Goubet I

Claude Goubet

Sketch of Goubet I

US Patent 352,124 Granted to Claude Goubet in 1886

Length 16 feet 5 inches
Beam 3 feet 3 inches
Displacement 1 ton

The Goubet I was the first electrically powered submarine. She was designed by the prominent french inventor Claude Goubet and built in Paris in 1885. During trials in Cherbourg, the Goubet I was unable to maintain depth or course and was judged a failure for that reason.

The Goubet I employed an "Edison type" electric motor to drive the propeller and the pumps. The electric power was supplied by "Schanshief" or "Stichetline" batteries.1 The submarine had no rudder or dive planes. Instead, she was fitted with a "Goubet joint" which allowed the operator to steer by redirecting the propeller.

She carried a single torpedo [actually a mine] that was designed to be attached to a hostile vessel and exploded from a safe distance via an electirc wire.

A safety weight wieghing 660 pounds was attached to the bottom of the boat with a clamp. The clamp was designed to release the weight with a slight twist of the handle.

Like many before and after him, Goubet did not understand the dynamics of longitudinal stability as it applied to submarines. The Goubet I was fitted with a weighted pendulum connected a pump in such a manner as to move water back and forth between the forward and aft ballast tanks to maintain level trim. The large safety weight helped to stabilize the tiny craft, but the lack of "tail feathers" made it virtually impossible to maintain depth or course when moving forward.

  1. Burgoyne, Alan, "Submarine Navigation: Past and Present", E. P. Dutton & Co, New York,1903, page 272.

2000, 2001, 2002 Gary McCue

Gary W. McCue