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1776 Sep 6
The Turtle, the 1st submarine invented by David Bushnell, attempted to secure a cask of gunpowder to the HMS Eagle, flagship of the British fleet, in the Bay of NY but got entangled with the Eagle’s rudder bar, lost ballast and surfaced before the charge was planted. Sergeant Ezra Lee released the bomb the next morning as a British barge approached. The British turned back and the bomb soon exploded. A month later the turtle was lost under British attack as it was being transported on a sailboat.
Links: Britain, USA, NYC, Technology, Submarine, Inventor     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1866 May 3
The first submarine in the Americas, a 39-foot vessel designed in the 1860s by German immigrant Karl Flach, sank in the Bay of Valparaiso off the coast of Chile. The crew, two Chileans, two Frenchmen and seven Germans, including Flach and his 15-year-old son, all died. In 2007 a search team found the vessel.
Links: Chile, Germany, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1916 Nov 27
The German submarine UB-29 departed on its final mission with 22 sailors and soon went missing. In 2017 Belgian divers investigated the submarine's wreck off the coast of Belgium. Officials were able to identify it after finding the tag of the U-boat.
Links: Belgium, Germany, Submarine, WWI     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1916
A Russian submarine sank off Sweden’s eastern coast after it collided with a Swedish ship in poor visibility, killing all 18 crew members. Wreckage of the submarine was found in 2015.
Links: Russia, Sweden, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1917 Feb 8
The British steamship Mantola was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. All but seven crew members, who drowned when their lifeboat overturned, were rescued by the HMS Laburnum. The ship sank the next day. The British Ministry of War Transport paid a War Risk Insurance Claim for £110,000 (in 1917 value) for silver that was on board when the ship sank. In 2011 Odyssey Marine Exploration discovered the ship.
Links: Britain, Germany, Submarine, WWI     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1917 Mar 19
A German submarine in the Mediterranean Sea sunk the French battleship Danton. In 2009 the Danton was discovered on the seabed southwest of Sardinia.
Links: France, Germany, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1917 Oct
The British Admiralty ordered that all naval and merchant ships be painted in dazzle camouflage, to help reduce their visibility to German submarines. The painting style was the idea of Norman Wilkinson (1878-1971) and came from his familiarity with the avant garde art styles of cubism and vorticism.
Links: Artist, Britain, Germany, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1931 Jun 9
Britain’s HMS Poseidon submarine sank during exercises of the coast of China. It was raised by the Chinese in 1972. In 2012 Steven Schwankert authored “The Real Poseidon Adventure: China’s Secret Salvage of Britain’s Lost Submarine.”
Links: Britain, China, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1933
The Debye effect, the selective absorption of electromagnetic waves by a dielectric, due to molecular dipoles, became known. In 2009 the US Navy issued research grants to check whether tit could be used for submarine detection.
Links: USA, Physics, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1940 May 23
The Polish submarine ORP Orzel left Rosyth, Scotland, and disappeared in the North Sea during a mission with the Allies.
Links: Poland, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1941 Feb 17
The SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat. The British ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver when it sank in the North Atlantic some 300 miles (490 km) off the Irish coast. Of the 85 people on board, only one survived. In 2011 Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration confirmed the identity and location of the ship. In 2012 Odyssey Marine Exploration said it had succeeded in removing about 43% of the insured silver.
Links: Britain, Germany, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1941 Dec 18
1941 Dec 24
Japanese submarines attacked eight US merchant ships off the West Coast sinking two and damaging two others. Seven of the attacks were inside California coastal waters.
Links: USA, Japan, California, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1942 May 31
In Australia 3 midget submarines slipped into the Sidney Harbor after being launched from a fleet of five larger Japanese submarines offshore. Two were spotted and attacked, leading the two-man crews to commit suicide. A 3rd midget submarine managed to fire two torpedoes at the US heavy cruiser USS Chicago, one of which exploded beneath an Australian depot ship HMAS Kuttabul, killing 21 sailors. In 2006 the M24 midget submarine was found by scuba divers in deep waters off the coast. In 2007 the Australian government decided to leave the M24 and its 2 Japanese sailors undisturbed on the seabed.
