Saturday, November 05, 2005


Close-up tour of Hunley to be auctioned


Tuscaloosa News
November 01, 2005

Until now, the public has seen the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley from a distance atop a viewing platform at the lab where it is being conserved.

Now, four lucky people will get an up-close look inside of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship.

Friends of the Hunley is holding an oyster roast to raise funds Friday and plan to auction the close-up tour of the Hunley.

The winner and three friends will be allowed to stick their heads inside the sub with the water drained out of the holding tank.

"Really, it's a treat," said Paul Mardikian, the sub's senior conservator. "Every time someone looks inside the sub, you can see the excitement on their face."

"It would be like winning the Lotto for a dyed-in-the-wool Hunleyphile; even a Yankee like me," said Tim Smalley, a submarine enthusiast from St. Paul, Minn.Until now, only scientists, reporters and film crews have had such a close look at the hand-cranked submarine.

The Hunley is cramped, only 42-inches across at its widest point, and sits with its interior facing away from the viewing platform. Those taking tours have had to strain just to catch a glimpse of the submarine's crank.

Winners of the auction also will get a tour of the lab and perhaps a peek at some artifacts that have not been put on public display.

It is a silent auction so bidders must be present to win. Bidding starts at $300.The 40-foot, hand-cranked Hunley rammed a spar with a black powder charge into the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston on Feb. 17, 1864.

The Hunley sank as well and was located off Sullivans Island in 1995. It was raised five years later and brought to a conservation lab at the old Charleston Naval Base.


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