Mobile, official home of the C.S.S Hunley
Go Back to Dauphin Street \ City Museum \ Downtown Map

The original plans of the C.S.S. Hunley were smuggled to Mobile by confederate loyalist after the fall of New Orleans in 1862. Privately built in 1863 by Parks and Lyons of Mobile Alabama, was fashioned from a cylindrical iron steam boiler, which was deepened and also lengthened through the addition of tapered ends.

Hunley was designed to be hand powered by a crew of nine: eight to turn the hand-cranked propeller and one to steer and direct the boat. As a submarine it was equipped with ballast tanks which could be flooded by vales or pumped dry by hand pumps. Extra ballast was added through the use of iron weights bolted to the underside of the hull. In the event the submarine needed additional buoyancy to rise in an emergency. The iron weights could be removed by unscrewing the heads of the bolts from inside the vessel. After testing the Hunley in Mobile Bay and successfully sinking a coal flat in the Mobile river it was determined that Mobile Bay was too shallow for its purpose and sent to Charleston, South Carolina.
On February 16, 1864, the Hunley made a daring late night attack on the USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor off the coast of South Carolina. The Hunley rammed the Housatonic with a spar torpedo packed with explosive powder and attached to a long pole on its bow. The spar torpedo embedded in the sloop's wooden side was detonated by a rope as Hunley backed away. The resulting explosion sank the Housatonic sending it to the bottom of Charleston Harbor also sank Hunley with its crew of nine.

According to Mr. Sid Shell, a local maritime historian in Mobile, the replica of the Hunley is a full scale model based upon all known information at the time it was built. It was one of many project's of a local sheet metal union to give apprentice sheet metal workers experience. It is now on exhibit behind the City Museum located at 355 Government St. and worth seeing.

Click here to see a close up detail of the Hunley.

Information on the finding of the Hunley can be found on the University of South Carolina's website at:

Historical information can be found on the Department of the Navy's website at: