A missão ousada do submarino de Hunley

A missão ousada do submarino de Hunley


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Na noite clara, mas fria de 17 de fevereiro de 1864, John Crosby estava no convés do USS Housatonic a pouco menos de seis milhas e três anos de distância do ponto de lançamento da Guerra Civil, Fort Sumter. O luar brilhou na superfície imóvel do porto de Charleston enquanto a Housatonic patrulhava as águas da Carolina do Sul como parte do bloqueio naval da União que estava lentamente estrangulando a Confederação.

Enquanto Crosby olhava para o porto plácido por volta das 20h45, o oficial do convés da Housatonic viu de repente algo estilhaçar a superfície vítrea da água a apenas 100 metros de distância, a estibordo. A princípio, Crosby pensou que poderia ser uma toninha ou talvez um tronco. Mas, à medida que a sombra turva se aproximava do navio de guerra, o oficial da Marinha deu o alarme ao perceber que o estranho objeto que se aproximava da Housatonic era na verdade uma arma naval de ponta - um submarino.

Com base em informações coletadas de desertores confederados, os navios da União estavam em alerta para os navios submarinos à espreita no porto de Charleston. Apenas quatro meses antes, o USS New Ironsides havia sido parcialmente danificado em um ataque do semissubmersível CSS David, e essa noite de inverno sem vento e iluminada pela lua oferecia condições perfeitas para operar o submarino que se aproximava, H.L. Hunley.

Enquanto todas as mãos corriam para seus postos na Housatonic, sete marinheiros confederados dentro do submarino primitivo giraram uma manivela que acionou a hélice enquanto outro homem dirigia em direção ao saveiro de guerra de 1.240 toneladas. Mesmo que não estivessem avançando em um poderoso navio de guerra, os oito homens já estavam empreendendo uma missão perigosa simplesmente por estar dentro do submarino que já havia tirado a vida de 13 homens, incluindo seu inventor, durante os exercícios de treinamento.

A embarcação submarina foi construída em particular em Mobile, Alabama, com base nos planos do engenheiro naval Horace Lawson Hunley. Embora Crosby inicialmente tenha pensado ter visto uma toninha, o submarino se assemelhava mais a uma baleia. Foi construído com uma caldeira a vapor cilíndrica de ferro de 12 metros de comprimento com proa e popa cônicas. Após testes bem-sucedidos no Rio Mobile, o submarino foi transportado para Charleston em agosto de 1863 em meio às esperanças da marinha confederada de que poderia ser uma arma secreta para quebrar o bloqueio da União.

Logo após o início dos testes no porto de Charleston, cinco dos nove tripulantes de Hunley se afogaram quando um oficial do navio acidentalmente fez o navio mergulhar enquanto as escotilhas ainda estavam abertas. O submarino foi resgatado, mas menos de dois meses depois, um segundo acidente de treinamento matou a tripulação de oito membros, incluindo o próprio H.L. Hunley.

Mais uma vez, o submarino foi puxado para a superfície e, embora conhecesse sua trágica história, o tenente George Dixon concordou em assumir o comando do navio em novembro de 1863 e reuniu uma tripulação de corajosos voluntários. Enquanto Dixon liderava seus homens no ousado ataque a Housatonic, ele carregava consigo seu amuleto da boa sorte, uma moeda de ouro dobrada que salvou sua vida ao desacelerar uma bala que o feriu dois anos antes na Batalha de Shiloh.

Embora o Confederate P.G.T. Beauregard havia instruído Dixon a permanecer na superfície durante quaisquer ataques, dados os acidentes anteriores de Hunley, a maioria do submarino ainda permanecia abaixo da linha da água, pois se movia tão perto de Housatonic que os 12 canhões do navio de guerra eram inúteis. O capitão e a tripulação dispararam seus rifles e espingardas em uma tentativa inútil de parar o navio que se aproximava, mas as balas apenas ricochetearam na armadura de Hunley quando um torpedo montado na extremidade de uma haste de 5 metros que se projetava da proa do submarino atingiu o navio de guerra .

A verga atingiu o quarto de estibordo da Housatonic perto de seu paiol de pólvora, e o torpedo rebelde carregado com 135 libras de pólvora explodiu. O Housatonic entrou na água imediatamente e, em poucos minutos, foi uma perda, o primeiro navio de guerra a ser afundado por um submarino.

A maioria dos 155 membros da tripulação da Housatonic salvou-se lançando botes salva-vidas ou escalando o cordame, que permaneceu acima da profundidade rasa de 27 pés do porto a tempo de os barcos de resgate de um navio de guerra da União nas proximidades chegarem. Cinco marinheiros da União morreram, mas o resultado foi ainda mais devastador para a Confederação, já que Hunley nunca mais voltou ao porto. Pela terceira vez, Hunley escorregou para o fundo do porto de Charleston, mas o motivo exato permanece um mistério. O navio submarino poderia ter sido fatalmente danificado na explosão do torpedo, atingido por um tiro da Housatonic ou sugado para o vórtice do navio de guerra que estava afundando.

Em 1995, o submarino foi localizado sob a areia e as conchas pela Agência Nacional Submarina e Marinha do romancista Clive Cussler. Cinco anos depois, o naufrágio bem preservado de Hunley, com seus oito tripulantes ainda em suas estações e Dixon ainda com sua moeda da sorte, foi levantado de sua tumba escura e levado para o Centro de Conservação Warren Lasch em North Charleston, onde foi colocado em um tanque de conservação de água doce de 90.000 galões. A tripulação do Hunley recebeu um enterro adequado em 2004, e uma equipe internacional de cientistas que estuda o naufrágio acredita que está perto de resolver o mistério do que aconteceu com eles nos momentos finais de sua missão ousada.


o Olterra foi um petroleiro italiano de 5.000 toneladas que por acaso estava na Baía de Gibraltar em 10 de junho de 1940, o dia em que a Itália entrou na Segunda Guerra Mundial. Naquele dia, o navio italiano foi sabotado e parcialmente afundado por comandos britânicos. o Olterra permaneceu onde estava na baía e tornou-se um posto de observação para os italianos durante as missões de torpedo humano de Villa Carmela. De julho a setembro de 1942, nadadores de combate de Villa Carmela conseguiram derrotar cinco navios mercantes.

Foi nessa época que o tenente Licio Vistintini teve a ideia de transformar o Olterra em uma nave-mãe secreta para os maiali. Maiale (& ldquopig & rdquo em italiano) era o apelido dos torpedos tripulados usados ​​pelos italianos. Uma equipe de Decima que se projetou como trabalhadores civis italianos assumiu o controle do petroleiro. Eles rebocaram o navio para a cidade vizinha de Algeciras, na Espanha, a fim de realizar "reparos" para que o navio pudesse ser vendido a um proprietário espanhol.

Uma vez que o navio estava nas docas, os porões de carga e a sala da caldeira foram modificados para suportar a construção e manutenção de torpedos humanos. Havia também uma estação de observação construída no castelo de proa para vigiar a baía e manter o controle dos navios aliados ali. Houve também uma cena de trabalhadores civis fora do navio, a fim de convencer os espanhóis e os britânicos de que não havia nada de suspeito acontecendo. Uma escotilha deslizante foi construída seis pés antes da linha de água que permitiu que os submarinos em miniatura saíssem do navio.

A primeira missão ocorreu em dezembro de 1942. Três submarinos foram lançados com dois homens em cada. Três dos homens morreram e dois foram levados cativos. Eles disseram aos britânicos que tinham vindo de um submarino e, portanto, mantiveram o Olterra de ser exposto. Outra missão em 1943 foi bem-sucedida no afundamento de três navios cargueiros. Outra missão naquele mesmo ano afundou mais três navios. Os britânicos nunca perceberam de onde os mini submarinos estavam vindo até que os italianos se renderam e contaram a eles.


Durante a Guerra do Vietnã, o submarino de ataque Sculpin foi enviado em uma missão ousada pelo Presidente Nixon. Acreditava-se que as traineiras de abastecimento no Mar da China Meridional abasteciam os vietcongues. Quando as forças dos EUA encontraram tropas terrestres descarregando uma das traineiras em uma praia do Vietnã do Sul, um grande tiroteio começou. A luta brutal fez com que muitos soldados acreditassem que as tripulações da traineira eram forças de elite dispostas a lutar até a morte.

Após o tiroteio, as forças americanas queriam parar os arrastões. Estimava-se que cada traineira poderia entregar 100 toneladas de munições depois que os navios fossem fotografados em águas internacionais. Já os arrastões não podiam ser atacados em águas internacionais e havia a preocupação de um ataque acidental a uma legítima traineira da região. Foi criado um plano para usar um submarino para seguir uma das traineiras de Hainan até o Vietnã do Sul, a fim de marcá-la para destruição pelas forças dos EUA.

