A submarine (or simply sub) is a watercraft capable of independent
operation underwater. It differs from a submersible, which has more
limited underwater capability. The term most commonly refers to a
large, crewed vessel. It is also sometimes used historically or
colloquially to refer to remotely operated vehicles and robots, as
well as medium-sized or smaller vessels, such as the midget submarine
and the wet sub. The noun submarine evolved as a shortened form of
submarine boat; by naval tradition, submarines are usually referred
to as "boats" rather than as "ships", regardless of their size (boat
is usually reserved for seagoing vessels of relatively small size).
Although experimental submarines had been built before, submarine
design took off during the 19th century, and they were adopted by
several navies. Submarines were first widely used during World War I
(1914–1918), and now figure in many navies large and small. Military
uses include attacking enemy surface ships (merchant and military),
attacking other submarines, aircraft carrier protection, blockade
running, ballistic missile submarines as part of a nuclear strike
force, reconnaissance, conventional land attack (for example using a
cruise missile), and covert insertion of special forces. Civilian uses
for submarines include marine science, salvage, exploration and
facility inspection and maintenance. Submarines can also be modified
to perform more specialized functions such as search-and-rescue
missions or undersea cable repair. Submarines are also used in
tourism, and for undersea archaeology.
Most large submarines consist of a cylindrical body with hemispherical
(or conical) ends and a vertical structure, usually located amidships,
which houses communications and sensing devices as well as periscopes.
In modern submarines, this structure is the "sail" in American usage,
and "fin" in European usage. A "conning tower" was a feature of
earlier designs: a separate pressure hull above the main body of the
boat that allowed the use of shorter periscopes. There is a propeller
(or pump jet) at the rear, and various hydrodynamic control fins.
Smaller, deep-diving and specialty submarines may deviate
significantly from this traditional layout. Submarines use diving
planes and also change the amount of water and air in ballast tanks to
change buoyancy for submerging and surfacing.
Submarines have one of the widest ranges of types and capabilities of
any vessel. They range from small autonomous examples and one- or
two-person vessels that operate for a few hours, to vessels that can
remain submerged for six months—such as the Russian Typhoon class,
the biggest submarines ever built. Submarines can work at greater
depths than are survivable or practical for human divers. Modern
deep-diving submarines derive from the bathyscaphe, which in turn
evolved from the diving bell.
1.1 Early submersibles
1.2 18th century
1.3 19th century
1.3.1 Mechanical power
1.4 20th century
1.4.1 World War I
1.4.2 World War II
1.4.3 Cold-War military models
1.5 21st century
2.3 Polar operations
3.1 Submersion and trimming
3.2.2 Single and double hulls
3.2.3 Pressure hull
3.3.3 Nuclear power
3.8 Life support systems
4.2 Abandoning the vessel
5 See also
5.1 By country
8 External links
Main article: History of submarines
Drebbel, an early submersible craft, propelled by oars.
According to a report in Opusculum Taisnieri published in 1562:
Two Greeks submerged and surfaced in the river
Tagus near the City of
Toledo several times in the presence of The Holy Roman Emperor Charles
V, without getting wet and with the flame they carried in their hands
In 1578, the English mathematician William Bourne recorded in his book
Inventions or Devises one of the first plans for an underwater
navigation vehicle. A few years later the Scottish mathematician and
John Napier wrote in his Secret Inventions (1596) the
following: "These inventions besides devises of sayling under water
with divers, other devises and strategems for harming of the enemyes
by the Grace of God and worke of expert Craftsmen I hope to perform."
It's unclear whether he ever carried out his idea.
The first submersible of whose construction there exists reliable
information was designed and built in 1620 by Cornelis Drebbel, a
Dutchman in the service of James I of England. It was propelled by
means of oars.
By the mid-18th century, over a dozen patents for
submarines/submersible boats had been granted in England. In 1747,
Nathaniel Symons patented and built the first known working example of
the use of a ballast tank for submersion. His design used leather bags
that could fill with water to submerge the craft. A mechanism was used
to twist the water out of the bags and cause the boat to resurface. In
Gentlemen's Magazine reported that a similar design had
initially been proposed by
Giovanni Borelli in 1680. By this point of
development, further improvement in design necessarily stagnated for
over a century, until new industrial technologies for propulsion and
stability could be applied.
The first military submarine was the Turtle (1775), a hand-powered
acorn-shaped device designed by the American
David Bushnell to
accommodate a single person. It was the first verified submarine
capable of independent underwater operation and movement, and the
first to use screws for propulsion.
1806 illustration by
Robert Fulton showing a "plunging boat"
In 1800, France built a human-powered submarine designed by American
Robert Fulton, the Nautilus. The French eventually gave up on the
experiment in 1804, as did the British when they later considered
Fulton's submarine design.
In 1864, late in the American Civil War, the Confederate navy's H. L.
Hunley became the first military submarine to sink an enemy vessel,
the Union sloop-of-war USS Housatonic. In the aftermath of its
successful attack against the ship, the Hunley also sank, possibly
because it was too close to its own exploding torpedo.
In 1866, the
Sub Marine Explorer
Sub Marine Explorer was the first submarine to
successfully dive, cruise underwater, and resurface under the control
of the crew. The design by
Julius H. Kroehl (in
German, Kröhl) incorporated elements that are still used in modern
The French submarine Plongeur
The first submarine not relying on human power for propulsion was the
French Plongeur (Diver), launched in 1863, which used compressed air
at 180 psi (1241 kPa). The first air–independent and
combustion–powered submarine was Ictineo II, designed by the Spanish
intellectual, artist and engineer Narcís Monturiol, launched in
Barcelona in 1864.
The submarine became a potentially viable weapon with the development
of the Whitehead torpedo, designed in 1866 by British engineer Robert
Whitehead, the first practical self-propelled or 'locomotive'
torpedo. The spar torpedo that had been developed earlier by the
Confederate navy was considered to be impracticable, as it was
believed to have sunk both its intended target, and probably H. L.
Hunley, the submarine that deployed it.
Discussions between the English clergyman and inventor George Garrett
and the Swedish industrialist
Thorsten Nordenfelt led to the first
practical steam-powered submarines, armed with torpedoes and ready for
military use. The first was Nordenfelt I, a 56-tonne, 19.5-metre
(64 ft) vessel similar to Garrett's ill-fated
with a range of 240 kilometres (130 nmi; 150 mi), armed with
a single torpedo, in 1885.
A reliable means of propulsion for the submerged vessel was only made
possible in the 1880s with the advent of the necessary electric
battery technology. The first electrically powered boats were built by
Isaac Peral y Caballero
Isaac Peral y Caballero in Spain, Dupuy de Lôme and Gustave Zédé in
France, and James Franklin Waddington in England. Peral's design
featured torpedoes and other systems that later became standard in
USS Plunger, launched in 1902
Akula (launched in 1907) was the first Russian submarine able to
cruise long distances.
Submarines were not put into service for any widespread or routine use
by navies until the early 1900s. This era marked a pivotal time in
submarine development, and several important technologies appeared. A
number of nations built and used submarines. Diesel electric
propulsion became the dominant power system and equipment such as the
periscope became standardized. Countries conducted many experiments on
effective tactics and weapons for submarines, which led to their large
impact in World War I.
