Thursday, July 31, 2008

USS Tuna -- Thinking Outside the Submarine Can

Tuna are fast swimmers—clocked at 45 mph (70 km/h). The Bluefin species can reach a maximum length of about 14 ft. Two U.S. Navy subs have been named Tuna. It was USS G-2's original name (shown). [WARNING: preceeding Wikipedia article for G-2 submarine contains detected errors]:

On June 22, 1915, while standing down New York's East River with USS G-4 (SS-26) the two boats collided with submarine K-22 [sic] in an unusual three-boat accident. Damage was negligible. G-2 entered the local Navy Yard for an extended overhaul later in the day.

After being decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Register, Tuna foundered on July 30, 1919, in Long Island Sound. Three civilians were lost.

The second USS Tuna was SS-203 of the Tambor class, commissioned in 1941. On July 29, 1943, during WW2, she was mistakenly bombed by the a Royal Australian Air Force patrol. Significant damage was repaired in Brisbane. Tuna later had successful war patrols, was used in a Bikini Atoll A-bomb test, and eventually scuttled.

July 25, 2008 - Robotuna - Big deal, just another autonomous underwater vehicle, right? Wrong! Robotuna is a glider (meaning propulsed by swimming motion rather than propellor driven) designed under a U.S. Navy grant to swim like bluefin tuna, providing it with an operational efficiency expected to last nearly three times longer on conventional battery power than if it were propeller driven like other AUVs.

According to Brendan Lynch (1 minute interview video here):
Initially, it [Robotuna] would be used for surveillance purposes, for detecting radiation and mines, but down the road they [the Navy] would like to build a submarine based on a bluefin tuna.

Connecting the dots here for the submarine is very interesting. In our next posting, we will set the stage for you. If suspense is overwhelming, you might take a hint from this.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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