Attack Center: Periscopes

Periscopes are optical instruments that can afford submariners a limited though vital visual picture outside their windowless hull. Traditionally, periscopes offered the submerged submarine its only glimpse of the outside world. Movies have also made them the submarine's most familiar feature.

Periscopes are still useful, despite the sonar and electronic sensors of modern submarines. They can also be fitted with video cameras or other means of collecting permanent data. But operating at periscope depth, just beneath the surface, submarines are relatively easy to detect. To prevent detection, periscopes are used as infrequently and briefly as possible.

Search Periscope and Electro-Optical Periscope
Shown here are the two periscopes normally mounted in a fast attack: a Type 2 (attack) optical scope to the left, a Type 18 search scope with video recording capability to the right.

The commanding officer of the USS Jacksonville (SSN-699) peers through a periscope.


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