Submarine Chronology

September 7, 1776 Turtle, a one-man submarine built by 34-year old Yale graduate David Bushnell, unsuccessfully tries to attach a torpedo to the hull of the HMS Eagle anchored off New York Harbor.
July 3, 1801 Robert Fulton's submarine Nautilus dives to a depth of 25 feet and remains there for more than an hour in France.
February 17, 1864 The Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is the first to sink an enemy ship in combat when it rams its spar torpedo into the hull of the Union screw sloop USS Housatonic off Charleston, South Carolina.
1888 U.S. Navy Bureau of Construction and Repair design competition brings inventor John P. Holland a contract to build Plunger.
August 7, 1897 Plunger, steam-powered to meet specifications, launched but failed to pass acceptance tests, primarily because of intense heat crew could not stay at stations.
April 11, 1900 John P. Holland sells his internal combustion, gasoline powered submarine, Holland VI, to the Navy for $160,000, after demonstration trials off Mount Vernon, VA, marking the official birthdate of the U.S. Navy's submarine force.
October 12, 1900 USS Holland (SS-1), the former Holland VI is commissioned. SS-1 is submarine hull number 1.
1903 The U. S. Navy commissions the seventh and last boat of the original Holland A class, USS Shark (SS-8).

The U. S. Navy imitates the diesel propulsion of French submarine Aigrette when the Electric Boat Company begins building the F class (SS-20 through 23) and the E class (SS-24 and 25) at Fore River Shipyard. Diesel power eliminated the gasoline fumes that caused submarine accidents.

March 5, 1912 The Secretary of the Navy establishes the Atlantic Submarine Flotilla, commanded by Lieutenant Chester W. Nimitz.
February 14, 1914 Skipjack (SS-24) is the first U. S. submarine to run on diesel engines, and is commissioned.
1916 Skipjack (SS-24) is the first U. S. submarine to cross the Atlantic under her own power.
January 1, 1917 U.S. Submarine School is established at Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut.
1933 The Washington Navy Yard makes 20 sets of quartz steel, echo-ranging equipment, a major development in SONAR (SOund NAvigation and Ranging) technology. The British call it Asdic.
October 27, 1933 Porpoise (SS-172) is the first U. S. submarine to have electric motors with reduction gear and high speed diesel engines.
1935 The importance of submarine operations in the Pacific, Caribbean, and the South Atlantic leads the Navy Department to install the first submarine air-conditioning system on board Cuttlefish (SS-171) in spite of space constraints.
1940 Tambor (SS-198) leads a new class that culminates decades of development. She goes over 20 knots on the surface, dives in 30 seconds, is very maneuverable under water, is very quiet, and her hull and fittings were tested with depth charges. Designed to operate at least two months alone. Has large food freezer.
January 1, 1941 The first RADAR for submarines became operational.
Dec 41–Aug 45 U.S. Submarines earn 36 Presidential Citations and sink about two-thirds of enemy ships sunk. On "eternal patrol" are 52 submarines; 22% of personnel were lost.
September 1954 First nuclear submarine Nautilus makes first journeys.