Do you know when the first submarine sank a ship?
It was on February 17th, 1864 during the American Civil War when “The Hunley”, a Confederate submarine, sank the “USS Housatonic”.
It was an event that started a new form of warfare, one which over the next century caused havoc in two World Wars.
“The Hunley” was developed by the Confederate side in the American Civil War. Its development was an incredibly risky venture, in fact, it sank twice in trials, killing all the crew each time, then after successfully sinking the “USS Housatonic”, it sank again!
It was called “The Hunley” after its inventor, Horace Lawson Hunley. He built it at Mobile, Alabama and it was then picked up by the Confederate Army. Being nearly 12m long, they had to find a way to get it to Charleston, which they did by rail.
On 29th August 1864 “The Hunley” set out on its first test run, but unfortunately it sank, killing all five crew members. They recovered her, modified her and then sent her out again in October 1863, with a new crew of eight, including the designer, Horace Hunley, himself. Once more it sank, again killing all on board, including Horace. They raised it again, modified it and in February 1864 sent it out one more time, this time on active service.
She was sent to attack “USS Housatonic”, which was blockading Charleston’s outer harbour. Once more, “The Hunley” did not survive, because this time she was just 6 meters from her target when her torpedo exploded. Once more she sank and, yes, her third crew was lost!
Not a fun story, but when you think of the havoc submarines created, the story of the first one is interesting.