The USS Albacore (AGSS-569) represented a radical change in submarine design. The hull was designed with underwater speed as the prime requirement, and it was built with newly developed high-strength steel (HY-80). In addition to these two major innovations, the Albacore served as a test vessel for many new designs in submarine technology so that they could be refined before implementing them into the fleet. Among them was the testing of various control designs and correlation of actual sea-trial performance with that predicted in tow-tank tests.
The Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel is a unique experimental facility for hydrodynamic research and testing. The 48-inch (1.2-meter) diameter water tunnel enables the research staff to conduct basic and applied investigations in the fields of cavitation, hydroacoustics, turbulence, transition, hydrodynamic drag, and hydraulic and subsonic turbomachinery. Instrumentation and testing methods have been developed to study noise, vibration, vehicle dynamics, and the interaction between the propulsor and vehicle body.