Human fascination extends beyond exploring the space above us; we have always been equally intrigued by the mysterious depths of our vast ocean. Despite venturing into the far reaches of outer space before delving into the vast depths of our own ocean backyard, underwater exploration has achieved significant milestones through the development of functional submersibles. These remarkable vessels have enabled us to uncover the mysteries hidden beneath that dark, inhospitable liquid abyss that blankets our planet.

Throughout history, these silent guardians of the deep have undergone a remarkable evolution, evolving from basic submersible crafts to formidable war machines. In this article, we trace the origins of these vessels, from their seemingly impossible conception to their pivotal role in shaping the history of naval warfare.

Dating Back to da Vinci

Historians suggest that the concept of underwater crafts can be traced back to the late 1400s when the renowned Italian Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci claimed to have discovered a method to submerge a ship for an extended period. However, da Vinci kept his discovery a secret due to fears that it could be misused by assassins, who were prevalent during that time. It is worth noting that even before da Vinci’s undisclosed blueprint for a functional submersible, the idea of utilizing underwater vessels for combat purposes had ancient origins.

The first practical submersible took a couple more centuries to move beyond the conceptual phase and into actual construction. However, despite the potential shown by the leather-covered, 12-oar rowboat, its viability was eventually dismissed by the Royal Navy during the development process.