Did the crew of the submarine H.L. Hunley suffocate?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

On the evening of February 17th, 1864, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley attacked the Union ship USS Housatonic outside Charleston, South Carolina and became the first submarine in history to successfully sink an enemy ship in combat. One hypothesis for the sinking of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is that the crew, in the enclosed vessel, suffered a lack of oxygen and suffocated. This study estimates the effects of hypoxia and hypercapnia on the crew based on submarine gas volume and crew breathing dynamics. The calculations show the crew of the Hunley had a minimum of 10 min between the onset of uncomfortable hypercapnia symptoms and danger of loss of consciousness from hypoxia. Based on this result and the location of the crew when discovered, hypoxia and hypercapnia do not explain the sinking of the world's first successful combat submarine.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lance, RM; Moon, RE; Crisafulli, M; Bass, CR

Published Date

  • March 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 260 /

Start / End Page

  • 59 - 65

PubMed ID

  • 26821202

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1872-6283

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.forsciint.2016.01.008


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Ireland