine. Archaeologist Michael Scafuri said that when turning an iron bar either in front of you or below, something is required to stop the hands from being rubbed raw or chafing.

One Of The Biggest Mysteries Is Why It Sank

While the new findings do give the researchers an insight into how the crew operated the submarine, one of the biggest mysteries remains unsolved, why the submarine sank following an attack that was bold and successful.

An archaeological report that was issued this year had six possible scenarios, all of which suggest that a combination of different factors could have doomed the innovative submarine.

One of the scenarios is that the Hunley may have been swamped by a Union vessel, or perhaps struck by it. It may have tried to go down to the seafloor to try to avoid detection but was unable to make it back to the surface. A latch on the forward conning tower was said to have been found ajar.

The torpedo of the Hunley was attached to a spar and the crew had embedded it into the hull of the Housatonic and it was detonated. It is thought possible that the hull of the Hunley had been breached by the explosion and perhaps the crew had been unconscious at some point in time.

Almost all of the remains that have been found where the crew who had been at their stations instead of them being together near the escape hatch. The remains of the crew members were buried in 2004. It is thought that the researchers will continue working on the Hunley for around five to seven more years.

Conservators have been painstakingly removing the sediment that had been attached very firmly to the exterior of the Hunley along with the cramped interior. When the process is finished the submarine is going to be transferred to a museum so that is can be put on display.

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