Em 12 de abril de 1972, o Sculpin estava patrulhando Hainan e encontrou uma traineira que combinava com a descrição das traineiras que enviavam suprimentos para o vietcongue. Quando a traineira fez uma curva em direção às Filipinas, os homens da Sculpin perceberam que estavam seguindo um navio de abastecimento e não um pescador e ficaram de olho. Eles desligaram o sonar ativo e usaram apenas o sonar passivo, usando o ruído distinto do eixo e da hélice para controlar a posição da traineira e do rsquos. Enquanto seguiam a traineira da China ao Vietnã, com apoio aéreo secreto acima deles, o Sculpin operado em água perfeitamente calma e rasa, com quase seis braças.

Quando a traineira foi seguida até a costa vietnamita, a tripulação do Sculpin pediu permissão para atirar, mas o almirante John McCain acreditava que não funcionaria. Em vez disso, as forças navais do Vietnã do Sul foram chamadas em 24 de abril. Quando o contratorpedeiro vietnamita se aproximava da traineira, ergueu uma bandeira chinesa e indicou que estavam pescando. Isso fez com que os vietnamitas hesitassem, mas os homens a bordo do Sculpin insistiu que era uma traineira cheia de armas que eles seguiram por 2.400 milhas.

Com esta identificação, os sul-vietnamitas atingiram a traineira e esta e sua carga explodiram. Alguns homens sobreviveram e foram resgatados. Eles falavam vietnamita, não chinês, e forneceram informações valiosas sobre suas operações, tornando a missão um sucesso completo.


  • O Hunley afundou um navio de bloqueio da União em novembro de 1864, atingindo-o com um torpedo preso a uma longarina
  • Foi erguido do fundo do oceano na costa de North Charleston, Carolina do Sul em 2000
  • Dois cientistas passaram os últimos 17 anos coletando os restos mortais da tripulação e restaurando o pequeno navio
  • Eles anunciaram esta semana que encontraram um dente humano enterrado dentro de uma massa semelhante a concreto de areia e lama
  • A dupla também anunciou que tinha descoberto como o submarino se movia, usando uma série de tubos de água

Publicado: 14:27 BST, 8 de junho de 2017 | Atualizado: 15:34 BST, 8 de junho de 2017

Os pesquisadores encontraram restos humanos dentro do H.L. Hunley, o primeiro submarino da história a afundar um navio de guerra inimigo, depois que ele emergiu de um tanque de 75.000 galões de produtos químicos.

O submarino, que lutou pela confederação na guerra civil dos EUA, foi afundado perto de North Charleston, Carolina do Sul, em 1864 por seu próprio torpedo, matando todos os oito homens a bordo.

O Hunley foi erguido do fundo do oceano em 2000, e dois cientistas passaram os últimos 17 anos coletando os restos mortais da tripulação e restaurando o navio como parte de uma operação de limpeza meticulosa.

Ao lado do dente, os pesquisadores anunciaram que finalmente descobriram como o submarino era impulsionado pela água. Escondido sob o material duro como pedra que os cientistas chamam de "concreção" estava um sofisticado conjunto de engrenagens e dentes na manivela do tubo de água que percorria o comprimento do submarino de 12 metros

AS VIAGENS PERDIDAS DE H.L. HUNLEY

A missão final bem-sucedida, mas condenada, do Hunley foi, na verdade, sua terceira viagem. O submarino afundou uma vez quando atracou com suas escotilhas abertas em agosto de 1863. Apenas três dos oito homens a bordo escaparam e sobreviveram.

Em outubro de 1863, o designer H.L. Hunley liderou outra tripulação de oito homens que planejava mostrar como o submarino operava mergulhando sob um navio no porto de Charleston.

Eles nunca vieram à tona, mas o submarino foi encontrado semanas depois e trazido de volta à superfície. Essa equipe foi enterrada em sepulturas que terminaram abaixo do estádio de futebol do The Citadel por 50 anos.

Enquanto a maioria dos restos mortais foi removida e cerimonialmente enterrada no Cemitério Magnolia em 2004, os pesquisadores encontraram um dente preso em uma massa semelhante a concreto de areia, lama e outros detritos na posição número 3 da manivela.

Acredita-se que esta seja a posição em que se sentou o tripulante Frank Collins, um marinheiro da Marinha Confederada que tinha apenas 24 anos quando afundou com o Hunley.

O arqueólogo chefe do projeto, Michael Scafuri, disse ao Post and Courier que a perda do dente foi "post-mortem", o que significa que, muito depois do afundamento, o dente se soltou durante o processo de decomposição e grudou na manivela, onde corroeu com o ferro.

A descoberta foi feita quando a dupla de cientistas encarregada da limpeza do submarino deu uma atualização do projeto durante um briefing para a mídia esta semana.

Ao lado do dente, os pesquisadores anunciaram que finalmente descobriram como o submarino era impulsionado pela água.

Escondido sob o material duro como pedra que os cientistas chamam de 'concreção' estava um sofisticado conjunto de engrenagens e dentes na manivela do tubo de água que percorria o comprimento do submarino de 12 metros.


Operação Barmaid

O HMS Conquistador foi um submarino com propulsão nuclear que serviu na Marinha Britânica de 1971 até 1990. Ele ficou famoso por ser o único submarino com propulsão nuclear a afundar um navio inimigo com torpedos, derrubando o General Belgrano durante a Guerra das Malvinas. Ele foi construído como uma resposta à ameaça soviética no mar e tinha como objetivo não apenas atacar outros navios, mas também realizar missões de espionagem em movimentos de submarinos soviéticos.

Foi um dos HMS Conquistador e rsquos missões mais ousadas que finalmente foram reveladas em 2012. Poucas semanas após o naufrágio do General Belgrano, o submarino receberia uma missão muito mais arriscada e difícil. Em agosto de 1982, o HMS Conquistador foi enviado para a fronteira das águas territoriais da Rússia, navegando o mais próximo da fronteira era legalmente permitido. Embora às vezes o submarino pudesse estar ainda mais perto da Rússia do que era permitido.

HMS Conqueror com o Jolly Rodger levantado após afundar o General Belgrano. Pinterest

O capitão Wreford-Brown foi enviado para encontrar uma traineira espiã ou AGI (Inteligência Geral do Exército). Esses navios eram conhecidos por serem cheios de equipamentos de interceptação e detecção e muitas vezes seguiriam os exercícios da OTAN ou espreitariam em torno de bases navais. O navio que o HMS Conqueror perseguia nessa missão era ainda mais do que apenas uma traineira de espionagem, era puxado por uma cadeia de hidrofones de três quilômetros que era conhecida como sonar rebocado. Este sonar era o melhor em tecnologia de detecção de submarino soviética e o HMS Conquistador estava em uma missão para roubá-lo.

Roubar um cabo de três quilômetros de comprimento e sete centímetros de espessura, preso a um navio e feito para detectar submarinos, não é tão fácil quanto parece. O HMS Conquistador foi equipado com duas pinças eletrônicas (fornecidas pelos americanos) para cortar o cabo. O submarino teria de subir por baixo do ponto cego do array & rsquos e avançar em direção ao ponto de corte que ficava a apenas alguns metros do navio de reboque. As câmeras de TV usadas para operar as pinças não seriam capazes de ver nada até alguns centímetros do alvo, já que a água era muito negra, então o resto tinha que ser feito com aritmética mental.

A missão foi um sucesso, embora alguns acreditem que ocorreu em águas soviéticas, a apenas cinco quilômetros da costa. Uma vez a uma distância segura do HMS Conquistador emergiu e puxou a matriz cortada a bordo.


VISÃO GERAL

Em 17 de fevereiro de 1864, o H. L. Hunley tornou-se o primeiro submarino de combate bem-sucedido da história mundial com o naufrágio do USS Housatonic. Depois de completar sua missão, ela desapareceu misteriosamente e permaneceu perdida no mar por mais de um século. Por décadas, os aventureiros procuraram o lendário submarino.

Mais de um século depois, a National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), liderada pelo autor do best-seller do New York Times Clive Cussler, finalmente encontrou o Hunley em 1995. A notícia da descoberta se espalhou rapidamente pelo mundo. Um esforço inovador começou a recuperar o frágil submarino do mar. o Hunley Commission and Friends of the Hunley, um grupo sem fins lucrativos encarregado de levantar fundos para apoiar a embarcação, liderou um esforço com a Marinha dos Estados Unidos que culminou em 8 de agosto de 2000 com o Hunley’s recuperação segura.

