- Hunt for the Alligator
Launched in 1862
during the Civil War, Alligator was an engineering marvel
that helped usher in a new era in undersea travel.
But until recently, little was known about the green, 47-foot-long
Union vessel. The Alligator was lost off the North Carolina
coast during a storm in 1863. It was never seen again.
With the help of naval historians,
archaeologists, oceanographers, teachers, and students,
more information about the Alligator is coming to the surface
than ever before. This Web site shares what we have learned
to date about this mysterious and historically important
It lies off
the North Carolina coast in the Graveyard of the Atlantic, just
waiting to be found. A green, 47-foot-long creature of the deep
called the Alligator — an engineering marvel of the Civil
War that helped usher in a new era in naval warfare. A secret
weapon that captured the attention of a president and can claim
a proud place in history as the U.S. Navy's first submarine.
Conceived by the French inventor
Brutus de Villeroi and constructed in Philadelphia in 1861, the
Alligator was built to combat Confederate ironclad warships and
clear harbor obstructions. Its design was as daring as it was
innovative. The first operational submarine to have an air purifying
system and the ability to deploy a diver while submerged, the
Alligator was in many ways the forerunner of today's subs. But
in April 1863, while being towed south to take part in the attack
on Charleston harbor, the Union sub was caught in a fierce storm
and cut loose off Cape Hatteras.
It hasn't been seen since.
But the Alligator has not been forgotten.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of
Naval Research, Navy and Marine Living History Association, universities,
museums and a dedicated team of historians, naval experts, engineers,
modelers, teachers and students from across the nation have joined
forces to find this historically important vessel and uncover
Join the Hunt for the Alligator!
To learn more about the history
of the Alligator, visit www.navyandmarine.org/alligator
Office of Naval Research
Brutus de Villeroi