The History of Submarines, and Undersea Warfare

in steemstem •  2 years ago  (edited)


I'd wager most people know what this is a picture of, off the top of their heads. The Turtle, built in 1775 is widely but mistakenly believed to be the world's first submersible. It's mostly famous because it destroyed itself in the attempt to sink a ship in 1776.


The first Russian submersible, Rolie Polie Olie, was built in 1721, predating the Turtle by 54 years. It also never sank any ships and there's less information available as to the means of construction and operation.


Cornelius Drebbel's trio of submarines date back to the 1620s, making them older than the first two on this list by far. Interestingly they were propelled by oars, which passed through the hull with leather skirts to prevent water from entering.


These were unusually successful for early submarines. What information we have indicates that they were reliable and safe, at least by comparison to the H.L. Hunley (seen below) and utilized a chemical means of generating fresh oxygen onboard (saltpetre) which most of the other subs on this list didn't even attempt.


The H.L. Hunley was the first submersible ever to successfully sink a ship, though it was destroyed in the process. It was used only three times, every one resulted in the sub sinking and killing everyone onboard. The men who volunteered to serve aboard them must have been brave or foolish.


The first sinking took place August 29th, 1863 during a test run, drowning all 8 onboard. The second sinking took place on October 15th, 1863, once again killing all 8 onboard, the inventor included. The third use was in combat, on February 17th 1864.


This third attempt was the only remotely successful one. The sub still sank and all hands onboard drowned, but they managed to sink the USS Houscatonic warship in the process. It was less a viable, reusable war submarine and more of a suicidal "manned torpedo" in the end.


This brings us to the work of John P. Holland, inventor of the first recognizably modern, viable submarines. His great innovation was to combine battery power and electric motors for use underwater with diesel engines for use on the surface. The Fenian Ram, seen above, was launched in 1881 as the first big application of his ideas.


The US Navy would later commission 6 submarines of his design. It was also widely copied by other nations like Japan and France, becoming the de facto initial form for uboats and heralding the dawn of the age of undersea warfare.

Stay Cozy!

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Didn't you think the 1st Barrel typed submarine is the most innovative one in this evolution! I got that feeling! This is a great article bro!


Mehn this was a short and concise history of submarines. So all those lives were sacrifised so we could have what we know as tge submarine today.

JP holland must have veeb a brave man himseof for attempting what killed many in the past. What chance did he have to think that his would become a success when others failed? Thats bravery.

You have J.P. Holland confused with H.L. Hunley. Holland did not invent the H.L. Hunley submersible which sank 3 times.

That's true. Hunley was the one who actually built the submarines some years ago. It's probably a typing error.

Very interesting article. I never thought of reading the history behind submarines. I'm glad I came across this publication. It is very educative @alexbeyman. Keep sharing

Now that everyone has learned about subs I need 8 volunteers for a job using my H.L. Hunley, any takers?

Some of those subs don't even look tall enough to stand up in. I can't imagine how courageous people would need to be to get inside that and be sunk underwater.

Now this is awesome informative post. I knew of the turtle and the US civil war ones but not the others. You realize now I have to do more reading. Thanks a lot :)

That russian U boat looks like a steam punk fever dream.

Wow, really amazing history.I think we always should read histories because we can learn many things from our histories.Anyway, very interesting post.Thanks for sharing.

Very informative post about the history of Submarines..Thanks for the share.

Nice history , very informative post about the history of submarines ..

Your post is always different i follow your blog everytime , your post is so helpful . I always inspire of your post on my steem work . Thank you for sharing @alexbeyman

Keep good work of every time ...

Hunley built three submarines. I saw the first one he built (CSS Pioneer) on display in the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was a two man experimantal sub, and his first build.

Even with the loss of three crews, the Confederacy came out ahead, the Union lost a lot more sailors on the ship they sank.

The Union also had a submarine, intended to transport a diver, who layed charges.

good information. can be used as literature. in some pictures where it is? .what is australia ?.
it turns out technology starts from a simple thing

I have heard that history behind submarine and undersea warfare is very expanded but i never had a chane to study that ..
but today i studied your article regardig this history it gave me alot of information , i think this help in varios aspects of life not only me but for the whole steemit family..
So this is an extraodinary post as compared to other post of other people..
Thanks for sharing such an informative post..

Good picture collection.

History is the eyes of helpful post.keep it up sir.

never heard before such type of information about submarines,,,,really amazing

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Stubbornness of man and eagerness to improve upon an existing ineffective models are the drivers innovative inventions. Despite all the initial setbacks, they continued trying and today we have a perfect model. That's awesome!

The entire fruitless efforts and dying in the process really cracked me up.


@eurogee of @euronation and @steemstem communities

Both precise and informative article. Thanks for sharing the history regarding submarines :)

So many sacrifices man, it's a nice article though. A great informative article about the history of submarine.
Anyways I have always wanted to go inside a submarine, would be awesome.

Nice history

I love how most submarines looks like some kind of steampunk machines.