The Irish inventor
John Philip Holland
John Philip Holland built a model submarine in 1876
and a full-scale version in 1878, which were followed by a number of
unsuccessful ones. In 1896 he designed the Holland Type VI submarine,
which used internal combustion engine power on the surface and
electric battery power underwater. Launched on 17 May 1897 at
Crescent Shipyard in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Holland VI
was purchased by the
Navy on 11 April 1900, becoming the
Navy's first commissioned submarine, christened USS Holland.
Commissioned in June 1900, the French steam and electric Narval
employed the now typical double-hull design, with a pressure hull
inside the outer shell. These 200-ton ships had a range of over 100
miles (161 km) underwater. The French submarine Aigrette in 1904
further improved the concept by using a diesel rather than a gasoline
engine for surface power. Large numbers of these submarines were
built, with seventy-six completed before 1914.
Navy commissioned five Holland-class submarines from
Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness, under licence from the Holland Torpedo
Boat Company from 1901 to 1903. Construction of the boats took longer
than anticipated, with the first only ready for a diving trial at sea
on 6 April 1902. Although the design had been purchased entirely from
the US company, the actual design used was an untested improvement to
the original Holland design using a new 180 horsepower (130 kW)
These types of submarines were first used during the Russo-Japanese
War of 1904–05. Due to the blockade at Port Arthur, the Russians
sent their submarines to Vladivostok, where by 1 January 1905 there
were seven boats, enough to create the world's first "operational
submarine fleet". The new submarine fleet began patrols on 14
February, usually lasting for about 24 hours each. The first
confrontation with Japanese warships occurred on 29 April 1905 when
the Russian submarine Som was fired upon by Japanese torpedo boats,
but then withdrew.
World War I
The German submarine SM U-9, which sank three British cruisers in
less than an hour in September 1914
Military submarines first made a significant impact in World War I.
Forces such as the U-boats of
Germany saw action in the First Battle
of the Atlantic, and were responsible for sinking RMS Lusitania,
which was sunk as a result of unrestricted submarine warfare and is
often cited among the reasons for the entry of the
United States into
At the outbreak of war
Germany had only twenty submarines immediately
available for combat, although these included vessels of the
diesel-engined U-19 class with the range (5,000 miles) and speed (8
knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)) to operate effectively around the
entire British coast. By contrast the Royal
Navy had a total of 74
submarines, though of mixed effectiveness. In August 1914, a flotilla
of ten U-boats sailed from their base in
Heligoland to attack Royal
Navy warships in the
North Sea in the first submarine war patrol in
The U-boats' ability to function as practical war machines relied on
new tactics, their numbers, and submarine technologies such as
combination diesel-electric power system developed in the preceding
years. More submersibles than true submarines, U-boats operated
primarily on the surface using regular engines, submerging
occasionally to attack under battery power. They were roughly
triangular in cross-section, with a distinct keel to control rolling
while surfaced, and a distinct bow. During
World War I
World War I more than 5,000
Allied ships were sunk by U-boats.
World War II
See also: List of submarines of World War II
The Imperial Japanese Navy's I-400-class submarine, the largest
submarine type of WWII
A model of Günther Prien's U-47, German WWII Type VII diesel-electric
During World War II,
Germany used submarines to devastating effect in
the Battle of the Atlantic, where it attempted to cut Britain's supply
routes by sinking more merchant ships than Britain could replace.
(Shipping was vital to supply Britain's population with food, industry
with raw material, and armed forces with fuel and armaments.) While
U-boats destroyed a significant number of ships, the strategy
ultimately failed. Although the U-boats had been updated in the
interwar years, the major innovation was improved communications,
encrypted using the famous Enigma cipher machine. This allowed for
mass-attack naval tactics (Rudeltaktik, commonly known as "wolfpack"),
but was also ultimately the U-boats' downfall. By the end of the war,
almost 3,000 Allied ships (175 warships, 2,825 merchantmen) had been
sunk by U-boats. Although successful early in the war, ultimately
U-boat fleet suffered a casualty rate of 73%, almost all
The Imperial Japanese
Navy operated the most varied fleet of
submarines of any navy, including
Kaiten crewed torpedoes, midget
submarines (Type A Ko-hyoteki and Kairyu classes), medium-range
submarines, purpose-built supply submarines and long-range fleet
submarines. They also had submarines with the highest submerged speeds
World War II
World War II (I-201-class submarines) and submarines that could
carry multiple aircraft (I-400-class submarines). They were also
equipped with one of the most advanced torpedoes of the conflict, the
oxygen-propelled Type 95. Nevertheless, despite their technical
prowess, Japan chose to utilize its submarines for fleet warfare, and
consequently were relatively unsuccessful, as warships were fast,
maneuverable and well-defended compared to merchant ships.
The submarine force was the most effective anti-ship weapon in the
American arsenal. Submarines, though only about 2 percent of the U.S.
Navy, destroyed over 30 percent of the Japanese Navy, including 8
aircraft carriers, 1 battleship and 11 cruisers. US submarines also
destroyed over 60 percent of the Japanese merchant fleet, crippling
Japan's ability to supply its military forces and industrial war
Allied submarines in the Pacific War
Allied submarines in the Pacific War destroyed more Japanese
shipping than all other weapons combined. This feat was considerably
aided by the Imperial Japanese Navy's failure to provide adequate
escort forces for the nation's merchant fleet.
During World War II, 314 submarines served in the US Navy, of
which nearly 260 were deployed to the Pacific. When the Japanese
attacked Hawaii in December 1941, 111 boats were in commission; 203
submarines from the Gato, Balao, and Tench classes were commissioned
during the war. During the war, 52 US submarines were lost to all
causes, with 48 directly due to hostilities. US submarines sank
1,560 enemy vessels, a total tonnage of 5.3 million tons
(55% of the total sunk).
Submarine Service was used primarily in the classic
Axis blockade. Its major operating areas were around Norway, in the
Mediterranean (against the Axis supply routes to North Africa), and in
the Far East. In that war, British submarines sank 2 million tons
of enemy shipping and 57 major warships, the latter including 35
submarines. Among these is the only documented instance of a submarine
sinking another submarine while both were submerged. This occurred
when HMS Venturer engaged U-864; the Venturer crew manually
computed a successful firing solution against a three-dimensionally
maneuvering target using techniques which became the basis of modern
torpedo computer targeting systems. Seventy-four British submarines
were lost, the majority, forty-two, in the Mediterranean.
Cold-War military models
HMAS Rankin, a
Collins-class submarine at periscope depth
USS Charlotte, a
Los Angeles-class submarine
Los Angeles-class submarine runs with submarines
from partner nations during RIMPAC 2014.
The first launch of a cruise missile (SSM-N-8 Regulus) from a
submarine occurred in July 1953, from the deck of USS Tunny, a
World War II
World War II fleet boat modified to carry the missile with a nuclear
warhead. Tunny and its sister boat, Barbero, were the United States'
first nuclear deterrent patrol submarines. In the 1950s, nuclear power
partially replaced diesel-electric propulsion. Equipment was also
developed to extract oxygen from sea water. These two innovations gave
submarines the ability to remain submerged for weeks or
months. Most of the naval submarines built since that time in
the US, the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, Britain, and France have
been powered by nuclear reactors.
