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Thread: AAR. The Le Havre Incident.

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    Default AAR. The Le Havre Incident.


    Historical Background.




    Nautilus
    (1800 submarine)



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    Full-sized section model at
    Cité de la Mer, Cherbourg, France

    Nautilus was a
    submarine first tested in 1800. Though preceded by Cornelis Drebbel's vessel[1]:1–8 of 1620, Nautilus is often considered to be the first practical submarine.



    History


    Name:
    Nautilus
    Laid down:
    Perrier boatyard in Rouen
    General characteristics
    Length:
    21 ft, 3in
    Beam:
    6ft. 4 in.
    Propulsion:
    Hand-cranked screw propeller or Sail (when surfaced)


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    The Nautilus (1800).



    Background.


    Nautilus was designed between 1793 and 1797 by the American inventor
    Robert Fulton, then living in the French First Republic. He unsuccessfully proposed to the Directory that they subsidize its construction as a means to balance British seapower. His second, also unsuccessful, proposal to them was that he be paid nothing until Nautilus had sunk British shipping, and then only a small percentage of the prize money. Fulton directed his next proposal to the Minister of Marine, who granted him permission to build.

    Construction.

    Fulton built the first Nautilus of copper sheets over iron ribs at the Perrier boatyard in
    Rouen. It was 21 ft 3 in (6.48 m) long and 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) in the beam. Propulsion was provided by a hand-cranked screw propeller. The hollow iron keel was the vessel's ballast tank, flooded and emptied to change buoyancy. Two horizontal fins, diving planes in modern terms, on the stubby horizontal rudder controlled angle of dive. Overall, Nautilus resembled a modern research submarine, such as the NR-1, having a long teardrop hull. The design included an observation dome, somewhat similar in appearance, if not function, to the conning tower of later submarines. When surfaced, a fan-shaped collapsible sail, reminiscent of those popular on Chinese ships, could be deployed. Air, beyond that enclosed within the vessel, could be provided by a snorkel constructed of waterproofed leather.

    Nautilus was designed from the start to carry what Fulton called a "carcass", a
    naval mine intended to be dragged into contact with an enemy ship. A device on the top of the dome drove a spiked eye into the enemy's wooden hull. The submarine then released its mine on a line that went through the eye. The submarine sped away. When the long line had paid out, the mine would strike the target hull and explode by a detonator. These "carcasses" were variously sized copper cylinders carrying between ten and two hundred pounds of gunpowder. Contact with the hull triggered a gunlock mechanism.


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    Commemorative plaque in the Port of Rouen

    Nautilus' first test dives were in the
    Seine at Rouen, in the Saint-Gervais dock, beginning July 29, 1800. These tests were all successful, but the river current interfered with some tests, so Fulton took the boat to Le Havre to work in the quiet salt water of the harbor. He tested endurance with a candle lit, and found the flame did not challenge the air capacity of the snorkel. He also tested the speed of his two men cranking against that of two men rowing on the surface. Nautilus covered the 360 ft (110 m) course two minutes faster than the rowing crew. During this time he changed the screw propeller to one with four vanes, like a windmill, and modified the rudder.

    Through friends like
    Gaspard Monge and Pierre-Simon Laplace, Fulton obtained an interview with Napoleon, but was unable to garner support for his vessel; however, Fulton's friends pushed the Minister of Marine into appointing a scholarly panel, to consist of Volney, Monge, and Laplace, to assess the submarine.
    On July 3, 1801, at Le Havre, Fulton took the revised Nautilus down to the then-remarkable depth of 25 feet (7.6 m). With his three crewmen and two candles burning he remained for an hour without difficulty. Adding a copper "bomb" (globe) containing 200 ft3 (5.7m3) of air extended the time underwater for the crew for at least four and a half hours. One of the renovations included a 1.5-inch-diameter (38 mm) glass in the dome, whose light he found sufficient for reading a watch, making candles during daylight activities unnecessary. Speed trials put Nautilus at two knots on the surface, and covering 400 m in 7 minutes. He also discovered that compasses worked underwater exactly as on the surface.

    The first trial of a "carcass" destroyed a 40-foot sloop provided by the Admiralty. Fulton suggested that not only should they be used against specific ships by submarines, but be set floating into harbors and into estuaries with the tide to wreak havoc at random.
    The overseeing committee enthusiastically recommended the building of two brass subs, 36 ft (11 m) long, 12 ft (3.7 m) wide, with a crew of eight, and air for eight hours of submersion.

    In September, Napoleon expressed interest in seeing Nautilus, only to find that, as it had leaked badly, Fulton had her dismantled and the more important bits destroyed at the end of the tests. Despite the many reports of success by reliable witnesses, like the Prefect Marine of Brest, Napoleon decided Fulton was a swindler and charlatan. The French navy had no enthusiasm for a weapon they considered suicidal for the crews even though Fulton had had no problems and despite evidence it would be overwhelmingly destructive against conventional ships.

