John Day (carpenter)

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For other people with the same name, see John Day (disambiguation).

John Day (date of birth unknown; died June 22, 1774[1]) is the first recorded death in an accident with a submarine.[2] Day was an English carpenter and wheelwright. With the financial support of Christopher Blake, an English gambler, Day built a wooden "diving chamber" without an engine. He attached his invention to the deck of a 50-ton sloop named the Maria, which Blake had purchased for £340. The sloop's hold contained 10 tons of ballast, and two 10-ton weights were attached beneath the keel which could be released from inside the diving chamber. An additional 20 tons of ballast would be loaded on the Maria after Day had been locked inside the diving chamber.[2][3][4]

Day bet with Blake that he and his boat could descend to a depth of 130 feet (40 m) and stay underwater for 12 hours.[2][5]

On June 22, 1774,[6] the Maria was towed to a location north of Drake's Island in Plymouth Sound, off Plymouth, England.[4] Day took a candle, water and biscuits on board. The boat was equipped with a hammock for the passenger. After the boat was locked, the weights were loaded and the boat sank forever into the depths. Day had the calculation of the trim completely wrong.[3] It has been speculated that Day may have died from asphyxiation,[1] hypothermia[4] or catastrophic structural failure of the Maria and/or the diving chamber due to water pressure.[2][4][5] This incident was the first recorded fatal accident involving a submarine.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b June 22nd (Retrieved on June 7, 2011)
  2. ^ a b c d Churchill, Dennis (2011). "The First Submariner Casualty" (PDF). In Depth (032): 5–6. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b c Tall, Jeffrey (2002). Submarines & Deep-Sea Vehicles. Thunder Bay Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-1-57145-778-3. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ecott, Tim (2001). Neutral Buoyancy: Adventures in a Liquid World. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. pp. 237–240. ISBN 0-87113-794-1. LCCN 2001018840. 
  5. ^ a b McCartney, Innes (2003). Lost Patrols: Submarine Wrecks of the English Channel. Penzance: Periscope Publishing Ltd. pp. 48–49. ISBN 1-904381-04-9. 
  6. ^ This date comes from The Book of Days. According to Churchill and McCartney, Day's fatal dive occurred on June 20, 1774.