Flach, first submarine in Latin America

Flach was the first submarine designed and built in Chile. Commissioned in 1865 by the Chilean government during the war between Chile and Peru against Spain (1864-1866). It was built by the German engineer Karl Flach. The submarine sank during tests in Valparaiso bay on May 3rd, 1866, with the entire eleven-man crew.

Flach was a pedal-powered submarine equipped with two cannons, one built right into the nose of the vessel. Constructed entirely of steel, it was 12.5 meters long, 2.5 meters wide and weighed an estimated 100 tons.
The loss
On May 3rd, 1866, after several days of successful testing, Karl Flach, his son, and nine other Chilean and German crewmen boarded the submarine for another test run. During the test, the submarine sank for reasons unknown; it is now thought to lie at a depth of about 50 meters within the bay of Valparaiso. The Flach was located two days after the sinking by seamen from the English frigate HMS Leander, and a diver named John Wallace was able to see and draw the wreck, which was buried nose-down in the bay`s sediment.
Attempts to raise the submarine are currently (2009) taking place by Chilean government.

Back to History Index

Image Country Year Description
Comoros 2008 Flach 1866- First Chilean submarine (Karl Flach, Chile)
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