A Brief History of Submarines

While man has traveled over the waves for millennia, it has only been in modern times that we have gotten the chance to explore underneath the surface. While the hobbyist inventors designed the earliest submarines in the 1500s, the subs of the 20th century have been technologically sophisticated machines developed by engineers and built in massive shipyards.

Each generation of submarines brings about new technology. Following the first adventures in submarine warfare in World War I, plenty of attention was paid to increase the abilities of navies under the waves. Power plants were developed that took submarines from hours or days of work in the deep to weeks and months. Battery volume was increased, and diesel engines were made to run more efficiently.

World War II saw the emergence of the German U-Boats and a leap forward in technology. Of course, with Germany’s advances, there was a reaction of countries worldwide developing submarines; this included Australia, Turkey, Yugoslavia and more. While many of these were built in the shipyards of Britain, Germany, and the United States, the various countries put their technological advances into each one.

The Cold War saw the submarine fleets of the United States, and the Soviet Union increase exponentially, in number and technology. It saw the introduction of nuclear power, demanding support technology, as well as the evolution in the diesel- and electric-powered fleets. It wasn’t just propulsion that changed the operational systems inside submarines became more complex and power-hungry as computerization and automation were used to build more boats, while requiring fewer crew members per boat.

Submarines are continuing to develop as more technology is being put on board. The Russians and the Chinese have both worked to develop the idea of supercavitation, used in a supersonic torpedo developed during the Cold War, with the idea of adapting it to the entire submarine for high-speed travel. The Russians have also developed the state-of-the-art Varshavyanka-class, a stealth submarine using diesel-electric propulsion. The Japanese have pushed it even further with the introduction of a lithium-ion battery propulsion system expected to be in their next generation of submarines. Where nuclear power was previously thought to be the future of submarines, the electric and the diesel-electric are undergoing a massive resurgence.

At PCTI, we support the current generation of submarines that are patrolling the waters of the world with leading-edge advanced design topologies for battery chargers/dischargers in power ratings up to 2MW. Our innovative chargers, inverters, and DC power supplies can be found supporting submarines from a variety of nations, such as the Walrus Class submarines built by the Dutch, German Type 209 attack submarines, and our own boats in the U.S. Navy. Of course, this is only one application from NASA to General Dynamics, to BAE Systems, our power conversion equipment is part of innovative applications worldwide.

About PCTI

Power Conversion Technologies, Inc. is a certified DBE woman-owned business. PCTI designs and manufactures leading edge power electronic equipment in the highest power ranges. PCTI’s engineering staff has in-depth knowledge in the key areas of power conversion such as power semiconductor analysis and application, thermal exchange, magnetic design, packaging, DSP(digital signal processor) control for inverters, frequency converters, DC power supplies, battery chargers and dischargers. Contact us for more information on our products, applications assistance, or pricing.