Confederate submarine getting a chemical bath

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The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank at a lab in North Charleston, S.C., before it was to be covered in a chemical bath on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Bathing the hand-cranked Hunley in chemicals marks a new step in the conservation of the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship. The chemical bath will help remove salts and the encrustation on the submarine's hull. The Hunley sank a Union blockade ship off the South Carolina coast in 1864. It was discovered in 1995 and raised in 2000 and brought to the North Charleston lab. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A new phase in conserving the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship is beginning.

Conservators at a lab in North Charleston are for the first time putting the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley in a chemical bath designed to remove salts and encrustation from the hull of the hand-cranked sub.

One Hunley scientist says the process is the end of the beginning of the work of conserving the sub, which sank a Union blockade ship off Charleston in 1864.

The Hunley was discovered off the coast in 1995 and raised in 2000.

It will sit in the solution for about three months and scientists each day are to remove the encrustation. It's expected the entire hull will be cleaned in a year.