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How Submarines Work

Submarines are incredible pieces of technology. Not so long ago, a naval force worked entirely above the water; with the addition of the s­ubmarine to the standard naval arsenal, the world below the surface became a battleground as well.

Nuclear Submarine - How Submarines Work

The French submarine Le Terrible is inaugurated on March 21, 2008, in Cherbourg, France. Le Terrible was developed entirely through computer-assisted design and will begin service in 2010.

The adaptations and inventions that allow sailors to not only fight a battle, but also live for months or even years underwater are some of the most brilliant developments in military history.

In this article, you will see how a submarine dives and surfaces in the water, how life support is maintained, how the submarine gets its power, how a submarine finds its way in the deep ocean and how submarines might be rescued.

Submarines rank among the most complicated warships ever put to sea, and are carefully designed to maximize performance and ensure safety. Submarines must be able to surface and dive quickly, maneuver safely underwater for months at a time, receive and transmit communications, operate quietly to avoid detection, and provide a habitable space for the crew. Regardless of the type of submarine, they accomplish these tasks in similar fashion.

How Submarines Work

Nuclear submarines consume a relatively small amount of energy and make very little noise. Because they carry their energy source with them, nuclear submarines are able to travel at least 640,000 km (400,000 mi) without refueling. The nuclear reactor provides energy in the form of heat, which is converted to electricity by the generators in the engine compartment. A propeller is used to send the submarine through the water, whereas rudders (horizontal rudders are also called diving planes) guide the submarine through maneuvers. The periscope and other monitors mounted on the sail give the crew information about the surface while the submarine stays safely beneath. A modern submarine is capable of carrying several missiles, torpedos, or nuclear warheads that may be fired from beneath the water to strike targets sometimes thousands of miles away (launching tubes not shown here). ©2021.