Connecticut divers discover wreckage of forgotten experimental submarine
April 24, 2023

Wreckage of the Defender, an experimental submarine built in 1907 and later scuttled in Long Island Sound, has been discovered by Connecticut divers.

The wreck, lying over 150 feet beneath the water’s surface off the coast of Old Saybrook, was found by a team led by commercial diver Richard Simon, who spent months studying sonar and underwater mapping surveys of the sound, as well as government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Simon assembled a group of top wreck divers to determine if the Defender was in the location he had identified. They discovered the Defender lying on the bottom after poor tidal conditions forced them to abandon an attempt on Friday.

The submarine, originally named the Lake, was built by millionaire Simon Lake and his Bridgeport-based Lake Torpedo Boat Company in hopes of winning a competition for a U.S. Navy contract, according to NavSource Online. After losing the competition, Lake tried refitting the boat for minesweeping, salvage, and rescue work, renaming it the Defender, but never found a buyer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers scuttled the sub in 1946, but the corps never disclosed where.

Simon said it was clear when his team found the wreckage that it was indeed the Defender, helped by the size and shape of protrusions on the submarine’s distinct keel and the shape and location of diving planes characteristic of Lake-built vessels. Simon and his team plan to spend the summer diving on the sub, filming it, and taking photographs. He said he hasn’t figured out how to monetize the find, but said that wasn’t the goal in looking for it. He has already contacted the Navy to see if it would be interested in helping preserve the wreckage.

The experimental sub, built in 1907, has an interesting story to tell, having gone through several transformations before being abandoned and scuttled in 1946. Its discovery provides a rare opportunity for historians, researchers, and divers to explore and learn more about the naval technology of the early 20th century.

The discovery of the Defender submarine serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our historical artifacts and learning from them. It also highlights the power of research and technology in uncovering the mysteries of our past. Who knows what other fascinating historical treasures are waiting to be discovered beneath the depths of our oceans.

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