Ela foi então entregue ao Warren Lasch Conservation Center, um laboratório de alta tecnologia projetado especificamente para conservar a nave e desvendar o mistério de seu desaparecimento. o Hunley desde então, foi escavado e provou ser uma cápsula do tempo, contendo uma grande variedade de artefatos que podem nos ensinar sobre a vida durante a Guerra Civil Americana. O submarino e as centenas de artefatos encontrados a bordo estão atualmente passando por trabalhos de preservação, enquanto os arqueólogos usam as pistas históricas que encontraram para juntar os momentos finais do Hunley e sua tripulação.

o Hunley’s viagem no tempo foi marcada pela inovação, coragem e tragédia. Seu conto contra todas as probabilidades abrangeu os séculos e é um dos maiores mistérios marítimos da história recente. Este site segue a embarcação pioneira desde seu início durante a Guerra Civil Americana até os esforços modernos em torno de sua preservação e estudo.

À medida que mais sedimentos eram escavados do submarino, a manivela começou a aparecer no meio do submarino. Aqui, os conservadores Philippe de Vivies e Paul Mardikian aplicam proteção ao virabrequim exposto.


James A. Wicks

James A. Wicks experimentou sua cota de perigo ao longo de sua vida, e até mesmo sobreviveu a uma famosa batalha marítima durante a Guerra Civil, enquanto servia como um marinheiro da União.

Graças às informações disponíveis de sua família, bem como aos registros da União, sabemos muito sobre Wicks. Por exemplo, sabemos que ele nasceu na Carolina do Norte por volta de 1819, um dos apenas três membros do Hunley tripulação nascida no sul.

De acordo com a análise forense, Wicks cresceu e se tornou um jovem robusto, com cerca de 5 pés e 10 polegadas de altura e era um grande usuário de tabaco. Em 1850, com cerca de 30 anos, Wicks ingressou na Marinha dos Estados Unidos e por mais de uma década serviu primeiro como Marinheiro e depois como Intendente. Mas sua vida logo se complicaria.

No mesmo ano ele entrou para a Marinha, em 1850, enquanto servia no Brooklyn, N.Y., o jovem marinheiro se casou e, nos anos seguintes, tornou-se pai de quatro meninas. Quando a Guerra Civil começou, sua esposa e filhos moravam em Fernandina, Flórida. Enquanto isso, Wicks foi chamado para o serviço militar contra sua região natal, onde morava sua família. Podemos apenas presumir que isso criou para Wicks um sentimento de lealdade conflitante.

Como marinheiro da Marinha dos Estados Unidos, Wicks serviu primeiro no USS Braziliera e depois o USS Congresso. Seu trabalho o manteve no mar a maior parte do tempo.

Quando a guerra começou, Wicks pode ter querido estar mais perto de sua família e ele pode ter querido lutar ao lado de sua terra natal. As circunstâncias, no entanto, tornaram literalmente difícil para ele abandonar o navio. Em março de 1862, ele teria sua chance.

Enquanto servia a bordo do USS Congresso, Wicks testemunhou o famoso ataque do CSS de ferro Virgínia (anteriormente conhecido como o Merimac) na Batalha de Hampton Rhodes nas águas de New Port News, Virgínia. o Virgínia afundou o USS Cumberland e aleijou o Congresso. No dia seguinte, a couraça de ferro confederada se envolveu em sua famosa batalha contra o USS Monitor.

Quando o navio de Wick foi destruído na costa de um estado do sul, ele teve a oportunidade de entrar na Virgínia e cruzar para o outro lado das linhas de batalha. Isso ele fez, em 7 de abril de 1862. Em Richmond, Virgínia, Wicks alistou-se na Marinha Confederada e foi classificado como um marinheiro.

Agora lutando em nome da Confederação, a primeira tarefa de Wick foi para o CSS Chefe índio. Com um bom serviço, com o tempo, ele foi promovido a Contramestre, um assistente do oficial que controla o trabalho de outros marinheiros.

Quando Dixon, o Hunley’s comandante, estava reunindo sua tripulação de voluntários para a perigosa jornada do submarino experimental, Wicks foi um dos cinco tripulantes selecionados do chefe índio.

No entanto, mesmo antes do Hunley’s missão foi lançada, Wicks foi chamado para servir em outra ousada designação. No início de 1864, ele tirou uma breve licença de seu Hunley deveres de participar de uma invasão fora de New Bern, Carolina do Norte. O ataque noturno, conduzido por um pequeno grupo de confederados, levou à destruição do navio da União Underwriter. Depois de completar essa missão, em 5 de fevereiro de 1864, Wicks foi enviado de volta a Charleston e deve ter chegado poucos dias antes do Hunley’s viagem final.

Sua missão era equipar o Hunley’s sexta posição da manivela. As responsabilidades de Wicks incluíam operar a manivela e, em caso de emergência, seu trabalho era liberar o bloco da quilha traseira.

Maria Jacobsen, arqueóloga sênior do Hunley projeto disse: “Durante a escavação, encontramos um mecanismo de liberação de quilha abaixo da estação operada por Wicks.” Além disso, se algo acontecesse com Ridgaway, o segundo em comando, Wicks teria assumido suas funções. Os restos mortais de Wicks foram encontrados associados a sete botões da Marinha dos EUA, o que é consistente com seu serviço militar.

Linda Abrams, uma genealogista forense pesquisando o Hunley tripulação, disse, “Wicks sobreviventes parentes e seu serviço na Marinha dos Estados Unidos me permitiram aprender muito sobre a aparência deste homem. De acordo com os registros, ele tinha cabelo castanho claro, olhos azuis e uma tez rosada. ”

Duas das filhas de Wicks tiveram filhos. Os descendentes de sua filha mais velha estiveram em Charleston, Carolina do Sul, em 17 de abril, para o enterro de seu ancestral, James A. Wicks, um homem extraordinariamente valente e um verdadeiro pioneiro na história marítima.


Missão unilateral de H. L. Hunley

O sol havia se posto além do pântano, além de Charleston, e a ilha estava quieta. O homem verificou seu relógio de bolso de ouro, notou que já passava de 1800 e o enfiou de volta em sua jaqueta. A maré havia mudado e os últimos resquícios de cinza estavam desaparecendo do céu. Não havia nuvens para falar, o vento tinha cessado e a água estava tão calma quanto ele a tinha visto em quase um mês. A lua nascente poderia trair um pouco sua discrição, mas essa era uma chance que ele teria que correr. Esta noite - 17 de fevereiro de 1864 - foi o mais perto da perfeição que ele poderia esperar.

Ele lançou um olhar para o mar, procurou o brilho fraco das luzes do convés de um navio e finalmente o encontrou. No início do dia, ele obteve uma orientação de sua bússola e ficou satisfeito ao ver que não havia mudado. Em poucas horas, a União foda saveiro Housatonic não guardaria mais a entrada do porto de Charleston.

O homem, o tenente George Dixon, não podia esperar mais. Charleston estava sufocando sob o Esquadrão de Bloqueio do Atlântico Sul, o Forte Sumter fora transformado em uma pilha de escombros e os militares confederados estavam sem paciência. A guerra teve um impacto terrível na cidade. Para sobreviver, Charleston precisava de algo para restaurar sua fé.

A arma secreta de Dixon era o H. L. Hunley, um submarino de 40 pés, movido à mão, atracado na doca de Battery Marshall na Ilha de Sullivan. E, na verdade, ela não era mais um segredo. Nos últimos seis meses, o submarino dominou as fofocas de Charleston. Ela chegara em agosto com a promessa de que, finalmente, o bloqueio seria quebrado. Mas depois de pouco mais de uma semana, os militares confederados apreenderam a nave e imediatamente a afundaram. Cinco homens morreram.

Dixon veio para Charleston depois disso. Horace Hunley, homônimo do submarino, convenceu o General P. G. T. Beauregard, comandante do Departamento da Carolina do Sul, Geórgia e Flórida, a devolver o Hunley para ele. Com um simples telegrama, Hunley levantou uma equipe inteira de voluntários em Mobile, Alabama. Ele foi sábio o suficiente para colocar Dixon no comando. O ex-engenheiro de barcos fluviais, membro do 21º Regimento de Infantaria do Alabama, ajudou a construir o barco torpedeiro e o entendeu melhor do que a maioria. Enquanto se recuperava de um ferimento grave, Dixon estava trabalhando na oficina mecânica Park and Lyons em Mobile quando o Hunley e um de seus predecessores estava em construção lá. O tenente havia levado um tiro em Shiloh em abril de 1862. A bala destinada a sua coxa atingiu uma moeda de ouro de US $ 20 em seu bolso, deformando-a e mutilando sua perna. Mas a moeda salvou sua vida.

