ON THIS DAY IN UNITED STATES HISTORY
September 7, 1776
The Worlds First Submarine Attack Occurs
On this day in 1776, the worlds first Submarine attack occured during the American Revolutionary War when the
submerisible Turtle attempted to attach a timed explosive to the hull of the British war ship Eagle. The
hand-powered craft was piloted by Ezra Lee and was able to maneuver into position without being noticed by the crew
of Eagle. Everything was going according to plan as Lee began to drill into the hull but he was not able to
penetrate the layer of iron. As Lee beat a hasty retreat, leaving the bomb behind, it exploded but did
not cause significant damage to the ship or the submersible.
Lee made several more attempts to sink British ships over the following week without success. The Turtle
met its fate when an American sloop transporting it was sunk during the Battle of Fort Lee. It was almost a
century later before a submarine was able to actually sink a ship. During the American Civil War, the
Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley brought down the Union ship U.S.S.
Housatonic, however the H.L. Hunley never returned with its crew.