Believe it or not, submarines have been used for warfare since the American Revolutionary War (though they wouldn’t be used successfully until much later). Of course, submarine technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since the first primitive submarines took to the seas.
Today, in order to avoid detection by enemy sonar, submarines must operate a minimum of 100 metres below the “Sonic Layer Depth“, which means they must be made of metals that can withstand intense pressures.
Today the U.S. Navy is on a quest to build an even stealthier submarine. Teams at the University of Connecticut have been hard at work developing a method for boat builders to test the amount of vibrational noise a submarine will emit — before the submarine is put into service. Testing during the construction of the vessels will minimize the vibration given off by future submarine, which will likely rely on simpler and cheaper design methods.
That’s not to say the research itself hasn’t been expensive; over the past seven years it has cost $1.6 million in funding from the Office of Naval Research. It’s just one step in a thirty-year plan to create a larger and modernized Navy. The Navy is essential to keep international bases well-stocked and to stand up to potential threats from other countries’ modernized navies.
The UConn research team has been testing their methods by using modified tables that typically would simulate seismic damage, and despite difficulties with devising suitable and extra-precise algorithms, they have had some progress that Electric Boat, one of two primary submarine builders for the Navy, is very interested in.
Of course, submarine technology also has applications outside of the military
During the recently resolved event of the twelve soccer players stranded in a flooded cave in Thailand, Elon Musk (multi-billionaire and CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink) had some of his top engineers from his various companies working around the clock to construct and test a tiny child-sized submarine. The idea was that the submarine could be a safe vessel for rescue divers to transport out some of the boys from the narrow and flooded cave tunnels. None of the boys had diving experience, and many couldn’t swim, causing concern for the divers who had to give them basic lessons in scuba and then guide them with an oxygen tank and mask through the three-hour journey to the cave’s mouth.
Although the mini submarine was dubbed “not practical” for that particular mission by the chief of the rescue operation, Musk gave the submarine to the Thai navy for “future rescue efforts” where it may be more useful. He had some of the SpaceX engineers that developed the submarine meet up with Thai navy Admiral Apakorn Youkongpaew and a few other Thai navy personnel to do a basic training session on working the mini-submarine. The British divers involved on the rescue mission also provided feedback for improving the sub’s technology to optimize its use in a rescue mission.
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