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Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol
Monturiol face.JPG
Narcís Monturiol around 1880
Born (1819-09-28)September 28, 1819
Died September 6, 1885(1885-09-06) (aged 65)
Sant Martí de Provençals (currently Barcelona)
Occupation Inventor, engineer, artist, politician
Known for Submarine pioneer. Invented the Ictineo I and Ictineo II.

Narciso Monturiol i Estarriol, also Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol (Catalan pronunciation: [nərˈsiz muntuɾiˈɔɫ i əstəriˈɔɫ]; 28 September 1819 – 6 September 1885) was a Spanish intellectual, artist and engineer. He was the inventor of the first air independent and combustion engine driven submarine.


Monturiol i Estarriol was born in the city of Figueres, Catalonia, Spain. He was the son of a cooper. Monturiol went to high school in Cervera and got a law degree in Barcelona in 1845. He solved the fundamental problems of underwater navigation. In effect, Monturiol invented the first fully functional engine-driven submarine.[1][2]

Monturiol never practiced law, instead turning his talents to writing and publishing, setting up a publishing company in 1846, the same year he married his wife Emilia. He produced a series of journals and pamphlets espousing his radical beliefs in feminism, pacifism, and utopian communism. He also founded the newspaper La Madre de Familia, in which he promised "to defend women from the tyranny of men" and La Fraternidad, Spain's first communist newspaper.

Monturiol's friendship with Abdó Terrades led him to join the Republican Party and his circle of friends included such names as musician Josep Anselm Clavé, and engineer and reformist Ildefons Cerdà. Monturiol also became an enthusiastic follower of the utopian thinker and socialist Étienne Cabet; he popularised Cabet's ideas through La Fraternidad and produced a Spanish translation of his novel Voyage en Icarie. A circle formed round La Fraternidad raised enough money for one of them to travel to Cabet's utopian community, Icaria.

Following the revolutions of 1848, one of his publications was suppressed by the government and he was forced into a brief exile in France. When he returned to Barcelona in 1849, the government curtailed his publishing activities, and he turned his attention to science and engineering instead.

A stay in Cadaqués allowed him to observe the dangerous job of coral harvesters where he even witnessed the death of a man who drowned while performing this job. This prompted him to think of submarine navigation and in September 1857 he went back to Barcelona and organized the first commercial society in Catalonia and Spain dedicated to the exploration of submarine navigation with the name of Monturiol, Font, Altadill y Cia. and a capital of 10,000 pesetas.

In 1858 Monturiol presented his project in a scientific thesis, titled The Ictineo or fish-ship. The first dive of his first submarine, Ictineo I, took place on September 1859 in the harbour of Barcelona.

Ictineo I replica at the Museu Marítim in Barcelona.

Ictineo I[edit]

Main article: Ictineo I

Ictineo I was 7 m (23 ft) long with a beam of 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) and draft of 3.5 m (11 ft). Her intended use was to ease the harvest of coral. It is likely she was inspired by the prototype Brandtaucher of Wilhelm Bauer, completed in 1851, as Monturiol studied all the available science of submersibles. Ictineo‍ '​s prow was equipped with a set of tools suited to the harvest of coral. During the summer of 1859, Monturiol performed more than 20 dives in Ictineo, with his business partner and shipbuilder as crew. Ictineo I possessed good handling, but her top speed was disappointing, as it was limited by the power of human muscles.

The technical success of this submersible created popular enthusiasm but no support from the government. As a result, Monturiol wrote a "letter to the nation", asking the people of Spain to support his project. The fund raising was a great success, bringing in 300,000 pesetas from the people of Spain and Cuba.

Ictineo I was eventually destroyed by accident in January 1862, after completing some fifty dives, when a cargo vessel ran into her at her berth. With the money obtained from the subscription, the company La Navegación Submarina was formed with the objective of developing Ictineo II.

A modern replica of Ictineo I stands in the garden entrance to the Marine Museum in Barcelona.

Ictineo II[edit]

Main article: Ictineo II

Intended as an improved version of Ictineo I, Ictineo II was launched on 2 October 1864. Ictineo II made her maiden voyage under human power on 20 May 1865, submerging to a depth of 30 metres (98 ft). Dissatisfied with the limitations of human propulsion, Monturiol, after much experimentation, invented a chemical combination that generated both heat and oxygen when mixed. With the heat generated by this mixture he hoped to drive a small steam engine, which could also be powered with coal during surface operation.

Monturiol's ultimate plan envisaged a vessel custom-built to house his new engine, which would be entirely built of metal and with the engine housed in its own separate compartment. However, due to the state of his finances, construction of the metal vessel was out of the question. Instead, he managed to assemble enough funds to fit the engine into the wooden Ictineo II for preliminary tests and demonstrations.

On 22 October 1867, Ictineo II made her first surface journey under steam power, averaging 3.5 kn (4.0 mph; 6.5 km/h) with a top speed of 4.5 kn (5.2 mph; 8.3 km/h). On 14 December, Monturiol submerged the vessel and successfully tested his anaerobic engine, without attempting to travel anywhere.

