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A History of Submarines

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posted on Nov, 3 2004 @ 05:55 AM
Excuse my ignorance Craigandrew but there is a war movie ive seen where the british went into a fjord with mini subs and lay limpet mines on the hull of a german warship,as the water dropped one of the subs got trapped and was crushed under the keel (i think the crew escaped?) the mission was a succes and rendered the ship un-useble and i think the crews of the subs were captured-do you know what im talking about?


posted on Nov, 3 2004 @ 06:45 AM
It was one of the British Missions to sink or cripple the German Battleship KMS Tirpitz, sistership of the Bismark.

Hitler had ordered Tirpitz and other heavy units to Norway for a two fold purpose. He was obsessed with the notion that the allies would establish a second front in Scandanavia (the siezure of Norweigan and Swedish iron ore WOULD have screwed him, its why he siezed Norway a DAY ahead of the British/French landings to do same in 1940. It other mission was to wait for favourable circumstances to strike Russian Bound convoys in the Barrents Sea.

While the RAF launched several raids with heavy bombers from Bomber Command's Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster squadrons (which were ultimately successful with the "tallboy" bombs dropped by Lancasters of No.9 and 617 "Dambusters" Special Mission Squadrons), the Royal Navy launched several operations of thier own to try and sink Tirpitz. For the most part these consisted of carrier raids launching Fleet Air Arm attack aircraft and thier escorting fighters (including on at least one occasion units of the USN).

However there was one op involving midget submarines, known as "X-Craft. They were towed across the North Sea by Fleet Submarines of the RN and were cast off near the Fjord where Tirpitz was anchored. One was lost in transit, and I believe at least one was lost inside the Fjord. They planted massive mines under the ship but in the wrong place. When they detonated the battleship was damaged.

The problem was that the Germans had placed Tirpitz in a location relative to cliffs that made it difficult for carrier planes to attack. Level Bombers could not carry a sufficent sized bomb to sink her and Heavy Bombers would have to fly suicidally low. Tirpitz had anti torpedo nets around her, and massive AA and Luftwaffe protection.

The Tallboy op involved the RAFs premiere precision heavy bomber squadrons no 9 and 617 dropping Tallboy bombs at the time the heaviest in the arsenal (15,000 pounds I think) only the Grand Slam earthquake bombs later dropped on Italian aqueducts by the same squadrons were heavier. I think only one actually hit Tirpitz but that and near misses were enough to cause her to flood and capsize. The hull rested in the fjord into the 1970s, when it was broken up and salvaged from memory.

There were two ironies about ops against Tirpitz.

She had actually been so badly damaged internally in previous raids (including the X-Craft mission) that she was non operational, requiring major drydock work in Germany ( a suicide trip under tow at that stage of the war). The German Kreigsmarine somehow managed to keep this a secret from the allies and kept her outward appearance as fully operational and ready for sea. The later missions turned out to be unnecessary, although at the time the allies couldnt know that and had to protect the convoys by continuing efforts to destroy her.

The failure of the Tirpitz and the surface fleet to successfully engage the Russian convoys infuriated Hitler to the extent that Admiral Raeder was replaced by Admiral Donitz of the U-Boat arm and the major units of fleet were for the most part mothballed, thier crews transferring to the increasing numbers of U-Boats entering service.

Early in her two year sorjourn in Norway, the Admiralty received reports that Tirpitz had sailed to intercept Russia bound convoy PQ-17 (what they did not know was the order was cancelled and she returned to port the same day). It was felt the convoy was inadequate to face a major unit of the German Navy, and the lesser risk was to give the order for the convoy and escorts to scatter and sail independently. The result was disaster. Waiting U-Boats and Norway based Luftwaffe Bombers slaughtered the majority of the convoy and many of the escorts. It was about the worst Convoy in the history of the Russian run.

In a sense Tirpitz had at least one major success.

