Albacore fans celebrate submarine park’s 25th anniversary

Posted: 08/22/2011 in all marine news

Fosters –

One of the many memories Sheila Jordan has aboard the Albacore is the time she was 7½ months pregnant and came on board and her husband, “Butch,” decided to play a little joke on one of the crew members.

“I gave the poor helmsman a heart attack because my husband decided to tell him I was in labor,” Sheila said, with a laugh.

The couple, who currently reside in Connecticut, fondly remember the submarine as their “honeymoon vessel” because they had gotten married just before Butch was to board.

Serving on the Albacore from 1966 to 1968, the second-class petty officer was only 20 years old and it was his first submarine. Although he was only two years on board the Albacore, Butch, who retired a lieutenant commander in the Navy in 1989, has many stories to tell and is now a part of the Friends of the Albacore — an organization of former crewmates and others whose aim is to preserve the park where it’s permanently berthed and keep the submarine’s history alive.

On Saturday, Butch and many other former crewmembers came to Albacore Park to celebrate its 25th anniversary with cake and free tours of the submarine they once called home. The USS Albacore is an important part of not only Portsmouth history, but submarine history in general.

Up until the time the Albacore was launched in 1953, submarines were built to use mainly as surface ships with going underwater an afterthought, explained John Maier, executive director of Albacore Park. With the Cold War and competition with Russia, the Navy decided they needed to build a submarine for underwater purposes.

Maier said they were looking to build something that was not only fast underwater, but quiet and could maneuver well. The result was the Alabacore.

The diesel-electric submarine redefined the craft with its teardrop design that was similar to a blimp and allowed for extremely high speeds underwater. At a little over 203 feet in length, the submarine has never held weapons and was strictly used for research including testing control systems, dive breaks, sonar systems, and escape mechanisms.

Its motto has stood over time as “Praenuntius Futuri” or “Forerunner of the Future” and, as Butch Jordan explained, the vessel has come to serve as the prototype for all modern submarines. Its designs were even adopted into the Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine.

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