The disappearance into obscurity of one of the greatest revolutions in naval engineering.
Submarines were originally invented in order to improve human understanding of the marine environment. Despite these exploratory origins, the vessels were soon seen as potential naval weapons.
Attempts to learn more about the seabed first took place in ancient times, although vessels were only able to dive underwater from the 17th century onward.
Isaac Peral's interests made him a scientist who carried out research into various fields including geography and engineering, but his main focus was the use of electricity. He invented a variety of items such as the electric storage battery, an elevator, and an electric machine gun.
Here we can see the design of the total use light projector. This was Peral's solution to the problem of light scattering from spotlights, using particular electric arcs and adjustable parabola-shaped reflectors.
Peral became interested in the idea of building a submarine around 1884.
After the famous Caroline Islands Crisis of 1885, where Spain and Germany almost came to blows over the Caroline Islands in the Pacific Ocean, mathematicians Cecilio Pujazón and Juan Viniegra turned their attention to Peral's work.
He showed his superiors his idea for a torpedo submarine which would be powered by electricity.
Peral developed the basics of his submarine, helped by his mentor José Luis Diez and the support of the Minister of the Navy, Admiral Manuel de la Pezuela. His work attracted the attention of Queen Regent María Cristina, who issued a royal order funding the submarine's construction.
In 1888 construction started on the submarine at the Naval Station of La Carraca's dock number one, with materials collected from all over Europe, including optical devices acquired in Paris and torpedoes from Berlin.
The ship had a fusiform steel hull which was 22 meters long and 2.87 meters wide at its midship section. The central turret housed the entrance hatches and a modern periscope.
Peral took a range of internal elements into account, including insulating the inside using rubber flooring and installing covered electrical conduits, internal electric lighting, and oxygen supply systems.
Both Isaac Peral and his submarine faced a series of challenges including hurdles and time-wasting measures introduced by the new Minister of the Navy José María Beránger, who wanted to derail the project.
The Spanish Navy Board decided to shelve the project despite the efforts of Peral, who even suggested developing a larger submarine.
Despite the success of the trials, the technical board responsible for supervising them rejected the submarine project. Isaac Peral left the Navy and the vessel was abandoned for years at the Naval Station of La Carraca.
The image shows the Peral Submarine abandoned at the Naval Station of La Carraca in 1915.
Based on the Final Voyage of the Peral Submarine exhibition organized to mark the vessel's move from the Cartagena seafront to the Naval Museum.
Naval History and Culture Authority. Cartagena Naval Museum
Juanelo Turriano Foundation
Board of Technical Experts
Juan Ignacio Chacón Bulnes
José Manuel Chacón Bulnes
José Antonio Martínez López
Diego Quevedo Carmona
Bernardo Revuelta Pol
Javier San Mateo Isaac-Peral
Second Lieutenant Eduardo Farré Gomés
Naval Museum Communications Department:
Xián Rodríguez, Alicia Suárez