Tag Archives: Titanic

Titanic, 100 Years Worth of Breaking Up Theories.


First, we will look at the accepted version of Titanic’s sinking, and its evolution.

In 1912, it was believed the Titanic went down in one piece with the stern rising 90 degrees in the air, pausing, and then sinking beneath the waters; as most survivors claimed.

On 1 September 1985, the wreck of the Titanic was found by Dr. Robert Ballard. The wreck was found in two pieces the bow section almost 2,000 feet from the stern. The bow is relatively intact, but the stern looks like it was the victim of an explosion. This proved the ship did not sink intact, but broke up on the surface then sank.

The decks of the Titanic on the bow section at the break were collapsed down upon themselves. The explanation was, “Yeah, that must have happened when the Titanic hit the ocean floor. It hit with such force it collapsed those decks.” The reason for the stern section being in such bad shape? The experts could not explain it and did not know what happened to the stern.

From 1985 until 2008, this was the accepted theory, with slight modifications over the years.

Then in 2008, the book “Titanic’s Last Secrets,” came out. This book is about the research and Titanic exploration of the renowned wreck divers, shipwreck historians, and explorers Richie Kohler and John Chatterton (Deep Sea Detectives series on History Channel). They found two pieces of the double bottom of Titanic. They had the steel examined by experts. The conclusion? The steel would have been so brittle at the 30 degrees water temperature when Titanic sank that the keel would have only supported the stern rising to between 7 and 11 degrees before breaking. At this colder temperature the steel would not bend and stretch, it would fracture and break clean as if cut by a knife. So, now the new mainstream theory was the Titanic stern did not rise between 45 degrees and 90 degrees (as most survivors claimed), but only to about 11 degrees.

I didn’t buy it, I didn’t buy it in 1985. For one thing, if the force was so great to collapse thick heavy decks on the bow, what about those flimsy deckhouses? I looked at the ocean currents in the area at that time, and how long the stern remained on the surface after the bow disappeared. The two halves should have been a lot further than 2,000 feet apart if the accepted theory of the sinking were correct. I believed the ship broke on the surface, but not into separate halves. With the bow filled with water it would have been pulling on the stern, and the air-filled stern would have been more buoyant and resisted the bow. If the stern pivoted on the broken, but still attached section (like a hinge), it could indeed rise between 45 and 90 degrees into the air as the bow sank even deeper in the water. The stern needed something of weight beneath the water to allow it to rise straight into the air. Take an empty glass, turn it upside down and stand it on water in a water-filled sink. When you let go the glass falls over it cannot stand. The stern should not have been able to stand without the bow attached to it. There had to be a way of explaining what ALL of the witnesses saw and what the scientists discovered. I thought my 1985 theory was it.

I studied the published work of Kohler’s and Chatterton’s experts, and realized they did not take into account the temperature of the decks inside the Titanic, decks that were made from the same steel (though at a different thickness) as the keel and hull plates.

The wealthy women survivors testified to giving their coats and shawls to the handful of survivors from Titanic’s engineering department. These men were dressed in very thin clothing. The Titanic’s engine room was very hot, and the boiler rooms (where the steam was made) could reach temperatures over one hundred degrees. The decks in those areas would not be at freezing temperatures, they would not be brittle but, would stretch and bend instead of fracturing and breaking.

The night Titanic sank, the bow filled with water going lower and lower into the water raising the stern into the air. At an angle between 7 and 11 degrees, two sections of the Titanic’s double bottom broke free from the ship. The weight that had been borne by the keel was now transferred to Titanic’s interior decks and bulkheads (floors and walls), and they collapsed under the weight, pancaking down on each other above where the double bottom broke away. The stern settled back on an even keel and then began to rise into the air, as witnesses stated.

 

As more air escaped the stern, eventually the bow pulled the stern under. At a point, most likely less than 1,000 feet, the stern would have gone deep enough that the sea pressure would have exceeded the strength of the stern. At this point, the stern imploded separating the two halves of Titanic. The few remaining air pockets and the effects of the implosion would slow the stern down in its decent enough to land on the ocean floor 1,970 feet from the bow.

