Victorian Submarines and Cigar Ships


There was the fabulous Icteneo (“new fish”), invented by Narcis Monturiol and launched in 1864. A full-size replica of the Ictineo can be seen in Barcelona.

Le Plongeur (“the diver”), invented by Captain Simeon Bourgeois and launched in 1863, it was the first submarine to be powered by mechanical means: a compressed-air engine operating a reciprocating engine. It was also the largest submarine built up until that time.


American inventor Ross Winans built the first of his remarkable “roller ships” at Ferry Bay, Baltimore, in 1858. Newspapers of the time rhapsodized how it “will inaugurate a new era in naval architecture.”

It had no keel, no masts, no rigging…not even a deck (in lieu of which the ship had a flattened space about 16 feet long to which were riveted four settees). Instead, it was a streamlined cigar-shape. Perhaps its strangest feature was the ring-shaped propeller that circled the waist of the ship.

All suffered from the same problems: weak rudders, rolling and excessive water breaking over their bows. After struggling with it for two years, Winans finally abandoned the annular propeller.


Via io9.

This entry was posted in Gadgets, History by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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