Hi everybody! My adventure inside the Submarine Force Museum has brought me to a VERY cool thing….(I know I keep saying that for everything, but to be honest, everything here IS cool!)
In this picture you can see me standing in front of (and in) Bushnell’s Turtle. My friends told me that it isn’t the real Turtle, it’s actually a full-sized replica of the original Turtle. It was designed and built by David Bushnell, who lived in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. How cool is that?! He named it the Turtle because he thought it looked like two turtle shells strapped together.
The Turtle is really the grandfather of the submarines we know today. Mr. Bushnell’s Turtle was the first to use water for ballast, which allowed it to go up and down in the water. It was the first submersible to have a screw propeller, which allowed it to be more easily steered under the water. Mr. Bushnell also included a source of air, so that the person could safely stay inside while it was under water.
It was built to attack British ships during the Revolutionary War in 1776. It carried a mine which could be dragged and left near an enemy’s ship. The Turtle could then be taken far enough away, so it didn’t get hurt in the explosion. (Mr. Bushnell was also the first person to show that gunpowder could be exploded underwater.)
Although the attacks didn’t work very well, many people at the time thought it was cool. George Washington wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson telling him that he thought the Turtle was “an effort of genius”! The trouble with the Turtle is that one man had to do everything – he had to navigate, steer, place the mine, and move it all on his own. This was way too much for one person to do alone. So while the Turtle wasn’t a complete success it did pave the way for future submarines.
You can find out more information on the Turtle here: http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/sub_turtle.htm