fighting ships of the world



NARVAL submarine (1900)

Narval 1900

Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Narval Q004 Q2 Arsenal de Cherbourg 1898 21/10/1899 1900 stricken 11/1909


Displacement standard, t


Displacement normal, t

117 / 202

Length, m


Breadth, m


Draught, m


No of shafts



VTE, 1 Adolphe-Seigle tubular boiler / electric motor

Power, h. p.

220 / 80

Max speed, kts

9.9 / 5.3

Fuel, t


Endurance, nm(kts) 345(8.8) / 58(2.8)


4 - 450 TC

Complement 13
Diving depth operational, m 30

Ship project history: Designed by the famous naval constructor Maxime Laubeuf (1864-1939) as a result of an open competition between 29 designs sponsored by the Minister of Marine Lockroy in 1896 for a 200t boat with a 100nm surface range and a 10nm underwater radius. In essence Laubeuf designed an improved torpedo-boat - one which could submerge to make its attack or to avoid detection, but which could at other times be at least as seaworthy as an ordinary torpedo-boat. His other innovation was the provision of the TE engine, driven by steam from an oil-fired boiler for surface operation and for battery charging. Narval was the first double-hull French submersible boat: the strongly constructed inner cigar-shaped hull contained all the vital equipment and the thin-plated outer hull had the lines of a torpedo-boat.

    Together with the ballast tanks, situated between the two hulls, this gave the ship a 42 per cent coefficient of buoyancy as compared to the 2-3 per cent of the pure submarine. This solution was not only revolutionary but epoch-making in that it led the way to making the submarine a proper warship. With her fixed conning tower, rising from the centre of the flat upper surface of the hull, and a periscope - the first submarine to be so fitted - the Narval appearance (apart from her funnel!) was the forerunner of all submarines which were to follow her. As much as 21 minutes was needed at first to cool down the boiler and to blow off steam before diving, though this was later reduced to 12 minutes. In all other aspects, her trials, which took place during 1900, proved a complete success.

Modernizations: None.

Naval service: No significant events.


Ivan Gogin, 2014