Sub reproduction on wish list
Saturday, May 12, 2001
BY BRIAN HICKS
Of The Post and Courier staff
Sometime in the next few years, a clone of the
Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley may surface in Charleston Harbor.
Members of the Hunley Commission said Friday they
hope to have a replica of the submarine built to help gauge how it worked
and what its limits were.
"We are studying the feasibility of building a
working model," said Randy Burbage, a member of the commission. "We want it
built to the exact specifications of the Hunley. We would be able to tell
how well it maneuvered, what it could do. I'm excited about the prospects of
So far, the commission has only voted to study the
idea of a replica. But ultimately, and ideally, the model would be moored
near where the real submarine is displayed.
There are some bugs to be worked out - a replica
might prove too small for anyone except jockeys to operate. And, since the
Hunley proved dangerous to so many Southern troops, it would have to be
fitted with some modern luxuries -oxygen and a motor.
The model might have to be built slightly larger
than the real submarine to accommodate modern-day-sized people - the Hunley
is a less-than-roomy 42 inches wide. But, even though the real Hunley sank
three times, killing the better part of three crews, commissioners expect to
have no problem crewing it. It could even be that the model would make the
maritime show circuit, literally a hands-on learning tool.
Commissioners said a reproduction would give a good
indication of what the Confederates had at their disposal when they attacked
the USS Housatonic on Feb. 17, 1864.
State Sen. Glenn McConnell, chairman of the Hunley
Commission, said Friday that he believed the model could be built for around
$100,000 - if some of the time and materials were donated. But such a model,
he said, is not expected anytime soon. Scientists will finish the first
excavation this month, then begin work again in the fall. With new
discoveries coming nearly every day, it could years before they have a good
sense of the Hunley's operations.
"As soon as she releases her secrets" engineering
of the replica will begin, McConnell said. "Unfortunately, she is very
reluctant to give up all of her secrets."
The Associated Press contributed
to this report.
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net