Up to this point, the principal focus of the Hunley project has been on the excavation of the interior of the submarine and the burial of her crew. With the burial of the crew on April 17, 2004, the focus is now on the conservation tasks. In November 2004, Paul Mardikian in collaboration with Dr. Mike Drews (Clemson University), Nestor González and Philippe de Vivies submitted the H. L Hunley Conservation Plan to the Naval Historical Center in Washington DC. The review for this plan is being conducted in accordance with the 1996 Programmatic Agreement between the Department of the Navy, General Services Administration, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, South Carolina Hunley Commission, and South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office.
The investigation of Hunley has reached what may be the most critical and challenging phase of the project to date: the conservation of the submarine and its associated artifacts. New technologies and techniques proposed within the conservation plan are intended to ensure the submarine's long-term preservation, so it may be studied and enjoyed by future generations. This plan is currently being peer reviewed by international experts in the fields of archaeology, archaeological conservation and cultural resources management to help the Hunley project reach a decision on how best to proceed with the conservation, stabilization and eventual display of one of the most complex composite artifacts in maritime history.
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