A Century-Old Experimental Submarine, 'The Defender,' Is Found 'Hiding in Plain Sight' in Long Island Sound

Not 'The Defender,' but we needed to show you something.
Not 'The Defender,' but we needed to show you something. / imaginima/E+ via Getty Images

In 1907, millionaire Simon Lake unveiled a vessel he felt would change naval operations forever. His submarine, The Defender, could scurry across the sea bottom on wheels and featured a hatch for divers. He hoped to sell the technology to the U.S. Navy.

That never came to fruition, and the vessel was eventually scuttled. Now, well over a century later, The Defender has been found.

According to The Associated Press, commercial diver Richard Simon discovered the sub on Sunday in Long Island Sound. Long fascinated by its history—he grew up in the area—he was able to pinpoint its location using sonar, underwater mapping surveys, and government data gathered under the Freedom of Information Act. Divers were then able to confirm its location more than 150 feet below the surface. It was "hiding in plain sight," according to Simon.

The Defender has long been a source of fascination for nautical enthusiasts. Lake built the 92-foot-long submarine in a bid to help pioneer the modern submarine, but U.S. officials preferred the vessels of John Philip Holland. (His USS Holland is thought to be the Navy’s first modern-era sub.) When Lake failed to win a government contract, he attempted to reimagine it for salvage work. Still, he had no takers, and the curio was abandoned—and in 1933, it was even sold to a Connecticut shipyard for $500. It was scuttled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1946.

Simon plans to mount diving operations to explore and photograph the site, though he’s reluctant to reveal its exact location over concerns treasure hunters might plunder it. He told NBC News that he has reached out to Lake’s descendants out of respect for a man he described as “ahead of his time.”

[h/t The Associated Press]