Click here to view a Quicktime Panarama of the Warren Lasch Conservation Lab

Today, the foremost minds in marine archaeology are using the latest technologies on one of the most challenging and unique recoveries of our time. State-of-the-art equipment is being provided by international companies such as Fuji, while others are donating their valuable time and expertise. Still, the conservation of the Hunley - will take much more. More time. More money. More commitment.

No other laboratory in the world exists like the one that has been built for the Hunley. New techniques have been and are continuing to be developed to handle the problems of excavating and preserving this unique marine artifact. Flexibility has been built-in from the beginning; most of its state-of-the-art scientific equipment is mobile so that it can be moved to different places throughout each phase of the conservation process. Everything from video scopes, x-ray machines, and computers, to a wide spectrum of archeological supplies will be required throughout every phase of the project.

Preserving the fragile equilibrium in the lab

Preventing the disruption of an artifact's equilibrium is the primary purpose of archaeological conservation. Any artifact retrieved from a marine environment should be placed back in water as soon as possible before it starts to dry out or react with oxygen in the air. For this reason, the H.L. Hunley submarine was raised from the seabed and immediately transported to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center. The vessel was kept wet through the use of a water sprinklers during its eight-hour transit to the lab. Once at the laboratory facilities, the submarine was placed in a custom-built, 55' x 18' x 9' (16.8 x 5.5 x 2.75 m) metal conservation tank and filled with fresh water.

The H.L. Hunley submarine on the transfer barge during the day of the subs recovery.  The water spray-down system kept the submarine wet during the journey to the conservation lab. View of the interior of the Warren Lasch Conservation Center showing the outside of the H.L. Hunley treatment/storage tank.

Hunley Barge

The McNaughton-McKay-Rockwell Automation PLC and industrial touch screen display used to monitor the H.L Hunley environment.
The water was refrigerated to 50F (10C) over a 3-day period in order to retard the growth of fungus and algae as well as to cut down the rate of corrosion. The water chemistry in the tank is monitored continuously for pH, temperature, chlorides, conductivity, and oxygen. These levels are monitored using Orion Research technology interfaced to a control system designed and programmed by W.R. Riggs & Associates, Inc., with hardware and software furnished by McNaughton-McKay-Rockwell Automation.

In addition, the hull of the submarine is being subjected to an impressed current system designed by Corrosion Control Incorporated, which inhibits further corrosion, until the interior has been fully excavated. Following the excavation, the use of other corrosion inhibitors will be employed in the conservation process in order to stabilize the vessel.

Related Pages:

Site Analysis
Conservation Lab
Photo Gallery

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