Simonís Sub Counter

Explorer

   In the spirit of Captain Nemo & his fictional Nautilus, Simon Lake formed the Lake Underseas Development Corp in 1932 which in turn resulted in the Explorer Submarine Corp. in 1933. The primary purpose for the company and the ensuing construction of the Explorer Submarine in 1934, was for commercial purposes, not military. Simon Lake's heart was always with undersea research and exploration with the objective of harvesting the seas -  including sponge and shell fishing, mining & oil drilling, treasure hunting and wreck salvage, and more.

First plans drawn by 1928
Explorer, Under Construction by 1932
The Explorer in 1934 - New!

Explorer nears completion! 1933-34.
Shown here - testing grappling apparatus.

Final  Completion with modifications and additions by 1935-36

Dr. Beebe aboard the Explorer

   The Explorer was a 22 foot, 10 ton sub, 2-man submarine that operated in conjunction with a "mother ship" for electrical power & air.  It was tested by Simon Lake, accompanied by the famous underseas explorer, Dr. Beebe. The "Baby Sub", as it was called, passed every test of the claimed features and capabilities. During its trials, Dr. Beebe made a decent and thought most highly of the submarine's possibilities.

Dr. Beebe    and    Simon Lake
on the Explorer.

   Simon's original intention was to take the Explorer to Florida to use in sponge & shell fishing, and to search for Spanish treasure. But others ventures took center stage with a search for the 6 million gold-ship treasure that sank with the Hussar in the East River, New York, during the Revolutionary War. He claimed he found the ship, but not the gold.
   In 1938, Simon Lake received word that Daniel Dodge, 21 year old son & heir of the Detroit family Dodge Motors fortune, had drown in Georgian Bay.  Simon was contracted to bring his Baby Sub to find his body. Simon made arrangements and solicited the help Westinghouse for the use of a submersible high-powered search light. Upon his arrival to Lake Ontario in the "Dodge" private airplane, Simon conducted an aerial survey before landing. But shortly afterwards and before the Explorer arrived by rail, the body of Daniel Dodge floated back to the surface and was recovered by a local fisherman.

   Simon lake then place the Explorer in drydock at the Bridgeport Concrete Company on Seaview Avenue, and fully expected to continue investigating its commercial possibilities. W.W.II broke out with Pearl Harbor in 1941 and Simon Lake was at it again in Washington DC promoting the military use of 2-man mini subs as stealth vehicles for warfare. "They can turn on a dime", he said, "and remain undetected as they launch short ranged torpedoes." Silence, was the government's answer to Simon's inventive proposals. To-day, "enemy" military minisubs pose a viable threat to our country's coastlines.

The Explorer, 1958
Milford, CT.
Explorer in drydock at the 
Bridgeport Concrete Co., 1950

   The Explorer was the last submarine built by Simon Lake. When he died in 1945, the Explorer was still in drydock and remained there until 1950.  The people of Simon's hometown of Milford, CT. had sponsored the return of the Explorer and it was to be mounted on a slab of concrete donated by Bridgeport Concrete Co. as a war memorial. But never was mounted,. By 1958 and years of neglect and vandalism the Explorer was considered ready for the dump. It sat behind a rusty old fence where local kids bombarded it with bottles, rocks and Molotov cocktails.

The city of Milford remained indifferent to Simonís  Baby Sub until some child was injured by the hatch slamming shut on his fingers, and was subsequently moved in 1964 to the Bridgeport Museum of Art, Science & Industry.

The Explorer in 1976, after Restoration
at the Groton Sub Base.
The Explorer, 1974, at the Groton Navy Sub Base.
Left to Right: 
Thomas Alva Edison Lake
Winifred Lake Oldroyd 
Thomas Oldroyd

In 1974, Milford reassigned custodianship of the Explorer to the Groton Navy Submarine Base where it was refurbished and displayed. By the latter 1990's interest in the old sub by Milford was reborn when the loan expired and it was again returned to Milford where it proudly rests today at the harbor marina - on a slab of concrete.

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