Hope that wasnt too much for you. I'll have to check the accurracy of my recollections as most of my collection of reference books is still boxed.

posted on Nov, 3 2004 @ 10:23 AM
Thanks for that mate,you really do know your stuff-i remember more of it since reading your post,intresting as well i found out that it was the first time the aircraft the "Fairey Firefly"was used in combat in atempt to sink the tirpitz,


[edit on 3-11-2004 by optimus fett]

posted on Nov, 3 2004 @ 10:40 AM

Go here for some pictures of the Tirpitz when she was rather worst for ware.

posted on Nov, 3 2004 @ 05:38 PM
Wow. Thanks Optimus. I had seen the photo of her just after the capsizing, but I had never seen photos of the salvage operation.

I wonder if any of her parts were preserved in Norway or Germany. I read somewhere that each of her four turret mechanisms were like 4,000 tons apiece. I wonder if they still rest on the Fjords bottom with some of the other debris?

You would have seen the photos of the re-creation and actual Bismark on the bottom?

Well when Bismark sank in the North Atlantic, she first capzised. As she headed to the bottom she flooded. The turrets including the lower deck towers beneath them were never meant to resist the forces of gravity and ripped out as complete units. They came to rest on the bottom, buried in the slit turret first, looking like undersea apartment blocks without walls.

Ballards expedition to find Bismark found at least one before they located the ship. the rest of the surviving superstructure were torn away by the forces of the water, things they were never stressed to survive, leaving just the hull and intergal superstructure. When water had largely filled the Bismark, the mass righted it self and hit bottom stern first on a sea mount.

It triggered an undersea landslide that the wreck surfed for some distance....a mile or more?

Two sisters destroyed by war, yet two very different fates hey?

Well back to subs. Thanks for the link.

posted on Nov, 3 2004 @ 10:09 PM
22 September 1914 .
Three old british cruisers the HMS Hogue,HMS Aboukir and the HMS Cressy were steam at 10 knots in the North sea. The cruisers were sailoring abrest they werent Zig Zagging. There was no escort.
In the area was U9 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Otto Wedigan. U9 fired a single torpedo that sank the Aboukir, thinking the ship had hit a mine he requsted the assistance of one of the remaining cruisers which left it a sitting duck to U9 second attack.
The last remaining cruiser soon realized that it was a Ubout rather then a mine that sank the HMS Aboukir and began to Zig Zagg
. But that was no better then standing in the path of a bullet and waiting till it was 5cm from your head before you take steps to dodge the bullet.
No prizes for guessing what happend next.
U9 was able to sink the the last remaining cruiser . 1459 men died due to this foly.

posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 07:06 AM
Is it true that British treatened before WWI that they will execute all captured german submarine sailors??? They considered use of submarines inhuman and cowardlly or something like thatt.

[edit on 5-11-2004 by longbow]

posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 03:48 PM
It was true the old guard in England (and in other parts of the world including the Axis) considered the use of submarines "immoral" and that Allied Propagandists and some politicians made calls for German and Austro-Hungarian submarine crews to be treated as pirates and criminals for thier actions in sinking merchant vessels, and in some instances even warships. I couldnt find any examples as to threats to try and execute german submariners in my current collection, but I am certain I have read similar in a reference book about WW1 when I was in school.

It was mainly designed to stir up sentiment against the Germans. The Germans may have even paid some attention to them.

Certainly the official protests and communiques from the US in both wars about U-Boat attacks on US shipping lead to a number of attempts to restrict thier own U-Boat operations until it became clear in both wars the blockades would fail if they continued to allow US shipping with US goods to get through to Britain.

But I do not know of any German officers or crews of the submarine service being treated in such a manner.

The same position was taken in WW2 with U-Boat crews. It was always the case that our submariners were seen as heroic and the enemies as evil.

My step mother is a prime example. She was only six when the war began, an East Ender from London. Her parents did not evacuate her to the country, and she had school freinds killed in the Blitz on London. Her father was in the Merchant Navy and had three ships torpedoed out from under him in the early days of WW2 by U-Boats. He ended up crewing armed SAR boats in the English Channel. She is in her 70's and hates Germans to this day.

