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The History of Submarines

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The history of submarines: 1578: William Bourne designed the first prototype of a submarine.

No one knows if he was the first one to come up with the idea, but he was the first person to record it in his book of Inventions or Devises. In his work he described the principles of making a boat sink or float. His prototype was a completely enclosed boat made of wood and surrounded in a waterproof leather that could be submerged and rowed underwater.1620-1624: Cornelius Drebbel built the first navigable submarine.

When Drebbel was working for the English royal navy he built a working underwater rowboat based on Bourne’s idea. His submarine was protected with greased leather and was manually operated by 12 oarsmen. The submarine had a sloping foredeck which forced the boat underwater. Drebbel ended up making 2 more successful submarines between 1620 and 1624. His last one he presented it in front of James I of England and many more londoners. It was successfully submerged for 3 hours at the depth of 15 feet.1690-1692: French physicist Denis Papin designed and built 2 improved submarines.

Denis Papin had based his submarines model on his invention of a pressure cooker. His first design was a heavy and strong metallic box, equipped with a pump. Unfortunately his design was destroyed before he could test it in water. Papin’s 2nd design which he made 2 years later was different from the original one. His new design had an oval shape and had a centrifugal air pump that was naturally resistant to outside pressure because the pump permitted outside air to go in and out freely in the hull.1749: Giovanni Borelli came up with the idea of the modern ballast tank.In 1749, London’s Gentlemen’s magazine wrote an article about Borelli’s boat which was made in 1680 covered with goatskins in the hull that allowed the boat to submerge. Borelli planned to submerge the vessel by filling the skins with water and bringing it back to the surface by forcing the water out with a twisting rod. Even Though Giovanni Borelli’s submarine was never actually built, it still provided the first approach to the modern ballast tank. 1776: David Bushnell created the first military submarine“Turtle”. Turtle was the first documented submarine used in combat.

It was made by David Bushnell who was in the American army. He made it so that the US navy could attack the British Royal Navy vessels that were blocking the New York Harbour during the American Revolutionary War. When Bushnell was studying at Yale, he proved that gunpowder can explode underwater and he also made the first time bomb. He then used these ideas to create a submarine that could affix explosives to the undersides of british warships. Turtle was an egg-shaped, one man vessel that resembled a turtle underwater. It submerged underwater by letting water into the hull and came back to the surface by pumping out the water by hand. It consisted of 2 wooden shells covered with tar and reinforced with steel bands. The turtle was the submarine capable of independent underwater operation and movement and the first to use propellers for propulsion.

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