Military History Carnival #10 has been posted over at Walking the Berkshires. This month, the post I enjoyed the most was at Boston 1775, about various improvised weapon systems which ragtag insurgents hoped would turn the tide against the overwhelmingly superior forces of a colonial power. Ok, it's a stretch to call these first submarines 'improvised weapon systems', as they were pioneering attempts at an entirely new mode of transportation. (The post is more about other proposed weapons, such as 'Row-Gallies'. I want to talk about submarines though :) But they were also weapons of desperation, of the weak against the strong. The British didn't need to invent submarines because they already ruled the waves. Why bother with such frail contraptions, more of a danger to their own crew than anyone else? Submarines have come a long way since then. They are integral parts of big navies, though for very different purposes than the Turtle (platforms for SLBMs, for example). Middle powers such as Australia like to have a few around to lurk about and deter any potential aggressors, and to add some heft to their offensive capabilities. It's in small, coastal defence navies that submarines retain something like their original purpose, as force equalisers. It's in the North Korean navy and its like that the true heirs of the Turtle are to be found today.
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