I once made the mistake of trying to explain the high German losses and offerred her my copy of "Das Boote" to get a German view of the U-Boat Campaign. In hindsight it was a mistake, perhaps understandably so. She didnt want the video and just said "Good"

I have a book called "The U.Boat Offensive 1914-1945" by V.E.Tarrant that goes into minute detail about the campaigns of both wars (it dealt with stategic and tactical plans, logistics and political and diplomatic considerations in the U-Boat operations and as near a complete listing of u-boat construction, and thier fates, as is possible.

Whilst it makes reference to the outrage U-Boat ops engendered, it doesnt comment on the trial and execution threats. I think the crew losses in combat and training accidents were punishment enough.

I find it interesting, but not surprising, that while we portrayed the German sub crews one way, we lauded British Submariners doing the same to Italian shipping in the Med and marvel at the achievemnets of the USN Submarine Fleet in the Pacific (along with RN and Dutch boats). No doubt the Germans, Italians and Japanese villified our submarine crews also. The Japanese may have even executed a handful of crew survivors.

But essentially they were all performing the same vital task for thier countries, all taking the same risks ( I would argue the Axis crews a far greater one given the far greater ASW resources from the later period of the war) and facing death underwater.

Its the nature of war I suppose. Cheer yours on and berate the enemy's.


posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 04:02 PM

Ive read of the exploits of the U9 too. I'd read that the RN cruisers were sailing in line a stern when the attack happened and was a submariners dream. It did not help that the cruisers were obselete armoured cruisers being employed in what was seen as a second line role.

In hindsight it was a folly, but you must remember the war was only a few weeks old and the U-Boats were viewed by many in much the same way as the Harrier and Sea Harrier were before the 1982 Falkland's War ......A novelty of limited tactical use, maybe reporting movements and defending coastlines and harbours. It required a stunning success to establish them and the U-9s was it.

U-9 went on to further success, only a few days or weeks later sinking a modern light cruiser in the same area.


posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 04:29 PM
On with the history.

BTW I do not consider myself the font of all knowledge, especially about the post 1980s period. I just happen to have a life long interest, fairly good generalised memory, a semi decent library of old books and...."VIVA LA INTERNET!".....broadband computer connection!.

And since I started this thread just let me say: I am happy for it to meander on and off topic as much as you like.

And I would just add. I will be going back and finding referenced to people, places, events, classes and vessels to add or amend. I might abandon the modern world stress issue events of this site in time, but as long as the mods let me, I will keep this thread going a loooooongggggg time.

WW1 continued.

A development of this time during the war, was the concept of an anti submarine submarine. RN subs sank 17 U-Boats in WW1. The early sub -v- sub encounters led the RN to develop the "R" class subs specifically for this role. These were relatively small craft, 163 feet (50m) long, and displaced 410 tons surfaced, driven by only one propeller on a central shaft (at a time when most had two). Deisels coud drive them at 9 knots surfaced, but submerged large batteries permited them to maintain 15 knots for up to two hours. Thus they were both fast and manouverable. Advanced (for its day) sonar/asdic was installed, and six forward torpedo tubes made them potent weapons. Although these subs appeared too late to have an actual impact on the war, they pioneered a new concept in the development of submarines.

All WW1 era submarines were propelled by diesel electric combinations, with the exception of the British "Swordfish" and "K" class. These boats were expected to operate as scouts for the Battle Fleet , and the only way to achieve the hight speeds required was through the use of steam turbines. The "Swordfish" was of standard size, but the "K"s were 340 feet (100m) long and displaced 1780 tons on the surface. Thier stream plants propelled them along at 23 1/2 knots on the surface, while thier electric motors gave them 10 knots underwater, a common submerged figure for submarines until post WW2.

