During the Civil War, the North imposed a suffocating blockade of a number of key Confederate ports. The South, hoping to break this blockade, turned to an imperfect new invention: the submarine.
It began with a barrel-shaped submersible that patrolled New York Harbor during the American Revolutionary War. Since then, the submarine has evolved into a vital weapon of war. Dive in as we track its history, from the 1775 Turtle to the 1879 Resurgam to the mighty German U-boats and nuclear subs of today. Rare archival footage, visits to surviving decommissioned subs, and interviews with crewmembers help explain how these machines became such a powerful symbol of naval supremacy.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel on air.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.