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Simon Lake is Born

Today in Masonic History Simon Lake is born in 1866.

Simon Lake was an American naval architect.

Lake was born on September 4th, 1866 in Pleasantville, New Jersey. After attending public schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Lake joined his father’s foundry business.

From a young age, Lake had a strong interest in undersea travel. In 1894, Lake built the Argonaut Junior, which was only 14 feet long. Like future submarines Lake would design, it had an airlock for divers. He built in response to an 1893 request from the United States Navy for a submarine torpedo boat.

In 1898, Lake built Argonaut 1, this one 36 foot long, which he sailed from Norfolk, Virginia to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The 1,000 mile journey that he took the Argonaut 1 on, gave him many lessons for the production of a new vessel, Argonaut 2 which 60 feet long.

In 1901, Lake built the Protector. The Protector was the first submarine to have two sets of planes to control depth, two on the aft section and two just forward of the conning tower. The dual plane design allowed the submarine to change depth without having to adjust its ballast tanks. Again the Protector had a lock-out chamber (airlock) for divers. Despite his innovations, none of Lake’s designs were accepted by the United States Navy. This was largely due to a lack of funding for his designs.

In 1904, Lake moved to Europe and went to work for Imperial Russia designing submarines. He remained in Europe for the next seven years working also for the Austro-Hungarian Navy, and the Imperial German Navy.

In 1912, Lake opened the Lake Torpedo Boat Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. During the company’s existence, Lake built 26 submarines for the United States Navy. The first submarine that Lake built for the Navy was USS G-1 (SS-19 ½), set a depth record of 256 feet in November 1912.

In 1922, the United States signed a treaty limiting the size of naval forces. This led to financial problems for the Lake Torpedo Boat Company, which closed in the mid 1920’s. After he closed his company, Lake turned his attention to underwater salvage. He obtained permission to do a partial salvage of the Lusitania. He also had a failed attempt to salvage the HMS Hussar, a British frigate that sank in 1780 in the East River in New York City.  He also advised the United States Navy about submarine technology until the time of his passing and redesigned the Arctic exploration submarine, Nautilus.

Lake passed away on June 23rd, 1945.

Lake was a member of Monmouth Lodge No. 172 in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. He later affiliated with Ansantawae Lodge No. 89 in Milford, Connecticut.