Next: The Interwar period.

posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 06:43 PM

Originally posted by craigandrew

In hindsight it was a folly, but you must remember the war was only a few weeks old and the U-Boats were viewed by many in much the same way as the Harrier and Sea Harrier were before the 1982 Falkland's War ......A novelty of limited tactical use, maybe reporting movements and defending coastlines and harbours. It required a stunning success to establish them and the U-9s was it.


Very true. carrier aircraft were also a novelty before December 7 1941.
Very true. carrier aircraft were also a novelty before December 7 1941.
Wernt the K's class a disaster ?
Didnt the the RN lose quite a few K's due to accidents?

I thought the K's were an early post war submarine desgin.

[edit on 4-11-2004 by xpert11]

posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 08:17 PM
Xpert11...youre going to keep me on my toes arent you?

They were found to have problems yes.

Although there was nothing wrong with the design, the tactical concept of using them as fleet scouts with the Battle wagons was proven to be flawed by thier expeirence. Its a rather long entry here for the class in Purnells "Weapons and Warfare", so I'll abbreviate it.

17 units, K.1 to 17 where constructed during the war 1915-17. K.18 to 21 were cancelled. An improved class, the K.23 series was planned but only K.26 was commissioned. All the survivors were scrapped by 1926.

When the ships entered service they were found to have twice the diving rate planned. These created difficulties preparing them for the dive as exhaust vents for the stacks and airflow while surfaced had to be secured. It was found that all it took to wreck the seal on one of these units was an errant peice of wire or debris getting lodged between the lip and cap and the boats would take on water, but mods and procedures were put in place to counter this.

They did not have the navigational arrangements of the big ships they worked with, which created a problem since they were intended to work in close proximity most of the time.

The were involved in accidents and a number were lost. As a result they gained a bad rep.

K.1 was rammed and sunk by K.4 on 18 Nov 1917.
K.13 sank on trials at Gareloch in January 1917. She was raised and recommissioned as K.22.
K.22 sparked the worst disaster for the class. During an exercise in the Firth of Forth on the night of January 1918 she set off a series of accidents which became known as the "Battle of May Island" in which K.4 and K.17 were rammed and sunk and two more ships damaged. This proved the fault of the concept, and that it was not practicable to have subs and capital ships working at such high speed and close proximity at night or in fog.
K.5 was lost in a diving accident 20 January 1920.

There were the M class subs built from the materials of the cancelled Ks, but a different design. These were the ones with 12in guns as designed. Only three were built, the rest being broken up on the slip or cancelled with the end of the war. The concept fell out of favour pretty quickly, with surface ships to do the shore bombarment role and subs with smaller guns and torpedos to do the anti ship role. Guns larger than 8in on a submarine were also banned under the "Washington" Naval Treaty.

One boat, the M.2 was converted to a seaplane carrier for the scouting role in regions like the Pacific or Indian oceans. A large watertight hangar was built on deck and a launch rail run out to fly off a float plane which could be recovered with a crane. She successfully conducted trials but the the RN felt the benefits were outweighed by the difficulties, and the availability of other ships. The RN never repeated the idea, and M.2 was never used to launch aircraft again, but retained the hangar. Perhaps a mistake in hindsight.

On 26 January 1932 she failed to surface after dive trials of Portland (UK).
A merchant ship reported it had seen the M.2 diving STERN FIRST before she disappeared. It was beleived that her hangar door either collapsed or the seal had failed. Her wreck was located but not raised. The remaining member of the class was scrapped a month later.

I read an article a few months back saying a recent survey of the wreck suggested that damage to the hangar had been caused by an impact, pointing to the possibility she had been involved in a collision mid dive...the witness merchant ship perhaps. The article was about a watercolour of the sub found in some Australian decendants belongings. His father had gone on compassionate leave they day before. An Australian who was in the RAN training in the UK with the RN was lost in the tragedy.

I'll come back sometime with the full details on both classes someday.