No evidence or witnesses discounted, the laws of science taken into account.

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Back To Titanic


In the last two years I have made three new posts on Titanic.

One was sharing a paper Titanic model made by the husband of a fellow writer. The second was some new Titanic news (yes I know, a little unbelievable but it was). And the third was an article on newlyweds on the Titanic. I made the decision a long time ago to stop writing about Titanic, there are too many projects in my in-box (including articles on other ships). But my staff and some of the readers have been asking me for another Titanic and Olympic article.

So, on 13 April 2014, we will publish another article in the “Titanic and Olympic: How to tell them apart in photographs” series.

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This is a Story of Titanic Newlyweds You Don’t Know


Star-crossed lovers. The poster was fashioned ...

Star-crossed lovers. The poster was fashioned after Titanic ‘ s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were several newlywed couples on board Titanic when she sailed from Queenstown (now Cobh, Ireland) in April of 1912. These are couples who married shortly before Titanic sailed, there were no couples married while Titanic was at sea. This article will introduce you to a few of them.

First up, John and Nellie Snyder, who were travelling in first class. When Titanic sailed John was just 24 and Nellie 23. The couple was offered seats in lifeboat number 7, ensuring their survival. The Snyder’s had a long and happy life, raising one girl and two boys. John died 47 years later from a massive heart attack. Nellie lived another 24 years and died at the age of 94.

The Bishop’s, Helen and Dickinson, where another first class newlywed couple. They were returning to their home in Southwest Michigan from a four-month European honeymoon. The Bishop’s were the fourth newlywed couple in lifeboat 7. Dickinson a wealthy, 24-year-old, widower had married the 19-year-old daughter of a family, which owned a company that manufactured an early version of the easy chair. Unfortunately, the Bishop’s lost their first son two days after he was born in December 1912. They divorced in 1916, Helen dying of a cerebral hemorrhage (from a fall) two months later. Dickinson of a stroke in 1961.

Photograph of a Lifeboat Carrying Titanic Surv...

Photograph of a Lifeboat Carrying Titanic Survivors – NARA – 278337 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward and Ethel Beane were a second class newlywed couple. Edward had immigrated to New York City. After several years he returned to England to marry Ethel and they sailed on Titanic. The Beane’s lost all of their money and wedding gifts when the great ship sank. Edward helped Ethel in lifeboat 13, but he stepped back when he was told, “Sorry, sir only women.” After the lifeboat reached the water, Edward saw it was only about half filled, so he dove into the water and swam for the lifeboat. His bride of one month was the person who pulled him into the lifeboat.

John Chapman, 37, and Lizzie Chapman, 29, were on their honeymoon after being married on December 26, 1911. John was also not allowed on a lifeboat. Lizzie turned to a friend and said, “ Goodbye Mrs. Richards, if John cannot go I will not go.” The couple died together. John’s body was later found and his effects returned to the family. Lizzie was never found.

There were many other newlywed couples (some say as many as 20), a few of them are:

Neal and Eileen McNamee (both lost)

John J. and Madeline Astor (Madeline survived)

Victor and Maria Castellana (Maria survived)

Lucian and Eloise Smith (Eloise survived)

Over the course of more than two decades, the one Titanic story that has intrigued me more than any other is the story of another honeymoon couple. I cannot tell you their names, I cannot tell you anything about their lives or how they died, I cannot even tell you if they survived. I can tell you how they spent their time on board Titanic. This story came to me from a Titanic survivor. There was a newly wedded couple immigrating to America to start a new life. The couple did not have enough money for them both to travel in second class, so the new groom bought a second-class ticket for his wife, and a third-class ticket for himself. The couple were frequently spotted at a gate separating second and third class passengers. They would talk and hold hands through the gate.

This story has been one I have returned to many times over the years, always searching for the identity of the mystery couple and their story. Where were they from? Where were they going? Had he gone ahead for a few years to make a new life, and then return for his bride, as so many men did in those days? What were their names? Did she step back from a lifeboat when he was refused admission? Did they even find each other after Titanic struck the iceberg?

