Wednesday, May 9, 2001
BY BRIAN HICKS
Of The Post and Courier staff
Archaeologists X-rayed the forward section of the Hunley's
interior Tuesday in an attempt to find a way to remove the Confederate submarine's
The bellows blocks the path of scientists trying to excavate the forward section of the sub's crew compartment. The X-rays show that the device appears to be concreted to several pieces of the Hunley's machinery - including the control lever to the submarine's dive planes.
Additionally, hoses coming out of the bellows, used for pumping air into the sub, disappear into the muck. They could be attached anywhere.
This is not the first time surprises from the Hunley have interfered with the best-laid plans of archaeologists. The Hunley's spar, thought to be long-gone, was discovered in the way of lift equipment last year. Ultimately, it was simply unbolted.
Scientists are now looking for similar ways to unbolt or move the bellows. But they may end up having to chisel it loose.
Bob Neyland, the Hunley project manger, said the first priority is to do little harm to the sub's machinery.
But chiseling out artifacts has become the norm at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center. As scientists have reached the floor of the submarine in some places, they are finding artifacts stuck to the hull with hardened sand and silt. Now, scientists not only have to map their finds, they have to carefully pry them out.
All that, Neyland said, has slowed down the excavation work somewhat.
Hunley officials are still hopeful the excavation of the submarine can be finished by the end of May.