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A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has only limited underwater capability. The term submarine most commonly refers to large crewed autonomous vessels; however, historically or more casually, submarine can also refer to medium sized or smaller vessels (midget submarines, wet subs), remotely operated vehicles or robots. The word submarine was originally an adjective meaning "under the sea", and so consequently other uses such as "submarine engineering" or "submarine cable" may not actually refer to submarines at all. Submarine was shortened from the term "submarine boat", and is often further shortened to "sub".

Submarines are referred to as "boats" rather than as "ships", regardless of their size. The English term U-boat for a German submarine comes from the German word for submarine, U-Boot, itself an abbreviation for Unterseeboot ("undersea boat").

Submarine history goes back far before the 19th century, in the form of some experimental boats, submarine design began to gear up during the 19th century. Submarines were first widely used in World War I, and feature in many large navies. Uses in submarine warfare range from attacking enemy ships or submarines, aircraft carrier protection, blockade running, ballistic missile submarines as part of a nuclear strike force, reconnaissance, conventional land attack (for example using a cruise missile), and covert insertion of special forces. Civilian uses for submarines include marine science, salvage, exploration and facility inspection/maintenance. Submarines can also be specialized to a function such as search and rescue, or undersea cable repair. Submarines are also used in tourism and for academic research.

Submarines have one of the largest ranges of capabilities in any vessel, ranging from small autonomous examples to one or two-person vessels operating for a few hours, to vessels which can remain submerged for 6 months such as the Russian Typhoon class. Submarines can work at greater depths than are survivable or practical for human divers. Modern deep diving submarines are derived from the bathyscaphe, which in turn was an evolution of the diving bell.

Most large submarines comprise a cylindrical body with hemispherical (and/or conical) ends and a vertical structure, usually located amidships, which houses communications and sensing devices as well as periscopes. In modern submarines this structure is the "sail" in American usage, and "fin" in European usage. A "conning tower" was a feature of earlier designs: a separate pressure hull above the main body of the boat that allowed the use of shorter periscopes. There is a propeller (or pump jet) at the rear and various hydrodynamic control fins as well as ballast tanks. Smaller, deep diving and specialty submarines may deviate significantly from this traditional layout.

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B. (1913-10-15)October 15, 1913 – d. May 14, 1945(1945-05-14) (aged 31)

Captain Wolfgang August Eugen Lüth (15 October 1913 – 14 May 1945) was the second most successful German U-boat ace of World War II. His career record of 46 merchant ships plus the French submarine Doris sunk during 15 war patrols, with a total displacement of 230,781 GRT, was second only to that of Korvettenkapitän Otto Kretschmer, whose 47 sinkings totaled 272,958 GRT.

Lüth joined the Reichsmarine in 1933. After a period of training on surface vessels he transferred to the U-boat service in 1936. In December 1939 he received command of German submarine U-9, which he took on six war patrols. In June 1940 he took command of U-138 for two patrols. In October 1940 he transferred again, this time to the ocean-going U-43 submarine for five war patrols. After two war patrols on U-181, the second being his longest of the war, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten). He was the first of two U-boat commanders to be honored in such a way during World War II, the other recipient being Albrecht Brandi.

Lüth's last service position was commander of the Naval Academy Mürwik at Flensburg-Mürwik. He was accidentally shot and killed by a German sentry on the night of 13 to 14 May 1945. Lüth was given the last state funeral of the Third Reich, the only U-boat commander to be so honored.


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