Maybe this couple is my enigma, the one Titanic mystery to elude me. And maybe that is as it should be. I always take a reasoned, logical, scientific approach to life, particularly to research. I approach things very unemotionally; search for the last scraps of evidence, then painstakingly applying logic to arrive at the best possible analysis, always aware that emotion is my worst enemy when trying to arrive at facts. So, to some my romantic nature may seem odd and incongruous with this other side of my personality. But, it is the romantic side of my nature that has decided it does not want to know the truth behind this couple; if they survived, how they survived (if either of them did), or even if they ever existed at all.

In my mind (and heart), they can be whatever I need them to be at the time. The loving couple, who defying all odds, found each other in the chaos of the sinking Titanic and survive together, boarding a lifeboat arm in arm. I can have her weeping in a lifeboat at the loss of her husband as he swims to her side and is pulled into the lifeboat. I can have them finding each other only to arrive at the boat deck after all the lifeboats are gone. Maybe she refuses a seat in a lifeboat because her groom is denied a seat, and they die together. Or, he could have picked her up and forced her into a lifeboat (with or without the aid of one of Titanic’s crew) against her wishes, before he stepped back and died with the other men. No matter my fancy of the moment, if one survives without the other, my imagination always has the survivor living out a long life forsaking all others for the love that was lost. My favorite though has them living a long, joyful, fruitful life together; dying within a year of each other leaving children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to mourn a couple who held hands where ever they went, always.

The engineer and research part of my personality will never give up the chase, and will continue to track down any lead that will finally resolve this issue. But, I do not think my quest will be pursued with the same gusto it once was. I think this is one battle my romantic side has finally won. I think this is one story where the unknown is the greater story. In my mind they stand for all the “if only” and “should have been” tragedies of that great ship. In my mind, they are standing at the gate, holding hands through bars that will never separate their love for each other. Maybe, just maybe, that is how this story should end.

Unlike previous Titanic films, Cameron's retel...

Unlike previous Titanic films, Cameron’s retelling of the disaster showed the ship breaking into two pieces before sinking entirely. The scenes were an account of the moment’s most likely outcome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you would like to read more about Titanic newlyweds we recommend, “Titanic love Stories: The true stories of 13 honeymoon couples who sailed on the Titanic”

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Titanic, In The News … and This I Like!


The violin of Wallace Hartley the bandleader of the Titanic. Found tied to his body when he was recovered. Photograph by AP

The violin of Wallace Hartley the bandleader of the Titanic. Found tied to his body when he was recovered. Photograph by AP

Wallace Hartley’s violin has been discovered and will be auctioned off, according to a story by the Huffington Post (click to read the article).

Yes, ladies and gentlemen … THE Wallace Hartley. The man who led his band in playing music as the Titanic sank to help keep the passengers calm. Even after these men were released from duty by Captain Smith they chose to stay and continue to play.

Mr. Hartley encouraged the other members of his band to save themselves, but they all stayed aboard Titanic, doing what they could to keep the calm and make it possible for as many people to be save as could be. If not for the courage of these musicians, it is possible that panic may have broken out aboard the ship with passengers rushing the lifeboats. That would have meant even fewer passengers saved than actually were saved.

Common men, doing a common job, in the face of certain death. Sacrificing their own lives so that others may be saved.

And that, to me ladies and gentlemen, is heroism.

 

English: Wallace Hartley, bandmaster and violi...

English: Wallace Hartley, bandmaster and violinist on board the Titanic. Français : Wallace Hartley, chef d’orchestre et violoniste à bord du Titanic, mort dans le naufrage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Monument to Wallace Hartley, bandmast...

English: Monument to Wallace Hartley, bandmaster onboard RMS Titanic, Colne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: RMS Titanic Musicians' Memorial, Sout...

English: RMS Titanic Musicians’ Memorial, Southampton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

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Spence VS Cussler: Who Found the Hunley?


