Ottoman submarine Abdül Hamid
Submarine Abdül Hamid was the first submarine built in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, being constructed in 1886 at the Barrow Shipyard
Barrow-in-Furness is an industrial town and seaport which forms about half the territory of the wider Borough of Barrow-in-Furness in the county of Cumbria, England. It lies north of Liverpool, northwest of Manchester and southwest from the county town of Carlisle...

. It was bought and put in service by the Ottoman Navy
Ottoman Navy
The Ottoman Navy was established in the early 14th century. During its long existence it was involved in many conflicts; refer to list of Ottoman sieges and landings and list of Admirals in the Ottoman Empire for a brief chronology.- Pre-Ottoman:...

 and named after Sultan Abdülhamid II
Abdul Hamid II
His Imperial Majesty, The Sultan Abdülhamid II, Emperor of the Ottomans, Caliph of the Faithful was the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire...

. It was also the first submarine in the world to fire a live torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...



Following the Russo-Turkish War of 1878, and the disastrous performance of the Ottoman military in that conflict, there were serious attempts by the Ottomans to upgrade their military capabilities. Eventually Sultan Abdul Hamid, who had always had a fear of the navy and its potential threat to his authority, relented and authorized the Minister of the Navy (Bahriye Nazırı) Bozcaadalı Hasan Hüsnü Paşa to purchase these new boats for the navy. Rapid modernization of various Balkan navies and Greece's interest in submarines at the time were also instrumental.

Barrow Shipyard built two of these steam-engined boats for the Swedish industrialist and arms dealer Thorsten Nordenfelt
Thorsten Nordenfelt
Thorsten Nordenfelt , was a Swedish inventor and industrialist.Nordenfelt was born in Örby outside Kinna, Sweden, the son of a colonel. The surname was and is often spelt Nordenfeldt, though Thorsten and his brothers always spelt it Nordenfelt, and the 1881 Census shows it as Nordenfelt...

. These were ultimately sold to Turkey and Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. The submarine for Russia never reached her customer, foundering on the Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 (Danish) coast on her delivery voyage.

The Ottoman boat, Abdül Hamid, was dismantled for delivery by ship and re-assembled at Taşkızak Naval Shipyard  along the Golden Horn
Golden Horn
The Golden Horn is a historic inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the city of Istanbul and forming the natural harbor that has sheltered Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other ships for thousands of...

 in Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 under the supervision of its designer British engineer George William Garrett. Another boat of Nordenfelt class, Abdül Mecid was built at the same time and later delivered to the Ottoman Navy.

Abdül Hamid was first launched on September 6, 1886 in front of many international dignitaries lined along Golden Horn. First diving tests were carried out in February 1887. Three dives were attempted successfully, 20 seconds each, with only the hemispherical navigator cockpit remaining above the water. On another test run in early 1888, the submarine was able to navigate through the strong currents around the Seraglio Point, making up to 10 knots of speed and successfully sank an old target ship with a single torpedo. After more tests and trial at Izmit naval base, they officially joined the Ottoman Navy in a flag ceremony on 24 March 1888.

Technical details

Abdül Hamid was powered by a coal-fired 250 hp Lamm steam engine turning a single screw. It carried two 356mm torpedo tubes and two 35mm machine guns. It could carry a total of 8 tons of coal as fuel and could dive to 160 feet. It was 30.5m long and 6m wide, and weighed 100 tons. It had a normal crew of 7. It could do 6 knots on the surface, and 4 knots submerged.

In preparation for the dive, the crew had to close up the boiler and pull down the funnel. Air tanks pressurized while sailing at surface were used to propel the boat a short distance under water. This allowed only minutes when submerged. It had multiple torpedo tubes, a first, all on deck.

Though technically cutting edge for their time, the boats were not battle worthy. They had limited speed and range and were poorly balanced which was made worse with each firing of a torpedo.

After a few more trials and shows at Izmit, they were pulled from active service in 1910 and were discarded not far from where they were first assembled.

External links

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