In 1959–1960, the first ballistic missile submarines were put into
service by both the
United States (George Washington class) and the
Soviet Union (Golf class) as part of the
Cold War nuclear deterrent
During the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union maintained large
submarine fleets that engaged in cat-and-mouse games. The Soviet Union
lost at least four submarines during this period: K-129 was lost in
1968 (a part of which the
CIA retrieved from the ocean floor with the
Howard Hughes-designed ship Glomar Explorer), K-8 in 1970, K-219 in
1986, and Komsomolets in 1989 (which held a depth record among
military submarines—1,000 m (3,300 ft)). Many other Soviet
subs, such as K-19 (the first Soviet nuclear submarine, and the first
Soviet sub to reach the North Pole) were badly damaged by fire or
radiation leaks. The US lost two nuclear submarines during this time:
USS Thresher due to equipment failure during a test dive while at
its operational limit, and USS Scorpion due to unknown causes.
During India's intervention in the Bangladesh Liberation War, the
Pakistan Navy's Hangor sank the Indian frigate INS Khukri. This
was the first sinking by a submarine since World War II. During
the same war, the Ghazi, a
Tench-class submarine on loan to Pakistan
from the US, was sunk by the Indian Navy. It was the first submarine
combat loss since World War II. In 1982 during the Falklands War,
the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by the British
submarine HMS Conqueror, the first sinking by a nuclear-powered
submarine in war.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June
Main articles: Attack submarine, Ballistic missile submarine, Cruise
missile submarine, and Nuclear submarine
World War I
World War I submarine. The wires running up from the
bow to the conning tower are the Jumping wires
EML Lembit in the Estonian Maritime Museum. The Lembit is the
only minelayer submarine of its series left in the world.
Before and during World War II, the primary role of the submarine was
anti-surface ship warfare. Submarines would attack either on the
surface, using deck guns or submerged, using torpedoes. They were
particularly effective in sinking Allied transatlantic shipping in
both World Wars, and in disrupting Japanese supply routes and naval
operations in the Pacific in World War II.
Mine-laying submarines were developed in the early part of the 20th
century. The facility was used in both World Wars. Submarines were
also used for inserting and removing covert agents and military
forces, for intelligence gathering, and to rescue aircrew during air
attacks on islands, where the airmen would be told of safe places to
crash-land so the submarines could rescue them. Submarines could carry
cargo through hostile waters or act as supply vessels for other
Submarines could usually locate and attack other submarines only on
the surface, although HMS Venturer managed to sink U-864 with a
four torpedo spread while both were submerged. The British developed a
specialized anti-submarine submarine in WWI, the R class. After WWII,
with the development of the homing torpedo, better sonar systems, and
nuclear propulsion, submarines also became able to hunt each other
The development of submarine-launched ballistic missile and
submarine-launched cruise missiles gave submarines a substantial and
long-ranged ability to attack both land and sea targets with a variety
of weapons ranging from cluster bombs to nuclear weapons.
The primary defense of a submarine lies in its ability to remain
concealed in the depths of the ocean. Early submarines could be
detected by the sound they made. Water is an excellent conductor of
sound (much better than air), and submarines can detect and track
comparatively noisy surface ships from long distances. Modern
submarines are built with an emphasis on stealth. Advanced propeller
designs, extensive sound-reducing insulation, and special machinery
help a submarine remain as quiet as ambient ocean noise, making them
difficult to detect. It takes specialized technology to find and
attack modern submarines.
Active sonar uses the reflection of sound emitted from the search
equipment to detect submarines. It has been used since WWII by surface
ships, submarines and aircraft (via dropped buoys and helicopter
"dipping" arrays), but it reveals the emitter's position, and is
susceptible to counter-measures.
A concealed military submarine is a real threat, and because of its
stealth, can force an enemy navy to waste resources searching large
areas of ocean and protecting ships against attack. This advantage was
vividly demonstrated in the 1982
Falklands War when the British
nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine
cruiser General Belgrano. After the sinking the Argentine Navy
recognized that they had no effective defense against submarine
attack, and the Argentine surface fleet withdrew to port for the
remainder of the war, though an Argentine submarine remained at
Although the majority of the world's submarines are military, there
are some civilian submarines, which are used for tourism, exploration,
oil and gas platform inspections, and pipeline surveys. Some are also
used in illegal activities.
Submarine Voyage ride opened at
Disneyland in 1959, but although
it ran under water it was not a true submarine, as it ran on tracks
and was open to the atmosphere. The first tourist submarine was
Auguste Piccard, which went into service in 1964 at Expo64. By
1997 there were 45 tourist submarines operating around the world.
Submarines with a crush depth in the range of 400–500 feet
(120–150 m) are operated in several areas worldwide, typically
with bottom depths around 100 to 120 feet (30 to 37 m), with a
carrying capacity of 50 to 100 passengers.
In a typical operation a surface vessel carries passengers to an
offshore operating area and loads them into the submarine. The
submarine then visits underwater points of interest such as natural or
artificial reef structures. To surface safely without danger of
collision the location of the submarine is marked with an air release
and movement to the surface is coordinated by an observer in a support
A recent development is the deployment of so-called narco submarines
by South American drug smugglers to evade law enforcement
detection. Although they occasionally deploy true submarines, most
are self-propelled semi-submersibles, where a portion of the craft
remains above water at all times. In September 2011, Colombian
authorities seized a 16-meter-long submersible that could hold a crew
of 5, costing about $2 million. The vessel belonged to
FARC rebels and
had the capacity to carry at least 7 tonnes of drugs.
Model of the Mésoscaphe Auguste Piccard
Interior of the tourist submarine Atlantis whilst submerged
Tourist submarine Atlantis
Navy attack submarine USS Annapolis rests in the Arctic Ocean
after surfacing through three feet of ice during
Ice Exercise 2009
Ice Exercise 2009 on
21 March 2009.
Simon Lake submarine Protector surfaced through ice off
Newport, Rhode Island.
1930 – USS O-12 operated under ice near Spitsbergen.
1937 – Soviet submarine Krasnogvardeyets operated under ice in the
1941–45 – German U-boats operated under ice from the Barents Sea
to the Laptev Sea.
1946 – USS Atule used upward-beamed fathometer in Operation
Nanook in the Davis Strait.
1946–47 – USS Sennet used under-ice sonar in Operation High
Jump in the Antarctic.
1947 – USS Boarfish used upward-beamed echo sounder under pack
ice in the Chukchi Sea.
1948 – USS Carp developed techniques for making vertical
ascents and descents through polynyas in the Chukchi Sea.
1952 – USS Redfish used an expanded upward-beamed sounder array
in the Beaufort Sea.
1957 – USS Nautilus reached 87 degrees north near
3 August 1958 – Nautilus used an inertial navigation system to reach
the North Pole.
17 March 1959 – USS Skate surfaced through the ice at the north
1960 – USS Sargo transited 900 miles (1,400 km) under ice
over the shallow (125 to 180 feet or 38 to 55 metres deep)
1960 – USS Seadragon transited the
Northwest Passage under
1962 – Soviet
November-class submarine K-3 Leninsky Komsomol reached
the north pole.
1970 – USS Queenfish carried out an extensive undersea mapping
survey of the Siberian continental shelf.
1971 – HMS
Dreadnought reached the North Pole.
USS Gurnard conducted three Polar Exercises: 1976 (with US actor
Charlton Heston aboard); 1984 joint operations with USS Pintado;
and 1990 joint exercises with USS Seahorse.
