Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Who Really Invented the Submarine?

Dive deep into history: Unveiling the surprising origins of the submarine

Who Really Invented the Submarine?

Who Invented the Submarine?

The invention of submarines dates back to the 16th century when humans first started exploring the underwater world. Over the centuries, several inventors have worked on the concept, but it was not until the late 1700s that the first working model of a submarine was created.

The Early Concepts

Historical accounts suggest that the first underwater vessel was a diving bell invented by Guglielmo de Lorena during the 1530s. However, the concept of a submarine as we know it today was not developed until centuries later.

In the 1570s, a British mathematician and inventor named William Bourne wrote about a device that could submerge and rise to the surface of the water. This concept served as a blueprint for future submarine designs. The first practical underwater vessel was invented by Dutch inventor Cornelius Drebbel in the 1620s. His craft was a wooden rowboat with a waterproof leather cover that could dive underwater for hours.

Over the next century, many inventors tried their hand at developing better submarines. In the late 1700s, two inventors would make history as the first to create working submarine models.

David Bushnell

David Bushnell was a Yale graduate and American inventor who built the first working submarine called "Turtle" during the American Revolution from 1775 to 1783. His sub was egg-shaped and made of wood with a copper lining. Turtle was powered by a hand-cranked propeller and could be steered using a rudder. The device was designed to approach enemy ships undetected and attach explosives to their hulls, and it was tested successfully in several incidents.

While other inventors had attempted to build underwater vessels that could cruise for extended periods, they had all failed. Turtle's design was groundbreaking, and it inspired the future development of submarines.

Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton was an accomplished engineer, inventor, and artist who is known for his contribution to the development of steam engines. In addition to his work on steam engines, Fulton also designed and built a submarine in 1800 which he named "Nautilus."

The sub was constructed of copper sheets and powered by a hand-cranked propeller. Its design allowed it to submerge and surface by adjusting its ballast and air vents. However, the sub did not see any actual military deployment. Nevertheless, Fulton's contribution laid the foundation for future submarine models.


The evolution of submarine technology from its early conceptual stages to working models has taken centuries of development. The inventions of David Bushnell and Robert Fulton played significant roles in the development of submarines. Without their contributions, modern submarines would not be possible. Today, submarines play crucial roles in various military and scientific activities worldwide.

The Rise of Submarine Technology

Submarines have played a crucial role in warfare and scientific exploration since their inception in the 17th century. The idea of underwater vessels has always captured the human imagination and resulted in significant developments in submarine technology. This article goes over the history of submarines and who is credited with inventing them.

The Civil War and Submarine Technology

The Civil War marked a turning point in the advancement of submarine technology. The Confederate Navy's H.L. Hunley submarine was the first to demonstrate the use of iron in the sub's hull. The Hunley submarine created history by sinking the Union's U.S.S. Housatonic in 1864, marking the world's first successful submarine attack.

The Hunley submarine was powered by a hand-cranked propeller and was crewed by a team of eight men, including its inventor Horace Lawson Hunley. The Hunley submarine was 39 feet long and operated at a depth of 20 feet. The sub also had a torpedo attached to the end of a 16-foot spar. After successfully sinking the USS Housatonic, the crew and the vessel were lost at sea, marking a tragic end to the pioneering submarine.

The US Navy and Holland

John P. Holland is credited with designing the first submarine that was purchased and commissioned by the United States Navy in 1900. Holland's design was a major breakthrough as it ran on gasoline-powered engines, allowing for submergence times longer than what was previously possible. This change allowed for longer periods to be spent underwater and, therefore, more successful attacks.

Holland's submarine was named the USS Holland (SS-1) and was launched on May 17, 1897. The sub was a significant technological advancement as it featured electric-powered motors, making it one of the quietest submarines of the time. This allowed it to operate undetected, giving the crew a considerable tactical advantage. The Holland-class submarine cemented the US Navy's place at the forefront of submarine technology during the time.

World War II and Submarines

The Second World War witnessed another significant rise in submarine technology. The highly advanced German submarine models like the U-Boats almost won the war for the Nazis, and the US Navy's fleet played a crucial role in defeating the Axis powers.

The German U-Boats had unprecedented range, speed, and lethal firepower, making them a real threat to the Allied powers during the war. However, eventually, the Allies were able to counter the U-Boat threat effectively using radar technology and innovations like the "Hedgehog," a forward-throwing anti-submarine weapon.

The US Navy's submarine fleet played a crucial role in combatting the Axis powers. They were responsible for sinking over 30% of Japan's naval forces and played a key role in crippling the German navy's battleship units. The US Navy's innovation allowed for submarines to be equipped with ballistic missiles, which made them a potent weapon during the Cold War era.


In conclusion, submarines have come a long way since their first inception in the 17th century. The advancements in submarine technology have proved that humans can overcome the most challenging terrains and go to great extents to conquer the ocean. The history of submarines is rich, and their impact on warfare and scientific research cannot be overstated. With their significant contribution to human history, it's easy to say that submarines remain a subject of fascination and will continue to impact and shape the world we know for years to come.

The Modern Era of Submarine Technology

The Atomic Submarine

Submarines have come a long way since the early beginnings of submersible vessels. One pivotal moment came in 1954 when the world's first operational nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), was launched. It marked a new era in submarine technology, bringing numerous advantages over previous models. The Nautilus could operate at faster speeds, greater depths, and for much longer durations. This achievement propelled submarine technology forward, leading to even more significant advancements in the years that followed.

The Development of Advanced Submarine Technology

Modern submarine designs incorporate advanced technologies and weaponry systems, allowing them to complete missions with high levels of accuracy and stealth. The Virginia-class submarines, for example, have a low acoustic signature, high maneuverability, and advanced sensors, making them nearly undetectable by enemy vessels and planes. This series also has the added advantage of offering versatility, as it can be customized with various mission modules to meet specific tactical requirements.

The Future of Submarine Technology

The future of submarines worldwide seems to lie in developing unmanned vehicles and remote-controlled machines for reconnaissance, rescue, and transportation purposes. Drones could serve to provide real-time intelligence and reconnaissance data with minimum risks, reducing the danger to human life significantly. Developing unmanned vehicles also enables submarines to carry out complex operations with greater efficiency and extended surveillance capabilities. The ongoing research in the field of autonomous underwater vehicles promises to revolutionize the way submarines operate in the future.

The Importance of Submarines in Modern Warfare

Submarines remain an essential tool in modern warfare. They offer covert operations and intelligence gathering and have proved their worth in both past and recent conflicts. During World War II, the submarine fleet of the US Navy destroyed more than 5,500 enemy ships, proving how effective they could be in combat. The advanced models of submarines today can play a critical role in strengthening national security. The ability to operate in virtually any ocean worldwide, combined with advanced weapon systems and stealth technology, makes them a critical part of a nation's military strategy.

In conclusion, submarines have played a fundamental role in shaping our world today, from their early beginnings in the 17th-century to the modern and advanced models we know today. The technological advancements over time have made them an essential tool in modern warfare and exploration. As research and development continue to push forward, submarines' capabilities are sure to continue evolving, furthering scientific exploration and national security efforts worldwide.

Related Video: Who Really Invented the Submarine?

Post a Comment for "Who Really Invented the Submarine?"