SHIPS BENEATH THE SEA: A History of Subs and Submersibles by Robert Burgess

SHIPS BENEATH THE SEA: A History of Subs and Submersibles

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The first navigable submarine was described to Queen Elizabeth I by a British naval officer over 400 years ago. Apparently, she kept her purse buttoned, since the ship was never built. On June 20, 1774, John Day took his 50-ton ""submarine"" (a reconverted sloop with 75 empty hogsheads for buoyancy tanks) to the 130-foot-deep bottom of Plymouth harbor--he is still there. Burgess also describes the early underwater vessels of Robert Fulton, the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac, and some wonderful crackpot designs--particularly the 1822 French version of a cast-iron underwater battleship (112 feet long, 28 feet wide, 16 feet deep, and outfitted with underwater cannons), the defiant L'Invisible--which remained just that. But WW I brought on the deadly real thing--notably a floating bomb propelled by compressed air and guided by two Italian saboteurs who sank an Austrian dreadnought in the Adriatic (a marvelously funny tale that would make a perfect vehicle for Woody Allen or Peter Sellers). Also included are the first deep-sea bathysphere explorations of Dr. William Beebe, the new devices of Piccard and Cousteau, and an account of the search for four missing H-bombs sunk off the coast of Spain. Sometimes amusing, often exciting stuff about the many dangerous activities down under.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1975
Publisher: McGraw-Hill