SAA Queensland Inc.
Why is a submarine called a "boat"?

Perhaps the first submarines were called boats because they were small. Some descriptions say that a boat is a vessel that is routinely removed from the water. A ship is one that usually stays in the water, except for unusual occasions: dry-docking, careening, running up on a sandbar etc. Another interpretation is that a boat is any vessel that can be placed on another vessel.

Like ship's boats early submarines were often stowed ashore or on the deck of a ship and they were indeed very small. Fulton's submersibles of the Napoleonic era were no larger than a ship's launch. The Turtle, a US vessel used in an underwater attack against the British during the American War of Independence, was described as a boat in letters of the time. The Hunley, a submarine of the US Civil War, and the first to sink another ship - the Housatonic - carried a crew of nine.

It has been argued that the term "ship" has replaced "boat", especially given the size and destructive power of many modern submarines, especially the "boomers" - the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile submarine. However, it seems that in the world of submariners the old term is still the preferred one.
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