CHARLESTON, S.C., June 23 (UPI) -- U.S. officials say they are close to having a historic Civil War submarine in an upright position for the first time since it sank nearly 150 years ago.
The H.L. Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship and it sank shortly after claiming its prize, killing all eight crew members aboard, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reported Thursday. The 148-year-old Confederate submarine was found in the Atlantic Ocean in 2000 and has been lying on its right side since.
Conservators wrapped a series of straps around the relic and used a laser site to ensure the boat didn't twist as it was turned upright.
"We're just trying to be cautious," said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator on the Hunley project. "The movement was very smooth. The laser was perfectly aligned."
The conservation work is being done at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, S.C.
Turning the submarine upright is the last step before conservators begin the work of removing an encrustation of sand and oxidized metal from the submarine, said Warren Lasch, former chairman of the Friends of the Hunley.
"This is the culmination of a lot of work by a whole lot of people," Lasch said.