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At the onset of the American Revolution, the British expected to quell the rebellion quickly with a show of overwhelming force. In an experiment in asymmetric warfare, David Bushnell created the first submarine vessel designed specifically for the destruction of vessels of war. On a quiet September night in 1776, sergeant Ezra Lee manoeuvred Bushnell’s strange little craft out from Manhattan and into the midst of the greatest naval fleet ever assembled in the Americas. Lee s goal was to sink the British flagship HMS Eagle by attaching a powerful explosive to its hull. Although the mission was unsuccessful, Bushnell’s concept of submarine warfare was considered by George Washington to have been an effort of genius.

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