On 23 December that same year, Monturiol's company went bankrupt and could attract no more investment.[3] The chief creditor called in his debt, and Monturiol was forced to surrender his sole asset, Ictineo II. The creditor subsequently sold her to a businessman, and the authorities, who taxed all ships, issued its new owner with a tax bill. Rather than pay the bill, he dismantled the submarine and sold it for scrap.[4] A replica can be seen at the harbor of Barcelona.

Later life and legacy[edit]

Later life[edit]

In 1868 Monturiol returned to political life. A member of the Partido Federal, he was a deputy in the Constituent Assembly of the First Spanish Republic (1873), and shortly afterwards became the director of Fabrica Nacional del Timbre (National Stamp Factory) in Madrid for a few months, where he implemented a process to speed up the manufacturing of adhesive paper. Monturiol's other inventions included a system for copying letters, a continuous printer, a rapid-firing cannon, a system to enhance the performance of steam generators, a stone cutter, a method for preserving meat, and a machine for making cigarettes.[5]

Monturiol died in 1885, in Sant Martí de Provençals, now a suburb of Barcelona.


No other submarine employed an anaerobic propulsion system until 1940 when the German Navy tested a system employing the same principles, the Walter turbine, on the experimental V-80 submarine and later on the Type XVII submarines. The problem of air independent propulsion was finally resolved with the construction of the first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus.

Spain honored Monturiol on a postage stamp in 1987 (purportedly his death centennial; the reason for the discrepancy is unclear).[6]

He has two monuments: one in Barcelona (Avinguda Diagonal-Carrer Girona) and other at the end of the Rambla in Figueres, his native city, better known for another Figuerenc, Salvador Dalí.

Furthermore, the Spanish Navy has honored his name giving it to what will be the first launched submarine of air independent propulsion in active service in the Spanish Navy, the S-82 Narciso Monturiol (the S-81 Isaac Peral being launched the last due to construction issues).


  1. ^ Cargill Hall, R. (1986). History of rocketry and astronautics: proceedings of the third through the sixth History Symposia of the International Academy of Astronautics, Volumen 1. NASA conference publication. American Astronautical Society by Univelt, p. 85. ISBN 0-87703-260-2
  2. ^ A steam powered submarine: the Ictíneo Low-tech Magazine, 24 August 2008
  3. ^ Stewart, Matthew (2003). Monturiol's Dream: The Extraordinary Story of the Submarine Inventor Who Wanted to Save the World. Profile Books Ltd. ISBN 1-86197-470-1. 
  4. ^ Cindy Lee Van Dover. A Utopian's Submarine. Retrieved on 2008-08-01
  5. ^ "Monturiol Estarriol, Narciso". Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas. 
  6. ^ "Timbre 1516966: Narciso Monturiol". Le Marché du Timbre. 


  • Stewart, Matthew (2003). Monturiol's Dream: The Extraordinary Story of the Submarine Inventor Who Wanted to Save the World. Profile Books Ltd. ISBN 1-86197-470-1. 
  • Editorial Ramón Sopena; Diccionario Enciclopédico Ilustrado 1962

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcís_Monturiol_i_Estarriol — Please support Wikipedia.
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67 news items

Southern Fried Science

Southern Fried Science
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 04:31:00 -0700

Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol was a Catalonian revolutionary, utopian iconoclast, and proto-feminist writer who argued that the government, rather than the church, should oversee marriage licenses. He founded several newspapers–which were often shut ...
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:58:07 -0700

... these discoveries were not entirely new, but in fact more than 60 years old—the fruits of a Victorian-era engineer's labors during construction of the world's first powered submarine. Built by Spanish nautical engineer Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol ...


Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:10:49 -0700

Emilio Lizardo. While submersible the Hunley wasn't a true submarine. That honor goes to a contemporaneous inventor Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol whose work wasn't duplicated until the 20th century. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N..
Gizmodo Australia
Sat, 20 Sep 2014 01:02:47 -0700

The Axis war effort throughout the first half of the 1940s led to some incredible advances in submarine technology. That includes the anaerobic Walter turbine — a newfangled engine that didn't need oxygen to work. Even more incredible, these ...
Huffington Post
Tue, 23 Jul 2013 07:46:40 -0700

Serena Aunon, the second Hispanic woman to become a NASA astronaut, spoke to about 100 Latino high school students Friday to try to spark their interest in science and technology. "I think the biggest thing to start with is exposure," she said ...

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Tue, 19 Feb 2013 22:30:38 -0800

This villa has been totally redeveloped to a very high standard to provide that truly special holiday experience. The villa is spacious with 3 double bedrooms backing onto the pool terrace and private pool with all day sun. A large garden/lawn area ...
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Mon, 10 Mar 2014 11:30:09 -0700

Aquestes són les bases dels IX Premis literaris de Sant Narcís 2014. Com podeu veure, l'acte d'entrega dels premis als guanyadors es celebrarà el diumenge de la Festa Major del barri de Sant Narcís -1 de juny- a les 11 del matí i tot seguit complementarà ...

An ninh thủ đô

An ninh thủ đô
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 06:14:17 -0700

Công nghệ AIP (Air Independent Propulsion - động cơ đẩy sử dụng không khí độc lập), được ông Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol, kỹ sư người Tây Ban Nha đề xuất. Năm 1867, ông chế tạo thành công động cơ đẩy không khí độc lập dựa trên một phản ứng hóa ...

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