Thanks for keeping me busy

[edit on 5-11-2004 by craigandrew]

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 01:36 AM
Do you have some technical info/pics about the WWII subs? For example I don't know if they were equipped by sonar or just periscope. Also whose subs were the best ? German ones are the most famous,sure, and I know that Japanesse had the best torpedoes, but I don't know almost nothing about the technical details of the US and British submarine fleet. (all I konw is that US subs were highly effective against Japanesse).

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 01:50 AM

Originally posted by craigandrew
Holland returned the US Navy it's funds, and proceeded to to build another (his sixth) at his own expense.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. A military contractor returned money! What the hell?

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 01:58 AM

Originally posted by optimus fett
Excuse my ignorance Craigandrew but there is a war movie ive seen where the british went into a fjord with mini subs and lay limpet mines on the hull of a german warship,as the water dropped one of the subs got trapped and was crushed under the keel (i think the crew escaped?) the mission was a succes and rendered the ship un-useble and i think the crews of the subs were captured-do you know what im talking about?


Sir John Mills in Above Us the Waves (or is it In Which We Serve?). Classic stiff-upper-lip stuff.

First sub through the Dardenelles and into the Black Sea was Australian! Check out the book Stoker's Submarine. Stoker was the Captain's name, by the way, not his job!

[edit on 5-11-2004 by HowlrunnerIV]

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 07:33 AM

AE2 (was it AE1 lost off PNG in 1914?) was an Australian Ship. Stoker was RN ...your book does it say he was an Aussie....a few were serving in the RN at the time. She was an E Class Submarine. Others built for the RN.

Holland gave the money back. Yes. I get the impression it was turning out to be a sub designed by committee (with flyscreen portholes perhaps?) that everyone gave up on.

It doesnt say in the entry if he was forced to or not, but my money is it was a matter principle for the man. After all he funded the "Holland" with his own money, built it the way HE wanted it, then offerred it to the USN (as in he gave them first dibbs on buying it)....or being smug perhaps?

You may know all of this, but for the benefit of others.

Sir John was in both movies. "And Above Us the Waves" was the dramatised account of the "X" craft attack.

"In Which We Serve" was the Noel Coward (produced, directed and starred) wartime movie, which was based on the lives and events of HMS Kelly, a K class Fleet Destroyer commanded by his good freind and member of the Royal family, Lord Louis Mount Batten (Queens Cousin or Uncle I think). Of course they changed details of the crew and it wasn't Batten he played, but it was near enough.

Kelly was commissioned on the eve of WW2, Narrowly survived Dunkirk where her skipper was then Commander MB and was finally sunk by German air attack as the RN covered the evacuation of Crete in 1941 At the time Captain MB was still her skipper as well as being Captain (Destroyers) commanding the other destroyers of the Flotilla as well.

These two movies and the later 1950s production about small escorts and the Battle of the Atlantic, "The Cruel Sea" starring Jack Hawkins are amongst my favourite movies of the period about Naval warfare. Dramatic, understated and with a degree of realism (even if the SFX are dodgy by todays standards.

If you made them, and "Sink the Bismark" today, they would unfortunately be wrecked by the Bruckheimer effect, and of course it would be the US Navy captained by Brad Pitt.......does my loathing show?

MB went on to head up one of the key planning groups for what became "Overlord" (D-Day) and then head of allied operations in BCI (Burma China India) theater. Post war he was the last Vicroy of India before independence and partition, and unlike most Royals he was a career navy man. May have ended up a First Lord of the Admiralty. He was murdered, along with his teenage grandson when the IRA blew up his boat while he was on a fishing holiday, in 1979 (?)

I recently started doing volunteer work 2-3 times a month in the library of the local maritime museum. There they have what I think may be the sole surviving example of a WW2 ASW Frigate, a River Class ship called the HMAS Diamantina. The librarian encourages us to spend time reading items of interest, and sharing the knowledge. Amongst his favourites are original editions of the three books upon which "The Cruel Sea" was based. The author served on the small escorts throughout the war and the books and movie were based on his own experiences and the diary he kept 1939 through to 1945.

I think it may be why I am posting this thread.

