School groups tour the Hunley

The world’s first combat submarine

03/30/2013  | 
experiential learning

History is Made

The night of Feb. 17th, 1864, the Hunley attacked and sank the USS Housatonic off the coast of Charleston. The Hunley signaled to shore that she had completed the mission and was on the way home, but instead, mysteriously vanished. That night, history was made and a mystery was born. The Hunley became the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship. But why had she suddenly disappeared? And would she ever be found? Lost at sea for over a century, the Hunley was located in 1995 by author Clive Cussler and was raised from the ocean floor in 2000.

Where It All Happens!

The Hunley was brought to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina, a high-tech laboratory designed to excavate and conserve the submarine. Currently, scientists are at work to unlock the mysteries of the Hunley’s disappearance and conserve her for generations to come.

Explore, Discover, Learn!

A visit to the Hunley explores a wide array of exciting areas of study that can be incorporated into your classroom environment.

History: The American Civil War was a turning point in maritime history, and the Hunley represents perhaps one of the most important discoveries in naval warfare in the 19th century. Students will learn about the Civil War, the wartime South and how the Union’s blockade of the ports led to technological breakthroughs.

Conservation: The Hunley was lost for over 130 years. During that time, salts infiltrated her iron skin, which caused the structure to become unstable and threaten its survival. Conservators are embarking on the difficult task to preserve the Hunley and the hundreds of artifacts found onboard.

Archaeology: The Hunley was in essence a time capsule, holding the remains of her eight-man crew and a wide array of items from the 19th century. The ongoing excavation offers a wonderful introduction to archaeology and the process of discovering the past through careful study of artifacts.

Science: The Hunley Project uses many scientific fields to preserve and discover the past. An in-depth forensic investigation is underway that uses studies on the remains of the crew, DNA analysis, and genealogical research with the goal of identifying the men who served onboard the Hunley over a century ago.

This unique educational experience is available during weekday, private tours for school groups and your students will be able to:

  • See the Hunley in its 90,000 gallon conservation tank.
  • Feel what it was like to be on the Hunley through interactive exhibits
  • • Facial reconstructions of the crew.
  • National Geographic documentary Raising the Hunley and model from TNT movie The Hunley.
  • Artifacts found during excavation of the submarine, including the legendary gold coin that saved the Captain’s life.
  • Replica of the Pioneer, an early Hunley prototype.

Curriculum Planning Materials Available

There are a variety of educational resources to help prepare for your school group’s visit to the Hunley lab and to develop curriculums. With an online education center, books for different age groups, and several National Geographic documentaries on the subject, there is a surplus of materials.

Details of Visit

  • Discounted student price of $7 per person.
  • Staff will work with you to ensure the docent-guided tour is geared toward your classroom’s specific area of focus.
  • Starter curriculums and a list of supplementary resources for a variety of age groups are available.
The Warren Lasch Conservation Center is located at 1250 Supply St., North Charleston, South Carolina. To book your Hunley tour, call 843.743.4865, x28 or visit
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