Efim Nikonov’s Secret Vessel (AKA the 1721 Barrel Sub)

In 1718, Russian subject Efim Nikonov, a carpenter from a village Pokrovskoye near Moscow, submitted a petition addressed to Peter the Great where he suggested building a “secret vessel” that “would sail the seas and destroy all enemy ships with cannons secretly”. Curious and interested, the Russian tsar ordered to bring this talented self-taught man to Saint-Petersburg and immediately get down to her construction.


It is also known that in 1721 this vessel was put to the tests in Peter’s presence after which the author was proposed to start construction of a “bigger secret vessel”. In August, 1724, Nikonov asked to provide him with armoury for his underwater ship which he described as “fire tubes”. Apparently, these were the primitive gun-powder flame-throwers. After Peter’s death, however, further development of this “secret vessel” was terminated while the submarine built by this talented and skilled craftsman went completely rotten and decayed in a deserted wood-shed.  –(extracted from “The Fleet of the State of Russia: The Roots and Origin of the Russian Navy” written by V.Dygalo.)

This of course, is a replica.


click to embiggen

click to embiggen. Note the weights that could be jettisoned in an emergency by screws if needed.

Still, although it was not used, it predated David Bushnell’s Turtle made during the War for Independence by some fifty years.

And now you know why those darned Russians love those subs. They always have. They always will.

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