Links: Australia, USA, Japan, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1942 Jun 13
Four men landed on a Long Island beach from a German submarine with plans to sabotage NYC's water system and industrial sites across the Northeastern US. [see Jun 27]
Links: USA, Germany, NYC, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1942 Jun
Four men waded ashore on a Florida beach wearing nothing but bathing trunks and German army hats. In 2011 declassified British intelligence files described how the men were part of Nazi sabotage teams sent to the US to undermine the American war effort (See June 13 and June 27).
Links: USA, Germany, Florida, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1942 Jul 15
A group of 19 merchant ships were being escorted by the US Navy and Coast Guard from Norfolk, Va., to Key West, Fla., to deliver cargo for the war effort. En route Convoy KS-520 was attacked by the German U-576 off of Cape Hatteras near North Carolina. The German submarine damaged two ships and sank Bluefields. In retaliation, a US naval aircraft bombed the U-576. The two ships sank to the ocean floor 30 miles off the cape. All 45 members of U-576 were lost. Wreckage of the two ships was found on Aug 30, 2014.
Links: USA, Germany, North Carolina, Ship, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1943 Jan 13
The Canadian corvette Ville de Quebec rammed the German U-224 submarine, which sank in the Mediterranean Sea with 57 of its crew. German Lt. Wolf Danckworth was the only survivor. Years later Danckworth established contact with Canadian sailor Frank Arsenault, who was on the Ville de Quebec when it rammed the sub, and the two became good friends.
Links: Canada, Germany, Ship, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1943 Apr 30
The British submarine HMS Seraph dropped “the man who never was," a dead man (Welsh laborer Glyndwr Michael) was planted with false invasion plans, into the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain. Operation Mincemeat was based on a 1939 suggestion by Lt. Commander Ian Fleming, and was used to cover Britain’s invasion of Sicily. Details of the operation were kept secret until 1953 when Ewen Montagu published “The Man Who Never Was.”
Links: Britain, Sicily, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1943 May 14
Australia’s AHS Centaur was sunk without warning after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Of the 332 people on board, only 64 survived. In 2009 deep-sea searchers found the wreck of the hospital ship off the city of Brisbane.
Links: Australia, Japan, Ship, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1943 Jun 15
The 8,000-ton Rosandra, an Italian merchant ship, sank after being torpedoed by a British submarine a day earlier off Albania's southern coast. 6 people died but 173 were safely evacuated to land. In 2010 underwater archeologists reported the discovery of the ship.
Links: Italy, Britain, Ship, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1943 Jul 19
American planes sank the German U-513 submarine off the coast of southern Brazil. In 2011 researchers from the Vale do Itajai University found the submarine off the coast of Santa Catarina state.
Links: Brazil, USA, Germany, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1943 Oct 11
The US submarine Wahoo, Under the command of Dudley "Mush" Morton, was sunk by the Japanese navy as it returned from its seventh patrol. All 79 crewmen died. In 2006 Russian divers found the wreckage in the La Perouse Strait.
Links: USA, Japan, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1944 Apr 16
Germany’s U-550 torpedoed the gasoline tanker SS Pan Pennsylvania, which had lagged behind its protective convoy as it set out with 140,000 barrels of gasoline for Great Britain. One of the tanker's three escorts, the USS Joyce, saw it on sonar and severely damaged it by dropping depth charges. The crew abandoned the submarine, but not before setting off explosions to scuttle it in waters off Nantucket. On July 23, 2012, divers discovered the submarine.
Links: USA, Germany, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1944 May 6
The USS Buckley, a destroyer escort, engaged and sank the German U-66. Hand to hand fighting broke out after the Buckley, under Lt. Cmdr. Brent Maxwell Abel (1916-2006), rammed the submarine. When the U-boat sank 36 German sailors were rescued and taken captive.
