The first electric submarine

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The Goubet I submarine was a two-person, electric submarine built by French inventor Claude Goubet in 1885. Manufactured in Paris, the sub has gone down in history as the first to be electrically powered, with a brace of cutting-edge tech advancing more primitive models.

The Goubet I was battery powered, utilised a Siemens electric motor to drive its propeller and power a navigation light, and measured five metres (16.4 feet) long. The craft weighed in at just over six tons. It was controlled from a central position, with its two crew positioned back to back, seeing out of the vessel via small glass windows; they could see up, down and to the sides to some extent thanks to prisms.

After testing in the River Seine in Paris, however, the Goubet I was ultimately deemed a failure, because the submersible wasn’t able to maintain a stable course or depth while moving forward. As a result, while some of its innovative technology lived on in later designs, the Goubet I itself was quickly scrapped.