Well its late and I have a little system house keeping to do before going to bed. For the member who asked about sub specs and the such (sorry I forgot your on screen name) Yes I have a lot of info on all things in service from the late 19th Century through to late 1970s thanks to my eight volumes of Purnells "Weapons and Warfare" a late 70s/1980 production, and some excellent books.......beyond could say its patchy.

I'll start slipping some in on Monday, as on weekends my wife is home and I havent a hope of getting on again before then...She has "computer therapy" scheduled. Till then. Goodnight.

[edit on 5-11-2004 by craigandrew]

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 09:48 PM
A break from my old Britannica references on the timeline history of submarines now, to reference the two oldest modern subs I have in my references - The "Gymnote" and "Narval" courtesy of Purnells Weapons & Warfare.


French sub, built 1887-88. The growing interest in subs generated by the experiments of inventors like Goubet, Peral and Nordenfelt (with the exception of last these are just names to me too.Lets start looking) led the great French Naval architect Dupuy de Lome to start on a sub design for the French Navy. After his death a retired naval engineer, Gustave Zede continued work on the design and submitted it to Admiral Aube, the Minister of Marine.

As a result of Aube's backing an order was placed for a sousmarin (submarine) on 22 Nov 1886. She was to be the worlds first military submarine ordered by any navy, and on 24 September 1888, Gymnote(Eel) was launched at Toulon. It was not a conventional launch since she was so small that she was merely lowered into the water. Her electric motor was driven by a 564 cell accumulator battery.

The first trials in September 1888 showed that the battery and electric motor were not efficent, and that the boat could not keep her depth, and so she underwent immediate modification. During the next few years she was altered many times, and infact she was never capable of undertaking a war mission, but she provided valuable experience. She spent her last days as part of the defense mobile (??) of Toulon, and was striken in May 1908.

Some personal notes; as I am lousy at scanning and yet to find a posted image......G loooked like a giant airdroped bomb with a "t" crossed rudder assembly and three bladed prop. A small flat deck structure sat atop this with a reaward hatch and a forward periscope that looked like an uppended drain pipe. There was a small box like structure on the upper bow. No external or internal torpedos. After her immediate refit, they appear to have redesigned the upper form with a dustbin sized conning tower (it comes to the skippers waist) and a relocated retractable scope just forward. the box like structure on the bow was removed and two collared torpedos are mounted externally one to each side of the conning tower. The caption said in her original form the lack of a tower made surface running hazzardous.

Displacement: 30/31 tonnes (surfaced/submerged) Length:17.8m (58 feet 5 inches) oa Beam: 1.8m (5 feet 11 inches) Draught: 1.68m (5 feet 6 inches)Machinery: 1 shaft electric motor 33 shp= 7.3/4.2 knots (surfaced submerged) Armament: 2x 35.6cm (14 inch) torpedoes (in drop collars) Crew:5.

For an interesting comparison, I found notes on a later 20th Century Gymnote immediately following the above. Here they are.


French Submarine, built 1958-66. In 1958 the keel was laid at Cherbourg Arsenal of hull number Q.244, France's first nuclear submarine, but the order was cancelled a year later on grounds of cost (familiar story hey?).
Five years later work started again to a different design, a conventionally driven test-bed for the Mer-Sol-Ballistique-Strategique (MSBS), France's version of the Polaris submarine launched ballastic missile.

Gymnote is (1970s remember) large for a conventional submersible and has two launching tubes for MSBS missiles abaft the fin (modified conning tower) in a large, wide platform built on the casing. Originally she tested the M-1 missile in 1967, then the M-2, and in 1977 she began a refit to alter her launching tubes for the larger M-4 missile. She also tests equipment and weapons for the Le redoubtable class submarines.

She reminds me of those classic looking French Diesel Patrol submarines of the same period with that elegant bow sonar dome, with the typical blockhouse missile housing of the early BM subs.

I suppose she is no more. I wonder what happened in the rest of her career?

