The CSS H.L. Hunley
submarine was the first submarine ever created to successfuly sink another war ship in battle, in the middle part of the 1800's as part of the war effort during the Civil War
The Hunley was developed by the Confederates during the Civil War as
a possible approach for the iron clads which were heavily armored above the water line. The Hunley was 40 feet long and was armed with a harpoon on which a torpedo was mounted. This harpoon was mounted on the bow of the ship. The design of this torpedo was such that it would be rammed into the wood hull of a ship and then the submarine would back off and detonate the explosives with a rope attached.
The first crew of the Hunley was civilian volunteers during an attach on Charleston. As the submarine was being prepared for its initial trials a large swell swamped her and eight of the crew of nine died. The only survivor was Lt. John Payne who was standing in the forward hatch at the time.
The first test run of the Hunley was on October 15, 1863 during which the Hunley sank (again) as it was performing a routine dive. The crew died of suffocation. The entire crew was lost including the designer, Horace Hunley. The cause was identified as pilot error.
After being raised from the bottom of Charleston Harbor, the Hunley was repaired, and modified to help avoid the error again. After many practice missions, the Hunley was again committed to battle.
The Hunley sank after her maiden attack on February 17, 1864 in which it rammed the Union warship USS Housatonic. The attack was successful and the Housatonic suck in minutes. The last sighting of the Hunley was was it reversed course and returned to the Charleston Harbor. In 1995 the Hunley was found off of Sullivan's Island, South Carolina.