Nordenfelt II & III

Thorsten Nordenfeldt

Drawing of Nordenfelt II & III

Nordenfelt II & III
Submarine Navigation: Past and Present by Alan Burgoyne

Length 100 feet 0 inches
Beam 12 feet 0 inches
Displacement 160 tons

The Story of the Submarine: from the Earliest Ages to the Present Day by Lieut.-Col. and Brevet-Col. Cyril Field, Royal Marine Light Infantry, J. B. Lippencott Company, Philadelphia, 1905. Pg. 126-130

"Nordenfeldt was not altogether satisfied with his first boat, and in 1887 two others were built at Chertsey, which were designed by him in conjunction with the Rev. W. Garret. Each of these was driven and built on very much the same principles as the former one, but the screws for immersion were placed at the top of the vessel instead of on either side. Her torpedo tube, too, was placed on the bow instead of inside, and she carried a couple of small Nordenfeldt machine guns on her deck for use at the surface. Mr. Garret and her engineer Mr. Lawrie went out with one of them to Constantinople to superintend her trials, which were much handicapped by the inefficiency of the Turkish crew. The published accounts of what may be called her début before the Sultan was very promising, but later on she does not appear to have done so well. The following is an extract from a newspaper of the period: “At 2.30 p.m. a loud murmur of admiration and surprise arose from the old bridge at Galata, heralding the approach of the Nordenfeldt. She came down the Golden Horn at a rapid rate, threading her way skillfully between the lighter of the pilot launches, and shot the bridge without slackening speed – no easy feat considering the narrow width of the opening and the adverse set of the current which sweeps across it. Thousands of spectators were collected on the bridge, as also at Seragliop Point, and many others were afloat in caiquea. It was amusing to hear the comments on her as a name by the general verdict, and it certainly seemed most apropos, as little was to be seen of her above water but the dome and upper part of the torpedo tube, which might easily have been taken in the distance for the hump and fin of some great denizen of the sea. In obedience to the orders of the Sultan, who himself directed the manoeuvres from the shore, the boat lay for some quarter of an hour, in the very strength of the current, off Seraglio Point. She maintained her position with the greatest ease by a few turn of the screw, while the attendant launches found it impossible to stem it. While in this position she narrowly escaped serious injury owing to the traffic. A large lighter crossing the stream, and hugging the wind to save ground, passed too close and was struck by the screw. Fortunately she was empty, and so it was easy to get at the hole made in her bottom, and she reached the shore in safety. As for the Nordenfeldt, a few inches off the end of one of the blades was the only damage sustained.”
“Being directed to attack a steamer lying off the Scutari shore, as a surface boat, the Nordenfeldt, turning in a little over her own length, darted across the current. End-on, very little was seen of her, and the eye once removed, she was not very readily discovered again in spite of the direction being known, on account of the absence of smoke and the very light color of the outside painting. Even on the broadside there was little of the hull to be seen while running, on account of the screen formed by the bow wake. She seems to divide the water like a plough, throwing up a bank on either side, thus forming a furrow in which she would have run completely out of view but for the small chimney necessarily kept in place for the maintenance of combustion. As she neared the vessel two jets of water were suddenly thrown upward, to fall in showers of spray. This marked the moment of delivering her attack. The tube doors being thrown open for the release of the Whitehead, the water rushing in forces out the air through the vent holes at the rear, with the above-described effect. At that moment she looked more like a whale than ever, and might easily have been taken by the most knowing Greenlander for a big fish spouting.
“Returning to Sertaglio Point, she was next directed to run as a surface boat against the current. In this trial for speed, her performance was a remarkable contrast to that of the attendant launches. Instead of keeping their position as pilots, they were soon left far behind. According to the revolutions and distance run in a given time, she did her eight knots over ground against the current that was running but very little less than five. On her return from this run orders were given for a second attack to be made upon the steamer, on this occasion as a submarine boat. The vessel being at no great distance, she steamed slowly ahead so as to afford time for getting rid of the extra buoyancy, and closing up. Soon there was little to be seen of her but the hump-like dome, and having turned towards the enemy, it was very difficult to keep her in view. Suddenly she was lost sight of, to appear however shortly afterwards rounding the bow of the steamer from the other side. She had, as it were, dived to deliver her blow, and then turned off to avoid pursuit. No jet was thrown up on this occasion, the escaping air losing all force before reaching the surface. The Sultan expressed himself highly satisfied with the performance of the boat.”
“But quite another story was told when her official trials took place. It was found impossible to keep her in a horizontal position when below water for more than half a minute together. She had no horizontal stability whatever, and see-sawed up and down the whole time she was under water. The first time she tried her torpedoes was also the last, as her performance on this occasion were appalling. Directly her bows were lightened by the departure of the Whitehead, her stern plunged violently downwards. On another occasion she was all but swamped by the wash of a boat that came suddenly alongside as she was about to sink and had not finished closing the cover. Luckily Mr. Garret had his wits about him, and succeeded in making fast the hatch in spite of the inrush of water. She sank like a stone, but by blowing water out of her ballast tanks she was brought to the surface again. However, the Turks decided to buy the boat in spite of her disabilities, though it was some time before the inventors could get the money out of them. As might have been expected, they made no use of her when they got her. No engineers could be got for her, her crew deserted as fast as they were appointed to her, and she was left to rust away in the arsenal at Constantinople.”

Ó2000, 2001, 2002 Gary McCue

Gary W. McCue