Displacement: 3000/3250 tonnes (surfaced/submerged) Length: 84m (275 feet 7 inches) oa Beam: 10.6m (34 feet 9 inches) Draught: 7.6m (24 feet 11 inches) Machinery: 2 shaft diesel electric, 2600bhp= 11/10knots (surfaced/submerged) Armament: 4 launching tubes for IRBMS (experimental only) Crew:78.

I'll post Narval's history and details next. Need a water and to rest my hands first....owwww!

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 10:46 PM
Stoker was def. RN. Up to and including WW2 many RAN ships captained by RN skippers. Same for the New Zealand squadron, best example would be at the Battle of the River Plate. Believe it was AE1 lost off PNG.

Holland was obviously a man of principle, something the likes of Halliburtan and Lockheed Martin could possibly do with...

Diamantina most probably built in Whyalla. Australia's largest manufacturing contributions were thousands of Bren Carriers and a huge number of ASW escorts. The HMAS Whyalla is today an exhibit in Whyalla, the centre of Australia's ship-building industry back then.

[edit on 5-11-2004 by HowlrunnerIV]

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 11:33 PM

French submarine, built 1898-1900. In 1896 the new minister fo marine, M Lockroy, proposed an open competition to design a submarine for the French Navy with 160km (100 mile) endurance on the surface and 16km (10 mile) submerged. No fewer than 29 designs were submitted from all over the world, but the designs of a Frenchman, Maxime Laubuef,won with a remarkable boat.

His Narval was the first submarine with seperate propulsion systems for surfaced and submerged running. An oil fired steam boiler provided steam for a small 220hp triple expanision engine. Oil fuel was accommodated in compartments outside the pressure hull, with ballast tanks, making her the first double hulled submarine in the world.

Narval was described as a submersible torpedo boat, as she had a flat deck (yep she looks like a rather thick giant surf board with protrusions)
casing to enable her to navigate in moderately rough weather without waves constantly breaking over the conning tower. When ready to dive the steam was shut down in the boiler and the tiny funnel was telescoped into the hull and closed by a heavy hatch. Below the surface she functioned like existing submarines, with a battery driven 80hp electric motor. Her chief drawback was that the procedure for shutting off the steam, collapsing the funnel and closing off the openings took 15 minutes.
She could however be navigated on the surface to her theatre of operations, and this gave her much more flexibility than the exsisting all electric types. She was immediately christened a sousmersible, to distinguish her from thesousmarins of her day ( In the 70s Purnell's reference was made to the nomenclature being reversed, with nuclear (steam driven) 'submarines', and diesel electric 'submersibles')

Another virtue of the Narval's design was that her stout construction of 13mm (0.5 inch) plating on the pressure hull and 6mm (0.25 inch) on the outer casing. One one occassion she collided with a tug - and the tug sank.
Her big ballast tanks gave her a 42% margin of buoyancy, as against 2-3% in the contemporary Holland designs.

Narval was ordered as hull Q.4 in June 1898, and was laid down five months later. She was launched complete on 21 October 1899, and a series of intensive trials followed to evaluate her unique capabilities. All doubts were expelled after she showed that she was much safer and easier to handle than the previous boats, and orders for four more (the Sirene Class) followed almost immediately. Narval was stricken in 1909, but during her short career she had provided the inspiration for many successful submarines, most notably the first German U-Boats.

Personal notes. Yes she looked like a giant surf board..pointy bow broad stern. Fixed stabilizers (?) at the stern and stubby broad dive planes foward. the conning tower looked like an upturned toilet pedestal with the funnel immediately behind with several deck hatches. four collared torpedos were recessed externally into bays into the side of the hull level with the conning tower, all in the stern third of the boat. Fixed handrails ran down both sides of the conning tower. Although ancient today, she has the look of a strongly built vessel. Nothing fragile about her.

