Ever since human beings created the first submarines, there have been other, more claustrophobic people who have stared at the devices and thought: “Nope.” For many, the thought of the pipe- and equipment-filled narrow metal confines is enough to trigger a fear of drowning—even when they’re standing on dry land. But everyone who has ever looked at a sub, even those of us so enamored with the underwater beasts that we sleep in custom-sewn adult-sized submarine pajamas, has at some point wondered: If the boat goes down, is there any way out?
Yes! Escape plans and tools are almost as old as submarine technology itself. Although the odds may always be stacked in favor of the merciless, cold depths of the sea, a few dozen lucky people have taken that unintentional ride down to the ocean floor and lived to see daylight again. Their stories teach us how to get out.