Note: Tours of the Lobby and Display Area are open with Access to Web Cams. For
Information call Hotline # 843-723-9797
Officials hope to restart public tours of submarine
Thursday, April 19, 2001
BY BRIAN HICKS
Of The Post and Courier staff
Before long, you could be peering inside the Hunley, staring at
the bench the doomed crew sat on, the crank they furiously turned to power the submarine's
propeller and the controls that helped it glide beneath the waves.
As the excavation of the Confederate submarine nears its final
month, that chilling view is just over the horizon. Officials connected with the process
say they are beginning to study ways to let the public have a look back in time.
Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, chairman of the Hunley
Commission, and Warren Lasch, chairman of Friends of the Hunley, say they are talking with
engineers and architects about ways to work in public viewing of the submarine at the lab.
Nothing is final yet, and there is no timetable for tours to
resume, but they are working on it. The two men say there could be some new construction
around the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, perhaps a room added to the side to allow the
public to look in at the sub from a different angle.
But that is just one option.
"It could be that we build a glass mezzanine over the tank
to let people look down into the Hunley," McConnell said.
All of this, of course, depends on cost and how unobtrusive it
would be to scientists, who will continue to study the submarine and its contents through
the next year.
"That's what it's about. We're looking to find a way to
reopen to the public without getting in the way of scientists," McConnell said.
The lab was previously opened from October through January,
before archaeologists began sifting through the silt-filled interior of the submarine.
During those tours, the mezzanine deck connected to the Hunley
tank was opened for 40 people at a time. But that is where scientists are doing much of
their work these days.
The fall and winter tours allowed people a close-up look at the
submarine's port flank, a broadside view that gave little hint to the sub's hydrodynamic
A view from the other side, as Hunley officials are considering,
would allow visitors to look down on a knife-like bow, the top of the conning tower
hatches and inside the submarine.
From that angle, with three hull plates off the submarine, people
could see the hand cranks for the propeller, the portside bench the crew sat on and some
of the machinery used to work the Hunley's ballast tanks and dive planes.
There is very little chance the tours could resume before late
summer, as the excavation will likely continue through most of May. Any construction at
the lab would have to wait until after archaeologists finish their initial work inside.
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net