Dixon não apenas mancou acentuadamente, mas também um amuleto de boa sorte. Ele mandou gravar a moeda com a data da batalha e a inscrição "Meu colete salva-vidas". Agora, ele carregava a lembrança de sua sorte inacreditável com ele em todos os lugares. Ele esperava que a boa sorte durasse um pouco mais - mais do que para Hunley.

Em outubro, Horace Hunley tentou pilotar o submarino na ausência de Dixon. Com uma multidão assistindo à demonstração em terra, ele afundou o submarino no porto de Charleston, matando a si mesmo e a outras sete pessoas. O número de mortos do submarino foi de 13, nenhum deles marinheiro da União. Depois disso, Dixon levou um mês para convencer Beauregard a deixá-lo tentar novamente.

A essa altura, muitos haviam descartado o submarino como apenas mais um experimento fracassado, outra causa perdida. Dixon mudaria essa percepção nesta noite. o Hunley iria navegar em cinco minutos.

Esforços iniciais

A era do submarino chegou há 150 anos, principalmente devido a um ambicioso sonhador, dois anos de pesquisa e desenvolvimento e uma guerra. Os homens construíram naves subaquáticas antes da Guerra Civil, mas esses submarinos nunca alcançaram de fato o objetivo para o qual foram construídos - eles nunca afundaram um navio inimigo em batalha. o HunleyO feito estava tão à frente de seu tempo que não se repetiria por meio século.

Horace Lawson Hunley, o sonhador, teve sucesso em quase qualquer medida. Ele era advogado, ex-legislador estadual, vice-chefe da alfândega em Nova Orleans e amigo de alguns dos homens mais influentes da cidade. Hunley ganhara uma quantia modesta de dinheiro, o suficiente para possuir uma pequena plantação e alguns escravos. No final de 1861, ele decidiu expandir seu portfólio de negócios.

Ele pode ter tido a ideia de construir um submarino no verão de 1861. O reverendo Franklin Smith, um químico e inventor, enviou uma carta aos jornais do sul, exortando os empresários a investir na ideia de “Guerra de Submarinos”. Smith escreveu que “A nova embarcação deve ter o formato de um charuto para maior velocidade - feita de chapa de ferro, unida sem rebites externos com cabeças de cerca de trinta pés de comprimento, com uma seção central de cerca de 4 x 3 pés - impulsionada por uma hélice em espiral”.

Mais tarde, muitos presumiriam que o patriotismo impulsionou Hunley. Na verdade, ele achava que a guerra era uma tolice, mas suspeitava que poderia ser boa para os negócios. O governo confederado e ricos empresários estavam oferecendo recompensas de até US $ 50.000 - o equivalente no século 19 a US $ 1,3 milhão hoje - para qualquer pessoa que afundasse um navio de guerra da União. Mas havia mais nisso do que dinheiro. Hunley queria fazer parte de algo maior que ele sonhava ser um Grande Homem. Ele carregava um bloco de notas no bolso, um livro-razão no qual escrevia ideias grandiosas para deixar uma marca neste mundo. Eventualmente, Hunley descartou todos aqueles sonhos e adotou os de Smith.

No outono de 1861, Hunley, com o apoio financeiro de vários amigos, contratou o engenheiro de Nova Orleans, James McClintock, para construir seu submarino. Ele dificilmente poderia ter encontrado um parceiro melhor. Nascido em Cincinnati, McClintock foi um dos mais jovens capitães de barco a vapor do Mississippi antes de se estabelecer para abrir uma oficina mecânica nos arredores do French Quarter. Aos 32 anos, ele era considerado um prodígio da engenharia. McClintock recentemente foi contratado para fazer balas para o Exército Confederado, principalmente porque ele construiu uma máquina que podia produzir milhares de bolas de minié por hora.

McClintock projetou e construiu seu submarino naquele inverno, e ela aparentemente foi modelada exatamente na carta de Smith. O barco, que foi batizado de Pioneiro, tinha 35 pés de comprimento e quase completamente redondo - quatro pés de largura e quatro pés de altura. Ela tinha uma única escotilha e duas nadadeiras curtas e atarracadas que o piloto podia ajustar para mergulhar ou subir à superfície. Suas extremidades cônicas serviam como tanques de lastro para absorver e expelir a água necessária para submergir e emergir. Dois homens giraram uma manivela para acionar a hélice do submarino, enquanto um terceiro ficou em pé, com a cabeça na escotilha, e dirigiu.

o Pioneiro foi lançado em março de 1862, na época em que o Monitor lutou contra o CSS Virgínia a uma paralisação em Hampton Roads. O submarino provou ser frágil, lento e com vazamentos, mas ela funcionou. o Pioneiro acabou se tornando o único submarino a receber uma carta de marca - uma licença de corsário, basicamente - durante a Guerra Civil. Mas ela nunca veria o combate.

Em abril de 1862, as forças da União capturaram Nova Orleans. Hunley e McClintock, preocupados que sua arma secreta caísse nas mãos do inimigo, afundaram o Pioneiro e escapou para o celular. Lá, o comandante do Distrito Confederado do Golfo, Major General Dabney H. Maury, se interessou pelos esforços da dupla e os apresentou aos proprietários da oficina mecânica Park e Lyons. Levaria quase um ano para construir seu segundo submarino, o Mergulhador americano.

McClintock, querendo melhorar o PioneiroProjeto, meses perdidos tentando construir um motor eletromagnético para alimentar o Mergulhador americano (o engenheiro pensava que acionar manualmente a hélice era primitivo). Mas ele não conseguiu construir um motor pequeno o suficiente para caber em seu barco. Finalmente, McClintock teve que desistir e instalar manivelas. Ele fez o submarino apenas um pé mais comprido do que o Pioneiro mas acrescentou dois homens ao complemento da tripulação, esperando que mais mão de obra tornasse este submarino mais rápido do que o anterior.

o Mergulhador tentou apenas um ataque ao Esquadrão de Bloqueio do Golfo Ocidental e foi um desastre. Uma vez que o submarino foi desamarrado, ela não teve energia suficiente para lutar contra a maré e sua tripulação foi puxada para o mar. Eles nunca tentaram travar o bloqueio, tudo o que puderam fazer foi voltar ao cais. Antes que pudessem tentar novamente, o barco foi rebocado e afundou na baía de Mobile.

Um navio elegante e complexo

Com a perda do Mergulhador americano, Hunley e McClintock estavam sem dinheiro. Eles teriam sido forçados a desistir de seu sonho, exceto que Edgar C. Singer, um especialista em torpedos do Texas, chegou a Mobile naquela primavera. Singer reconheceu a importância do projeto e encontrou para McClintock o dinheiro de que precisava para voltar a trabalhar.

Durante a primavera e o início do verão de 1863, McClintock e os trabalhadores de Park e Lyons construíram um terceiro submarino, muito mais avançado do que seus predecessores. Anos mais tarde, McClintock escreveria que desta vez ele "se preocupou mais com seu modelo e com o maquinário".

Ela teria uma “forma elíptica”. A proa teria apenas uma polegada de largura, o submarino se expandindo até seu ponto mais largo no compartimento da tripulação e afinando novamente em direção à popa. McClintock adicionou barbatanas dorsais finas na frente das escotilhas para reduzir o arrasto. Ele também instalou pequenas nadadeiras na frente das asas de mergulho do barco para desviar a corda ou algas marinhas - qualquer coisa que possa atrapalhar a operação das nadadeiras. Este não era um barco de charutos, ela parecia mais um tubarão.

A 40 pés, o submarino seria quatro pés mais longo que o Mergulhador. A razão, disse McClintock, era porque "[t] seu barco foi construído expressamente para a força manual". Se ela tivesse que ser movida à mão, ele simplesmente adicionaria mais mãos. O compartimento principal do submarino teria quase 25 pés de comprimento. Com esse espaço adicional, o submarino poderia transportar uma tripulação de oito pessoas. McClintock expanded their power exponentially by installing a series of reduction gears and a flywheel between the propeller and hand cranks. The crew would be able to propel the sub like a wind-up toy. This would give the men periods of rest, and perhaps even allow them to work in shifts. It would cut down on exhaustion, which he hoped would increase the submarine’s range.

McClintock also improved the plumbing in this submarine. She would include forward and aft ballast tanks, as the others had, each with its own pump. But this time he added fail-safe redundancies with a network of pipes running beneath the crew bench. With the switch of a lever, water could be pumped from one tank to the other, equalizing water distribution. The pumps also served as back-ups to one another and could siphon water from the crew compartment. This was perhaps the boat’s greatest safety feature. The sub’s buoyancy was fragile a few inches of water in the main compartment, and she would sink to the bottom.

