Tag Archives: Pioneer II submarine

Hunley’s ‘Other Submarine’ Found (?)

Known interchangeably as the Pioneer II or American Diver, a consortium of businessmen and engineers composed of Horace Lawson Hunley, James McClintock, and Baxter Watson constructed a small human-powered submersible in Mobile Bay during the Civil War on their way to producing the final warship (Hunley) which is much better known.

Built in late 1862, the 36-foot vessel was manned by a five-person crew but foundered off Fort Morgan in a sudden squall in February 1863 and was never recovered, leaving Hunley and company to try again.

Lost to time– and long presumed to be buried under tons of mud in the shifting sands of the Bay— a group now thinks they may have found it, just sitting out in the open.

Depths of History and Chaos Divers, in association with historian Shawn Holland– who has been chasing Pioneer II/American Diver as her own white whale for the past 30 years– has even released some images.

While it looks like an old nav buoy to me– and the Bay is surely full of such items after repeated hurricanes over the past few years– the Alabama Historical Commission is apparently getting involved to investigate further.


It turned out to be a (surprise surprise) 19th-century bell buoy, which is neat, but not Civil War submarine neat.