Confederate Civil War vessel H.L. Hunley, the world's first successful combat submarine when it sank a Union ship in 1864, was unveiled in full and unobstructed for the first time on Thursday, capping a decade of careful preservation.
"No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete. We're going to see it today," said engineer John King as a crane at a Charleston conservation laboratory slowly lifted a massive steel truss covering the top of the submarine.
About 20 engineers and scientists applauded as they caught the first glimpse of the intact 42-foot-long narrow iron cylinder, which was raised from the ocean floor near Charleston more than a decade ago. The public will see the same view but in a water tank to keep it from rusting.
"It's like looking at the sub for the first time. It's like the end of a long night," said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator since 1999 of the project to raise, excavate and conserve the Hunley.