June 6, 2005

New Civil War-era Sub Found?

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:46 pm

Via Fark, this news

A BRITISH explorer has found an early submarine that he believes was the inspiration for Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s vessel in Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

Colonel John Blashford-Snell discovered the half-submerged, cast-iron wreck off the coast of Panama while searching for ancient ruins.

She was built in 1864 by a visionary craftsman, Julius Kroehl, for the Union forces during the American Civil War. But the boat, called Explorer, was never used in the conflict and was subsequently taken to Panama where she was used to harvest pearls.

She was ideal for this purpose because of a unique lock-out system, identical to the one in the Nautilus from Verne’s book, published in 1870.

“And 1864 was significant in another way because it was the year of the first sinking of a ship, USS Housatonic, by a submersible, the hand-cranked CSS Hunley.” Wyn Davies, a maritime historian, said: “If Jules Verne was researching the relatively new world of submersible vessels he would probably have heard of the Explorer’s lock-out system. Submarine inventors were keen to sell their products so there would have been none of today ’s secrecy and technologies would have been keenly scrutinised on both sides of the Atlantic. As far as I’m aware, the Explorer had the world’s first lock-out system and its uniqueness might have stimulated Verne’s imagination.”

[keanu]Whoa[/keanu]. I knew about the Alligator–that’s right, the earlier boat of the American Navy was French-built–but not about this boat.

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