Peral Submarine – The World’s First Electric Battery Powered Submarine

One of the most talked about maritime innovations owes its innovation to a Spanish engineering genius. Isaac Peral y Caballero’s design of the world’s first electrically operated submersible in the 1880s paved the way for more futuristic submarine designs to be developed across various countries in the world.

Named for its creator, the Peral submersible was launched amidst great pomp and splendour in the year 1888 after over three years of active researching undertaken by Isaac Peral. Isaac Peral’s attempt to come up with an ingenious submersible model was actively encouraged by the then Spanish Minister for Navy, Perzuela y Lobo. Lobo allowed a grant of around 5,000 pesetas for the project though the entire cost of the construction of the submersible later on shot up to almost 1, 00, 00, 000 pesetas.

Submarine Peral: Constructional Features

The Peral submarine was quite sleek and technologically advanced for its time. Considered as the world’s first electric battery powered submarine and measuring almost 22 metres lengthwise with a width of about three metres, the submersible could function at maximal speeds touching nearly eight knots.

Peral Submarine
Representation Image


Other characteristic highlights of the vessel include:

  • Equipping of periscope to aid operations better
  • Equipping of magnet-based needle to aid navigations better
  • Mono-hulled vessel with suitable partitions to allow for better mobility of crew and arsenal
  • Two electric motors allowing for propelling power up to 60 horse power
  • Arsenal cache of three torpedo missiles in a single torpedo missile tubing
  • Maximum crewing personnel of 12 members

Controversies and Sustainability Tests

The change in the agendas of the various politicos soon after the submersible’s launch led to the detriment and operational viability of the vessel. The submersible had to undergo several recommended tests by the Spanish naval authorities on numerous occasions following its initial launch.


Though these tests proved that the vessel could indeed be operated with success, it also emerged that the Peral was unsuitable to be used in active warfare on account of lower speed rates. Differences of opinion with Isaac Peral finally led to the scrapping of the vessel completely and the resultant dismantling of the project.

Present-day Status of the Submarine Peral

The Submarine Peral is presently exhibited as a maritime artefact in the home town of its creator, Cartagena.

Peral Submarine
Representation Image

The first operational naval submarine vessel launched by Spain also bore the name of Isaac Peral who unexpectedly died of brain illness in Berlin in the year 1895.

References: thetasteofspain, drivethrustuff, murciatoday, histarmar

Do you have info to share with us ? Suggest a correction

About Author

Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

Get the Latest Maritime News Delivered to Your Inbox!

Our free, fast, and fun newsletter on the global maritime industry, delivered everyday.


  1. The Goubert, a tiny two man submarine launched in 1886 was the first electrically powered vessel, but was very unstable and therefore regarded a failure. In comparison, the Peral, launched only 3 years later was technologically light years ahead of the Goubert in every respect, and fully controllable and capable as a modern undersea naval vessel/ The Peral deserves the title of the first successful, fully operational military submarine or U-boat. She was an enormous leap forward in submarining, and a huge inspiration to other submarine innovators at the time, yet was forgoton by submarine historians.

  2. As always, american an english historians Omit the facts, when when regarding spanishcontributions to america and the world. (Convinient left out historical and scientific contributions throughout history) why?

  3. The blueprints and technical characteristics of the Peral were published later in the Official Bulletin of the State, allowing everybody to copy freely its revolutionary technical solutions. In fact, many submarines in the 1890´s resembled very much the Peral. The weapon´s trader Zaharoff took good profit of the it, altough Peral refused to sell him his submarine.

    Even so, the endurance an capabilities of the Peral were not reached by later submarines till nearly 1910.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *