Slide Show of the Turtle in Transit to OSHS

The American Turtle

The original Turtle was built in 1776 by David Bushnell, and was the first submarine to be used in combat.The Turtle was first launched for combat on September 6, 1776. It was launched at night, and navigated towards the British Flagship, HMS Eagle moored in the New York Harbor. A problem occurred when the operator, Ezra Lee of Old Lyme, first tried to put in the screw that was intended to hold the bomb onto the ship. When he drilled into the side of the ship he struck metal instead of wood, and could not secure the bomb. The British saw him and he was forced to flee, leaving the bomb in the water. The bomb then exploded, scaring off the British, but not harming the ship.

Although the attempt at destroying the enemy ship was unsuccessful, the mistake was human and not mechanical, and the Turtle revolutionized the way future water battles would be fought.

The students at the Old Saybrook High School, who now have a thorough knowledge of the history of the Turtle, along with the woodshop teacher, Fred Frese, are attempting to recreate this submarine. The Submarine is being built by the technology department. The designing is being done by the math and science departments, and the historical aspect is being done by the social studies department, making this a largely interdisciplinary project.

The idea of building the replica of the Turtle came from woodshop teacher, Fred Frese who, after an interview for a job, asked Scott Schoonmaker if he wanted to build a submarine. Thinking he was kidding, Scott Schoonmaker replied by saying, "Yeah, sure," which started the planning and funding.

The building of the Turtle is expected to be finished sometime in the spring of next year, at which time the US Navy will be supplying all the technological parts. A retired SEAL will pilot the ship when it is first launched.

-Ben Gergler



Replica of The Turtle, located in the lobby of Old Saybrook High School.




Web page design by Ben Gergler