USS ALBACORE - "Forerunner of the Future" - AGSS 569 - Pioneering Research Vessel
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Flotsam + Jetsam

THE ORANGE SUBMARINE

Submitted by Lee 'Skip' Vellom

The summer of '59 Albacore travelled to Key West to partake in testing a destroyer-based electric torpedo. We would go to sea every morning, be target for the torpedo during the day (usually 6-7 torpedoes) then come in for the night. When the torpedo acquired, it would attack -- generally the screw. When it hit the screw, it would dent one of the blades. We had carried two spare screws lashed down topside. We would come in from the day's exercises, tie up at the pier, and divers would change our screw. The damaged screw would be taken to a repair facility to either straighten the blade, or to trim all three blades. When we first arrived, we were using 15-foot diameter screws -- when we left to go home they were all about 12-foot.

The waters in Key West were very hard on our topside paint, so the 1st Lieutentant decided to paint the ship during a week in port. He got the primer and the crew painted her out. The paint had to dry for three days before we could paint the black coating, and it was during this time that the pictures were taken. We were taking a lot of gas from the destroyer sailors when a fleet boat returned from an under the ice expedition. Prior to its trip, it had been the submarine used in the movie "Operation Petticoat" and had been painted pink. Operational requirements did not permit its going into drydock to get repainted, so it was painted white for the under the ice trip. When it returned, large patches of the white paint had peeled off, exposing the pink, and it looked down right leprous!! Needless to say, the kidding shifted from us to them. The CO of the ship was a close friend of Capt Rae's, and his wife had been the stand-in for the nurse for the swimming scenes!! All in all, that was a very interesting summer!!

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