New Program Will Explore Theories for the Hunley’s Disappearance in 1864
Seven years ago today, on August 8, 2000, the Hunley was raised from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, where she had been shrouded in mystery for 136 years. Now a new television production will explore the secrets surrounding the true history of the world’s first successful combat submarine.
The History Channel will devote an entire one-hour episode of its popular series Digging for the Truth to exploring various theories surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the Hunley. The program will specifically highlight Hunley Commander Lt. Dixon’s gold pocket watch and the insight it can give us into the crewmembers’ final moments.
“We are especially pleased to make this announcement on the seventh anniversary of the Hunley’s recovery,” said South Carolina State Senator Glenn McConnell, chairman of the Hunley Commission. “The History Channel has come onboard to help tell the story of our process of discovery to an international audience. This new program speaks to the enormous amount of public interest the Hunley project has generated.”
The History Channel production team visited the Hunley lab for the ten-day shoot in May and interviewed project scientists about the latest discoveries of the project. “The Hunley is an intriguing mystery, and everyone has their own theory about what happened to the brave men inside the submarine. To help us capture this mystery on film, the Hunley project team worked long hours and answered repeated questions from every possible shot angle. We got exactly what we needed to make a great episode of Digging for the Truth thanks to an amazing story and an extraordinary group of dedicated people,” said Brian Leonard, Producer of the program.
While in South Carolina, the program’s host Hunter Ellis and series regular Kara Kooney took a hands-on approach to investigating what is known and is still yet to be discovered about the mysterious submarine. A popular, but unproven, theory is the explosion that propelled the Hunley into history as the world’s first successful combat submarine was also responsible for its demise.
Ellis investigated this scenario by coordinating a dramatic re-enactment that tested the impact the torpedo blast could have had on the iron hull of the Hunley when it attacked and sank the Housatonic in 1864. The Digging for the Truth episode will use the results of the demolition test to speculate on whether this theory holds any water.
With the filming for the program all wrapped up, the producers are in the studio editing together the episode, which is tentatively scheduled to air next month on The History Channel. Final air times will be released as soon as they become available.
The Hunley Project
On the evening of February 17, 1864, the H. L. Hunley became the world’s first successful combat submarine by sinking the USS Housatonic. After signaling to shore that the mission had been accomplished, the submarine and her crew of eight mysteriously vanished. Lost at sea for over a century, the Hunley was located in 1995 by Clive Cussler”;s National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). The innovative hand-cranked vessel was raised in 2000 and delivered to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where an international team of scientists are at work to conserve the submarine for future generations and piece together clues to solve the mystery of her disappearance. The Hunley Project is conducted through a partnership with the South Carolina Hunley Commission, Clemson University Restoration Institute, Naval Historical Center, and Friends of the Hunley.