NORTH CHARLESTON (AP) — The doors to a Confederate submarine on display in South Carolina fully reopened Saturday after it was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The grand opening of the Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship, will be marked with the launch Saturday of a new visitor experience that uses "cutting edge digital animation, live footage and a light show" to tell the submarine's story, officials said in a news release.
"We were able to greatly enhance our visitor experience while we had to keep our doors closed. This weekend's full reopening has been a goal for us for the past year, and we are excited to let first-time and return guests discover maritime history through our new sensory exhibits," said Friends of the Hunley Executive Director Kellen Butler.
The Hunley and her 7,500 square feet (about 700 square meters) of associated exhibits are in a working conservation laboratory. The operating hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pre-planned school and group tours are available during the week.
The Hunley sank a Union blockade ship in November 1864 by ramming it with a torpedo attached to a spar. A half-century would pass before another sub sank a ship in the World War I era.
The Hunley itself sank to the bottom of the ocean during its attack, killing all eight men onboard. Some guess the crew was too close to the torpedo and were knocked unconscious when it exploded, or perhaps miscalculated how long their oxygen would last. Scientists hope to resolve the mystery by cleaning the entire interior of the sub over the next several years.
The Hunley was raised from the bottom of the ocean in 2000. Scientists have spent 17 years collecting the human remains and restoring the vessel.
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