Scientists say a pole on the front of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley designed to plant explosives on enemy ships may hold a key clue to its sinking during the Civil War.
The experts are to release their findings Monday at a North Charleston lab where the hand-cranked sub is being preserved and studied. The Hunley was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship.
The pole, called a spar, was once placed at the front of the sub and used to plant a powder charge into the Union blockade ship Housatonic in 1864.The Housatonic sank, while the Hunley and its eight-man crew never returned.
The sub was found in waters off South Carolina in 1995 and raised five years later. It’s been in the laboratory ever since.
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O-13, or Onderzeeboot 13, escaped from Holland during the German invasion in May 1940 to join the Royal Navy.
The boat failed to return from a mission in the North Sea in June that year.
O-13 is the only Dutch submarine lost during the war which has not been located and given war grave status.
The submarine initially served in the English Channel after joining the Royal Navy, where it helped protect the Dunkirk evacuation.
It was then sent north to join the 9th Submarine Flotilla based at HMS Ambrose in Dundee.
O-13 left the base on 12 June 1940, 24 hours after a message was sent from Norway suggesting the Germans were assembling a large force there to attack the east coast of Scotland.
The crew were tasked to patrol the waters between Denmark and Norway should the Germans make a move.
Lt Brian Greswell was one of three British crew on board O-13
However, neither the submarine nor her 31 Dutch and three British crew were heard from again.
Three scenarios have been proposed to explain the loss of O-13:
the vessel was accidentally rammed by another Dundee-based submarine on patrol in the same area, the Polish Wilk
the boat was the victim of enemy action
or the submarine passed through an enemy minefield which was only discovered in charts found in a captured U-boat in 1941.
Researchers believe it is most likely that the submarine was destroyed by a mine.
The Dutch Navy, in conjunction with North Sea oil and gas exploration firms, will mount a large-scale search for the wreck towards the end of September, concentrating on the area of the German minefield.
O-13 and her crew are now commemorated at the annual Dundee International Submarine Memorial service.
Among those who will attend the service at 11:00 on Saturday will be Mrs Gerda Veldhuis, daughter of Dutch crewman Cornelis Havenaar, and Cpt James Greswell, an Afghanistan veteran serving in 42 Commando, Royal Marines – the great nephew of British O-13 crewman Lt Brian Greswell.
Russia-US-India: A US news outlet reported that a Russian Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine operated undetected in the Gulf of Mexico for several weeks. The stealth underwater incursion in the Gulf took place at the same time Russian strategic bombers made incursions into restricted U.S. airspace near Alaska and California in June and July. Its presence only was confirmed after it left the region.
Comment: The US Navy prudently has made no comment on the story. There is nothing to be gained by providing any information to the Russians that corroborates or refutes the news item. The information cannot be corroborated in open source materials.
Akula-class submarines are quiet, by reputation. The Russians have flown strategic bomber missions against the US this summer. This is the first news item to suggest the bomber flights occurred during a submarine operation in the Gulf of Mexico. The coincidence remains unconfirmed, but plausible.
What is more interesting to NightWatch is the Indian Navy is leasing an Akula-class submarine from Russia, with significant Russian assistance. If the Russians can sneak into the Gulf of Mexico – sort of doubtful – imagine what the Indians can do with a similar submarine in the South China Sea or the Bohai Gulf.