Dr. E. Lee Spence with priceless, ruby studded...

Dr. E. Lee Spence with priceless, ruby studded, over one kilo, 22 kt gold sword handle once owned by 19th century pirate kings of Bali. It was part of a hoard of treasure hidden from the Dutch forces who invaded Java for the purpose of driving out the pirates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 3, 2016. I just came into information today that leads me to believe that some of this information in this one article might be incorrect. I have a mountain of research to do on this and will let you know the end results and will make corrections to this article if the results of my research warrant it. Thank you for you patience and understanding.

Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler (Photo credit: Travelin’ Librarian)

The controversy over who found the Hunley has gone on for almost two decades. Both men have many supporters who have continued the arguments and added some of their own. Many of these arguments treat opinion as evidence and fact, and attempt to attribute causes of the combatant’s opinion to actions of the opponent. To sort out all of the claims and counter claims could take years of research, and some would never be satisfactorily resolved because they are based in partisan opinion. So, where do we start?

The August 23, 2008, article in the Charleston Post and Courier by Brad Nettles concisely states each side’s case in an unbiased fashion, and gives us our starting point (this is the link to Brad’s article http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20080823/PC1602/308239956 ). The article was written at the time Cussler dropped his lawsuit against Spence. Since the US Navy, the National Park Service, and the Hunley Commission all credit Clive Cussler as the founder of the Hunley (see the article), Dr. Spence is in the role of the challenger. This is a good place to start.

We could start with the appeals Dr. Spence has filed with the Hunley commission over his discovery, but we will go back to Dr. Spence’s discovery in 1970 instead. We will also cover the claim of ownership of the Hunley by Dr. Spence. This will be enough to settle the matter. However, we will also address some of the opinions of the controversy. An area I do not normally go into, in the case of the Hunley I find it unavoidable, as opinion has begun to overshadow fact in some areas of the controversy.

One more important point before we begin an analysis of the evidence; Mr. Cussler and Dr. Spence work in two very different worlds. Doctor Edward Lee Spence is an academic. Spence’s discoveries and underwater archeological work is funded by universities, foundations, and governments. Universities, foundations, and governments that receive their funding from donations and tax dollars. Dr. Spence does not have to show a profit. However, to be successful and recognized in the academic world, his work needs follow the standards of, and be acceptable to the academic world.

Clive Cussler on the other hand works within the commercial world. Clive Cussler is a novelist, and before that, he worked in advertising. Mr. Cussler’s work in underwater discovery is his hobby. I say hobby because it is his passion and not his job. To say his work in this field is a hobby does not undermine his contributions to the field. Clive Cussler has been awarded an honorary doctor’s degree for his work in discovering underwater wrecks.

Cussler makes his living in the public, first in advertising and then as a writer. Cussler uses profits from his novels to pay for his underwater explorations. Cussler’s background also insures that he understands the importance of public relations and marketing can have on income and recognition (which also impacts income). Cussler uses his position as a bestselling author to help his searches for underwater wrecks. He also uses his discoveries of underwater wrecks for public attention, which helps to promote his books. In the business world, this is smart, killing two birds with one stone. In the academic world, this is frowned upon and considered vulgar by some. In the commercial world of advertising and writing, this is just part of another day’s work.

We Take The Field …

Just like Angus Smith in 1876, Dr. Spence said he found the Hunley, but gave us no proof other than the position where he claimed the Hunley rested on the harbor bottom. Dr. Spence provided no photographs or artifacts from the Hunley. Dr. Spence has people willing to testify he found the Hunley just as Angus Smith did (but PT Barnum never paid Smith the reward), in the academic world a good article in a peer-reviewed magazine is enough to seal a legacy. Outside the academic world, you need to follow accepted procedures recognized by the public and international judicial system. A good example is the RMS Titanic.

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10,...

