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Complete Civil War submarine unveiled for first time

Bruce Smith / AP

The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank after a steel truss that had surrounded it was removed on Thursday.

Randall Hill / Reuters

Senior conservator Paul Mardikian checks over the stern of the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley on Thursday.

Bruce Smith / AP

The first clear view of the sub since it sank in 1864 off the South Carolina coast.

Reuters reports: NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Confederate Civil War vessel H.L. Hunley, the world's first successful combat submarine, was unveiled in full and unobstructed for the first time on Thursday, capping a decade of careful preservation.

"No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete. We're going to see it today," engineer John King said as a crane at a Charleston conservation laboratory slowly lifted a massive steel truss covering the top of the submarine.

About 20 engineers and scientists applauded as they caught the first glimpse of the intact 42-foot-long (13-meter-long) narrow iron cylinder, which was raised from the ocean floor near Charleston more than a decade ago. The public will see the same view, but in a water tank to keep it from rusting.

Related: Work of rotating Confederate sub H.L. Hunley nears completion