Links: USA, Germany, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1944 Sep 12
A US submarine patrol that included the USS Pampanito, the Growler and the Sealion II, came upon a Japanese convoy carrying war material. The Japanese transport Kachidoki Maru, carrying over 900 British soldier, was sunk by the Pampanito. Much of the convoy was sunk including most of some 2,000 Allied prisoners of war. The subs after chasing stragglers of the convoy returned to find 159 British and Australian survivors clinging to wreckage [see Sep 14]. Some 1000 POWs from Australia were on the Japanese freighter Enoura Maru sunk by the USS Sealion. Alistair Urquhart of Scotland, a prisoner on the Kachidoki Maru, was picked up 5 days later by a Japanese whaling ship and taken to Japan, where he was forced to work in a coal mine. Kachidoki Maru had been captured earlier in the war as the President Harrison home ported in SF. The Pampanito was later berthed as a visitor attraction in SF. In 2008 Urquhart (89) visited the Pampanito.
Links: Australia, Britain, USA, Japan, Scotland, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1944 Sep 14
The submarine USS Pampanito picked up 73 allied prisoners left adrift following the Sep 12 submarine attack on a Japanese convoy that included the transport ship Rakuyo Maru.
Links: Australia, Britain, USA, Japan, Ship, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1945 Feb 9
The German submarine U-864 with a crew of 73 sank about 2 1/2 miles off Fedje, Norway. It was on a desperate mission to supply Japan with advanced weapons technology and carried a poisonous cargo of 70 tons of mercury. Leakage of the mercury posed a severe threat in 2006 and plans were made to encase the wreck. In 2007 Norway’s government said it would be buried in special sand to protect the coastline.
Links: Germany, Environment, Norway, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1945 May 3
The US Submarine Lagarto (SS-371) sank in the Gulf of Thailand following depth charges from the Japanese mine-layer Hatsutaka. 85 sailors died. In 2005 the wreck of the Lagarto was found. The USS Hawksbill sank the Hatsutaka on May 15.
Links: USA, Japan, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1945 Jul 30
The USS Indianapolis, which had just delivered key components of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Pacific island of Tinian, was torpedoed by the I-58 Japanese submarine. Some 879 survivors jumped into the sea and were adrift for 4 days. Nearly 600 died before help arrived. Only 317 out of 1,196 men survived the sinking and shark-infested waters. In 1958 Richard F. Newcomb authored "Abandon Ship," the story of the Indianapolis and the subsequent court-martial of Capt. Charles Butler McVey III. In 2001 Doug Stanton authored "In Harm’s Way," an account of the sinking and trial of Capt. McVey. In 2001 the Navy exonerated the Indianapolis’ captain, Charles Butler McVay III, who had been court-martialed and convicted for failing to evade the submarine.
Links: USA, Japan, Nuclear, Ship, Submarine, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1949 Aug 26
The US submarine Cochino (SS-345) sank off Norway following an electrical fire and battery explosion a day earlier. A 2nd battery explosion made "Abandon Ship" the only possible order, and Cochino sank. The crew of the Tusk rescued all of Cochino's men except for Robert Wellington Philo, a civilian engineer. 6 sailors from Tusk were lost during the rescue.
Links: USA, Ship, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1955
US Navy Capt. Edward L. Beach Jr. (1918-2002) authored “Run Silent, Run Deep.” It was made into a film in 1958 starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster.
Links: USA, Books, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1958 Aug 3
The nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus became the first vessel to cross the North Pole underwater. The Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982.
Links: Arctic, USA, Nuclear, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1962 Oct 26
The USS Beale tracked and dropped practice depth charges on a Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine which was armed with a nuclear torpedo. Running out of air, the Soviet submarine was surrounded by American warships and desperately needed to surface to recharge its batteries. An argument broke out among three officers on the B-39, including submarine captain Valentin Savitsky, political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and chief of staff of the submarine flotilla, Commander Vasiliy Arkhipov. A totally exhausted Savitsky became furious and ordered that the nuclear torpedo on board be made combat ready. Accounts differ about whether Commander Arkhipov convinced Savitsky not to make the attack, or whether Savitsky himself finally concluded that the only reasonable choice left open to him was to come to the surface.
