For two centuries submarines have carried the name "Nautilus." Nearly every one represented new design and operational concepts. The first Nautilus was built in France in 1800. Constructed by the American inventor Robert Fulton, she was funded by First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte. Two of her three-man crew cranked a shaft that drove the propeller. A sail was used on the surface to ease the crew's workload. The test depth was 25 feet. Her weapon was an explosive charge that could be placed near anchored enemy ships.
The Nautilus's "sea tests" were in the Seine at Paris in June 1800. By the following summer, the French had authorized Fulton to attack anchored British ships near Brest. The British knew of this threat, however, and Fulton was unsuccessful. He then dismantled the Nautilus to prevent her from being copied by the French.