- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The South Carolina Hunley Commission has begun working to create a museum to house the H.L. Hunley, the Confederate vessel that was the first submarine to sink an enemy warship.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports (http://bit.ly/1j7cN9S ) the commission reached an agreement Tuesday with the Charleston Naval Base Redevelopment Authority to create a museum authority to oversee planning and the building of a $40 million museum at the former base.

Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Robert Ryan said a new agency is needed because the Hunley Commission was not configured to build the museum. Ryan says there is not enough money to build it. The city of North Charleston has pledged $13 million.

The Hunley sank off Charleston in 1864 after sending the Union blockade ship Housatonic to the bottom. The Hunley was discovered in 1995 and raised in 2000. Since then it has been undergoing conservation at a lab in North Charleston.

Scientists this month began soaking the hand-cranked sub in a bath of sodium hydroxide to help loosen the encrustation of sand, sediment and rust coating the hull and interior of the sub. This summer, they will begin using hand tools to remove the encrustation and reveal the hull for the first time in 150 years.

They announced last year it appears the charge that sank the Houstonic was attached to the 16-foot spar at the front of the sub. That could mean the crew was knocked unconscious by the explosion and died in the blast. A closer look at the hull may provide clues.

When the Hunley was raised, historians thought it was farther away from the Housatonic and speculated the crew ran out of air before they could crank the sub back to the coast.

The encrustation should be removed in about a year but the sub will have to soak in the chemical bath for at least four more years to remove salts in the metal and prevent further corrosion.

___

Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com