ASME-Landmark:USS Albacore


The USS Albacore (AGSS-569) represented a radical change in submarine design. The hull was designed with underwater speed, and not surface performance, as the prime requirement, and it was built with newly developed high-strength steel (HY-80). In addition to these two major innovations, the Albacore served as a test vessel for many new designs in submarine technology, including the testing of various control designs and the correlation of actual sea-trial performance with that predicted in tow-tank tests.

The USS Albacore was launched on August 1, 1953, and commissioned on December 5, 1953. During its nineteen years of service, the Albacore carried out tests of speed, depth changes, and underwater maneuvering. Its design innovations were adopted for all US Navy submarines that followed. It underwent five re-fits or phase conversions, as appropriate for its experimental mission. Among other lasting contributions, the Albacore's unique teardrop-shaped hull design—based on the form of the R101 dirigible from World War I and refined using large-scale models in wind-tunnel testing—was later combined with nuclear power technology to create the USS Nautilus, the first submarine capable of sustained underwater performance.

The Albacore was decommissioned on September 1, 1972, and placed in the reserve fleet in Philadelphia. In 1985, the Navy transferred responsibility for the submarine to the Portsmouth Submarine Memorial Association. The permanent display site is a quarter mile inland, set on a cradle, land-locked. The museum opened to the public August 30, 1986. See ASME website for more information