Steinhuder Hecht

The Steinhuder Hecht ('Steinhude Pike') from 1772 is said to be the first submarine built in Germany.

Contemporary sketch
Model in the Wilhelmstein Fortress, a military museum

The engineer and officer Jakob Chrysostomus Praetorius drafted a construction made of oak wood, in the shape of a fish with sails and mobile rear. Allegedly, the plan was presented in 1762 to William, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe. After an initial rejection it was built in 1772 at the island fortress Wilhelmstein in a reduced version. It is said to have dived in the Steinhuder Meer, a large lake, for 12 minutes. As the lake has a maximum depth of 2.9 metres (9 ft 6 in) this claim is rather dubious.

The range of the 'pike' must have been rather limited. According to a local legend count Wilhelm wanted to sail with it to Portugal. Its military purpose was actually the following: in the event of a siege the 'pike' had to connect the fortification with the allies of Schaumburg-Lippe, especially Britain, Braunschweig-Lüneburg and Prussia.

Today a model and construction plans are exhibited in the military museum Wilhelmstein. The Wilhelmstein, an artificial island and fortress, was the planned base for the 'pike'.


  • Wesk, Timm (2002). Hippopotame and Schaumburger or Steinhuder Hecht - An Amphibious Craft and a Submarine from the 18th century. The Mariner’s Mirror: the journal of the Society for Nautical Research. 88.3. pp. 271–284. ISSN 0025-3359.

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