A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water.
A submarine is a vessel that goes under water. Submarines are often war vessels, but some are used for scientific or business purposes. People with a lot of money can even buy their own small submarine to explore under the sea and look at fish. A submarine is always called a boat, not a ship.
In early times, submarines were often powered by hand, as boat engines had not yet been invented. They were almost always designed for war purposes, and would attempt to sink enemy ships by crude methods like drilling screws into their wooden hulls. Some attempted to blow ships up, but this would often destroy the submarine as well.
Later, during the first and second world wars, more practical submarines were developed, mostly by Germany. They were powered by a diesel-electric system. A diesel motor would be used to turn a generator which would charge a large number of batteries while the submarine was above the water. This power was then used to power the submarine when it went underwater. These submarines were dangerous for enemies and hard to see while under water but it was easy to attack them when they were above the water and recharging. They were only used to attack ships.
Most modern military submarines are powered by nuclear reactors. These submarines often have a system which can get air from the surrounding seawater as well, this combination allows them to stay under water until their food runs out. Their most important functions are attacking ships or launching rockets like cruise missiles, or nuclear missiles. There are two kinds of these subs: attack subs, which are small and fast and attack other subs and surface ships with a special kind of underwater bomb called a torpedo, and missiles subs, which are larger and slower, and designed mainly to shoot missiles at far-away targets on land. Missile subs are usually big enough that they can transport commandos and launch them safely from their torpedo tubes.
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A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has only limited underwater capability. The term submarine most commonly refers to large crewed autonomous vessels; however, historically or more casually, submarine can also refer to medium sized or smaller vessels (midget submarines, wet subs), Remotely Operated Vehicles or robots. The word submarine was originally an adjective meaning "under the sea", and so consequently other uses such as "submarine engineering" or "submarine cable" may not actually refer to submarines at all. Submarine was shortened from the term "submarine boat", and is often further shortened to "sub".
Submarines are referred to as "boats", regardless of their size, for historical reasons because vessels deployed from a ship are referred to as boats. The first submarines were launched in such a manner. The English term U-boat for a German submarine comes from the German word for submarine, U-Boot, itself an abbreviation for Unterseeboot ("undersea boat").
Although experimental submarines had been built before, submarine design took off during the 19th century. Submarines were first widely used in World War I, and feature in many large navies. Military usage ranges from attacking enemy ships or submarines, aircraft carrier protection, blockade running, ballistic missile submarines as part of a nuclear strike force, reconnaissance, conventional land attack (for example using a cruise missile), and covert insertion of special forces. Civilian uses for submarines include marine science, salvage, exploration and facility inspection/maintenance. Submarines can also be specialized to a function such as search and rescue, or undersea cable repair. Submarines are also used in tourism and for academic research.
Submarines have one of the largest ranges of capabilities in any vessel, ranging from small autonomous examples to one or two-person vessels operating for a few hours, to vessels which can remain submerged for 6 months such as the Russian Typhoon class. Submarines can work at greater depths than are survivable or practical for human divers. Modern deep diving submarines are derived from the bathyscaphe, which in turn was an evolution of the diving bell.
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 ("fin" in European usage). A conning tower was a feature of earlier designs: a separate pressure hull above the main body of the boat that allowed the use of shorter periscopes. There is a propeller (or pump jet) at the rear and various hydrodynamic control fins as well as ballast tanks. Smaller, deep diving and specialty submarines may deviate significantly from this traditional layout.
The first use of a submarine in combat was the Action of 17 February 1864 during the American Civil War. The Confederate States Navy vessel CSS Hunley became the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat, the USS Housatonic.
Before and during World War II, the primary role of the submarine was anti-surface ship warfare. Submarines would attack either on the surface or submerged, using torpedoes or (on the surface) deck guns. They were particularly effective in sinking Allied transatlantic shipping in both World Wars, and in disrupting Japanese supply routes and naval operations in the Pacific in World War II.
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot (help·info), itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot (undersea boat), and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II. Although in theory, U-boats could have been useful fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, in practice they were most effectively used in an economic-warfare role (Commerce raiding), enforcing a naval blockade against enemy shipping. The primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were the merchant convoys bringing supplies from the British Empire and the United States to the islands of Great Britain. Austrian submarines of World War I were also known as U-boats.
Mine-laying submarines were developed in the early part of the 20th century. The facility was used in both World Wars. Submarines were also used for inserting and removing covert agents and military forces, for intelligence-gathering and to rescue aircrew during large-scale air attacks on islands, where the airmen would be told of safe places to crash-land damaged aircraft so the submarine crew could rescue them. Submarines could carry cargo through hostile waters or act as supply vessels for other submarines.
The primary defense of a submarine lies in its ability to remain concealed in the depths of the ocean. Early submarines could be detected underwater by the sound they made. Water is an excellent conductor of sound, and submarines can detect and track comparatively noisy surface ships from long distances. Modern submarines are built with an emphasis on stealth. Advanced propeller designs, extensive sound-reducing insulation, and special machinery allow a submarine to be as quiet as ambient ocean noise, making them extremely difficult to detect. It takes specialized technology to find and attack modern submarines.
