The diesel-electric Dolphin returns to sea this spring in its primary role as the Navy’s research and testing vehicle for submarine systems. The proliferation of diesel-electric technology, notably in smaller, quieter submarines, has made diesels a hot commodity, prompting the Navy to bring Gotland, a quiet Swedish diesel-electric submarine, to train with the fleet.
The Navy has spent more than $40 million to repair, modify and upgrade Dolphin, which was commissioned in 1968. This spring, it will begin acoustic torpedo testing and will likely join in anti-submarine and undersea warfare exercises.
With the additional systems and survivability upgrades, the community “will really look at Dolphin again as a really unique operational platform,” said the boat’s skipper, Cmdr. Andrew Wilde. “And we’ll have the capabilities to provide that again to the fleet.”
I'm sure my fellow bubbleheads have heard the old joke "we had a fire, but don't worry...the flooding put it out." This wasn't a joke for deep-diving Dolphin, where flooding caused a fire and significant damage.
Well, our one and only diesal boat is back in business. While some letters to the most recent issue of Navy Times are debating the cost effectiveness of building nukes vice a return to some non-nuke subs, the fact remains that it's good to see a sister sub back in the water and ready for sea.