[Mail Call] 2017/06/23 – Tautog answers sub design questions

Happy Friday everyone! Wanna know what I do for fun?

I curl up with a shot of scotch and a nice good book. PRINTED ON REAL PAPER. NONE OF THIS DIGITAL STUFF. YOU KNOW. IN MY HANDS.

(Wow. I can see why Dolphin really likes to shout. It actually makes me feel taller!)

Anyways. I’ve been reading fan mail and some of you seem to take issue with submarine design. “Why didn’t ____ country do _____” or “How could they not have done ____,” stuff like that.

You wanna know why? Well, designing a submarine is very hard. You can’t just magic up some kinda superbote. Ships are hard to make because fundamentally they’re metal boxes floating on water. That’s hard enough already, but submarines have an extra job. They have to go into the water and then have the ability to go back up.

All ships have to balance the displacement (which is the submerged part of the ship – the submerged volume) with the volume itself. A normal ship on the sea has to have its displacement equal the total of all the weights of that ship. You can alter volume by adding structures like deck houses and you can add weight by allowing the ship to sink deeper in the water, but a submarine designer can’t do that.

Think about Archimedes’ Principle with simple buoyancy. The submarine has to balance its displacement with its volume just right. Too much displacement and you’ll, well, not come up (bad). Too little, and you’ll never go down (also bad).

I mean, there’s a lot of things to consider. Take something as simple as depth. Depth is good for a submariner! It gives you another axis to which you can fight on. Naturally the deeper you go, the easier it is for you to use and abuse the features of the sea – be it sound features or actual terrain. Because you have to build a stronger hull to withstand greater pressures, it’s probably going to be tougher, too.

But the deeper you want to go, the heavier your hull has to be. Given that we are limited by how big you want that submarine to be, that means less stuff for the other equipment you want to put in. Then you’ve got the metal to consider. How tough is the steel? What kind of a shape do you want your hull to be –


You know what. I’m gonna go to bed… This stuff is important and far too important to be left to a sleepy post. Good night everyone!