Submarines: History - Introduction
The idea of traveling underneath the ocean waters inside a contained
vessel has been around for centuries. Legend says Alexander the
Great ventured below the waters of the Aegean Sea inside a glass
barrel around 333 B.C. He is reported to have seen whales and deep-sea
life on his underwater journey. The next record of a submarine came
more than 1900 years later. In 1578 A.D., British naval officer
William Bourne described a wooden frame vessel enclosed in waterproof
leather, which could be rowed underwater. Bourne's creation was
In 1620, Cornelius Van Drebbel, a Dutch doctor, designed a submarine,
which was also rowed underwater. Tubes to the surface provided air.
This air system allowed the boat, which was bound by waterproof
leather, to travel underwater for several hours. His boat was successfully
tested in the Thames River and traveled at depths close to 15 feet.
It is said England's King James I rode in one of Van Drebbel's submarines
to prove its safety. The British navy was not interested in the