    Planned second vessel.



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    A cross-section of Fulton's 1806 submarine design
    .

    Though knowing the French had no further interest, the British preferred to keep a control on this dangerous device by paying Fulton £800 to come to England (his original planned destination before going to France) and develop a second Nautilus for them. The
    victory at Trafalgar made his work no longer a danger, and he was ignored until he left, in frustration, for America in October 1806. He left his papers on submarines with the American consul in London. He never asked for them, never referred to his Nautilus work, and the papers went unpublished until 1920.

    These papers show that his British Nautilus was planned as a 35 ft (11 m) long, 10 ft (3.0 m) beam sea-going boat with a crew of six, to be provisioned for 20 days at sea. The upper surface was provided with 30 "carcass" compartments. The hull was to imitate a sea-going sloop with conventional-looking mast and sails that could be lowered and unstepped for submersion. Her two-bladed propeller, still hand-cranked, folded up out of the water when surfaced to reduce drag. When submerged, air came through two streamlined ventilation pipes, and light from the conning tower. However, none of this was actually constructed.
    Last edited by Bligh; 10-06-2019 at 06:55.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Spalding's Diving Bell, The Saturday Magazine, Vol. 14, 1839



    Charles Spalding
    (29 October 1738 – 2 June 1783) was an Edinburgh confectioner and amateur engineer who made improvements to the diving bell. He died while diving to the wreck of the Belgioso in Dublin Bay using a diving bell of his own design.
    Last edited by Bligh; 10-06-2019 at 07:38.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Preamble.

    The attempt by Fulton to provide Napoleon with a submersible mode of attack was well known to the British Admiralty through its extensive chain of informers and spies buried deep within Bonaparte's War Ministry, and also through the Royal Society*, who throughout the wars were in contact with their opposite numbers in Paris, exchanging Scientific discoveries on a regular basis with little or no censoring.



    What was disclosed to their Lordships of the Admiralty and which caused a ripple of concern in the corridors of power was the fact that Fulton had reached the stage of testing his prototype in a secluded bay close to the approaches to Le Havre late in August 1801. Their Lordships were still debating what action to take when news arrived that a sudden storm in the bay had severed the cable to the submersible and sent it to the bottom of the bay. The French Navy had deployed several Hoys with sheerlegs and lifting tackle, plus a Diving Bell in an attempt to salvage the submersible.



    There Lordships now seized the lifeline that fate had so generously offered to them and immediately dispatched HMS Amelia, Captain Bristowe, with orders to either retrieve the apparatus or failing that totally disable the under water craft.

    With his orders in his hand the good Captain sailed from his anchorage in the Medway, with all haste, in an effort to disrupt the French endeavour.


    *Footnote.
    The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national Academy of Sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society".
    Founded: 28 November 1660
    Membership: ~ 1600 Fellows; ~ 140 Foreign Members; 6 Royal Fellows
    Headquarters location: London
    Formation: 28 November 1660; 358 years ago
    Founders: Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren, William Petty



    You can learn more about the relationship between the Royal Academy and the French Academie Des Sciences here:-


    https://www.jstor.org/stable/30041469?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    AAR. What goes Down!



    Early in the morning of the 6th of September Captain Bristowe and HMS Amelia approached the estuary. The weather had been foul for a few days preventing the salvage operations from proceeding, but now the weather was calm and the Hoys were only awaiting the arrival of Mr Fulton from Le Harve before beginning their efforts to retrieve the underwater boat from the seabed.
    At each end of the bay were anchored two French frigates to deter any attempt by the Rosbifs to interfere with this delicate operation.
    As the French sailors started to stir, and contemplate the daybreak, suddenly out of the receding mist, appeared their Nemesis in the form of HMS Amelia.

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    As soon as Captain Bristowe spotted the situation, he ordered a turn to Port, immediately threatening the two Hoys.

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    By this time with the light improving, the two guardships with adverse tide and wind slowly started to make way.

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    Bristowe now exercised his Bow chaser on the closer of the enemy frigates, scoring a hit, but with minimal effect.

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    With slight rudder damage, Le Success, for it was her he had hit, moved away with lack of control until the problem could be repaired.

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    Amelia now came about and was treated in return to the forrard battery of other Frenchman Courageuse.

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    A stern chase now ensued with both ships employing their bow and stern chasers.

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    Le Success was having little of it herself, for having narrowly missed the two Hoys had so positioned herself that she could not escape a full bow rake, with double shot, from Amelia, as she swept past with the wind on her stern quarter. Apart from more steering damage a fire started on her foredeck.

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    Under the circumstances she was forced to strike as the fire took hold.

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    With the sinking Le Success and two Hoys in the way, and no shot available to either, both remaining Frigates were forced to separate.

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    Both came about in an attempt to tack.

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    .

    And both were successful.

