Removing the plates

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

     By Monday afternoon, scientists excavating the Hunley had removed more than 70 rivets from one of the plates covering the submarine's crew compartment.
     The plate, which probably weighs around 200 pounds, could be loose from the submarine as early as today. In all, 94 rivets hold each half-circle plate in place.
     Dr. Bob Neyland, the project's manager, said the plate will likely be strapped in place until all three plates they plan to remove are loose.
     When those three plates, which are roughly two feet wide, are detached, senior archaeologists Maria Jacobsen will being the interior excavation of the Confederate sub. At this rate, the excavation could begin before the end of the month.
     Neyland said Monday that, so far, everything is going well and the plates are springing away from the hull. Scientists were afraid they would have to find a way to pry the plates loose.
     As scientists chip away at the concretion of the hull, they are finding the Hunley's skin is smooth and still black. Beneath the protective coating of sand and silt, the submarine has been preserved well.

Work slow-going to remove plate covering sub's crew compartment

Thursday, February 15, 2001

     Archaeologists working on the Confederate submarine Hunley have drilled out all the rivets from one of the plates covering the crew compartment. They even tried to jiggle the plate loose.
     Ninety-four rivets came out. "We tried to ease the plate off a little," said project manager Dr. Bob Neyland. "The plate's not coming off easy, which isn't a surprise considering it's 137 years old and made well."
     Neyland said there might be a millimeter of separation. In the meantime, the team is applying heat and doing some gentle prying and chiseling away of the concretion on the sub's hull to try and help move the process along.
     The excavation team plans to remove rivets from three panels in the crew compartment before opening the sub and clearing away the silt to look for the crew's remains.
     The work has proved to be slow, and it could be a week before they get inside.
     "There's no reason to rush," Neyland said.



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