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone in the world doubt that Dr. Robert Ballard found the Titanic? No. Why? Because Dr. Ballard brought back photographs from his discovery. However, RMS Titanic Incorporated owns the Titanic because they were the first to bring an artifact in front of a federal judge and claim ownership of the Titanic. Unlike Dr. Spence, Dr. Ballard kept the location of the Titanic secret from everyone not just the public. Dr. Ballard was afraid that treasure hunters would remove artifacts from the Titanic if he made the location public.

English: Arlington, Va. (Feb. 26, 2009) Deep-s...

English: Arlington, Va. (Feb. 26, 2009) Deep-sea explorer and underwater archaeologist, Dr. Robert Ballard, best known for his historic discovery of the RMS TITANIC, speaks to military and civilian personnel at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) about the future of deep sea exploration and its application for the fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. Ballard’s one regret is that he did not bring back an artifact from the Titanic (see Dr. Ballard talk about this himself at this link http://youtu.be/mPSzZKTN2G0) and claim the Titanic himself. Outside the academic world to claim ownership of a wreck (historic or a fishing boat lost last week) you remove an artifact from the wreck and report to the nearest admiralty court (federal court in the United States). In an admiralty court an archeological dig on an historic sunken ship is treated no different than a salvage operation on a modern ship lost last week. If the ship is considered abandoned (which usually means the insurance company paid the claim and wrote off the wreck as a loss on its financial books), you declare to the judge the position of the wreck you claim and present the artifact as evidence. The judge then gives you ownership of the wreck. Dr. Ballard did not have any artifacts from the Titanic and could not claim ownership, which would prevent other people from being able to remove artifacts.

Dr. Spence, on several of his web sites, repeatedly points out that he filed a claim for ownership of the Hunley in federal court. He goes on to state that since no one spoke out against his claim this means he owns the Hunley. What Dr. Spence does not mention is that his claim of ownership in federal court was dismissed by the judge. In the academic world, if no one disputes your claims, and you are a respected academic (which Dr. Spence is) your claims are accepted. In admiralty court, you need hard evidence to support your claims, which Dr. Spence does not have, and so the judge dismissed his claim of ownership.

Painting of the sinking of the Central America

Painting of the sinking of the Central America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the world of treasure hunting, the race to the nearest admiralty court can resemble a race scene from a Three Stooge’s movie. The first person in federal court with an artifact is awarded ownership of the wreck. When the SS Central America was found, a helicopter was waiting to fly an artifact to the federal court in Norfolk. Good thing, as several rival treasure hunting groups were following the searchers hoping to get to a federal court first so they could claim the SS Central America. Dr. Spence also filed a lawsuit claiming he found the SS Central America, which was again dismissed by the court (Dr. Spence never tried to claim ownership of the SS Central America, only that he found it). Dr. Spence seems to have had many of his lawsuits dismissed by federal judges.

Who owns the Hunley is a complicated matter better suited to courts than web sites, but here goes.

If the Hunley was owned by the confederate government, then at the end of the Civil War it became United States government property under the jurisdiction of the GSA (General Services Administration). If the Hunley was private property, in 1970, (when Dr. Spence claims finding the Hunley) the first person in front of a judge with an artifact from the Hunley can claim and be awarded ownership by the court. In 1995, when Clive Cussler found the Hunley the Abandoned Shipwrecks Act of 1988 had already been passed which gives ownership of historic wrecks to the state in who’s waters the wreck is located.

CSS Hunley

CSS Hunley (Photo credit: AN HONORABLE GERMAN)

Seems simple, but this is where it gets complicated. A group of men who intended to use the Hunley as a privateer built the Hunley. They never intended to sell or give the Hunley to the Confederate government. A privateer, as I explained in an earlier article in this series, is a privately owned ship that is given a letter from a government to attack ships of a country it is at war with. Ok, fine, so if Cussler found the Hunley then South Carolina owns the Hunley. However, General Beauregard confiscated the Hunley after the second sinking and gave it to the Confederate Navy. Therefore, that means it was Confederate property and became United States property at the end of the war, and is under the control of the GSA. But, Captain Dixon persuaded General Beauregard to give the submarine back to the original owners, and the submarine was under the control of the original owners when it sank. Back to South Carolina right? Maybe. General Beauregard gave the submarine back to the original owners, but it is unclear whether he returned ownership or only gave them operational control of the submarine. As I said, ownership is complicated. Fortunately, the GSA turned over any interest in the Hunley to the United States Navy, which then donated the Submarine to South Carolina. So, in the end whoever had rights to the Hunley, South Carolina or the United States, it still ended up in possession of South Carolina legally.

