USS ALBACORE (SS-569)
third Albacore (AGSS-569) was laid down by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval
Shipyard on 15 March 1952; launched on 1 August 1953; sponsored by Mrs. J. E. Jowers, the widow of Chief Motor Machinist's Mate Arthur L. Stanton, lost with
the second Albacore (SS-218); and commissioned on 6 December
1953, Lt. Comdr. Kenneth C. Gummersqn in
effectiveness of submarines in World War II convinced the Navy that undersea
warfare would play an even more important role in comping conflicts and dictated
development of superior submarines. The effectiveness of submarines in World War
II convinced the Navy that undersea warfare would play an even more important role in
coming conflicts and dictated development of superior submarines. The advent of nuclear
the hope that such warships could be produced. The effort to achieve this
goal involved the development of a nuclear propulsion system and the design of a streamlined
capable of optimum submerged performance.
in World War II a committee studied postwar uses of atomic energy and
recommended the development of nuclear propulsion for ships.
nuclear power plants would operate without the oxygen supply needed by
conventional machinery, and since techniques were available for converting
carbon dioxide back to oxygen, the Navy's submarine designers turned their attention to
could operate for long periods without breaking the surface. Veteran submariners visualized a new type of
submarine in which surface performance
characteristics would be completely subordinated to high submerged speed and agility. In 1949 a special committee
began a series of hydrpdynamic studies which led to a program within the Bureau of Ships to determine what hull form would
be best for submerged operation. The David Taylor Model Basin tested a series of proposed designs. The best two-one with a single propeller and the other with dual
screws-were then tested in a wind
tunnel at Langley Air Force Base, Va. The single-screw version was
adopted, and construction of an experimental
submarine to this design was authorized on 25 November 1950. This ship
was classified as an auxiliary submarine (AGSS-569) and named Albacore.
submarine departed Portsmouth on 12 October 1955 and sailed via Block Island,
R.I., for Key West where she arrived on 19 October to commence antisubmarine warfare
evaluation and to provide target services
to the Operational Development Force's Surface Antisubmarine Development
Detachment. On 4 November, Admiral Arleigh A.
Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, embarked in Albacore for a brief
demonstration cruise. On 19 November
1955, Albacore sailed for a rendezvous point off the Bahama Islands
where she conducted special operations until 24 November and then returned to Portsmouth.
December 1955 to March 1956, Albacore underwent stern renewal. Until this
time, her propeller had been surrounded by the rudder and stern plane control surfaces.
With her "new look,"
she resembled a blimp, with her propeller aft of all control surfaces.
with her new stern configuration started in April 1956 and continued until
late in the year. In May Albacore visited New York City and participated
in the television production "Wide, Wide World," during which she
submerged, with an underwater camera mounted on her forecastle, first live telecast of a
submarine while diving.
preliminary acceptance trials, the new submarine departed Portsmouth on 8 April 1954 for shakedown
began the first cycle of a career in which she experimented extensively with a given
configuration and then returned to Portsmouth for extensive modifications so that she might
evaluate different design concepts. In this way, she helped the Navy to develop
better hull configurations for future submarine classes. On this initial
cruise, she operated out of New London before sailing for Key West, Fla., to conduct operations
out of that port and in Cuban waters. She returned to Portsmouth on 3 July for more than a year of trials
in cooperation with the David Taylor Model Basin. Throughout these operations,
she underwent repairs and modification in an effort to eliminate technical problems.
November 1956, Albacore reentered the shipyard for engine conversion. She departed New London, 11
March 1957, for operations out of San Juan,
Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The submarine returned to Boston on 2 April 1957 and operated locally out of Boston and Portsmouth
until entering the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard early in 1958 for an overhaul
which lasted until June.
ensuing tests emphasized sound reduction and included extensive evaluation of
Aquaplas, a sound dampening plastic which had been applied to the ship's superstructure
and tank interiors.
In October 1958, her bow planes were removed to cut down still more on noise.
