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Missing Union Navy Submarine

July 30, 2009

alligator_posterIts called the Alligator and was last seen off the North Carolina Coast in 1863. The 47-foot-long vessel is called an engineering marvel of the Civil War that helped usher in a new era in naval warfare as the U.S. Navy’s first submarine. It was apparently manned by 8 men, just like the 40-foot Hunley.
Conceived by the French inventor Brutus de Villeroi and constructed in Philadelphia in 1862, the innovative Alligator was built to combat Confederate ironclad warships and clear harbor obstructions. The first operational submarine to have an air purifying system and the ability to deploy a diver while submerged, the Alligator was in many ways the forerunner of today’s subs.
On March 18, 1863, President Lincoln observed the submarine in operation. But on April 2, 1863, while being towed south to take part in the attack on Charleston harbor, the Union sub was caught in a fierce storm and cut loose off Cape Hatteras. The much deeper ocean in that area, where local deep sea fishermen go, may account for the fact that the Alligator has never been found.

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