Welcome Aboard — USS Albacore (AGSS-569)
The third Navy vessel to bear the name, the Auxiliary General Submarine (AGSS) Albacore holds a place in history as the first Navy-designed vessel with a true underwater hull of cylindrical shape that has become the standard for today's submarines worldwide.
Designed, built and maintained by the skilled engineers and craftsmen of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Albacore served as a sea-going test platform from 1953 to 1972. Albacore's teardrop-shaped hull was the prototype for the Navy's nuclear powered submarine force and was the first boat built specifically to operate underwater. Prior to Albacore, submarines had been characterized as surface vessels that could submerge. With her revolutionary hull design and state-of-the-art systems, Albacore provided the Navy with an engineering platform to evaluate systems and design features before including them in future classes of submarine. Her motto was Praenuntius Futuri (Forerunner of the Future) and her mission was experimental.
Commissioned in December of 1953, Albacore was only 2/3rds the length of a World War II Fleet Boat and, when outfitted with her special high capacity silver-zinc battery, could out run a contemporary nuclear submarine. In 1966, she set the record as the world's fastest submarine having attained an underwater speed of nearly 40 miles per hour.
Used for testing control and propulsion systems, sonar equipment, dive brakes, escape mechanisms, and various innovative theories and equipment, Albacore was truly a unique Navy floating laboratory.
In September of 1972, Albacore was decommissioned and placed in reserve at the Inactive Ship Facility in Philadelphia. Ten years later, Portsmouth City Councilman Bill Keefe began an effort to return Albacore to her place of birth as a permanent display. It took two years, lots of paperwork and committee meetings before Albacore was towed from Philadelphia to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In May of 1985, Albacore was maneuvered through a dismantled railroad bridge and a cutout section of four lane highway toward her final resting place. It took nearly six months and a system of locks before she finally was settled on a concrete cradle at Albacore Park.
Your tour of Albacore begins outside the entrance to the museum. There are a series of five outdoor podiums and panels with push buttons that are part of a self-guided audio tour. An additional eleven audio sites continue the tour inside Albacore. The narratives relate not only interesting facts about the boat but also include comments by former crew members of incidents that occurred while they were on board.
Albacore provides a unique opportunity to see where a crew of 55 worked and lived. You will see some of the unusual features of this prototype submarine and hear some of the experiences of her crew.
For information on how to get to Albacore Park, hours of operation and tour charges, please check the Visitor Center section.
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