Submarines nearly named after plesiosaurs says Submarine Museum, Gosport

An exhibit in the Submarine Museum, Gosport, England, reveals how submarines might have been named after extinct marine reptiles. The Inspecting captain of Submarine proposed the idea in 1902 but the suggestion was quashed by superiors. Seems a shame to me!

The exhibit reads as follows (kindly transcribed by Simon. M. Clabby):

Bacon and Dinosaurs!!!

Captain Reginald Bacon was the inspecting Captain of Submarines in 1902. He was a keen palaeontologist and had invented the Royal Navy Submarine periscope. He was eager to give submarines names instead of numbers. All the names he suggested were of marine reptiles from the dinosaur era (which resembled giant lizards) because they lived underwater and some had large eyes for enhanced vision, just like a periscope.

On the right is a memorandum he wrote in 1902 putting forward his suggestions. Although his superiors were not keen on the suggested names, they did not immediately turn them down as nobody wanted to upset him. Eventually the 2nd Sea Lord took the decision not to name submarines. The 1st Sea Lord responded on the minute sheet “Thank Goodness for that”.

The memorandum reads as follows:

“The submarines …for launching on 9th… it would be
advisable to name this and future boats with a name
distinctive to each class as they may be built.
The names of the… reptiles appear suitable and
distinctive
The name Ichthyosaurus is particularly applicable to
this last fitted with an aptical corresponding to the
marvellous eye of the reptile…”

There follows a brief review of Plesiosaurus, Ichthyosaurus and Nothosaurus (figured below)
about marine reptiles Gosport

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