The first draft of history would call this submarine a converted iron boiler, but that was not the case. McClintock designed a sleek, hydrodynamic, complex vessel far ahead of her time. Well into the 20th century, most boats that traveled beneath the waves followed McClintock’s vision, but he would never be recognized as the father of the modern submarine.

o H. L. Hunley was launched in July 1863. A crew likely composed of men from the Park and Lyons machine shop tested the boat in the Mobile River for a couple of weeks. Finally, on 31 July, they invited Confederate officials to a demonstration. General Maury, Rear Admiral Franklin Buchanan, and Brigadier General James E. Slaughter gathered onshore, their attention directed to a flat barge anchored in the river.

On cue, the Hunley appeared upstream towing a floating contact mine at the end of a long line. As the sub approached the barge, she gracefully slipped beneath the water. The mine stayed on the surface and, when it made contact, there was a tremendous explosion. The barge lurched and dipped and soon began to sink. Several minutes later, the Hunley surfaced 400 yards downstream.

Confederate commanders in Mobile soon were recommending the submarine for service at Charleston. Buchanan, commander of the Naval District of the Gulf, likely orchestrated the campaign. The admiral did not trust submarine technology, but military politics also played a role. o Hunley, although a civilian vessel, had been promoted tirelessly by the Confederate Army—and Buchanan had no control over her. To rid himself of the problem, he sent a note to the commander of naval forces in Charleston, Flag Officer John Randolph Tucker, enthusiastically recommending the Hunley.

“I am fully satisfied it can be used successfully in blowing up one or more of the enemy’s Iron Clads in your harbor,” Buchanan wrote. The admiral added a request that Tucker forward his suggestion to Beauregard at his Charleston headquarters. The general responded almost immediately. He needed the Hunley. Charleston needed the Hunley.

In less than two weeks, the submarine arrived there by train. And then, tragedy. The sub sank twice, 13 men died, and the city lost hope. By the winter of 1864, Dixon was the only man left with faith in the boat. And he would not fail.

To Sink a Blockader

It took the Hunley nearly two hours to reach the Housatonic on 17 February 1864. Running with the tide, the submarine traveled at about 4 knots. Dixon steered by compass from his vantage point low on the water, he likely could not see a ship miles away. The boat traveled on the surface, as Beauregard had asked Dixon not to dive. This was the only thing that gave the lieutenant pause. o Hunley recently had been refit with a 20-foot spar tipped with a torpedo. Instead of diving beneath a ship and towing a contact mine into her side, the submarine would ram her prey with the torpedo. After completing the mission, Dixon would flash a blue phosphorus lamp, the signal for troops ashore to start a signal fire by which the lieutenant would steer the Hunley home.

As they sailed into the Atlantic, the grind of the crank and reduction gears became a monotonous noise that filled the compartment. The crew said little talking used oxygen, and that was a commodity they could not spare. Despite the boat’s deadly history, Dixon had found more than enough volunteers in Charleston—sailors, artillerymen, even some veterans of privateers. Throughout the winter these men trained, and those two months of practice made them the most proficient crew ever to sail the sub. In that time, the Hunley had gone out three or four times a week, sometimes getting close enough to blockaders that Dixon could hear sailors singing on deck. But they had never attacked. Conditions had never been quite right.

By 2020, Dixon could see the Housatonic less than a quarter-mile away. He knew that he should wait for the tide to turn, to make it easier to return to shore. But they were in enemy territory now to wait risked detection, and stealth was their greatest advantage. Besides, Dixon had been waiting for months. He could not wait any longer.

On board the Housatonic, there was little activity that evening. Nine sailors were milling about on deck, settling into a long shift. The watch had changed at 2000, and the men who had just arrived topsides were still adjusting to the cold. Most of the 155 sailors on board were belowdecks.

Life on board the Housatonic was about as dull as it got in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The 205-foot sloop had arrived off the coast of Charleston in late September 1862 and since then had seen little action. o Housatonic’s primary role was to stop blockade-runners trying to reach the city. On this night, the ship was at just about the northernmost post in the blockade, not exactly a key position.

The first man to notice the strange thing in the water was Robert F. Flemming, a black landsman standing watch on the ship’s cathead. Just before 2030 he saw something about 400 feet off the starboard bow, approaching from land. The object appeared to be about 22 feet long, he later recalled, with only its ends visible. Water washed over its midsection, but parts of it stood nearly two feet out of the water. Flemming alerted the officer of the forecastle, Acting Master’s Mate Lewis A. Comthwait, who studied the object for only a second before he dismissed it as floating debris. “It’s a log,” he said.

“Queer-looking log,” Flemming replied. He noted that this “log” was not floating with the tide—it was moving across it.

Flemming called out to C. P. Slade, another black sailor on watch. By this time the object was only 300 feet from the ship and moving too fast to be drifting. Flemming told Slade there was “a torpedo coming.”

The crew of the Housatonic had heard stories of the Confederates’ alleged secret weapon. After receiving several reports from Confederate deserters, the Union squadron commander, Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, had issued orders the month before for ships to prepare for attacks from boats that could travel nearly or completely underwater. This intelligence was the reason the Housatonic, like all the squadron’s blockaders, anchored in relatively shallow water with her fires stoked and pressure in her boilers. The ship was ready. Flemming was ready, too, even if nobody else was.

“If no one is going to report this,” he said, loud enough for the other men on deck to hear. “I will cut the buoy adrift myself and get ready for slipping.”

When Comthwait heard Flemming’s remark, he took another look, this time using binoculars, and saw that this log had two lumps on it the size of a man’s head. Water rippled around the lumps, and he realized the object was moving under its own power. Comthwait turned and ran aft to find the officer of the deck.

By then, nearly every man on watch had spotted the Hunley, including Acting Master John Crosby, who alerted Captain Charles Pickering. On deck within seconds, the captain quickly called out orders—“Slip the anchor chain and fire up the engine”—and got his first look at the fish boat.

“It was shaped like a large whale boat, about two feet, more or less, under the water,” Pickering later recalled. “Its position was at right angles to the ship, bows on, and the bows within two or three feet of the ship’s side, about abreast of the mizzen mast, and I supposed it was then finding the torpedo on.”

Pickering ordered his men to “go astern faster,” raised his double-barrelled shotgun, and fired two loads of buckshot at the strange boat. Several of the crew joined him. They shot at her for more than a minute with small arms the sub was too close to train cannon on her. Some of the men aimed at faint lights on her top that appeared to glow, candlelight filtering through the sub’s deadlights. The gunfire did no damage to the dark craft so far as they could tell.

And then, an explosion. Crosby would later say it “sounded like a collision with another vessel.” There was no smoke, no flame, no sharp report, no column of water thrown into the air—simply a noticeable pressure, and then the Housatonic blew up.

The men on deck were still firing on the Hunley when the explosion knocked them off their feet. The ship lurched violently to port, recoiling from the blow. Deck planks were blown nearly as high as the ship’s mizzenmast. One sailor saw furniture floating out of a ten-foot hole in the side of the ship.

o Housatonic was going down fast. But because the sloop had been anchored in such shallow water, she did not have far to go. When her keel hit bottom, about 25 feet down, most of the ship’s rigging still stood high above the waterline. Sailors climbed into the lines to await rescue. Pickering, who had been blown off his feet, told Crosby to take a lifeboat and pull for the nearby sloop Canandaigua for help.

While they awaited rescue, Robert Flemming, the man who had first spotted the Hunley, was among the sailors clinging to the ship’s rigging. After about 45 minutes he spotted the Canandaigua in the distance, some 800 feet away, making good time toward them. And then he saw something else. Later, Flemming would simply say, “I saw a blue light on the water just ahead of the Canandaigua, and on the starboard quarters of the Housatonic. ” For more than a century, men would speculate that Flemming, the first Union sailor to see the H. L. Hunley, was also the last man to see her for more than a century.

The Mysterious Aftermath

It would be days before Charleston realized the Hunley was missing, and about a week before Confederate officials learned that the torpedo boat had actually sunk a blockade ship. By then, the surviving crew of the Housatonic were preparing for an inquiry that would eventually conclude there was nothing they could have done to avert the loss of their ship.

But what happened to the Hunley? Was she struck by the Canandaugua, left rudderless and adrift? Did the concussion of the explosion knock the crew unconscious or, worse, kill them? Did one of the sailors on the Housatonic crew shoot out a port in the forward conning tower, allowing the sub to fill with water and sink? Or did Dixon simply set the sub down on the bottom to await the turning tide, and there the crew ran out of air? There are dozens of theories, and conflicting clues. The answer may never be known.

