Isaac Peral y Caballero (Cartagena, 1851 – 1895, Berlin), was a Spanish inventor, engineer, naval officer and designer of the Peral Submarine. He joined the Spanish Navy in 1866, and developed the first electric-powered submarine which was launched in 1888.
When Peral started having health problems was given a post in Cádiz, teaching in the new naval school Escuela de Ampliación de Estudios de la Armada. There he found time to pursue his idea of a battery-powered submarine with a system to discharge torpedoes while under water. His main problems were his need for finance to develop and test his inventions and lack of official support.
Peral's design for a submarine was first conceived on 20 September 1884, when he wrote a paper which would become his project for a submarine torpedoboat.
After performing several studies and experiments, and having gained support from his superiors and fellow officers, Peral presented his idea to the Spanish navy staff. In September 1885, he wrote a letter to the Spanish naval minister, vice-admiral Pezuela y Lobo. Pezuela y Lobo called Peral to Madrid to have a personal interview with him. After the interview Pezuela y Lobo agreed to finance Peral's preliminary studies in Cádiz with an initial budget of 5,000 pesetas before launching a program to build a full-scale submarine boat. The Peral submarine was the first practical submarine ever made. It was launched on September 8, 1888, and subsequently in a test with naval authorities it successfully made a simulated attack on a cruiser at night without being noticed and returned to port without any damage. The submarine was coastal, however, because it lacked a double-hull and electric engine. Its performance was hardly equaled ten years later in other submarines (that copied many of Peral's innovations).
When Basil Zaharoff (owner of “Vickers-Armstrong” -the best armament company at that time-) discovered this submarine, tried to buy it for his company -even with a blank check- but Isaac Peral rejected the money with the aim of continue offering his invention to the Spanish Navy. Then, Zaharoff began to corrupt high positions of the Spanish government and navy to stop the construction of the brilliant project of Isaac. Finally, the Spanish Navy rejected it and Peral left the navy. Some years later, in 1895, Admiral George Dewey, from the US, admitted to conquering Cavite (and then, Cuba) because Spain didn't have any Isaac's submarines in their navy.
Cartagena City Council
Isaac Peral y Caballero