No matter who could claim rights to the Hunley, Dr. Spence did not present artifacts to a federal judge with his claim of ownership and his case was dismissed by the judge. So, whoever had rights it was not Dr. Spence and he should have known this. If Dr. Spence did know this, then his claim of ownership is a publicity stunt to bolster his discovery claims.

Dr. Spence claimed that Cussler’s first public location was intentionally wrong to discredit his claim to be the one who found the Hunley. Cussler claims it was to protect the wreck from treasure hunters. Considering that after Cussler’s announcement the Hunley was found, hundreds of thousands of dollars were offered on the black market for parts of the Hunley, anything from the diving planes and the propeller to portholes; this makes Cussler’s claim sensible. Had the treasure hunters located the Hunley, parts of the submarine would have disappeared into private anonymous collections never to be seen again; something that has happened too many times with other shipwrecks, particularly since the passing of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1988. Which is ironic since the politicians thought they were protecting shipwrecks with the act, which just goes to show that only honest men obey laws. By removing legitimate salvors and treasure hunters from the competition, that leaves only the thieves and archeologists, and the thieves have better funding.

H.L. Hunley - Downtown Charleston, SC

H.L. Hunley – Downtown Charleston, SC (Photo credit: Jason Barnette Photography)

The archeologists would have been better off getting congress to pass a law requiring archeologists on every treasure hunt or salvage. Some of the treasure hunters and salvors would have complained at first. However, with cooperation between academia and their commercial counterparts the treasure hunters and salvors would have soon found out that an archeologists could be of great assistance to them in their work. On the academic side, they would be able to collect more information working with treasure hunters and salvors than they would ever be able to get funding for through their normal channels.

Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum

Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum (Photo credit: mocr)

Mel Fisher, on his own in the 1960’s, was the first to realize the value of having a good archeologists on a treasure hunt. Unfortunately no one in the commercial, political, or academic world seems to have learned that lesson from Mr. Fisher. Political? Yes, Political. Politicians believe that it is not fair that salvors and treasure hunters should be able to make money from shipwrecks. The politicians think that objects of value are just laying around on top of the ocean floor, for someone to dive down and pick up, even though it took Mel Fisher two decades to find the wreck of the Atocha. The politicians want the state to get the money, in other words they want to be the ones who get to spend that money. Seem unbelievable? The state of Florida was so upset that Mel Fisher was finding millions “just laying on the sea floor” that they tried to defeat Mel Fisher in court and take everything he was finding.  When the courts (following salvage law) sided with Mr. Fisher, Florida created a new department in the Florida state government that was tasked with finding and recovering treasure from the sea floor. It did not take long for the state of Florida to realize that not only can it be hard to find wrecks, but also treasure hunters often spend more money to find the treasure than they recover from the wrecks. Florida quickly closed its new department and got out of the treasure hunting business.

Florida’s lesson has not distilled the disdain academics and politicians have for amateurs and professionals (despite the fact that amateurs have made so many discoveries in so many fields see my articles on my research methods). One of Dr. Spence’s articles on his blog starts off in big bold letters (this is a direct quote) “Comment by Dr. E. Lee Spence on Dr. Clive E. Cussler and his Alleged Discoveries. For Heaven’s Sake, Cussler Writes Fiction For a Living!” Dr. Newell, the academic who replaced Dr. Albright at the University of South Carolina also seems to have considerable disdain for non-academics. While researching this series I found several different articles which claimed to quote Dr. Newell. I discovered that the quotes claimed anything from — a joint expedition with NUMA — to a SCIAA (University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology) expedition to confirm Dr. Spence’s claim paid for in part by NUMA, during which Cussler was not even present (they seem to ignore the fact that the 1995 discovery followed the 1980, 81, and 94 searches). I went back and looked at these claims chronologically and realized that the first claims seem to match Cussler’s, but as time goes on the claims seem to change lessening Cussler’s involvement in the hunt for the Hunley.