Displacement: 117/202 tonnes (surfaced/submerged) Length: 34m (111 feet 7 inches) oa Beam: 3.8m (12 feet 6 inches) Draught: 1.86m (6 feet 1 inch) Machinery: 1 shaft reciprocating steam/electric 220 ihp/ 80shp = 9.8/5.3 knots (surfaced/submerged) Armament: 4x 45cm (17.7 inch) torpedos (in drop collars amidships) Crew: 13.

Another comparison of different Frech boats of the same name, different eras.


French submarine class, built 1951-60. As soon as the French shipyards had been rebuilt after the devastation of the Second World War, a new class of modern hunter killer submarines was ordered, based on the German Type XXi and on allied wartime experience. Two boats were ordered under the 1949 budget, with a further two under the following year's budget. These boats were built in seven prefabricated 10m (33 feet) sections, but the last two boats, ordered under the 1954 budget were built at different yards by conventional methods.

The original diesel-electric propulsion system of two Schneider 4000 hp 7 cylinder 2 stroke diesels were replaced in a reconstruction programme phased over the years 1965-70, carried out at the Lorient arsenal. The new propulsion system uses (again 1970s reference source) three SEMT-Pielstick 12 cylinder diesels driving two electric motors developing 1500hp each, and two 40hp cruising motors. During the reconstruction the new submarines were equiped with a new streamlined sail housing the periscope standards. A new weapons system and modern sensors were fitted, and the two stern torpedo tubes were removed. the boats are (were re-) fitted with Thomson-CSF DUUA-1 sonar. The Narval class are (were) spacious boats, and (have) proved successful in the Marine Nationale.

No. and Name Builder Launched Completed

S.631 Narval Cherbourg Arsenal 12/54 12/57
S.632 Marsouin Cherbourg Arsenal 05/55 10/57
S.633 Dauphin Cherbourg Arsenal 09/55 08/58
S.634 Requin Cherbourg Arsenal 12/55 08/58
S.637 Espadon Normand, Le Havre 09/58 04/60
S.638 Morse Seine Maritime 12/58 05/60

Scrapping dates? Well, we will have to find those one day, won't we?

Displacement: 1640/1910 tons (surfaced/submerged) Length: 78m (256 feet) oa Beam: 7.2m (23 feet 7 inches) Draught: 5.5m (18 feet) Machinery: 2 shaft diesels/2 electric motors, 4000 bhp/5000hp= 16/18 knots (surfaced/submerged) Armament: 8x 55cm (21.7inch) torpedo tubes (six bow, two stern) 22 torpedoes. Crew:68.

Reading the notes the above looks like the original construction specs.

Well. Until later. Have to go - my wife wants her computer back!

posted on Nov, 5 2004 @ 11:55 PM
Quick one Howl.......Diamantina was built by Walkers in Maryborough Queensland.....Its another reason Queenland Maritime Museum Association was successful in getting her when she decommissioned as a survey ship in 1980 (I was a kid in Perth then and remember her steaming into Fremantle many times when she was home based there)

She was Queensland built.
She was named after a Queensland river.
And QMAA had the old South Brisbane Graving dock gifted to them back in 1970 to put her in.

Here is thier website.

Dont know if youve ever seen her Howl. They have done a good job on restoring her to look like a frigate and not a survey ship. They removed science structures and replaced with restored 4inch gun, 40mm Bofors and depth charge launchers and racks. Completion of the restoration has been stalled for some years as the 1881 vintage dry dock is flooded, and funds for its repairs have been in discussion with the Queensland State Government for the last 8-10 years...since before the integrity of the dock was compromised. The government has finally agreed to some funding....beleive it when I see it.

One 4 inch (the stern mount) remains to be refitted, and unfortunately we can't get light 20mm Oerkerlions. They were in transit at the time Bryant went on his shooting spree at Port Arthur, and the immediate ban on a range of automatic weapons included the import of "fixed" non operational display models of the 20mm's the QMMA had sourced from the USA......bugger it.

Not against the ban, just you couldnt even lift one to use as a club!

[edit on 5-11-2004 by craigandrew]

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