What are the different Types of Submarines?

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Submarine underwater

A submarine is a watercraft (boat, vessel or craft designed to move across water) capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. The term submarine most commonly refers to large crewed autonomous vessels; however, historically or colloquially, submarine can also refer to medium sized or smaller vessels. The original meaning of the word “submarine” was "under the sea"; consequently other uses such as "submarine engineering" or "submarine cable" may not actually refer at all to the vessel. Most large submarines comprise a cylindrical body with hemispherical (and/or conical) ends and a vertical structure, usually located amidships, which houses communications and sensing devices as well as periscopes. In modern submarines this structure is the "sail" in American usage, and "fin" in European usage. Submarines should always be referred to as "boats" rather than as "ships", regardless of their size. The English term U-boat for a German submarine comes from the German word for submarine, U-Boot, meaning “undersea boat”.


What is the History of Submarines?

The first submersible (commercial submarine) with reliable information on its construction was built in 1620 by Cornelius Jacobszoon Drebbel, a Dutchman in the service of James I of England. It was created to the standards of the design outlined by English mathematician William Bourne. During the American Civil War in 1862, “Alligator”, first submarine of the US Navy, was developed in conjugation with the French. Although experimental submarines had been built before, submarine design took off during the 19th century, and they were adopted by several different navies. Submarines were first widely used during World War I (1914–1918) and now feature in many large navies. The first military submarine was “Turtle” (1775), a hand-powered acorn-shaped device designed by an American, David Bushnell, to accommodate a single person.


What are the different types of Submarines?

Submarines have even been used to go down into the ‘Mariana Trench’, the deepest point in the ocean, which is about seven miles below the surface. In the last 60 years many research submarines have been constructed for scientific and archaeological purposes, expanding the role of this intriguing equipment. There are 3 main types of submarines. They are:

  • Pleasure Submarine: Pleasure submarines are generally very small and expensive, used by the rich people to admire marine life.
  • Scientific submarines: Scientific submarines are used to investigate the bottom of oceans or lakes and bring back biological samples or relic. One of the most popular scientific submarines is “DSV Alvin”, a 16-ton deep ocean research submersible that was the first and foremost maneuverable deep sea research vessel. The DSV Alvin is one of the few craft in subsistence that can travel more than about half a mile under the surface of the ocean. Most other craft, including military submarines, would be entirely crushed at a depth of no more than half a mile. The vessel was made possible by the development of syntactic foam, a composite material that consists of minute hollow micro-spheres implanted in a larger structure. The microspheres decrease its density while maintaining strength, facilitating for deeper dives.
  • Military submarines: Military submarines are used for naval wars, recon, and to hold nuclear weaponry, making up an essential node of the nuclear chord along with ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. The largest and top most expensive submarines are all used by the militaries of the world, especially the US, UK, and Russian military. One example would be the “American Seawolf” class submarine, which has a displacement of 8,000 tons, length of 353 ft (107 m), width of 40 ft (12 m), and, due to its nuclear power plant, a range limited only by the food supplies and sanity of the crew. These submarines can go anywhere on Earth where the World Ocean stretches, including the water underneath the floating ice of the North Pole.


What are the different types of Submarines based on the type of fuel?

  • Diesel-electric: In 1928 the United States Navy's Bureau of Engineering proposed a diesel-electric transmission; instead of driving the propeller directly while running on the surface, the submarine's diesel would drive a generator which could either charge the submarine's batteries or drive the electric motor. Either way, the submarine would have to surface daily to get oxygen for fuel combustion underwater or to charge the batteries before diving back
  • Nuclear Power: Nuclear-powered submarines have a relatively small battery and diesel engine/generator power plant for emergency use if the reactors must be shut down. Nuclear power is now used in all large submarines. The single biggest advantage with nuclear-powered submarines is that they continue to function submerged for months without ever having to surface 
  • Alternative propulsion: Oil-fired steam turbines powered the British submarines, built during the First World War and later, to give them the surface speed to keep up with the battle fleet. By the end of the 20th century, some submarines, such as the British Vanguard class, began to be fitted with pump-jet propulsions instead of propellers. Pump-jet is a marine system that creates a jet of water for propulsion.


What are the Submarines in the United States Navy?

The Navy has three types of submarine, each with a different purpose. All naval submarines are nuclear-powered.

  • The guided-missile submarines: These carry up to 154 cruise missiles for land attacks and they also support other naval operations.
  • Ballistic missile submarines: These carry nuclear missiles for intercontinental attacks.
  • The attack submarine class: These targets enemy ships and submarine, lay mines and collect intelligence data.  


What role did submarines play in World War I and II?

  • Submarines during World War I: Military submarines first made a significant impact in World War I. Forces such as the U-boats of Germany saw action in the First Battle of the Atlantic (naval campaign fought by German U-boats in Atlantic seas), and were responsible for the sinking of Lusitania (ship designed to transport people from one sea port to another), which was sunk without warning and is often mentioned among the reasons for the entry of the United States into the war.
  • Submarines during World War II: During World War II, Germany utilized submarines to devastating effect in the longest military campaign (Second Battle of Atlantic) attempting to cut Britain's supply routes by sinking more merchant ships than Britain could replace. 


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