Roy Manstan emerges from a replica of the Turtle, the world's first combat submarine.
Roy Manstan emerges from a replica of the Turtle, the world's first combat submarine.

Connecticut College and the Sound Lab Foundation present “Science, Technology and the Submarine Capital of the World: 1776-1996,” a lecture by Roy Manstan M’94, on Thursday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m.

Manstan has extensive expertise on the history and engineering of submarines in American, much of it earned during his long career as a mechanical engineer at New London’s Naval Underwater Sound Lab, which was established during World War II in response to the presence of German U-boats in the North Atlantic. Through the years, the lab’s work focused on underwater sound, submarine warfare, weapon systems and surface ship sonar systems. Manstan trained in scuba at the Naval Submarine Base New London and conducted his engineering both above and below the water’s surface. (He was also trained in underwater photography and developed an interest in marine invertebrate life, which led him to earn a master’s degree in zoology at Connecticut College.) 

In 2003, he began a collaboration with Fred Frese, a teacher in technical arts at Old Saybrook High School whose students were creating a working replica of the Turtle, the world’s first combat submarine, built in 1775 by David Bushnell in Old Saybrook. Their work on the replica spurred Manstan and Frese to publish “Turtle: David Bushnell’s Revolutionary Vessel,” a history of the original vessel. Manstan followed with another book, “Cold Warriors: The Navy’s Engineering and Diving Support Unit,” which explores the role played by the Sound Lab and other organizations in preparing the country for submarine warfare during the Cold War.

“Because of the Navy base in Groton, we are all aware of the recent history of the submarine in our area,” said Benjamin Panciera, the director of special collections at Connecticut College. “Mr. Manstan's lecture will serve to remind us that that history goes back much farther than many of us ever realized. It really is entwined with the history of this region.” 

The Sound Lab Foundation has for 17 years brought lecturers to Connecticut College to speak on subjects of scientific, cultural or political importance.

The talk will take place in the 1941 Room of the College Center at Crozier-Williams. It is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Panciera at

October 3, 2014