Unlike aircraft carriers, which float by tethering themselves to their own flying cargo, submarines control their depth by inflating and deflating watertight helium balloons. Get an up-close look at one of the world's oldest reverse zeppelins with today's Groupon for two tickets to a tour of the H.L. Hunley submarine on the old Charleston Navy Base in North Charleston. The first submarine to down an enemy ship in battle, the H.L. Hunley is a formerly sunken Confederate craft that soaked in the ocean for more than 130 years before being raised from the depths to become one of naval history's most important artifacts. Visit the torpedo-toting sandwich muse in her 90,000-gallon conservation tank for a 20-minute tour on Saturday or Sunday that includes facial reconstructions of her crew, life-sized models of the Hunley and the early Hunley prototype sub, Pioneer, and artifacts found on-board.
- A decade after the raising of the Confederate submarine Hunley off the South Carolina coast, the cause of the sinking of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship remains a mystery. But scientists are edging closer. – Bruce Smith, Sci-Tech Today
- For history buffs, visiting the Hunley is like Nirvana. Incredibly interesting and such a great American story. – historylovreader, TripAdvisor
H. L. Hunley Submarine
It was February 17, 1864. The USS Housatonic floated in Charleston Harbor atop calm, cold waters. Below the surface, a group of Confederate soldiers sweated bullets as they cranked the propellers of the H. L. Hunley, speeding toward the Union's Housatonic on a historic mission: they would become the first submarine crew ever to sink an enemy ship. A 135-pound torpedo struck the Housatonic's stern, detonating a fiery explosion that sank the vessel within minutes. The Hunley then surfaced just long enough for the crew to flash a blue magnesium light, signaling to fellow forces on the shore that the mission succeeded and the submarine would return. And it did—but not until almost 140 years later, when it was raised from the harbor's sandy bottom on August 8, 2000, after author Clive Cussler discovered the wreck intact.
Today, the leaders of the nonprofit H. L. Hunley Submarine seek to conserve, restore, and ultimately exhibit this historic vessel, as well as solve the mystery of how it completed its mission only to vanish moments later. They welcome visitors to see the submarine in its current condition—within a 90,000-gallon conservation tank—and educate guests on the vessel's many details. Guides walk guests through features such as the manual-propulsion system and automatic moon roof, and illuminate exhibits such as a lifesize model from the TNT movie The Hunley.