Links: Russia, USA, Cuba, USSR, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1962 Oct 27
With its batteries running low, Soviet submarine B-59/C-19 was forced to surface and headed east. Although surrounded by US ships, submarine captain Vitali Savitsky realizes that they are not in a "state of war; one of the destroyers has a lively band playing jazz. The Cony communicates with it via flashing lights; Savitsky identifies the submarine as "Ship X" ("Korablx") and declines assistance. B-59 identifies itself to other nearby ships as "Prinavlyet" (by the U.S.S. Murray), and "Prosnablavst" (by the Bache and the Barry). Aircraft illuminate and photograph it.
Links: Russia, USA, Cuba, USSR, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1963 Apr 10
The USS Thresher nuclear-powered submarine failed to surface 220 miles east of Boston, Mass. The disaster claimed 129 lives.
Links: USA, Tragedy, Nuclear, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1964
The Alvin, a 3-person submersible, was delivered to Woods Hole, Mass. It was designed by Harold Froehlich (1922-2007), engineer for the nuclear equipment department of General Mills Corp. The vessel was named after Allyn Vine, an engineer and geophysicist at the Oceanographic Institution. In 1990 Victoria A. Kaharl authored “Water Baby: The Story of Alvin.”
Links: USA, Minnesota, Technology, Massachusetts, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1965
Dr. John Pina Craven (1924-2015), Chief US Navy engineer, converted the nuclear submarine Halibut into a secret spy ship with crab claws and remote-controlled cameras. In 1968 it was used to find the Soviet K129 submarine, which had been wrecked by an explosion.
Links: USA, Technology, Submarine, Espionage     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1968 Jan 24
An Israeli submarine, the Dakar, a British-made submarine with a 69-man crew, was lost in the Mediterranean Sea while enroute from England to Israel. The sunken ship was found May 28, 1999, between Crete and Cyprus.
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1968 Mar 8
The Russian K-129, a Golf-II class, diesel-electric submarine armed with nuclear missiles and 98 seamen aboard, sank in 16,000 feet of water northwest of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Russian officials suspected that the K-129 was struck by an American submarine, the USS Swordfish. The US Navy said the vessel suffered a catastrophic internal explosion. A US sub, the Halibut, found the Soviet vessel 6 months later and recovered 3 missiles with nuclear warheads, Soviet code books and an encryption machine. In August 1974 the CIA recovered part of the sub. A 100 foot section was pulled in by the Glomar Explorer with 2 nuclear tipped torpedoes and the bodies of 6 Russian sailors.
Links: Russia, USA, USSR, Nuclear, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1968 May 22
The nuclear-powered US submarine Scorpion, with 99 men aboard, sank in the Atlantic Ocean. The remains of the sub were later found on the ocean floor 400 miles southwest of the Azores.
Links: USA, Nuclear, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1970 Mar 4
The French submarine Eurydice exploded and sank in the Mediterranean off Cape Camarat killing all 57 of its crew.
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1974 Aug
The CIA in Project Azorian recovered part of a Soviet submarine that had sunk in the Pacific on March 8, 1968. A 100 foot section of K-129 was pulled in by the Hughes Glomar Explorer with 2 nuclear tipped torpedoes and the bodies of 6 Russian sailors. The US Navy’s fully submersible dry dock, called the Hughes Mining Barge, was used under the Glomar Explorer to position a claw to recover the submarine. Claude Barnes Capehart worked on the Howard Hughes’ deep-sea research vessel, Glomar Explorer, that under CIA sponsorship raised part of the Soviet submarine. Later in Chowchilla, Ca., he told his girlfriend that he was in Texas when Kennedy was assassinated, and that "Oswald wasn’t the only one involved." Just before a scheduled interview in 1989, Capehart dropped dead of a heart attack. In 1996 the Glomar Explorer began under going remodeling for work as a deep-sea drilling ship. The barge was later used to house the Navy’s $195 million Sea Shadow, an experimental stealth ship made public in 1993. In 2006 the barge and Sea Shadow were put to rest in Suisun Bay, near San Francisco.
