Last Look

The first submarine

Mark Morosse

Mark Morosse

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Like fellow inventor Eli Whitney, Class of 1792, who started college at the age of 24, David Bushnell was a nontraditional student at Yale. He matriculated at the college at the age of 31 after years of working on the family farm. In 1775, his senior year, he came up with a design for a one-man submersible vessel -- six feet high and pedal-powered -- that could place a bomb (the keg at upper right) on the underside of a ship. It was the world's first submarine. Christened the Turtle, it proved seaworthy, but failed in its wartime mission to blow up the British ship HMS Eagle in New York Harbor in 1777. This replica of the Turtle was built in 1976 and is on display at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex.  

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