6 May 1986 – USS Ray, USS Archerfish and USS Hawkbill
meet and surface together at the Geographic North Pole. First
three-submarine surfacing at the Pole.
19 May 1987 – HMS Superb joined USS Billfish and
USS Sea Devil at the North Pole.
March 2007 – USS Alexandria participated in the Joint US
Navy Ice Exercise 2007 (ICEX-2007) in the Arctic
Trafalgar-class submarine HMS Tireless.
March 2009 – USS Annapolis took part in
Ice Exercise 2009
Ice Exercise 2009 to
test submarine operability and war-fighting capability in Arctic
See also: Timeline of underwater technology
Submersion and trimming
An illustration showing submarine controls
USS Seawolf (SSN-21)
Ship Control Panel, with yokes for
control surfaces (planes and rudder), and Ballast Control Panel
(background), to control the water in tanks and ship's trim
All surface ships, as well as surfaced submarines, are in a positively
buoyant condition, weighing less than the volume of water they would
displace if fully submerged. To submerge hydrostatically, a ship must
have negative buoyancy, either by increasing its own weight or
decreasing its displacement of water. To control their displacement,
submarines have ballast tanks, which can hold varying amounts of water
For general submersion or surfacing, submarines use the forward and
aft tanks, called Main Ballast Tanks (MBT), which are filled with
water to submerge or with air to surface. Submerged, MBTs generally
remain flooded, which simplifies their design, and on many submarines
these tanks are a section of interhull space. For more precise and
quick control of depth, submarines use smaller Depth Control Tanks
(DCT) – also called hard tanks (due to their ability to withstand
higher pressure), or trim tanks. The amount of water in depth control
tanks can be controlled to change depth or to maintain a constant
depth as outside conditions (chiefly water density) change. Depth
control tanks may be located either near the submarine's center of
gravity, or separated along the submarine body to prevent affecting
When submerged, the water pressure on a submarine's hull can reach
4 MPa (580 psi) for steel submarines and up to 10 MPa
(1,500 psi) for titanium submarines like K-278 Komsomolets, while
interior pressure remains relatively unchanged. This difference
results in hull compression, which decreases displacement. Water
density also marginally increases with depth, as the salinity and
pressure are higher. This change in density incompletely
compensates for hull compression, so buoyancy decreases as depth
increases. A submerged submarine is in an unstable equilibrium, having
a tendency to either sink or float to the surface. Keeping a constant
depth requires continual operation of either the depth control tanks
or control surfaces.
Submarines in a neutral buoyancy condition are not intrinsically
trim-stable. To maintain desired trim, submarines use forward and aft
trim tanks. Pumps can move water between the tanks, changing weight
distribution and pointing the sub up or down. A similar system is
sometimes used to maintain stability.
Sail of the French nuclear submarine Casabianca; note the diving
planes, camouflaged masts, periscope, electronic warfare masts, hatch,
The hydrostatic effect of variable ballast tanks is not the only way
to control the submarine underwater. Hydrodynamic maneuvering is done
by several surfaces, which can be moved to create hydrodynamic forces
when a submarine moves at sufficient speed. The stern planes, located
near the propeller and normally horizontal, serve the same purpose as
the trim tanks, controlling the trim, and are commonly used, while
other control surfaces may not be present on all submarines. The
fairwater planes on the sail and/or bow planes on the main body, both
also horizontal, are closer to the center of gravity, and are used to
control depth with less effect on the trim.
When a submarine performs an emergency surfacing, all depth and trim
methods are used simultaneously, together with propelling the boat
upwards. Such surfacing is very quick, so the sub may even partially
jump out of the water, potentially damaging submarine systems.
Navy Los Angeles-class USS Greeneville in dry dock,
showing cigar-shaped hull
Modern submarines are cigar-shaped. This design, visible in early
submarines, is sometimes called a "teardrop hull". It reduces the
hydrodynamic drag when submerged, but decreases the sea-keeping
capabilities and increases drag while surfaced. Since the limitations
of the propulsion systems of early submarines forced them to operate
surfaced most of the time, their hull designs were a compromise.
Because of the slow submerged speeds of those subs, usually well below
10 kt (18 km/h), the increased drag for underwater travel
was acceptable. Late in World War II, when technology allowed faster
and longer submerged operation and increased aircraft surveillance
forced submarines to stay submerged, hull designs became teardrop
shaped again to reduce drag and noise.
USS Albacore (AGSS-569) was a unique research submarine that
pioneered the American version of the teardrop hull form (sometimes
referred to as an "Albacore hull") of modern submarines. On modern
military submarines the outer hull is covered with a layer of
sound-absorbing rubber, or anechoic plating, to reduce detection.
The occupied pressure hulls of deep diving submarines such as
DSV Alvin are spherical instead of cylindrical. This allows a
more even distribution of stress at the great depth. A titanium frame
is usually affixed to the pressure hull, providing attachment for
ballast and trim systems, scientific instrumentation, battery packs,
syntactic flotation foam, and lighting.
A raised tower on top of a submarine accommodates the periscope and
electronics masts, which can include radio, radar, electronic warfare,
and other systems including the snorkel mast. In many early classes of
submarines (see history), the control room, or "conn", was located
inside this tower, which was known as the "conning tower". Since then,
the conn has been located within the hull of the submarine, and the
tower is now called the "sail". The conn is distinct from the
"bridge", a small open platform in the top of the sail, used for
observation during surface operation.
"Bathtubs" are related to conning towers but are used on smaller
submarines. The bathtub is a metal cylinder surrounding the hatch that
prevents waves from breaking directly into the cabin. It is needed
because surfaced submarines have limited freeboard, that is, they lie
low in the water. Bathtubs help prevent swamping the vessel.
Single and double hulls
U-995, Type VIIC/41 U-
Boat of WWII, showing the typical combination of
ship-like non-watertight outer hull with bulky strong hull below
Modern submarines and submersibles, as well as the oldest ones,
usually have a single hull. Large submarines generally have an
additional hull or hull sections outside. This external hull, which
actually forms the shape of submarine, is called the outer hull
(casing in the Royal Navy) or light hull, as it does not have to
withstand a pressure difference. Inside the outer hull there is a
strong hull, or pressure hull, which withstands sea pressure and has
normal atmospheric pressure inside.
As early as World War I, it was realized that the optimal shape for
withstanding pressure conflicted with the optimal shape for seakeeping
and minimal drag, and construction difficulties further complicated
the problem. This was solved either by a compromise shape, or by using
two hulls; internal for holding pressure, and external for optimal
shape. Until the end of World War II, most submarines had an
additional partial cover on the top, bow and stern, built of thinner
metal, which was flooded when submerged.
Germany went further with the
Type XXI, a general predecessor of modern submarines, in which the
pressure hull was fully enclosed inside the light hull, but optimized
for submerged navigation, unlike earlier designs that were optimized
for surface operation.
Type XXI U-Boat, late WWII, with pressure hull almost fully enclosed
inside the light hull
After World War II, approaches split. The Soviet Union changed its
designs, basing them on German developments. All post–World War II
heavy Soviet and Russian submarines are built with a double hull
structure. American and most other Western submarines switched to a
primarily single-hull approach. They still have light hull sections in
the bow and stern, which house main ballast tanks and provide a
hydrodynamically optimized shape, but the main cylindrical hull
section has only a single plating layer. Double hulls are being
considered for future submarines in the
United States to improve
payload capacity, stealth and range.
