Most people have some sort of familiarity with submarine crafts; most of which are most likely related to the navy. This is a very accurate depiction of submarines, as they are primarily used for this, however, they are used in areas of scientific research as well. The purpose of this web page is to go into the history of the submarine to see how it has developed over time. We will also look at how a submarine works, from a physics standpoint.
The History of Submarines
332 BC Aristotle described a type of submersible chamber used by the sailors of Alexander the Great during the Blockade of Tiros.
200 BC There is evidence that there was a primitive submarine in China that was able to move by the bottom of the sea.
1578 AD Much later in time, the first actual design for a submarine was presented by William Borne. In this design was the concept of ballast tanks (I will go into more depth on these later) used to submerge and surface. This design, however, was never actually built.
1620 AD A Dutchman, named Cornelis Drebel, built the first successful submarine with a wooden frame that was encased in leather. This craft was able to carry 12 rowers and eight additional people, totaling the people in the craft to 20. This vessel was capable of diving to depths of 20 meters and could travel 10 kilometers at a time. This submarine was tested in the Thames River, and would often remain submerged for hours. This submarine was the first to address the problem of oxygen shortage.
1775 AD David Bushnell, an engineering student at Yale, invented the “Turtle”. This egg shaped submarine was driven by two, hand-cranked screw propellers; one controlling forward movement, and the other for side-to-side motion. This submarine only held one person, and was intended to be used in warfare. This craft was equipped with a detailed system of valves, air vents, ballast pumps, lead weights to keep upright, and a mine that was to be attached to enemy’s ships with a detachable screw.
This was the first combat submarine and on September 6, 1776 it was put to test against a British flagship, HMS Eagle in New York Harbor. When the “Turtle” attempted to attach the mine to the ship, it was deflected by the copper sheathing on the ship.
1798 AD Robert Fulton used the same concepts exercised in the design of the “Turtle” to build his own submarine, the “Nautilis”. It used two forms for power for movement, diving planes, shape, armament, and air replenishment. There was a sail to use while on the surface, and a hand-cranked propeller to use while submerged. This craft was streamline to increase agility and featured diving planes to control the angle of descent. It was 24 feet long and carried a crew of four. It had one weapon, called the torpedo; which at the time, existed as a box of dynamite. It is unclear how long this vessel could stay submerged (somewhere around 12 hours). The...