For a while, the Confederates maintained a ruse that the Hunley had returned to port, suggesting she still lurked among the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. But Dixon and the world’s first attack submarine were on eternal patrol and would not surface again for more than 130 years.

This article is adapted from a forthcoming book on the H. L. Hunley’s history and Clive Cussler’s 15-year search for the submarine. It was pieced together using letters, official Confederate documents, and first-person accounts. A letter from George E. Dixon to his friend Henry Willey dated 31 January 1864 (a copy of which is held by the Friends of the Hunley, www.hunley.org) provides many details, as does a letter Dixon wrote to Captain John Cothran of the 21st Alabama on 5 February 1864. William Alexander, a Mobile engineer who helped build the submarine and served in the final crew until two weeks before her famous mission, told various versions of the Hunley tale in a series of articles published around the turn of the century, beginning with “The True Story of the Confederate Submarine Boats” (New Orleans Picayune, 29 June 1902). Alexander’s accounts provide most of the meat to a story that is largely cryptic in official military and naval records. The rest of the account comes from the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of Rebellion, particularly Series 1, Volume 15. The National Archives also holds many Hunley-related documents, not the least of which are records of the official naval court of inquiry into the sinking of the Housatonic. Several letters of Horace Lawson Hunley survive in the Archives and are most accessible in Ruth H. Duncan’s book The Captain and Submarine CSS H. L. Hunley (Memphis: Toof, 1965).

Solving the Enduring Hunley Mystery

For 150 years, no one has been able to answer the single most important question about the H. L. Hunley: Why did she sink?

Since the submarine was recovered from the Atlantic floor in 2000, scientists have found dozens of tantalizing, sometimes conflicting clues about what happened to the boat following her attack on the Housatonic. But there’s been no smoking gun, no single piece of evidence that could solve the lingering mystery of what happened in the Hunley’s final moments.

But that could soon change. This spring scientists will embark on two separate projects that should give new insights into the submarine’s last hours. One is a simulation of her February 1864 battle using new information found by the Hunley’s conservators. The other is the beginning of the final phase in the sub’s conservation and restoration.

In March the Hunley will be submerged in a tank of caustic chemicals that will slowly extract the salt that seeped into her iron hull over the 136 years she was in the sea. After three months in this soak, scientists will begin the six-month job of deconcretion. A thick layer of sand and shell built up on the sub’s hull during her time buried beneath the ocean floor. Scientists have left this hard shell—a concrete-like substance called concretion—on the sub to protect her hull and minimize its deterioration. That decision helped to stabilize the boat while her interior was excavated, but the trade-off has been that the Hunley’s hull has never been examined. Now archaeologists will finally have the chance to see if there is damage that might shed light on her sinking.

Scientists believe a few months in the chemical soak will loosen the concretion enough to remove it, but the process could take far longer. All of the buildup must be removed before the conservation process can proceed. After that, it’s expected the Hunley will have to soak three or four more years before she’ll be ready for display in a museum.

As conservators scrape the hull, archaeologists at Clemson University’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center are planning the simulation of the Hunley’s battle with the Housatonic. In the past year, new clues have emerged that change the story dramatically.

Conservators working to preserve the submarine’s 20-foot spar discovered remnants of the Hunley’s torpedo still attached to its end. Most historical accounts suggest the Hunley speared a barbed torpedo into the ship’s hull and then backed away. The torpedo was then detonated with a line from the explosive that pulled taut when the sub was a safe distance away. But when scientists found copper sheeting—the skin of the torpedo—still bolted to the spar, it suggested a very different scenario. It now appears the Hunley used its spar like some other Civil War vessels, by simply ramming an enemy ship with a torpedo that blew up on contact.

And that means the Hunley was only 20 feet away from the blast that sank the Housatonic. “We want to see what we can learn from that about how it might have impacted the submarine as well as the crew,” said Stéphanie Cretté, director of the Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

The results of the simulation will be compared to the submarine and the data collected on the remains of the crew, which were buried in 2004. Forensic tests have revealed much about the men who served in the Hunley—some of them had bad backs, for instance, others had suffered broken bones—but there was nothing that proved they suffered any sort of trauma the night of the attack.

The work planned for the Hunley this year could be the most revealing since the initial excavation of the submarine in 2001. The sub, which was discovered in 1995 by best-selling author Clive Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency, was raised by South Carolina’s state Hunley Commission and the non-profit Friends of the Hunley on 8 August 2000. Since then, she has resided in North Charleston at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, named for the Friends’ first chairman.

During the initial excavation, which lasted four months, scientists discovered hundreds of artifacts—including Lieutenant George Dixon’s gold coin. Everything found inside the submarine was mapped on a three-dimensional grid so that each detail of the archaeology would be preserved.

So far, many of those discoveries have proven contradictory. The sub was filled with mud and sand, but it remains unclear when the hull was breached. There is evidence that no sand penetrated the boat for at least six months after the attack. Also, there were stalactites on the sub’s ceiling, which means that at least part of the interior was dry for a long time. Still, the submarine could have been partially filled with water soon after she sank, as some evidence indicates.

Cussler believes the reason the Hunley sank may lie with the shroud around the submarine’s propeller. Half the shroud is missing, but the half that remains has a couple of distinctive triangular cuts in it that look a lot like propeller strikes. Cussler points out that the last reported sighting of the submarine, by Housatonic crewman Robert Flemming, put her directly in the path of the screw sloop Canandaigua. Cussler believes the ship could have hit the Hunley, severing her rudder and knocking the sub off an even keel. The rudder was found near the boat, but not attached to her.

If there are clues that can dispel or support theories about her mission, chances are they will be found later this year. And then, finally, scientists may have the answer to that nagging question: Why did the Hunley sink?


o Squalus was diesel-electric submarine that was commission on March 1, 1939. It was a 310 feet and displaced 2,350 tons when submerged. Just a few weeks after it was commissioned the Squalus would capture the attention of nearly every American, causing newspapers to run extra editions to provide updates. On March 23, 1939, the Squalus sank off the coast of New Hampshire. Foi o Sculpin who saw the marker buoy and was able to make contact in order to confirm there were survivors on board, however they were already suffering from the chlorine gas that was leaking from the battery compartment.

o Squalus had 56 sailors and three civilians on board when it dived on March 23. The air induction valve failed and water poured into the aft engine room. The submarine sank down 240 feet to the bottom. The aft section flooded and killed 24 sailors and 2 civilians. In the forward compartment 32 crew members and one civilian sent up the marker buoy and red smoke bombs to alert those on the surface of their plight.

The communication did not last long as the cable parted. o Sculpin stayed by its sister sub and the following morning the USS Falcon arrived. The rescue ship lowered the Momsen-McCann rescue chamber immediately. The chamber was little more than a modified diving bell manned by deep-sea divers but it managed to reach the Squalus and the crew. In three agonizingly slow trips 26 men were brought to the surface.

With seven men still trapped the cables of the rescue chamber became tangled and delayed dive. But in the pitch-black hours just before midnight a fourth trip rescued the final seven men after 39 hours of being trapped. In one more desperate dive the aft compartment was searched to verify that there were no survivors. Several weeks later a massive effort brought the Squalus to the surface and then it was towed to Portsmouth. There an investigation was conducted on the engine room compartments and the submarine was decommissioned on November 15, 1939.


Hunley’s Harrowing Mission

The USS Housatonic sank quickly after Hunley’s crew detonated a 135-pound torpedo embedded in the vaunted warship’s stern, as depicted in this modern painting by marine artist Dan Dowdey.

(Daniel Dowdey/Copyright © Friends of the Hunley®)

Eight committed crewmen crowded into the Confederacy’s revolutionary submersible for its first operation, it would also be its last.

E yes strained hard, the chilly winter air and cold Atlantic breeze inducing a watery squint. These eyes were accustomed to looking out. A sailor on a cathead was staring at the water, and so was Acting Master J.K. Crosby. Both were on the deck of the USS Housatonic—a state-of-the-art steam-powered sloop boasting 12 guns and 300 crewmen, the pride of the U.S. Navy. The ship was part of a fleet whose purpose was to blockade Charleston Harbor, in South Carolina, to keep Confederates from leaving and help from arriving. This nautical siege—part of the larger naval blockade of the South called Anaconda—was far from perfect, but it had done its main job: to constrict the Confederacy. Any effort to break the blockade had to be thwarted, and for that reason, Crosby’s and the sailor’s eyes scanned the water that cold night of February 17, 1864, with focused determination.