Jacques Piccard and
Don Walsh were the first people to
explore the deepest part of the world's ocean, and the deepest
location on the surface of the Earth's crust, in the Bathyscaphe
Trieste designed by Auguste Piccard.
The pressure hull is generally constructed of thick high-strength
steel with a complex structure and high strength reserve, and is
separated with watertight bulkheads into several compartments. There
are also examples of more than two hulls in a submarine, like the
Typhoon class, which has two main pressure hulls and three smaller
ones for control room, torpedoes and steering gear, with the missile
launch system between the main hulls.
The dive depth cannot be increased easily. Simply making the hull
thicker increases the weight and requires reduction of onboard
equipment weight, ultimately resulting in a bathyscaphe. This is
acceptable for civilian research submersibles, but not military
WWI submarines had hulls of carbon steel, with a 100-metre
(330 ft) maximum depth. During WWII, high-strength alloyed steel
was introduced, allowing 200-metre (660 ft) depths. High-strength
alloy steel remains the primary material for submarines today, with
250–400-metre (820–1,310 ft) depths, which cannot be exceeded
on a military submarine without design compromises. To exceed that
limit, a few submarines were built with titanium hulls.
be stronger than steel, lighter, and is not ferromagnetic, important
Titanium submarines were built by the Soviet Union, which
developed specialized high-strength alloys. It has produced several
types of titanium submarines.
Titanium alloys allow a major increase
in depth, but other systems must be redesigned to cope, so test depth
was limited to 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) for the Soviet
submarine K-278 Komsomolets, the deepest-diving combat submarine.
Alfa-class submarine may have successfully operated at 1,300 metres
(4,300 ft), though continuous operation at such depths would
produce excessive stress on many submarine systems.
Titanium does not
flex as readily as steel, and may become brittle after many dive
cycles. Despite its benefits, the high cost of titanium construction
led to the abandonment of titanium submarine construction as the Cold
War ended. Deep–diving civilian submarines have used thick acrylic
The deepest deep-submergence vehicle (DSV) to date is Trieste. On 5
October 1959, Trieste departed San Diego for
Guam aboard the freighter
Santa Maria to participate in Project Nekton, a series of very deep
dives in the Mariana Trench. On 23 January 1960, Trieste reached the
ocean floor in the
Challenger Deep (the deepest southern part of the
Mariana Trench), carrying
Jacques Piccard (son of Auguste) and
Lieutenant Don Walsh, USN. This was the first time a vessel,
manned or unmanned, had reached the deepest point in the Earth's
oceans. The onboard systems indicated a depth of 11,521 metres
(37,799 ft), although this was later revised to 10,916 metres
(35,814 ft) and more accurate measurements made in 1995 have
Challenger Deep slightly shallower, at 10,911 metres
Building a pressure hull is difficult, as it must withstand pressures
at its required diving depth. When the hull is perfectly round in
cross-section, the pressure is evenly distributed, and causes only
hull compression. If the shape is not perfect, the hull is bent, with
several points heavily strained. Inevitable minor deviations are
resisted by stiffener rings, but even a one-inch (25 mm)
deviation from roundness results in over 30 percent decrease of
maximal hydrostatic load and consequently dive depth. The hull
must therefore be constructed with high precision. All hull parts must
be welded without defects, and all joints are checked multiple times
with different methods, contributing to the high cost of modern
submarines. (For example, each Virginia-class attack submarine costs
US$2.6 billion, over US$200,000 per ton of displacement.)
Further information: Marine propulsion, Air-independent propulsion,
Nuclear marine propulsion, and Nuclear submarine
HMCS Windsor, a Royal Canadian
diesel-electric hunter-killer submarine
The first submarines were propelled by humans. The first mechanically
driven submarine was the 1863 French Plongeur, which used compressed
air for propulsion. Anaerobic propulsion was first employed by the
Ictineo II in 1864, which used a solution of zinc, manganese
dioxide, and potassium chlorate to generate sufficient heat to power a
steam engine, while also providing oxygen for the crew. A similar
system was not employed again until 1940 when the German
Navy tested a
hydrogen peroxide-based system, the Walter turbine, on the
V-80 submarine and later on the naval U-791 and type XVII
Until the advent of nuclear marine propulsion, most 20th-century
submarines used batteries for running underwater and gasoline (petrol)
or diesel engines on the surface, and for battery recharging. Early
submarines used gasoline, but this quickly gave way to kerosene
(paraffin), then diesel, because of reduced flammability.
Diesel-electric became the standard means of propulsion. The diesel or
gasoline engine and the electric motor, separated by clutches, were
initially on the same shaft driving the propeller. This allowed the
engine to drive the electric motor as a generator to recharge the
batteries and also propel the submarine. The clutch between the motor
and the engine would be disengaged when the submarine dived, so that
the motor could drive the propeller. The motor could have multiple
armatures on the shaft, which could be electrically coupled in series
for slow speed and in parallel for high speed (these connections were
called "group down" and "group up", respectively).
recharging battery (JMSDF)
Further information: Diesel-electric transmission
Early submarines used a direct mechanical connection between the
engine and propeller, switching between diesel engines for surface
running, and battery-driven electric motors for submerged propulsion.
In 1928, the
United States Navy's Bureau of Engineering proposed a
diesel-electric transmission. Instead of driving the propeller
directly while running on the surface, the submarine's diesel drove a
generator that could either charge the submarine's batteries or drive
the electric motor. This made electric motor speed independent of
diesel engine speed, so the diesel could run at an optimum and
non-critical speed. One or more diesel engines could be shut down for
maintenance while the submarine continued to run on the remaining
engine or battery power. The US pioneered this concept in 1929, in the
S-class submarines S-3, S-6, and S-7. The first production submarines
with this system were the Porpoise-class of the 1930s, and it was used
on most subsequent US diesel submarines through the 1960s. No other
navy adopted the system before 1945, apart from the Royal Navy's
U-class submarines, though some submarines of the Imperial Japanese
Navy used separate diesel generators for low speed running.
Other advantages of such an arrangement were that a submarine could
travel slowly with the engines at full power to recharge the batteries
quickly, reducing time on the surface or on snorkel. It was then
possible to isolate the noisy diesel engines from the pressure hull,
making the submarine quieter. Additionally, diesel-electric
transmissions were more compact.
World War II
World War II the Germans experimented with the idea of the
schnorchel (snorkel) from captured Dutch submarines, but didn't see
the need for them until rather late in the war. The schnorchel was a
retractable pipe that supplied air to the diesel engines while
submerged at periscope depth, allowing the boats to cruise and
recharge their batteries while maintaining a degree of stealth. It was
far from a perfect solution, however. There were problems with the
device's valve sticking shut or closing as it dunked in rough weather;
since the system used the entire pressure hull as a buffer, the
diesels would instantaneously suck huge volumes of air from the boat's
compartments, and the crew often suffered painful ear injuries. Speed
was limited to 8 knots (15 km/h), lest the device snap from
stress. The schnorchel also created noise that made the boat easier to
detect with sonar, yet more difficult for the on-board sonar to detect
signals from other vessels. Finally, Allied radar eventually became
sufficiently advanced that the schnorchel mast could be detected
beyond visual range.
