civil war era submaries-what powered them?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Scott Strang, Apr 19, 2004.

  1. Scott Strang

    Scott Strang Screenwriter

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    I assumed some type of steam propulsion bit I must say that I'm very surprised to see that they existed at all.

    Anyone know?
     
  2. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    There was only one, the Confederate Huntley. It was hand-cranked by the crew, believe it or not. It also lacked any kind of snorkel or other means of providing fresh air when submerged. It also had no "torpedo", just a bomb on the end of a long stick protruding from the front. The idea was to ram the bomb (with a delayed fuse) into the side of a ship, then detach from it and back away.
     
  3. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    It worked the one and only time they tried it, but the crew never made it back to shore, it sank... permanently.
     
  4. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Subs as war vessels do pre-date the Civil War, though.

    http://defencejournal.com/may98/submarines.htm

    (I had to Google, as I couldn't remember names/specifics)

    Steam propulsion wasn't sustainable when submerged(meaning no generation of steam) until the 1950s, with the advent of Nuclear propulsion. From that point on, time submerged could be measured in weeks and months.

    My personal record was 78 days without smelling fresh air or seeing the sun (or eating fresh veggies, or drinking fresh milk, or seeing any women). Yes, it sucked.[​IMG]

    Todd- USS Minneapolis-St. Paul, SSN-708, 1989-1993
     
  5. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    The Maxim sub of the late 1890s/early 1900s, several of which were sold to the Turks and Greeks in a classic arms race, employed steam power and stored steam in tanks for underwater running. This had a tendency to condense, resulting in power loss; worse yet it sloshed back and forth, generating a pitching moment which tended to sink the boat beyond recovery. The British K-class of the late First World War period ran on steam turbines on the surface, and electric batteries submerged [charged by the engines as with a diesel sub] in an attempt to make high surface speeds, but they handled badly and a number of them were lost in a single accident. These are the only notable non-nuclear steam submarines. CSS Hunley, like the Revolutionary War's Tortoise, was manpowered, and really only partway submerged. It was also a mankiller: water would come in the hatch and sink the boat and drown the crew, and they'd bring it back up and start over. They did finally sink a ship, the Housatonic, but it wasn't really worth the effort.
     
  6. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    [​IMG]


    Just kiddin. [​IMG]
     
  7. Marko Berg

    Marko Berg Supporting Actor

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    It was quite ingenious actually. The entire bow of the submarine was lined with large sacks of silica placed between the inside wall and the outer hull, and additional sacks of silica were stored at strategic locations along the inner sides of the submarine. This not only allowed the vessel to submerge faster but actually move underwater as well, because the flow of the water outside the front of the hull, rushing to meet the silica, created a forward thrust. An additional benefit was that minor leaks could be ignored; as long as you had a large enough stock of silica on board, you were fine.

    Such design worked well until the invention of salsa mines anchored to the bottom of the sea, salsa depth charges, and salsa torpedoes. These hideous inventions, their destructive power comparable only to the atomic bomb, forever changed the course of naval history.
     
  8. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Priceless. [​IMG]
     
  9. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Actually, that pretty much was a torpedo as the term was used then. It was a name generally given to what today would be called naval mines. Admiral Farragutt's famous, "Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead" dates from the same period, many years before the word came to be applied to self-propelled explosive devices. He was talking about floating barrels of gunpowder strung accross the Mississippi in the path of his squadron not screw-driven underwater missles fire at his ships.

    BTW, the first submarine to sink a warship in action was the C.S.S. Hunley - not "Huntley".* The last of Hunley's crew were laid to rest just recently.

    Regards,

    Joe

    * And there is no truth to the rumor that the Union Navy tried to counter with a sub of their own, the U.S.S. Brinkley. [​IMG]
     
  10. GuyMaren

    GuyMaren Agent

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    There was a TV movie about it called "The Hunley". I remember renting it a few years ago, but I can't seem to find a DVD version on the usual sites.
     

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