Ian!) Not the FIRST submarine, mind you, which was built way back in 1620 by a Dutch engineer named Cornelius Jacobszoon Dribbel, but it IS an accurately-sized cross section of a mock-up of the first submarine that successfully sunk a ship. And that occurred during the Civil War.
Kind of a tight squeeze, huh? That crank in my hand? Believe it or not, that's how the crew members propelled the sub.
Okay! Back on topic... back to the Civil War submarine. The size of that tiny vessel takes tight squeeze to a whole new level. It's forty feet long, and as illustrated in this pic, only four feet tall and 42" wide. And in that small area were eight hunched-over hand-cranking crew members! Wait... that's not entirely true. Only seven were actually cranking. The commander, Lt. George Dickens, who was over six feet tall, was situated in the front of the sub... the eyes of the mission, so to speak.
A picture showing a size comparison. The Housatonic, part of the embargo preventing goods from getting into Charleston, was selected as a target primarily because its hull was constructed of wood. In spite of the odds against the little sub, the mission was a success, and the much larger ship sunk in approximately five minutes.
But the Hunley... never returned to shore.
Its location remained a mystery until 1995, when a team of divers found it. Five years later, it was oh-so carefully raised from its watery grave, and it's been undergoing a meticulous restoration ever since. Smarticus and I have seen a number of documentaries about the sub's recovery and restoration progress, so it was an absolute thrill to visit the Hunley Lab and see this piece of history in person.
Forensic scientists built models of each crew member's face, and they were able to determine each man's approximate height. Through DNA testing, the remains regained their rightful names, and they were all laid to rest at the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston in 2004.
Of all the branches of men in the forces, there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners. [Winston Churchill]
And that's at true now as it was one hundred and fifty years ago.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.