Joshua Tuck

Sketch of Joshua Tuck's Submarine

US Patent 297647 Granted to Professor Joshua H. L. Tuck in 1884

Length 30 feet
Beam 7 feet 6 inches
Depth 6 feet

Professor Joshua Tuck applied for a patent in June 1883 for “certain new and useful improvements in Submarine Boats.” Patent 297,647 was granted April 24, 1884. In this patent, he laid claim to the following ideas:

  1. A water-lock compartment having access to the interior and exterior of the vessel with means of closing the compartment and draining the water.
  2. A water-lock compartment located in the upper portion of the vessel’s body, having hatches opening upward, a water discharge pipe connecting it to a water-receiving compartment, an air vent and a coupling for connecting an air tube within the compartment with an air supply in the vessel.
  3. Double water-lock compartments which can be used separately or together.
  4. The combination of a water-lock compartment and an air-supply pipe connected to the interior of the vessel at one end and the operator’s diving suit at the other.
  5. The combination of a vessel and air conducting tubes, capable of being raised and lowered. The tubes being connected to a hinged mast and having their open ends controlled by valves to keep out water and admit air.

It was Professor Tuck’s intention to have the captain pilot the vessel while standing half in and half out of the submarine. In that position, he could steer the vessel directly under the enemy vessel and attach a bomb to the keel. During trials in 1884, this system did not work as well as expected and in 1885, the outer hatch was replaced with a dome allowing the captain to pilot the vessel while keeping dry.

Professor Tuck also made a change to the propulsion system. In his patent, he described an electric motor backed up by a hand crank. As built, the submarine used a 14 horsepower Westinghouse steam engine supplied by steam from a Honigman “fireless” natron boiler. With this boiler, Tuck claimed a 1500-pound charge of caustic soda would power the boat for five hours.

Tuck’s Peacemaker submerged by admitting water to ballast compartments and attempted to control her depth using a single propeller on a vertical axis located beneath the vessel. This proved inadequate and the Peacemaker was unable to control her depth.

Ó2000, 2001 Gary McCue

Gary W. McCue