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Skull found on sub that sank in 1864

A skull has been found inside the Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley along with what appear to be a bellows that could help researchers reconstruct the doomed subs Final minutes.

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The skull was the first uncovered amid artefacts and other crew remains in the sediments filled sub, said project manager Bob Neyland The Hunley and its nine man crew went down on Feb 17 1864 after ramming an explosive charge into the union blockade ship Housatanic off Charleston.

It was raised last year and brought to a conservation laboratory at the old Charleston navy base. Scientists have uncovered remains from six of the crewmen aboard the hand-cranked submarine, the first in history to sink an enemy warship.

A bellows likely would have been used to draw fresh air through the snorkel tubes. "It appears to be two wooden pieces with leather between," said Bob Neyland.

The device and the position of a crewman near it could help scientists develop a clearer picture of what happened as the Hunley sank said state Sen Glenn McConnell chairman of the south Carolina Hunley commission. "It might provide some clues to whether the submarine was struggling to get oxygen or was in the process of sinking."

McConnell said "What ever occurred seems to have occurred very quickly. "The remains of the six crewmen found so far have been located at their stations by the propeller crank, leading researchers to think there was no scramble to get out of the sub.

McConnell said excavation of sediment near the forward conning tower that is missing a view port will provide more clues.

Some historians think the window was blown out or shot out and the sub started taking on water.

This article was sent in by Allan Snowden from the Sheffield Branch of the Submariners Association.



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