USS Albacore (AGSS-569)


USS Albacore was laid down on March 15, 1952, launched on August 1, 1953 and commissioned on December 5, 1953. She was to serve the next twenty years as a test bed for many new concepts in submarine developement, firstmost being her tear-drop hull design. Faster, more maneuverable, and quieter than previous submarine hull shapes, the tear-drop hull is used in nearly all modern submarine design.

Albacore was rebuilt several times to test various design concepts. As originally built, she had a single propellor with the control surfaces extended to the rear of the prop, and she had a dorsal rudder on the aft edge of the sail with small bow planes. She was powered by two diesel engines, coupled to a 7500hp electric motor on the propellor shaft. Batteries provided underwater propulsion.

In her next design variation, the stern control surfaces were moved forward of the prop, in a + configuration, the bow planes were removed, and the dorsal rudder deactivated. This was in 1956.

In 1961 work was completed on her third variation. This time her stern control surfaces were arranged in an X formation. Her dorsal rudder was reactivated and speed brakes were mounted on the hull. Maneuverability was much improved with the new stern surfaces, though the control system was complicated.

Her fourth variation included a new battery and counter-rotating props. A second electric motor was installed, with a second propellor shaft inside the first for the extra prop. This increased her underwater speed to over 30 knots. She also tested new ballast control systems in response to the loss of USS Thresher (SSN-593).

Albacore served until September 1, 1972 when she was decommissioned, and placed in reserve at Philadephia. She rested there until 1984, when she was towed back to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to become a museum. Her final destination is in a unique setting. Getting her there required moving her almost a quarter mile inland, through a railroad bridge, and across a highway. She rests 27 feet above the water level in a dry basin, on a cradle. She was opened to the public in 1985.

Some Statistics:
Length: 203' 10"
Width: 27' 4"
Draft: 18' 7"
Displacement: 1242 tons surface, 1847 tons submerged
Speed: 15 knots surface, 30+ knots submerged
Armament: none carried
Complement: 5 officers, 50 enlisted

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