World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol

Article Id: WHEBN0000164513
Reproduction Date:

Title: Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ictineo I, Ictineo II, History of submarines, Catalans, Catalan engineers
Collection: 1819 Births, 1885 Deaths, Catalan Engineers, Catalan Inventors, People from Figueres, Spanish Inventors, Submarine Pioneers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol

Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol
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: ; 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.


  • Biography 1
    • Ictineo I 1.1
    • Ictineo II 1.2
  • Later life and legacy 2
    • Later life 2.1
    • Legacy 2.2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


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 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

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

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

Later life

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.  
  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. 


  • Editorial Ramón Sopena; Diccionario Enciclopédico Ilustrado 1962

External links

  • Monturiol, a forgotten submariner; by Thomas Holian in Undersea Warfare
  • [2]critic on Monturiols dream written by Matthew Stewart]
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.