Today in AFJ History

September 14, 2013  

1964: Bomb-hunting submarine

The Aluminum, the world's first aluminum-hulled submarine, would recover a hydrogen bomb lost in the Mediterranean Sea.

From the archive: September 12, 1964

Editor’s note: No one knew it at the time, but the Aluminaut — built for research — would in 1966 be used to recover a hydrogen bomb lost in the Mediterranean Sea.

Navy Looks to Ocean Depths

At the launching of the world’s deepest diving submarine in Groton, Conn., Secretary of the Navy Paul H. Nitze revealed the Navy’s desire for even more advanced submersibles to conquer the ocean’s “inner space.”

He said the program for ocean exploration and need for deep submersibles could require a national effort and expenditure comparable to the space program. The radically new submarine is the Aluminaut, built for the Reynolds Metals Company by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics.

Constructed almost entirely of aluminum, it has a range of 80 miles, cruising speed of 308 knots and can descend to an operating depth of 15,000 feet. It will carry one pilot and two scientists for cruises of up to 72 hours.

Although the Aluminaut is owned and operated exclusively by Reynolds, the Bureau of Naval Weapons will participate in its sea trials and the Navy hopes to contract its use for oceanographic studies and possibly for further explorations into the Thresher submarine disaster.