|Length||40 feet 0 inches|
The CSS Hunley was launched in Mobile, Alabama in July 1863 and shipped to Charleston, South Carolina in August. She was manufactured from a railroad locomotive boiler. The 25 foot long boiler was cut in half horizontally and a strip of iron was added to give her an oval cross section. Tapered ends were added and capped with castings so she appeared pointed when viewed from the top and rectangular when viewed from the side. Two hatches with coamings were added to provide access the the interior and partial bulkheads were added fore and aft to contain the ballast water.
The original method of attack was to tow a "torpedo" consisting of a mine fastened to a plank at the end of a 200 foot rope. The Hunley would approach the target in the "deck awash" condition, then dive under the target using her bow planes and surface on the other side. The "torpedo" would then be pulled into the side of the target vessel and explode. While this worked well in protected water, the waves and current of the open bay made the towed explosive as much a threat to the Hunley as the enemy.
In 1864, the towed torpedo was replaced by a spar torpedo and the method of attack was changed to ramming the target vessel with surfaced.
Speed and endurance were limited by the strength and stamina of the eight men turning the crank. Depth control was almost non-existant, and the open topped ballast tanks were responsible for at least one sinking when the operator failed to close the flood valve. Nonetheless, the CSS Hunley became the first submarine known to have sunk an enemy ship.
Ó2000, 2001, 2002 Gary McCue
Gary W. McCue