While the snorkel renders a submarine far less detectable, it is not
perfect. In clear weather, diesel exhaust can be seen on the surface
to a distance of about three miles, while "periscope feather" (the
wave created by the snorkel or periscope moving through the water) is
visible from far off in calm sea conditions. Modern radar is also
capable of detecting a snorkel in calm sea conditions.
The problem of the diesels causing a vacuum in the submarine when the
head valve is submerged still exists in later model diesel submarines,
but is mitigated by high-vacuum cut-off sensors that shut down the
engines when the vacuum in the ship reaches a pre-set point. Modern
snorkel induction masts use a fail-safe design using compressed air,
controlled by a simple electrical circuit, to hold the "head valve"
open against the pull of a powerful spring. Seawater washing over the
mast shorts out exposed electrodes on top, breaking the control, and
shutting the "head valve" while it is submerged.
Main article: Air-independent propulsion
Type XXI submarine
During World War II, German
Type XXI submarines (also known as
"Elektroboote") were the first submarines designed to operate
submerged for extended periods. Initially they were to carry hydrogen
peroxide for long-term, fast air-independent propulsion, but were
ultimately built with very large batteries instead. At the end of the
War, the British and Soviets experimented with hydrogen
peroxide/kerosene (paraffin) engines that could run surfaced and
submerged. The results were not encouraging. Though the Soviet Union
deployed a class of submarines with this engine type (codenamed Quebec
by NATO), they were considered unsuccessful.
American X-1 Midget Submarine
United States also used hydrogen peroxide in an experimental
midget submarine, X-1. It was originally powered by a hydrogen
peroxide/diesel engine and battery system until an explosion of her
hydrogen peroxide supply on 20 May 1957. X-1 was later converted to
use diesel-electric drive.
Today several navies use air-independent propulsion. Notably Sweden
uses Stirling technology on the Gotland-class and Södermanland-class
Stirling engine is heated by burning diesel fuel with
liquid oxygen from cryogenic tanks. A newer development in
air-independent propulsion is hydrogen fuel cells, first used on the
German Type 212 submarine, with nine 34 kW or two 120 kW
cells and soon to be used in the new Spanish S-80-class
Nuclear submarine and Nuclear marine propulsion
Battery well containing 126 cells on USS Nautilus, the first
Steam power was resurrected in the 1950s with a nuclear-powered steam
turbine driving a generator. By eliminating the need for atmospheric
oxygen, the time that a submarine could remain submerged was limited
only by its food stores, as breathing air was recycled and fresh water
distilled from seawater. More importantly, a nuclear submarine has
unlimited range at top speed. This allows it to travel from its
operating base to the combat zone in a much shorter time and makes it
a far more difficult target for most anti-submarine weapons.
Nuclear-powered submarines have a relatively small battery and diesel
engine/generator powerplant for emergency use if the reactors must be
HMS Astute is among the most advanced nuclear submarines.
Nuclear power is now used in all large submarines, but due to the high
cost and large size of nuclear reactors, smaller submarines still use
diesel-electric propulsion. The ratio of larger to smaller submarines
depends on strategic needs. The US Navy, French Navy, and the British
Navy operate only nuclear submarines, which is explained
by the need for distant operations. Other major operators rely on a
mix of nuclear submarines for strategic purposes and diesel-electric
submarines for defense. Most fleets have no nuclear submarines, due to
the limited availability of nuclear power and submarine technology.
Diesel-electric submarines have a stealth advantage over their nuclear
counterparts. Nuclear submarines generate noise from coolant pumps and
turbo-machinery needed to operate the reactor, even at low power
levels. Some nuclear submarines such as the American Ohio class
can operate with their reactor coolant pumps secured, making them
quieter than electric subs. A conventional submarine operating on
batteries is almost completely silent, the only noise coming from the
shaft bearings, propeller, and flow noise around the hull, all of
which stops when the sub hovers in mid-water to listen, leaving only
the noise from crew activity. Commercial submarines usually rely only
on batteries, since they operate in conjunction with a mother ship.
Several serious nuclear and radiation accidents have involved nuclear
submarine mishaps. The Soviet submarine K-19 reactor
accident in 1961 resulted in 8 deaths and more than 30 other people
were over-exposed to radiation. The Soviet submarine K-27
reactor accident in 1968 resulted in 9 fatalities and 83 other
injuries. The Soviet submarine K-431 accident in 1985
resulted in 10 fatalities and 49 other radiation injuries.
Oil-fired steam turbines powered the British K-class submarines, built
World War I
World War I and later, to give them the surface speed to keep
up with the battle fleet. The K-class subs were not very successful,
Toward the end of the 20th century, some submarines—such as the
British Vanguard class—began to be fitted with pump-jet propulsors
instead of propellers. Though these are heavier, more expensive, and
less efficient than a propeller, they are significantly quieter,
providing an important tactical advantage.
Magnetohydrodynamic drive (MHD) was portrayed as the operating
principle behind the titular submarine's nearly silent propulsion
system in the film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October. However, in
the novel the Red October did not use MHD, but rather something more
similar to the above-mentioned pump-jet.
The success of the submarine is inextricably linked to the development
of the torpedo, invented by
Robert Whitehead in 1866. His invention is
essentially the same now as it was 140 years ago. Only with
self-propelled torpedoes could the submarine make the leap from
novelty to a weapon of war. Until the perfection of the guided
torpedo, multiple "straight-running" torpedoes were required to attack
a target. With at most 20 to 25 torpedoes stored on board, the number
of attacks was limited. To increase combat endurance most World War I
submarines functioned as submersible gunboats, using their deck guns
against unarmed targets, and diving to escape and engage enemy
warships. The importance of guns encouraged the development of the
Cruiser such as the French Surcouf and the
Royal Navy's X1 and M-class submarines. With the arrival of
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, guns became more for defense
than attack. A more practical method of increasing combat endurance
was the external torpedo tube, loaded only in port.
The forward torpedo tubes in HMS Ocelot
The ability of submarines to approach enemy harbours covertly led to
their use as minelayers. Minelaying submarines of
World War I
World War I and
World War II
World War II were specially built for that purpose. Modern
submarine-laid mines, such as the British Mark 5 Stonefish and Mark 6
Sea Urchin, can be deployed from a submarine's torpedo tubes.
After World War II, both the US and the USSR experimented with
submarine-launched cruise missiles such as the
SSM-N-8 Regulus and P-5
Pyatyorka. Such missiles required the submarine to surface to fire its
missiles. They were the forerunners of modern submarine-launched
cruise missiles, which can be fired from the torpedo tubes of
submerged submarines, for example the US
BGM-109 Tomahawk and Russian
RPK-2 Viyuga and versions of surface–to–surface anti-ship missiles
such as the
Exocet and Harpoon, encapsulated for submarine launch.
Ballistic missiles can also be fired from a submarine's torpedo tubes,
for example missiles such as the anti-submarine SUBROC. With internal
volume as limited as ever and the desire to carry heavier warloads,
the idea of the external launch tube was revived, usually for
encapsulated missiles, with such tubes being placed between the
internal pressure and outer streamlined hulls.
The strategic mission of the SSM-N-8 and the P-5 was taken up by
submarine-launched ballistic missile beginning with the US Navy's
Polaris missile, and subsequently the Poseidon and Trident missiles.
