Resurgam

Resurgam

[re-soor-gahm; Eng. ri-sur-gam]
Resurgam (latin: "I shall rise again") is the name given to two early Victorian submarines designed and built by Reverend George Garrett as a weapon to penetrate the chain netting placed around ship hulls to defend against attack by torpedo vessels.

Resurgam I

The first Resurgam, built in 1878, was a 14 ft (5 m), hand powered, one-man vessel nick-named “the curate's egg” due to its shape. Its small size and one-man crew meant it would have been ineffective as a weapon.

Resurgam II

The second Resurgam was built by Cohran & Co. at Birkenhead, England, and launched on 26 November 1879. Her construction was of iron plates fastened to iron frames, with the central section of the vessel clad with wood secured by iron straps and as built, she was long by in diameter, weighed , and had a crew of 3. She was powered by a closed cycle steam engine originally patented in 1872 by the American engineer Eugene Lamm which provided enough steam to turn the single propeller for up to 4 hours. She was designed to have positive buoyancy, and diving was controlled by a pair of hydroplanes amidships. At the time she cost £1,500.

After successful trials in the East Float at Wallasey, it was planned that Resurgam should make her way under her own power from Birkenhead to Portsmouth for a demonstration to the Royal Navy.

However, during the voyage mechanical problems caused the crew to dock at Rhyl for repairs. Once completed, the crew set sail at night in a high wind, towed by the steam yacht Elphin, which Garrett had bought to act as a tender. The Elphin developed engine problems and the Resurgam's crew transferred to her to assist. Because the entry hatch on the Resurgam could not be fastened from outside, the submarine began to ship water and the towrope broke under the added weight, the Resurgam sinking in Liverpool Bay off Rhyl on February 25 1880.

Discovery of wreck

For many years the exact location of Resurgam was a mystery until in 1995 it was found by an experienced wreck diver, Keith Hurley, while attempting to clear snagged fishing nets in of water and on 4 July 1996 was designated protected wreck n.o 42 under the Protection of Wrecks Act. The site of the wreck covers an area in radius at 53° 23.78' N., 03° 33.18' W.

The Resurgam's hull is intact although partially damaged and it is at risk from illegal diving and trawling. After her discovery, the conning tower steering wheel was broken and portable items have gone missing. The vessel is believed to be the oldest surviving submersible, unless Plongeur, commissioned by the French Navy in 1863, converted to an automotive water tanker in 1873, and sold to a private owner in 1937, has not been scrapped.

In 1997, a project undertaken by the Archaeological Diving Unit and over one hundred volunteer divers coordinated by the Nautical Archaeology Society surveyed the structure of the hull and the colonising marine life and used remote sensing equipment to search for debris in the surrounding area. The wreck is currently protected against further erosion by sacrificial anodes. Plans to raise her have so far not been fruitful.

A replica of the vessel was put on display at Woodside, Birkenhead, in 1997.

Resurgam was featured in the TV programme "Wreck Detectives" in 2004.

See also

References

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