Longitudinal section of Fulton's submarine boat 'Nautilus', 1798.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photographic print of the original drawing of the submersible 'Nautilus' from the Archives Nationales, Paris. Robert Fulton was an American engineer whose work involved submarine torpedo boats. He was the first to succesfully apply steam to inland navigation and in 1814 the United States Government employed him to construct the world's first steam warship, 'Fulton the First'. His submersible was designed to be a weapon for use against surface vesels, and he offered the design to the French in 1797. After initially rebuffing Fulton's offer, the French allowed him to demonstrate the boat's capabilities in 1800. The trials were not particularly succesful, and eventually corrosion caused the hull to begin to leak, and the experiment was abandoned.