Germany is working on the torpedo tube-launched short-range IDAS
missile, which can be used against ASW helicopters, as well as surface
ships and coastal targets.
Main article: Sonar
A submarine can have a variety of sensors, depending on its missions.
Modern military submarines rely almost entirely on a suite of passive
and active sonars to locate targets. Active sonar relies on an audible
"ping" to generate echoes to reveal objects around the submarine.
Active systems are rarely used, as doing so reveals the sub's
presence. Passive sonar is a set of sensitive hydrophones set into the
hull or trailed in a towed array, normally trailing several hundred
feet behind the sub. The towed array is the mainstay of NATO submarine
detection systems, as it reduces the flow noise heard by operators.
Hull mounted sonar is employed in addition to the towed array, as the
towed array can't work in shallow depth and during maneuvering. In
addition, sonar has a blind spot "through" the submarine, so a system
on both the front and back works to eliminate that problem. As the
towed array trails behind and below the submarine, it also allows the
submarine to have a system both above and below the thermocline at the
proper depth; sound passing through the thermocline is distorted
resulting in a lower detection range.
Submarines also carry radar equipment to detect surface ships and
Submarine captains are more likely to use radar detection
gear than active radar to detect targets, as radar can be detected far
beyond its own return range, revealing the submarine. Periscopes are
rarely used, except for position fixes and to verify a contact's
Civilian submarines, such as the DSV Alvin or the Russian Mir
submersibles, rely on small active sonar sets and viewing ports to
navigate. The human eye cannot detect sunlight below about 300 feet
(91 m) underwater, so high intensity lights are used to
illuminate the viewing area.
The larger search periscope, and the smaller, less detectable attack
periscope on HMS Ocelot
Early submarines had few navigation aids, but modern subs have a
variety of navigation systems. Modern military submarines use an
inertial guidance system for navigation while submerged, but drift
error unavoidably builds over time. To counter this, the crew
occasionally uses the
Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System to obtain an accurate
position. The periscope—a retractable tube with a prism system that
provides a view of the surface—is only used occasionally in modern
submarines, since the visibility range is short. The Virginia-class
and Astute-class submarines use photonics masts rather than
hull-penetrating optical periscopes. These masts must still be
deployed above the surface, and use electronic sensors for visible
light, infrared, laser range-finding, and electromagnetic
surveillance. One benefit to hoisting the mast above the surface is
that while the mast is above the water the entire sub is still below
the water and is much harder to detect visually or by radar.
Main article: Communication with submarines
Military submarines use several systems to communicate with distant
command centers or other ships. One is
VLF (Very Low Frequency) radio,
which can reach a submarine either on the surface or submerged to a
fairly shallow depth, usually less than 250 feet (76 m). ELF
(Extremely Low Frequency) can reach a submarine at greater depths, but
has a very low bandwidth and is generally used to call a submerged sub
to a shallower depth where
VLF signals can reach. A submarine also has
the option of floating a long, buoyant wire antenna to a shallower
VLF transmissions by a deeply submerged boat.
By extending a radio mast, a submarine can also use a "burst
transmission" technique. A burst transmission takes only a fraction of
a second, minimizing a submarine's risk of detection.
To communicate with other submarines, a system known as Gertrude is
used. Gertrude is basically a sonar telephone. Voice communication
from one submarine is transmitted by low power speakers into the
water, where it is detected by passive sonars on the receiving
submarine. The range of this system is probably very short, and using
it radiates sound into the water, which can be heard by the enemy.
Civilian submarines can use similar, albeit less powerful systems to
communicate with support ships or other submersibles in the area.
Life support systems
With nuclear power or air-independent propulsion, submarines can
remain submerged for months at a time. Conventional diesel submarines
must periodically resurface or run on snorkel to recharge their
batteries. Most modern military submarines generate breathing oxygen
by electrolysis of water (using a device called an "Elektrolytic
Oxygen Generator"). Atmosphere control equipment includes a CO2
scrubber, which uses an amine absorbent to remove the gas from air and
diffuse it into waste pumped overboard. A machine that uses a catalyst
to convert carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide (removed by the CO2
scrubber) and bonds hydrogen produced from the ship's storage battery
with oxygen in the atmosphere to produce water, is also used. An
atmosphere monitoring system samples the air from different areas of
the ship for nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, R-12 and R-114 refrigerants,
carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other gases. Poisonous gases are
removed, and oxygen is replenished by use of an oxygen bank located in
a main ballast tank. Some heavier submarines have two oxygen bleed
stations (forward and aft). The oxygen in the air is sometimes kept a
few percent less than atmospheric concentration to reduce fire danger.
Fresh water is produced by either an evaporator or a reverse osmosis
unit. The primary use for fresh water is to provide feedwater for the
reactor and steam propulsion plants. It is also available for showers,
sinks, cooking and cleaning once propulsion plant needs have been met.
Seawater is used to flush toilets, and the resulting "black water" is
stored in a sanitary tank until it is blown overboard using
pressurized air or pumped overboard by using a special sanitary pump.
The blackwater–discharge system is difficult to operate, and the
German Type VIIC boat U-1206 was lost with casualties because of human
error while using this system. Water from showers and sinks is
stored separately in "grey water" tanks and discharged overboard using
Trash on modern large submarines is usually disposed of using a tube
called a Trash Disposal Unit (TDU), where it is compacted into a
galvanized steel can. At the bottom of the TDU is a large ball valve.
An ice plug is set on top of the ball valve to protect it, the cans
atop the ice plug. The top breech door is shut, and the TDU is flooded
and equalized with sea pressure, the ball valve is opened and the cans
fall out assisted by scrap iron weights in the cans. The TDU is also
flushed with seawater to ensure it is completely empty and the ball
valve is clear before closing the valve.
The interior of a British E-class submarine. An officer supervises
submerging operations, c. 1914–1918.
A typical nuclear submarine has a crew of over 80; conventional boats
typically have fewer than 40. The conditions on a submarine can be
difficult because crew members must work in isolation for long periods
of time, without family contact. Submarines normally maintain radio
silence to avoid detection. Operating a submarine is dangerous, even
in peacetime, and many submarines have been lost in accidents.
Midshipmen learn to pilot the submarine aboard USS West Virginia.
Most navies prohibited women from serving on submarines, even after
they had been permitted to serve on surface warships. The Royal
Navy became the first navy to allow females on its submarine
crews in 1985. The Royal Danish
Navy allowed female submariners in
1988. Others followed suit including the Swedish
the Royal Australian
Navy (1998), the Spanish
Navy (1999), the
Navy (2001) and the Canadian
Navy (2002). In 1995, Solveig Krey
of the Royal Norwegian
Navy became the first female officer to assume
command on a military submarine, HNoMS Kobben.
On 8 December 2011, British Defence Secretary
Philip Hammond announced
that the UK's ban on women in submarines was to be lifted from
2013. Previously there were fears that women were more at risk
from a build-up of carbon dioxide in the submarine. But a study showed
no medical reason to exclude women, though pregnant women would still
be excluded. Similar dangers to the pregnant woman and her fetus
barred females from submarine service in
Sweden in 1983, when all
other positions were made available for them in the Swedish Navy.