What Crosby was struggling to identify was a piece of Confederate technology that was about to make history: the H.L. Hunley submarine. Inside, eight men were crammed into what amounted to a repurposed boiler (strengthened with a skeletal frame) made of iron three-eighths of an inch thick, in a space 48 inches high, 42 inches wide, and 40 feet long.

Such extreme confinement would have been alien even to a sailor like Crosby, who was more accustomed to close quarters than were many soldiers on land. Being inside the Hunley was an experience quite unlike anything else endured by other combatants before or during the Civil War. It was born of necessity and creativity. Breaking Anaconda meant pushing men to the limits of endurance.

The ill-fated USS Housatonic (Naval History and Heritage Command)

In precise order they sat, on a bench about a foot wide. Before them, not quite down the center of the vessel (to allow for the bench), was a long iron bar, a crankshaft, indented at the position for each seated crewmember. Each of the seven indents was possibly wrapped with a wooden sheath, enabling the men to rotate the entire crankshaft in sync. The crankshaft, in turn, was connected to a differential gearbox, which converted human energy power into propeller power, giving the submarine locomotion under the water.

At the helm was George Dixon. Dixon was likely from the Midwest, though he enlisted in Company E of the 21st Alabama Infantry in October 1861. Injured at the Battle of Shiloh, Dixon became intimately familiar with the submarine, working first at the Park and Lyons machine shop in Mobile, Ala., during the Hunley’s construction and then accompanying the vessel to Charleston. Dixon asked Commodore John R. Tucker, commander of warships in Charleston, to provide him with some men, which he did. Seated directly behind Dixon was the youngest and shortest of the crewmembers, Arnold Becker, a recent arrival from Europe. For reasons unclear, he had joined the Confederate States Navy in October 1861. Serving on the General Polk and then on the CSS Chicora, Becker was later assigned to the CSS Indian Chief, and from that vessel, he was recruited for the Hunley. Age 20 and 5 feet, 5 inches tall, Becker was at the first crank position, muscling the propeller in circles, but he was also responsible for the air-circulation system, managing the forward pump and, critically, checking the position of the valves when the sub needed positive buoyancy.

As for the second cranker, there was surely more to his name, but we know him simply as “Lumpkin,” probably his last name. From his remains, forensic science has determined that his was a life of physical exertion—and physical abuse: He was a heavy pipe smoker with the grooves worn into his teeth to prove it. He had probably served, like Becker, on the Indian Chief before joining the Hunley equipe técnica.

Two men down from the diminutive Becker—next to Lumpkin—sat a large man, well over 6 feet. This was Frank Collins. A Virginian, Collins signed up with the Confederate Navy in 1861. Like the others, he had served on the Indian Chief. His position at third crank situated him mid-vessel. In the event of a sinking, escape through either of the boat’s two conning towers, situated forward and aft, would be unlikely.

In the equally treacherous fourth crank was Corporal C.F. Carlsen, in his early 20s, whom Dixon recruited from the German artillery. Carlsen, like the others, had naval experience, having served on the Jefferson Davis. He also saw battle at Fort Walker on Hilton Head, S.C., in November 1861. It is likely that nothing had truly prepared him for the position he found himself in on that cold February night in 1864.

Faces of Hunley

A team of leading archaeologists and forensic experts painstakingly studied the remains of Hunley’s crew and was able to complete reliable facial reconstructions of all eight. Clues found in some of the men’s teeth convinced researchers that four were European and one was a heavy pipe smoker.

(all images Copyright © Friends of the Hunley®)

A s with Lumpkin, we know the man at fifth position only by his last name, Miller (his first name might have been Augustus). And we don’t know much more than that. He might have served with Carlsen on the Jefferson Davis, and he might have been, like Becker, a recent immigrant from Europe. Either way, he had volunteered to serve on the Hunley.

About the man in the sixth crank position, James A. Wicks, we know a bit more. Wicks had served the Union Navy early in the war, aboard the USS Congress. When the Congress was destroyed by the CSS Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862, Wicks swam ashore and enlisted in the Confederacy. Like other crew members, he ended up on the Indian Chief and from there volunteered for Hunley duty. He returned from a mission in New Bern, N.C., just days before the Hunley was launched to attack the Housatonic.

Another former sailor on the Indian Chief secured the last crank position, a Marylander named Joseph Ridgaway. The son of a sea captain, Ridgaway was well-versed in nautical matters, so much so that Dixon recruited him directly for the Hunley, not only having him man the seventh crank position but also making him responsible for securing the hatch and operating the flywheel and the pump.

Two of the eight men, Dixon and Ridgaway, used more than muscle. Dixon used his eyes and ears to navigate, and Ridgaway employed his eyes and fingers for stabilizing the sub by tweaking and feathering the levers controlling the ballast tanks at the vessel’s fore. And yet, like the other crewmen, they had to contort their bodies into position.

A period sketch provides a side view of the crew’s cramped working environment. (© Chronicle/Alamy)

The men ensconced in the Hunley experienced something unique, something that wouldn’t be matched for another half-century and the development of submarines and U-boats during World War I and, later, tank warfare. Intimacy meant contact with others. The men in the Hunley experienced a world more familiar to fighting in earlier ages. There were the triremes, of course, but the siege machines of both the ancient and medieval worlds offer comparisons.

Most antebellum Americans embraced an arm-stretching culture of open space. Partly, this was a product of the country’s size. News didn’t always come by word of mouth and human contact. Print and growing literacy and the intellectual forces underwriting the Enlightenment conspired to promote a more distanced, noncontact form of social interaction. Bathing, like bodily excretions, was now a private affair, and diners were not crammed on a bench. While servants in medieval Europe had often slept in the same bedroom as the master, servants in the 19th century had been relegated to a separate space, to quarters near enough for them to be summoned but removed. Touching was less necessary.

Human contact had changed and, beginning in the 18th century, the idea of private, individuated comfort began to spread from the elite downward to the middle class. By the early 19th century, ideas about comfort were understood in terms of room temperature, not body heat.

Clothing took on special meaning, since what you wore was a matter of individual choice, not a group function. It formed an outer shell against contact with the environment and with others. What people wore against their skin, in other words, said much about their station in life and their inner worth and beliefs. It also diminished the need for constant intimacy. We could be self-sustaining.

The men aboard the Hunley were practically working as a single body, their parts intertwined with the others’. Yet even in war, touching between men was prescribed and regimented. And certainly in peacetime, free white men were not really accustomed to either this intimacy or the contortions that it provided. Few occupations even began to approach the world of the submariners, and those that did were held in contempt. American observers of 19th-century English coal mines were aghast at how the mineshafts made men crawl over each other, animal-like, “with back and legs at an angle quite as acute as the pain thereby caused through underground passages that were apparently constructed for some Lilliputian race yet to be discovered.” Theirs was an unnatural world. The lack of air, the smell, the closeness of it all were a throwback to an uncivilized age, when men “naked from head to waist are at work all the time, in narrow out-of-the-way passages, where without a lamp one might consider himself as completely lost to the world in general as if imbedded in the heart of a Brazilian forest.”

Tight fit: Though ahead of its time in many ways technologically, Hunley still depended on manpower to move. The crew had to crouch inside a 4-foot-high hull and rotate a long crankshaft that turned a two-blade propeller. (© Chronicle/Alamy)

On this ship, their bodies were “stowed so close” in quarters so low that they were not permitted “the indulgence of an erect posture.” The close, cramped quarters meant the “exclusion of the fresh air.” Even in cold water, the physical exertion of the crankers likely meant that inside the “climate was too warm to admit the wearing of anything but a shirt,” so that the “skin,” especially on “the prominent parts of the shoulders, elbows, and hips,” was “rubbed” aggressively by the “friction of the ship.” Dank, cramped, and forcing skin-rubbing closeness: This was the Hunley.

But this description is not, in fact, of the Hunley. It is a description of a ship of enslaved black men, women and children.

o Hunley’s men were where they were by choice. Their skin was never lacerated by a whip held by another. But in a world where white men resisted mightily any comparison to slaves, where race meant everything, where white Southern men fought to prove they were free and not slave, the similarity between the world of the Hunley and a slave ship seems uncanny. It was this willing proximity to the experience of slavery that reveals the depth of sacrifice these men were willing to make to pursue the Confederate cause.

o Hunley volunteers had willingly placed themselves in the condition of slaves—in the fight to preserve slavery. Indeed, it was a wonder that P.G.T. Beauregard didn’t crew the Hunley with at least some slaves. Why not have Dixon guide and direct the boat while slaves provided the manpower to propel it through the water? We can’t say with certainty why slave labor was not used to power the Hunley, but the answer probably has something to do with the fact that slaves were expensive (their death and loss was, after all, quite likely) and also with the same logic that kept the South from using armed blacks in combat. Manning the boat, this piece of proud Confederate technology that might break the blockade, was understood as an honor befitting only white men.

