Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hunting for the Alligator

No, not the Florida kind. This Alligator is green and made of metal. The US Navy's very first submarine was launched May 1, 1862. It was 47' long and 4' 8" at the beam. Invented by Brutus de Villeroi, it first employed 22 crewmen with oars, but was later converted to a screw propeller for propulsion.

After several aborted missions the Aligator was bound for South Carolina to participate in the capture of Charleston harbor. On April 2, 1863, during a fierce storm off Cape Hatteras, the submarine, which was being towed by the USS Sumpter, was cut adrift to prevent the sinking of the Sumpter.

Early this week the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (on their 108' "Afloat Lab") docked in Silver Lake harbor. In conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration they have launched a search for the lost Alligator.

We've heard no word yet about the mission, but you can follow their progress here:

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