Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/817

This page needs to be proofread.

Popular Science Monthly

��Vol. 89 No. 6

��239 Fourth Avenue, New York City

December, 1916

��$1.50 Annually

��Saving Men from Sunken Submarines

Three means by which the crew of a sunken submarine may finally escape

Bv Llovd :\1. Kiih




��TWELVE-THIRTY o'clock. Respira- tion is extraordinarily difficult. I mean I am breathing gasoline.

"It is 12:40 o'clock."

Such were the last words of the com- mander of the Japanese "6", written while imprisoned in the conning-tower of his submarine at the bottom of the sea. This was some six years ago, when he and thirteen of his crew met with an accident and died a slow and pain- ful death, simply because the submarine was not provided with a suitable means of escape.

Even before this time, one hundred and twenty- four men had been lost on that account; and as many have been lost since then — all in times of peace. But the fault was nobody's; for no rescuing devices had been invented which could have been depended upon and which at the same time did not take up too much of the all-too-prccious space.

And we are still experimenting on de\-ices for saving men from sunken submarines. A great many schemes have been in\ented, a few of which at least indicate that we are on the right track. These few divide them- selves into three classes.

In the first class are those devices which have a buoyant detachable conning-tower. This tower contains all the appliances of an ordinary conning-tower; but such things as the steering-rod must be made in two




���Detail of the conning-tower which is released from the submarine

��parts which can be separated when the tower is disconnected from the body of the submarine. A windlass is mounted at each end of the tower and upon each a cable is wound. The other ends of the cables are fastened to the body of the submarine. Four large bolts hold the tower to the submarine's body.

Should anything go wrong, all the men can climb into the tower, close the hatch behind them, turn on the oxygen from the tanks, unscrew the bolts and rise to the surface. By means of the handles of the windlasses, the speed of the tower can lie controlled as it rises. When they reach the sur- face, they can open the windows and send out signals of distress by an electric flashlight.

This plan will work should the submarine sink as far as three hundred feet. Below this depth no scheme will be of use, for the water pressure is so enormous that it will actually force the water right through the pores of the steel hull. This "sweating" — as an engineer would call it — would soon weaken the ri\ets and finally result in crushing the submarine like an egg-shell!

An entirely different invention has two compartments within the submarine, from which the crew can escape througii hatches to the top of the boat. To open the hatches, it is necessary to let water into the com- partments through a valve, until the


�� �