For the longest time the only glimpse of the ill-fated Confederate submarine was a not-quite-accurate replica outside the Charleston Museum . But after maritime novelist and adventurer Clive Cussler and his team finally found the Hunley in 1995 off Sullivan’s Island , the tantalizing dream became a reality: we’d finally find out what it looked like, and perhaps even be lucky enough to bring it to the surface.
That moment came on August 8, 2000, when a team comprising the nonprofit Friends of the Hunley (Warren Lasch Conservation Center, 1250 Supply St., Building 255, 866/866-9938, www.hunley.org , Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m., $12, children under 5 free), the federal government and private partners successfully implemented a plan to safely raise the vessel. It was recently moved to its new home in the old Navy Yard, named after Warren Lasch, chairman of the Friends of the Hunley.
You can now view the sub in a 90,000-gallon conservation tank on the grounds of the old Navy Yard, see the life-size model from the TNT movie The Hunley, and look at artifacts such as the “lucky” gold piece of the commander. You can even see facial reconstructions of some of the eight sailors who died onboard the sub that fateful February day in 1864, when it mysteriously sank right after successfully destroying the USS Housatonic with the torpedo attached to its bow. For more on the Hunley, its discovery, and the recovery operation, please see Raising the Hunley .
So that research and conservation can be performed during the week, tours only happen on Saturdays and Sundays; it’s wise to reserve tickets ahead of time. The sub itself is completely submerged in an electrolyte formula to better preserve it, and photography is strictly forbidden. (The remains of the crew lie in Magnolia Cemetery , where they were buried in 2004 with full military honors.)
To get to the Warren Lasch Center from Charleston , take I-516 north to exit 216-B. Take a left onto Spruill Avenue and a right onto McMillan. Once in the Navy Yard, take a right on Hobson, and after about a mile take a left onto Supply Street. The Lasch Center is the low white building on your left. Secure your tickets in advance online.