Class: One of a kind, Dolphin class
Launched: 6 August 1968
At: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Commissioned: 17 August 1968

Length: 165 feet
Beam: 18 feet
Draft: 17 feet (surface trim)
Displacement: 800 tons surfaced, 950 tons submerged
Operating Depth: Greater than 3,000 feet
Research Payload: 12 tons+
Crew Compliment: 5 officers, 46 enlisted
Armament: None, one torpedo tube

Maritime Museum of San Diego
1306 N. Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-9153
Fax: (619) 234-8345
Latitude: 32.7210586141, Longitude: -117.173825575
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Dolphin was built as a diesel-electric, deep-diving, research and development submarine. It can carry scientific payloads of over 12 tons, a considerably greater capacity than any other deep diving research vessel. The submarine has internal and external mounting points, multiple electronic hull connectors, and up to 10 equipment racks for project use. Her larger size also provided greater power and on board research personnel than any other deep diving platform. During her 44 year career, she tested advanced submarine structures, sensors, weapons, communications, and machinery systems. Much of her work is still classified, but here are some examples of Dolphin‘s successes:

  • Operating at depths greater than 3,000 feet.
  • Deepest known test firing of a torpedo.
  • First successful submarine-to-aircraft optical communications
  • Development of a Laser Imaging system of photographic clarity
  • Development of an Extreme Low Frequency (ELF) antenna for Trident
  • Evaluation of various non-acoustic ASW techniques
  • Evaluation of various low probability of interception active sonars
  • First submarine launch of a MOSS system
  • First successful submarine test of BQS-15 sonar system
  • Development of highly accurate (10 cm) towed body position monitoring system
  • deepest launching of a torpedo
  • Development of a new Obstacle Avoidance Sonar system
  • Development of a highly accurate target management system
  • Evaluation of a possible “fifth force of nature”
  • First successful submarine-to-aircraft two-way laser communication

Dolphin‘s pressure hull is optimized for deepwater operation, it is a constant diameter cylinder, closed at its ends with hemispherical heads, and utilizes deep frames instead of bulkheads. Hull openings have been minimized for structural strength and minimum hull weight, in addition to eliminating possible sources for flooding casualties.

She was donated to Maritime Museum of San Diego in 2008, shortly after undergoing a 50 million renovation following a fire/flooding incident.

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