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Her construction was of iron plates fastened to iron frames, with the central section of the vessel clad with wood secured by iron straps. As built, she was 45 feet (14 m) long by 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter, weighed 30 long tons (30 t), and had a crew of 3. She was powered by a closed cycle steam engine originally patented in 1872 by the American engineer Eugene Lamm which provided enough steam to turn the single propeller for up to 4 hours. She was designed to have positive buoyancy, and diving was controlled by a pair of hydroplanes amidships. At the time she cost £1,538.
Resurgam was being towed to Portsmouth for trials when it broke away and sank - without a trace. The submarine had its moments of success before the waters closed over it. The designer George William Garrett remained underwater for considerable periods of time with it during trials in a Liverpool dock but underwater navigation not propulsion was stated as the problem.
The submarine should have had the capabilities of travelling underwater for up to 12 miles by getting up a full head of steam with the aid of a blower, closing the firedoor and chimney and using latent heat for evaporation.
1982 The Royal Navy joined the hunt to find the wreckage.
For many years the exact location of Resurgam was a mystery. In 1995, it was found by an experienced wreck diver, Keith Hurley, while he was attempting to clear snagged fishing nets in 60 feet (18 m) of water.