And so the Confederate crankers turned and rotated the shaft as fast as their muscles would allow, in quarters so cramped their skin rubbed and chafed, in light so dim they knew each other’s presence by contact and smell rather than by sight. But such was the importance of their suicidal mission that these men were willing to endure it all. For now, they had but one object in mind: to sink a Union ship.

o Housatonic was far too large a vessel to be redirected easily and quickly. Crosby had spotted the “something,” but it was too late: a minute after, the object beneath the ocean was alongside his ship. Hurriedly, Union sailors tried to pivot their aft guns but “were unable to bring a gun to bear upon” the object, the angle too downwardly steep, presumably. And then something hit.

Such was the importance of their suicidal mission that these men were willing to endure it all

The extent of the explosion revealed the object below the waves: Mounted to the boat’s bottom—which made it very difficult, if not impossible, to see from the surface—was a hollow iron spar jutting out 17 feet. It looked now like a gaping fish, replete with sheeny scales. This was the Singer torpedo, carrying 135 pounds of black powder. Bolted to the spar, the copper-clad torpedo was, through the sheer momentum of Hunley, to be plunged deep into the warship’s guts and activated by a trigger fingered by Dixon.

In some ways, the torpedo had a medieval quality to it, looking not unlike a knight’s lance used in jousting. But this spar was a powerful piece of 19th-century stealth technology. Its invisibility was by design. The alternative—a torpedo dragged behind the sub and designed to hit an object when the sub dove—was far more obvious to lookouts and vigilant eyes. And it was a target easily shot at. Dixon, following trials of both torpedo designs, elected for the spar because it had the redoubtable virtue of being below the waterline and very hard to see.

Like a clenched fist at the end of a stiff arm, the torpedo was also a technology of touch. It had to be. Unlike warfare above the sea and on land, where shells could be lobbed greater distances anonymously, this underwater technology was less distanced. It required men to plant it, even in this prosthetic manner. This was maritime hand-to-hand combat. The torpedo rammed hard into the ship’s magazine, just as Crosby feared. Then…nothing. The device seems to have pierced the hull, but there was, perhaps for a minute, no immediate explosion. And then a veritable eruption. o Housatonic plunged, sinking stern first. Some sailors were stunned by the concussion others flung themselves on the rigging, clinging for dear life. It had been all of three minutes from the sighting of “the something” to detonation.

T he Hunley sank the Housatonic between 8:45 and 9 p.m. Within the hour, the Union ship was swallowed by the cold waters of the bay, five of its crew missing, presumed drowned the rest, 21 officers and 129 men, some injured by the explosion, were rescued by the USS Canandaigua. The effect was profound, the loss of the ship causing “great consternation in the fleet.” All wooden vessels were “ordered to keep up steam and go out to sea every night, not being allowed to anchor inside” the harbor. For the Confederacy, this was “the glorious success of our little torpedo boat,” which “raised the hopes of our people.”

One source at the U.S. Navy thought “undoubtedly” that the Hunley “sank at the time of the concussion, with all hands.” Whether or not that was the case, we do know that no one on the sub survived.

‘An Intimidating Task’: Underwater for 136 years, Hunley was clad in a hard layer of sand, shell and sediment when it was lifted from the bottom of Charleston Harbor on August 8, 2000. In recent months, Clemson University conservators have successfully removed most of that crust and, as one said, shed “new light on our understanding of the submarine.” (Copyright © Friends of the Hunley®)

Ironies haunted the crew of the Hunley, even in death. It was, after all, a man by the name of J.H. Tomb, an engineer with the Confederate Navy, who believed the vessel was “a veritable coffin.” Tomb believed that there was only one relatively safe way for the Hunley to sink a ship, and that was to forgo invisibility. A spar torpedo was an effective weapon only when the boat was at the surface. “Should she attempt to use a torpedo as Lieutenant Dixon intended, by submerging the boat and striking from below, the level of the torpedo would be above his own boat, and as she had little buoyancy and no power, the chances were the suction caused by the water passing into the sinking ship would prevent her rising to the surface, besides the possibility of his own boat being disabled.” Tomb had told Dixon this before Dixon had launched his daring raid on the Housatonic he had insisted that it was dangerous. None of this was news to Dixon. He and Tomb had even witnessed the Hunley sink on a previous dive, killing its entire crew. It was a pitiless boat.

That warning was too late now. As the submarine sank, the men—assuming they were still conscious and not knocked out by the explosion—must have known they were probably doomed. Agonizingly, they might well have known even as the sub sank. In January, before the Hunley went on its nocturnal mission, the men had deliberately let the sub sink to the ocean floor to see how long they could go without fresh infusions of air. Dixon had estimated the crew could last half an hour. It turned out they got stuck and barely escaped with their lives—two and a half hours later.

Now, time was not on their side, and the sub sank ever deeper. There was something both serene and cruel in the way the men of the Hunley faced their final moments. Decades later, their bodies were not found clumped together each man was at his station. There had been no apparent efforts to hold hands or cling to one another. Perhaps the concussion from the explosion had knocked them out. We simply don’t know. There seems to have been no scrambling, no desperate lurch for escape, no clambering over one another, no bruising, no ripping. We know that the seven men on the Hunley who died earlier were “found in a bunch near the manhole” when the boat was brought to the surface following a failed trial run. But not the crew of the Hunley on this fateful night.

Even though they were in excruciating proximity, each man died alone at his station.

Had the men survived, they might in their excitement at the success of their mission have forgotten all the aching, stooping and skin-rubbing, and told tales of victory in the comfort of warm homes. Instead, the sub sank, dragging its already entombed crewmen to a sarcophageal grave. There they sat, at station: the dandy captain, Mr. Dixon the anonymous Mr. Lumpkin, pipe smoker the diminutive 20-year-old immigrant, Mr. Becker, dwarfed by the man from Virginia near him, Mr. Collins Mr. Carlsen, whom Dixon had recruited from the German artillery the man known only as Mr. Miller the erstwhile Union sailor, Mr. Wicks and the sailor responsible for securing the hatch, the Marylander, Mr. Ridgaway.

They remained at the bottom of the ocean until their remains, and the Hunley, were raised and brought
to Charleston’s shore in 2000. Then, for the first time in 136 years, these men—waterlogged skeletons—were touched by human hands.


The HMS Venturer sinking the U-864 on February 9, 1945 remains to this day the only intentional sinking of a submarine by another submarine when both were at periscope depth. The U-864 was a U-boat designed by the Germans for ocean-going voyages that were long a long way from home ports. In February of 1945 the submarine was a on a mission code-named Operation Caesar to give high sensitive technology to the Empire of Japan. The technology included jet engines, missile guidance systems and 65 tons of mercury.

The British had learned about Operation Caesar due to their ability to crack the Enigma code. The British wanted to stop the Germans from giving the Japanese anything that might prolong the war and therefore wanted to stop the U-864. The Royal Navy submarine command dispatched the HMS Venturer to destroy the U-864 before it was able to deliver its cargo to Japan. At the time, Lieutenant Jimmy Landers was in control of the Venturer and was given little more than the estimated whereabouts of the U-864 and the orders to bring down the sub.

Landers decided to turn off the sub&rsquos ASDIC in order to prevent the ping from being overheard by the U-864. The submarine relied on its hydrophone to pinpoint where the U-864 was. The plan was successful as the Venturer&rsquos hydrophone operator was able to hear the diesel engines of the U-boat as it passed the Venturer&rsquos location. The Germans did not have sonar at the time and their hydrophone was unable to hear the electric motors of the Venturer over the sound of its own diesel engines.

The crew of the Venturer knew that their target was close but after tracking the U-boat for several hours it became clear that it was not going to surface. Never before had a firing solution been computed in four dimensions &ndash time, distance, bearing and target depth, despite it being possible. The crew of the HMS Venturer estava ficando sem bateria e sabia que precisava fazer uma tentativa. Eles fizeram os cálculos e suposições sobre as manobras defensivas do submarino e dispararam todos os torpedos de quatro tubos de proa. O quarto torpedo atingiu o alvo, perfurando o casco de pressão e implodindo instantaneamente o submarino.


Assista o vídeo: 02 - SUBMARINO HUNLEY O PRIMEIRO SUBMARINO A AFUNDAR UM NAVIO - AS HISTÓRIAS DAS GUERRAS