The Civil War submarine may have been destroyed by its own torpedo


During the Civil War, the Confederate Army deployed a submarine called HL Hunley. After sinking an enemy ship called USS Housatonic in 1864, the submarine disappeared after reporting a successful mission. The exact cause of the sinking of the Confederate submarine has remained a mystery.

However, scientists studying the ship have discovered new evidence that may shed light on what sank the submarine and how the submarine and its crew may have sunk the Union ship. The sinking of the Union ship made the Hunley the first successful combat submarine in history. New evidence uncovered during the study of the submarine suggests the submarine was within 20 feet of the torpedo when it exploded, sinking the Union ship.

New evidence suggests the torpedo was bolted to a 16-foot-long spar, researchers said. This discovery was made during an investigation of what remained of the two-foot-long torpedo. According to the researchers, the torpedo contained 135 pounds of gunpowder and was not designed to separate from the spar as previously believed.

Previously, it was believed that the torpedo was placed against the hull of the ship and then detonated from a distance. New evidence suggests the submarine was no more than 20 feet away when the torpedo exploded. As close as the submarine was to the ship when the torpedo exploded, researchers believe the concussion from the explosion may have damaged the submarine and injured the crew. The submarine was discovered off the port of Charleston in South Carolina in 1995 and returned to the surface in 2000.

[via USA Today]

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