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The first submarines surfaced (excuse the pun) during or around the American Civil War. The question I have comes in a few parts:

  1. Did the submarines seen in the American Civil War prompt any change in tactics for surface ships to counter them?

  2. What was the first "modern" military submarine? and what effect did it have on military thinking at the time?

  3. The while the first ship to have been sunk by a submarine was the USS Housatonic, the submarine in question was, understandably, extremely basic. When was the first successful attack by "modern"* submarine sunk? and what ship was attacked?

  4. Finally, when originally inventing the submarine was there an aim other than gaining military advantage?

*Modern = motorized, with powered torpedoes etc.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Actually, no... the first submarines used in warfare appeared in the Revolutionary War, and two more were deployed (unsuccessfully) by the US in the War of 1812.

1) No, because they weren't very practical or successful until John Phillip Holland and Electric Boat perfected the battle submarine at the turn of the century.

2) The first modern military submarine was the Toro Submarino launched in 1880 - it had a torpedo tube and a gas/electric drive system.

3) The first submarine kill in actual combat was by the German U-21 in 1914.

4) The very first operable submarine was built to amuse King James I by Cornelius Drebble. The first successful powered submarine was the Ictineo II, whose inventor fitted it with pneumatic cannon in an attempt to secure funding from the Spanish navy... so it was designed as a development platform for a weapon of war.

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Great! Sorry, I got the two mixed up - I never covered american history over here in blighty. Thanks for your answer! –  Kobunite Jun 6 '13 at 17:41
The submarines had a (strong) psychological effect in the Civil War... and in 1844 a French engineer built a closed air circuit submarine to help in the construction of underwater infrastructures in harbours. –  Yves Jun 6 '13 at 20:16

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