This silent film UNE PLONGEE DU "RUBIS" was one of a series of shorts made by a young Jacques Cousteau immediately after WWII. The film shows dive tests which Cousteau performed aboard the venerable French submarine Rubis.The goal was to show how men could use an airlock aboard the submarine to emerge underwater, both for research and potentially as a means of escape. Not really mentioned in the film is the fact that, in order to shoot it, Cousteau developed a series of camera housings that allowed underwater filming.
The Rubis is shown at 1:00 cruising at sea. At 1:30 its crew, including a pipe smoking captain, surveys the horizon and at 1:54 prepares to dive. At 3:15 the boat is seen underwater. At 4;14 what initially appears to be ballast is dropped by the submarine, in reality deadly underwater mines, (This footage shot by Cousteau, is likely some of the very first to show a submerged submarine. Shots of a torpedo fired underwater at 6:20 are also apparently the first ever to show this activity). At 7:10 the dive team prepares to leave the submarine, putting on swim fins and scuba tanks. At 7:40 the first man enters the submarine's trunk. When all is in readiness water is allowed into the trunk at 8:30. Once pressure is equalized the divers emerge at 9:20. At 9:54 impressive underwater shots of the boat breaking the surface are shown as the film comes to a close.
The French submarine Rubis (H4, 202, P15) was a Saphir-class minelaying submarine which first served in the French submarine pavilion, then the Free French Naval Forces (FNFL) during the Second World War and back with the French Navy. The boat was awarded numerous awards. Accordingly, as a result of Rubis's service with the FNFL, the boat was made a companion of the Ordre de la Libération by a decree issued by General Charles de Gaulle on 14 October 1941.
After serving in Toulon with the 7th and later 5th Submarine Squadrons, in 1937 Rubis was transferred to Cherbourg.
During the Norwegian campaign, in May 1940, Rubis laid mines off the Norwegian coast; the boat's mines claimed four Norwegian vessels in May and June, and a further three merchant ships in July. At the time of the French surrender on 22 June 1940, the boat was in the port of Dundee, Scotland in the United Kingdom, where the boat promptly joined the pavilion of the Free French Forces. At that time, she was commanded by Capitaine de Corvette Georges Cabanier.
Whilst minelaying off Norway in mid-1941, Rubis encountered and torpedoed a Finnish merchant ship. Later in the war, the boat laid mines in the Bay of Biscay, claiming three German auxiliary minesweepers, an armed trawler, and a Vichy French tugboat in 1942, and a fourth auxiliary minesweeper in 1943. Operating off Stavanger in September 1944, the boat's mines claimed two auxiliary submarine chasers and two merchant ships. In October and November, Rubis continued in Norwegian waters, damaging but not sinking two vessels. On 21 December, the boat's mines claimed three auxiliary submarine chasers, a German merchant ship, and a minesweeper.
Throughout the war, Rubis made 22 operational patrols, laying nearly 683 mines and sinking some 21,000 GRT of shipping. With 22 ships sunk (14 of them German, including 12 warships), Rubis achieved the highest kill number in the FNFL. From 1946 to 1948, she was used as a school ship for rigging in Toulon. Rubis was struck on 4 October 1949, and was sunk on 31 January 1958 to be used as a sonar target. The wreck lies 41 metres (135 ft) underwater between Cavalaire and Saint-Tropez, and has become a popular diving attraction.
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