Today, pregnant women are still not allowed to serve on submarines in
Sweden. However, the policymakers thought that it was discriminatory
with a general ban and demanded that females should be tried on their
individual merits and have their suitability evaluated and compared to
other candidates. Further, they noted that a female complying with
such high demands is unlikely to become pregnant. In May 2014,
three women became the RN's first female submariners.
Women have served on US
Navy surface ships since 1993, and as of
2011–2012[update], began serving on submarines for the first time.
Until presently, the
Navy only allowed three exceptions to women being
on board military submarines: female civilian technicians for a few
days at most, women midshipmen on an overnight during summer training
ROTC and Naval Academy, and family members for one-day
dependent cruises. In 2009, senior officials, including
then-Secretary of the
Navy Ray Mabus, Joint Chief of Staff Admiral
Michael Mullen, and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead,
began the process of finding a way to implement females on
submarines. The US
Navy rescinded its "no women on subs" policy in
Both the US and British navies operate nuclear-powered submarines that
deploy for periods of six months or longer. Other navies that permit
women to serve on submarines operate conventionally powered
submarines, which deploy for much shorter periods—usually only for a
few months. Prior to the change by the US, no nation using nuclear
submarines permitted women to serve on board.
In 2011, the first class of female submarine officers graduated from
Submarine Officer Basic Course (SOBC) at the
Submarine Base New London. Additionally, more senior ranking
and experienced female supply officers from the surface warfare
specialty attended SOBC as well, proceeding to fleet Ballistic Missile
(SSBN) and Guided Missile (SSGN) submarines along with the new female
submarine line officers beginning in late 2011. By late 2011,
several women were assigned to the Ohio-class ballistic missile
submarine USS Wyoming. On 15 October 2013, the US Navy
announced that two of the smaller Virginia-class attack submarines,
USS Virginia and USS Minnesota, would have female
crew-members by January 2015.
Abandoning the vessel
In an emergency, submarines can transmit a signal to other ships. The
crew can use
Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment
Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment to abandon the
submarine. The crew can prevent a lung injury from the pressure
change known as pulmonary barotrauma by exhaling during the
ascent. Following escape from a pressurized submarine, the crew is
at risk of developing decompression sickness. An alternative
escape means is via a
Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle
Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle that can dock
onto the disabled submarine.
Ohio Replacement Submarine
Future of the Russian Navy
Autonomous underwater vehicle
List of ships sunk by submarines by death toll
List of submarine actions
List of submarine classes
List of submarine museums
List of submarines of the Second World War
List of sunken nuclear submarines
Semi-submersible naval vessel
Submarine power cable
Submarine simulator, a computer game genre
List of submarine operators
Australia – Collins-class submarine
Bangladesh – Type 035G submarine
Britain – List of submarines of the Royal Navy, List of submarine
classes of the Royal Navy
China – Submarines of the People's Liberation Army Navy
France - Submarines in the French Navy, List of submarines of the
French Navy, List of French submarine classes and types
Germany – List of U-boats of Germany
India – Submarines of the Indian Navy
Israel – Dolphin-class submarine
Japan – Imperial Japanese
Navy submarines, List of combatant ship
classes of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force#SS : Submarine
The Netherlands - List of submarines of the Netherlands
Pakistan – List of active Pakistan
Romania – Romanian submarines of World War II
Russia – List of Soviet and Russian submarine classes
Soviet Union – List of ships of the Soviet Navy#Submarines
Spain – List of submarines in the Spanish Navy
Turkey – List of submarines of the Turkish Navy
United States – Submarines in the US Navy, List of submarines of the
US Navy, List of US submarine classes, Naval
^ The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Clarendon Press, Oxford,
1993, Vol. 2 N-Z
^ "Worlds Biggest Submarine". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
^ Joann Taisnier Hannon (
Jean Taisnier (1508–1562)), Opusculum
perpetua memoria dignissimum, de natura magnetis et eius effectibus
[Most fitting work in perpetual remembrance, on the nature of the
magnet and its effects] (Köln (Cologne, "Colonia"), (Germany): Johann
Birckmann, 1562), pp. 43-45. Available from: Bavarian State Library
From p. 43: "Ne autem Lector nostra dicta videatur refutare,
arbitratus ea, quae miracula putat, naturae limites excedere, unica
demonstratione elucidabo, quomodo scilicet quis in fundum alicuius
aquae aut fluvij, sicco corpore intrare possit, quod me vidisse in
celebri Oppido & Regno Tolleti affirmavi, coram piae memoriae
Carolo Quinto Imperatore, & infinitis aliis spectatoribus."
(Nevertheless, reader, our statement is seen to refute something
witnessed, which one considers a wonder, exceeding the limits of
nature; I will elucidate a unique demonstration, namely, how one can
penetrate to the bottom of any water or river while remaining dry,
which, I assert, I saw in the celebrated city and kingdom of Toledo in
the presence of Emperor Charles V of blessed memory and a multitude of
other spectators.) From p. 44: "Nunc venio ad experientiam praedictam,
Tolleti demonstratam a duobus Graecis, qui Cacabo magnae amplitudinis
accepto, orificio inverso, funibus in aere pendente, tabem &
asseres in medio concavi Cacabi affigunt, … " (Now I come to the
experiment mentioned above: in Toledo, it was shown by two Greeks,
who, I understand, attached to a cauldron (cacabus) of great size —
[which had its] opening inverted [and which was] held in the air by
ropes — a beam and poles inside of the hollow cauldron … [The beam
and poles formed seats for the divers.]) The German Jesuit scientist
Gaspar Schott (1608–1666) quoted Taisnier's account and mentioned
that Taisnier had witnessed the demonstration in 1538. Gaspar Schott,
Technica Curiosa, sive Mirabilia Artis, Libris XII. … [Curious works
of skill, or marvelous works of craftsmanship, in 12 books … ]
(Nuremberg (Norimberga), (Germany): Johannes Andreas Endter &
Wolfgang Endter, 1664), Liber VI: Mirabilium Mechanicorum (Book 6:
Wonders of mechanics), p. 393. From p. 393: " … quod nihilominus
Anno 1538 in Hispaniae oppido Toleto &c. coram piae memoriae
Carolo V. Imperatore, cum decem propemodum millibus hominum
experientia vidi." ( … that nevertheless I saw the experiment in the
year 1538 in
Spain in the city of Toledo, etc., in the presence of
Emperor Charles V of blessed memory, with almost ten thousand people.)
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List of adaptations
Naval ships and warships in the Late Modern period
Naval ship classes in service
Amphibious assault ship
Anti-submarine warfare carrier
Fighter catapult ship
Light aircraft carrier
Merchant aircraft carrier
Submarine aircraft carrier
Coastal defence ship
Super-dreadnought (Standard-type battleship)
Flight deck cruiser
Convoy rescue ship
Guided missile destroyer
Amphibious transport dock
Amphibious warfare ship
Dock landing ship
Landing craft carrier
Landing Craft Support
Landing ship, infantry
Landing Ship, Tank
Armed boarding steamer
Coastal Motor Boat
Harbour Defence Motor Launch
Ocean boarding vessel
Steam Gun Boat
Fast attack craft
Mine countermeasures vessel
Command and support
Auxiliary repair dock
Combat stores ship
Fast combat support ship
General stores issue ship
Net laying ship
Ballistic missile submarine
Cruise missile submarine
Littoral combat ship
BNF: cb11933302q (data)