There are two other things I noticed concerning Dr. Newell’s and Dr. Spence’s claims concerning NUMA and Clive Cussler.

First, when Dr. Newell’s statements about the joint expedition are examined and compared with past expeditions of NUMA and Cussler the claim is inconsistent with Cussler and NUMA’s past expeditions. The claims are also inconsistent with the 1980 and 1981 searches for the Hunley (under Dr. Albright, Dr. Newell’s predecessor) and the 1994 search for the Hunley when Dr. Newell was already heading SCIAA .

Second, Dr. Spence also claims that Ralph Willbanks had a copy of his just released book (which gave Dr. Spence’s location of the Hunley) with him on the search boat when Ralph found the Hunley. Here is the problem with that statement. The book in question is Treasures of the Confederate Coast: The “Real Rhett Butler” & Other Revelations by Edward Lee Spence published January 1995. The Hunley was found by Ralph Willbanks on 3 May 1995. So from the end of January to the beginning of May, basically February, March, & April, three months. The publish date is when the book goes to the printers. Publishing, with all the high tech advantages including the internet, is faster today than it was in 1995. When I am planning my publish date for a new book of mine I start with the date I would like my book to be available with online retailers and count back five to six months. That earlier date is the deadline for when I need to have my book with my distributors (e-books are much quicker). I also know that from the time I up load my book to my distributor to the earliest date I can get the first copies for myself is ten to twelve weeks.

So, you can see the time problem with Dr. Spence’s claim, that a book published in January 1995 was hand delivered by him to Ralph Willbanks before Ralph discovered the Hunley on May 3, 1995. It would be difficult for me to have a book published in January of 2012 and hand deliver copies to someone by 3 May 2012, even with the advancements that have taken place in book publishing since 1995. Though it may be possible (I believe more likely) that Dr. Spence gave Ralph copies of his newly published book shortly after Ralph found the Hunley.

CONCLUSION:

If Dr. Spence would have brought back with him an artifact from the Hunley, then if he had taken that artifact into a federal court to claim ownership of the wreck, there would be no controversy surrounding who found the Hunley. Also, Clive Cussler would not have spent $130,000 looking for the Hunley in 1980, 1981, 1994, and 1995. Mr. Cussler would also not have had to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a seven year court battle with Dr. Spence.

Did Dr. Spence find the Hunley? I do not know. I do know that Dr. Spence believes he found the Hunley. I also know that Clive Cussler did not know where the Hunley was when he started his search. Clive Cussler’s men brought back photographs and video. Also, by looking at his past work, if Cussler had been given the location to the Hunley he would have dove on the sub and listed it under “wrecks surveyed” and not under “wrecks discovered” at the NUMA website and in his non-fiction book’s index.

There is more I could write about, such as Dr. Spence’s faith in the accuracy of navigational charts; a faith that based on my at sea use of navigational charts I do not share (nor do the men of the USS San Francisco, as well as other ships). However, I believe these 3200 words give the reader enough information to come to an independent conclusion to determine for themselves if it was Cussler, Dr. Spence or both men who found the Hunley.

Hunley

Hunley (Photo credit: sfgamchick)

To learn more about the discovery of the H.L. Hunley by Clive Cussler we recommend The Sea Hunters, by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo.

To learn more about Dr. Lee Spence’s discovery of the H.L. Hunley we recommend Treasures of the Confederate Coast: The ‘Real Rhett Butler’ and Other Revelations by Edward Lee Spence.

Our Other Hunley Articles:

The Submarine H.L. Hunley

Clive Cussler’s Hunley

The Hunley Blue Signal Light

Dr. E. Lee Spence’s Hunley

Back to the H.L. Hunley

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