1856 – Phillips Submarine Exploring Armor – Lodner Phillips (American)

The Phillips patent is the first known "Armored Diving Suit". There is no evidence yet found that suggests that Phillips actually built his suit, although he did build an earlier submarine. 

phillips-armor-suit-1

Many features of the design will be seen in similar more successful suits over a half century later.

phillips-armor-suit-2

Note the additional manipulators projecting from the waist that extended the operator's reach.

Publication number US15898 A
Publication type Grant
Publication date Oct 14, 1856
Inventor Lodner D. Phillips

Submarine Armor or Exploring Apparatus

In general my invention relates to the construction of a metallic vessel or apparatus so apportioned, arranged and equipped with tools or instruments for sub-marine explorations, and of proper form to admit a man in its principal cavity, and in furnishing such metallic casing with air chambers and other apparatus for the convenience and safety of the person operating the same; also suitable joints of peculiar construction to allow the free use of the legs and arms of the operator; also attachments by means of which the operator can ascend, or descend, or change his position and give locomotion to the machine` without assistance from others.  

The advantages of this machine over all others are, first, the operator is freed from all pressure of water at any depth; secondly, he has ample locomotive control over the apparatus; thirdly, he can ascend to the surface on his own account and without the assistance from others.


Lodner D. Phillips, a former shoemaker turned engineer, designed and built a submarine for marine salvage in the Great Lakes in 1850. Called the Marine Cigar, it sank in 1853. During the Civil War, he offered his designs, which included guns attached to the submarine, to the US Navy.

Source: Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine: Iron, Guns, and Pearls by James Delgado, 2012.


For a more complete story on Phillips, see here.

See other early Underwater Robots here.


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