Old Relic Remains at Bottom of Milford’s Harbor

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
At the bottom of Milford, Conn.’s city harbor lies a century-old, barnacle-encrusted submersible, belonging to native and inventor Simon Lake, a pioneer in the field of submarine technology and underwater exploration. While some mistakenly believe the submersible in the city's harbor is an early submarine, it is actually a chamber that would be lowered to the ocean floor by a boom on a ship. People could walk to the chamber through a 200-foot-long tube with a staircase that was connected to the structure. According to the Connecticut Post, one of three such chambers built by Lake was used by England in 1907 to salvage the Lutine, a treasure-filled ship that sank in the Zuider Zee, a former arm of the North Sea that was later shut off by dikes, according to the inventor's family. While many people have incorrectly referred to the chamber as a submarine, it is still an important relic built by the Lake Torpedo Boat Co. in Bridgeport. The chamber, more than 20 feet in diameter, can still be seen along Rogers Avenue during low tide. Lake’s descendants revealed that he was more interested in having his submersibles used for peaceful purposes, such as explorations and salvage expeditions, than for war. At one point, Lake was involved with an expedition to the North Pole that was canceled at the last minute. Lake also believed drawings he submitted to the German Naval Ministry 10 years before World War II were later used to create the infamous U-boats. Lake, who died on June 23, 1945, at 78, built many of his submersibles in a workshop behind his house on Broad Street. The house is now the site of the Smith Funeral Home. Although some have expressed an interest in raising the submersible from the harbor floor, some say it might not be worth the expense — though they concede it's an interesting and feasible proposition. The Explorer, the last submarine built by Lake in 1936, is already on display at Milford Landing Marina on Helwig Street. Also on display at the landing is a plaque from the first metal even-keeled submarine Argonaut, which Lake built in 1897. The even-keeled technology developed by Lake is still used today in modern submarines. (Source: Connecticut Post)
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