Active sonar uses the reflection of a sound emitted from the search equipment to detect submarines. It has been used since World War II by surface ships, submarines or even aircraft, but it gives away the position of the emitter and is susceptible to counter-measures.
Although the majority of the world's submarines are military ones, there are some civil submarines. They have a variety of uses, including tourism, exploration, oil and gas platform inspections and pipeline surveys. The first tourist submarine was launched in 1985, and by 1997 there were 45 of them operating around the world.
All surface ships, as well as surfaced submarines, are in a positively buoyant condition, weighing less than the volume of water they would displace if fully submerged. To submerge hydrostatically, a ship must have negative buoyancy, either by increasing its own weight or decreasing its displacement of water. To control their weight, submarines have ballast tanks, which can be filled with outside water or pressurized air.
Submarine hull: Modern submarines are usually cigar-shaped. This design, already visible on very early submarines (see below) is called a "teardrop hull", and was patterned after the bodies of whales. It significantly reduces the hydrodynamic drag on the sub when submerged, but decreases the sea-keeping capabilities and increases the drag while surfaced.
Originally, submarines were human propelled. The first mechanically driven submarine was the 1863 French Plongeur, which used compressed air for propulsion. Anaerobic propulsion was first employed by the Spanish Ictineo II in 1864, which used a solution of zinc, manganese dioxide, and potassium chlorate to generate sufficient heat to power a steam engine, while also providing oxygen for the crew. A similar system was not employed again until 1940 when the German Navy tested a hydrogen peroxide-based system, the Walter turbine, on the experimental V-80 submarine and later on the naval U-791 and type XVII submarines.
Until the advent of nuclear marine propulsion, most 20th century submarines used batteries for running underwater and gasoline (petrol) or diesel engines on the surface, and for battery recharging. Early submarines used gasoline, but this quickly gave way to kerosene (paraffin), then diesel, because of reduced flammability. Diesel-electric became the standard means of propulsion. The diesel or gasoline engine and the electric motor, separated by clutches, were initially on the same shaft driving the propeller. This allowed the engine to drive the electric motor as a generator to recharge the batteries and also propel the submarine. The clutch between the motor and the engine would be disengaged when the submarine dove, so that the motor could drive the propeller. The motor could have multiple armatures on the shaft, which could be electrically coupled in series for slow speed and in parallel for high speed. (These connections were called "group down" and "group up", respectively.)
Air-independent propulsion (AIP) is a term that encompasses technologies which allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen. The term usually excludes the use of nuclear power, and describes augmenting or replacing the diesel-electric propulsion system of non-nuclear vessels. The United States Navy uses the hull classification symbol "SSP" to designate boats powered by AIP, while retaining "SS" for classic diesel-electric attack submarines.
A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor. The performance advantages of nuclear submarines over "conventional" (typically diesel-electric) submarines are considerable: nuclear propulsion, being completely independent of air, frees the submarine from the need to surface frequently, as is necessary for conventional submarines; the large amount of power generated by a nuclear reactor allows nuclear submarines to operate at high speed for long durations; and the long interval between refuellings grants a range limited only by consumables such as food. Current generations of nuclear submarines never need to be refueled throughout their 25-year lifespans. Conversely, the limited power stored in electric batteries means that even the most advanced conventional submarine can only remain submerged for a few days at slow speed, and only a few hours at top speed; recent advances in air-independent propulsion have eroded this disadvantage somewhat. The high cost of nuclear technology means that relatively few states have fielded nuclear submarines.
Submarine navigation underwater requires special skills and technologies not needed by surface ships. The challenges of underwater navigation have become more important as submarines spend more time underwater, travelling greater distances and at higher speed. Military submarines travel underwater in an environment of total darkness with neither windows nor lights. Operating in stealth mode, they cannot use their active sonar systems to ping ahead for underwater hazards such as undersea mountains, drilling rigs or other submarines. Surfacing to obtain navigational fixes is precluded by pervasive anti-submarine warfare detection systems such as radar and satellite surveillance. Antenna masts and antenna-equipped periscopes can be raised to obtain navigational signals but in areas of heavy surveillance, only for a few seconds or minutes; current radar technology can detect even a slender periscope while submarine shadows may be plainly visible from the air. Surfaced submarines entering and leaving port navigate similarly to traditional ships but with a few extra considerations because most of the ship rides below the waterline, making them hard for other ships to see and identify.
Communication with submarines is difficult because radio waves don't travel well through thick electrical conductors like salt water. The obvious solution is to surface and raise an antenna above the water, then use ordinary radio transmissions. Early submarines had to frequently surface anyway for the oxygen needed by their diesel engines. During the Cold War, however, nuclear-powered submarines were developed that could stay submerged for months. In order to allow for communication with submerged submarines, several techniques are used.
Imperial Japanese Navy submarines originated with the purchase of five Holland type submarines from the United States in 1904. Japanese submarine forces progressively built up strength and expertise, becoming by the beginning of World War II one of the world's most varied and powerful submarine fleets.
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