Links: Russia, USSR, CIA, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1977
US Navy Rear Adm. Richard O’Kane (1911-1994) authored “Clear the Bridge: The War Patrols of the U.S.S. Tang.”
Links: USA, Books, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1980 Mar 3
The submarine Nautilus, the world’s 1st atomic ship, was decommissioned at the Mare Island Shipyard in Vallejo, Ca.
Links: USA, SF Bay Area, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1981 Apr 9
The submarine USS George Washington ran into the Japanese freighter Nisso Maru. 2 Japanese crewmen were killed.
Links: USA, Japan, Ship, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1981 Oct 27
In an incident that became known as “Whiskey-on-the-rocks” Soviet Whiskey-class submarine S-363, ran aground near Karlskrona, a Swedish naval base. Sweden designated it U137.
Links: Russia, Sweden, USSR, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1982 Mar 22
The US submarine Jacksonville collided with a Turkish freighter near Virginia.
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1982 May 2
In the Falklands War the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by the British submarine Conqueror, killing more than 350 men. Some 600 Argentine sailors were killed when the Belgrano was sunk. Lord Terence Thornton Lewin (d.1999 at 78), British military commander, was regarded as the one who persuaded Margaret Thatcher to order the sinking.
Links: Argentina, Britain, Falkland Islands, Ship, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1982 Nov 29
US submarine Thomas Edison collided with a US Navy destroyer in the South China Sea.
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1982
In SF the WW II submarine "Pampanito" was opened to the public at Pier 45, the foot of Taylor St., under the operation of the National Maritime Museum Association. In 1986 the sub was named a National Historic Landmark by the national Park Service.
Links: USA, SF, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1984 Mar 21
A Soviet submarine crashed into the USS Kitty Hawk off the coast of Japan.
Links: Russia, USA, USSR, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1985 Jan
In California the Crescent Lady, a 62-foot commercial fishing boat, disappeared north of Monterey with three crewmembers. Local fishermen believed it was dragged under by a submarine.
Links: USA, California, Tragedy, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1986 Mar 13
The US submarine Nathaniel Green was severely damaged when it ran aground in the Irish Sea. It was deactivated in May, 1986.
Links: USA, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1986 Oct 3
The Soviet nuclear submarine K-219 suffered an explosion and fire in a missile tube northeast of Bermuda; the vessel sank three days later.
Links: Russia, USSR, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1986 Oct 4
The Soviet submarine, K-219, began experiencing problems while on routine patrol in the Atlantic. The submarine had collided with an American submarine just days before a US-Soviet summit between Gorbachev and Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Links: Russia, USA, USSR, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1986 Oct 6
The Soviet submarine, K-219, with 16 ballistic missiles each carrying 2 warheads, sank about 600 miles east of Bermuda. One of its nuclear reactors had overheated and seaman Sergey Preminin manually shut it down, but sealed his death in the process. It was later revealed that highly radioactive plutonium 239 was released in the mishap.
Links: Russia, USSR, Nuclear, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1986 Nov 12
In San Francisco the WWII submarine Pampanito was dedicated as a national historic landmark at Pier 45.
Links: USA, SF, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1988 Apr 24
Three sailors were killed and 22 injured when fire broke out aboard the submarine USS Bonefish off the Florida coast.
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1988
An undersea glow along edges of new born crust was first detected by researchers Cindy Lee Van Dover and John Delaney that remained inexplicable. They recorded the dim glow from the research submarine Alvin. Theories to explain the glow were attributed to: Triboluminescence, Crystalloluminescence or Sonoluminescence.
Links: Physics, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1989 Apr 7
A Soviet nuclear-powered submarine, the Komsomolets, caught fire and sank in the Norwegian Sea, claiming 42 of 69 lives.
Links: Russia, USSR, Submarine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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