The submarine ended the year with a fortnight's run to Halifax, Nova Scotia,
and back to serve as a target ship for Canadian warships.
In 1959, a newly
designed 14-foot propeller was installed and tested.
Albacore sailed south late in May and, after operating in the British West Indies for two weeks, proceeded
to Key West to serve as a target for
the Surface Antisubmarine Development Detachment.
After returning north, she spent much of the remainder of 1959 and most of 1960 undergoing widely varied tests for the David Taylor Model Basin. One of the more
unusual consisted of evaluating a concave bow sonar dome.
21 November 1960, the ship entered the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for a major
overhaul and conversion in which she received: a new, experimental, "X"-shaped tail for increased control; 10 dive breaks around her hull; a new
bow which included modified forward
ballast tanks; new sonar systems; and a large auxiliary rudder in the after part of her sail. Following the completion of this work in August 1961, she
operated along the east coast
learning the effect of her new configuration and equipment upon her
capabilities and performance.
1962, she received a newly developed DIMUS sonar system and, on 7 December of that
year, work began on her fourth major conversion which included the installation of
rotating propellers, of a high-capacity silver-zinc battery, and of a larger main
motor. New radio equipment, BQS and BQR sonars, an emergency recovery system, and a new
tank blow system were also added. After the work was completed in March 1965,
Albacore prepared for deployment to Florida waters to study the results of her
changes. She returned to Portsmouth on 8 October and continued to evaluate her capabilities
under the new configuration. On 1 August, she reentered the Portsmouth Naval
Shipyard to replace the silver-zinc battery and to shorten the distance between the
contra-rotating propellers-work which lasted into August 1967.
and machinery tests in the Gulf of Maine during September were followed by evaluation of towed
sonar arrays off
Port Everglades, Fla., in October and November. Then came acoustics trials in
the Tongue of the Ocean, a deep channel in the Central Bahamas.
On New Year's Day
1968, the submarine returned to Portsmouth
for a modification of her propulsion system which kept her in the navy yard until 19 April. Then,
following a month of trials in the
Gulf of Maine, she headed south for evaluation of her new MONOB I and AUTEC systems and of
Fly-Around-Body (FAB), Phase I, equipment on Tongue of the Ocean. She
returned to Portsmouth on 24 August for AUTEC deinstrumen-tation and installation of FAB Phase II
equipment. Then, following evaluation of this new gear in the Gulf of Maine, Albacore
returned to Portsmouth on 30
September and went into reduced operating
status pending the results of further studies on the feasibility of
using her thereafter for further research. Consequently, she remained for the
most part inactive until 2 February 1970
when she began an overhaul m drydock and modifications to prepare her
for Project SURPASS, a research and development
project sponsored by the Naval Ship Research and Development Center at
Carderock, Md. The ship left drydock on 16 April 1971, commenced sea trials on 22 July, and completed them on 29 August. Early in October, she operated off
Provincetown, Mass., to calibrate her
sonar and radar equipment.
after frequent diesel engine failures had caused repeated delays in her
operations, her deployment in support of Project SURPASS was cancelled and preparations for
were begun. Albacore was decommissioned on 9 December 1972 and laid up at
Philadelphia. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 May 1980, and she was towed back to
Portsmouth late in April 1984. In
1985, she was dedicated as a memorial.
Albacore's service as an active experimental submersible for more than two decades
steadily increased the Navy's knowledge of both theoretical and applied
hydrodynamics which it used in designing
faster, quieter, more maneuverable, and safer submarines. The Navy's effort to build hulls capable of optimum operation while submerged was wedded to its
nuclear propulsion program in the
submarine Skipjack (SSN-585) which was laid down in the spring of 1956; and these two concepts
have complemented each other in the
design of all of the Navy's subsequent submarines.
[Note: The above USS ALBACORE (SS-569) history may, or may not, contain text provided by crew members of the USS ALBACORE (SS-569), or by other non-crew members, and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]