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    Amelia now came swiftly to port and both ships exchanged broadsides. Amelia getting slightly the better result by savaging Courageuse's sails and rigging.

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    Amelia now came about onto a Port tack in an attempt to close with the Hoys whilst both ships effected repairs and reloaded.

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    This having been achieved, they then started to close for battle once more.

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    Both Captains coming about right smartly, and once again traded broadsides, although Amelia's superior gunnery was gradually beginning to tell on the Frenchman's decks as more damage accrued.

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    Once again both ships broke away.

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    Captain Bristowe now tacked through the wind as if making a play for the vulnerable Hoys once more.

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    The French Captain at last drawn into an impossible choice to protect the Hoys had to also come about.
    Both ships chasers did real service this time and both ships bows were severely damaged, plus Amelia's top foremast, which came down with a run.

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    This bad luck, served Bristowe very well in the end, fore as his hands desperately struggled to cut away the dragging foresail, the Amelia slewed around presenting its full broadside. Courageous could only reply with its forrard Starboard guns to this onslaught.

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    Unable to stand any more battering, her Captain was finally forced to strike to Amelia.

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    Despite capturing the Hoys intact Captain Bristowe was unable to lift the flooded submersible as the French workmen had sabotaged the pumping engine just before the Prize crew had boarded the Hoys.
    As Mr Fulton had decided that remaining on land was the better part of valour, the best that Captain Bristowe could effect was to have his Powder Master rig up a waterproof barrel, packed with gunpowder and an enclosed flintlock primed mechanism. This was ballasted with cannonballs and lowered down the lifting hawse for the Submersible. When it arrived at the hull of the submarine, the British crew withdrew to Amilia with their prisoners. Once at a safe distance, the Master Gunner tweaked a fine fishing line leading to the Flintlock fathoms below, and initiated a huge explosion which rocked the Amelia and its two prizes, to such an extent that they almost lost the captured Diving Bell on the remaining Hoy.
    With no more ado, Bristowe set sail for Old England. The Prize towing the Hoy with Diving Bell now secured for the trip across La Manche before any more French shipping arrive to interfere.


    Bligh.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    The Butcher's Bill.

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    Bligh.
    Last edited by Bligh; 10-22-2019 at 13:32.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Reprise to the Historical background in the light of the late action as related to their Lordships of the Admiralty.

    In September, Napoleon expressed interest in seeing Nautilus, only to find that, as it had leaked badly, Fulton had her dismantled and the more important bits destroyed at the end of the tests ( or were they in fact destroyed by the Royal navy? Did Napoleon merely view some spare parts and prototypes).

    Despite the many reports of success by reliable witnesses, like the Prefect Marine of Brest, Napoleon decided Fulton was a swindler and charlatan. The French navy had no enthusiasm for a weapon they considered suicidal for the crews even though Fulton had had no problems and despite evidence it would be overwhelmingly destructive against conventional ships.

    Bligh.
    Last edited by Bligh; 10-22-2019 at 13:36.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  7. #7
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    Very nice story and a great AAR. Well done!

  8. #8
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Thanks Jonas.
    I found the story whilst I was looking for acoustic mines, and felt that with a little twist and input from the Royal Navy it could have been a very different reason that Fulton only had a dismantled Nautilus to show to the Emperor. I am now looking for my next bit of inspiration.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  9. #9
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    As you know I've worked weird historical twists into my stories too. I really like that.

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    A resounding victory for the British Navy and a great storyline.

    Congratulations to Captain Bristowe.

  11. #11
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Yes indeed John, and not too much damage or loss of crew on board Amelia. Dry Dock time means loss of Prizes.

    This is Captain Bristowe's first commission after Amelia's refit at Rotherhithe, on her return from The Cape where she had been part of the Squadron commanded by Admiral Sir Joshua Pound CB. With the collapse of our Solo campaign through lack of support, her former Captain Angus Groat, after three years on the South Africa station, has returned to England for some well deserved leave. The rest of the squadron have been re assigned to other theaters of war, and you may well encounter them along with some of their Captains in one of my AAR's in this forum from time to time.

    Amelia, for instance is now operating in the North Sea under the direct control of the Admiralty. (More Prize money for all the crew) Thus far, one 34 gun Frigate, one Hoy complete with diving Bell and lifting equipment, plus head money for all the prisoners, with no Admiral to pinch the Lion's share. This could turn out to be a very lucrative commission.
    Watch this space.

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  12. #12
    Vice Admiral of the Red.
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    That is a very good imaginative A.A.R., Rob.

  13. #13
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    I am finding that my Dr's orders to lose weight is very productive Dave. Whilst I am busy pacing the Quarterdeck to get in my 10,000 paces per day I get lots of time for dreaming up new scenarios. The bad thing is that after 14 weeks of this I have only come up with two thus far. However, as medicine goes it ain't the worst that I have ever had.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  14. #14
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Just spotted the Rep comment. Thank you very much Dave.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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