Diesel-Electric Submarines: World’s Biggest Hybrids

-NOTE: Today’s post is another one by my friend Lee Wilcox. If you’ve been getting tired of all my ’70s-era luxocruisers, here’s something completely different. And very interesting. -TK

The Chevy Volt has gotten a lot of attention from its ability to run its electric propulsion motor from its internal combustion engine/generator, batteries, or both. Submarines having been doing that since the 1920s or so. I managed to spend some time on subs, and was always interested in what made them go. Apparently that interest is shared by a lot of folks.  Even during the cold war we had something called Visiting Ship Day.  Civilians were allowed to tour a designated boat.  The depth gauges were covered and some areas were off limits but they did tour.  There were three questions we could always count on:

1. Where is the picture window? (thanks to TV)

2. How many engines turn the propellers and how big are they?

3. How long until you start to run out of air to breathe?

Answers to them, and much more follow:

Graveside. Museum at Patriots Point, Charleston SC.

Let’s get those out of the way first:

1. There is no picture window regardless of what you saw on television.

2. There are no engines (directly) turning the screws.

3. It took about 10-12 hours until the guys couldn’t keep their cigarettes lit. Then we had to start managing the air.

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