Your Loving Daughter,
This is a pretty famous boat these days, HMS R3. It is the best photographed of 10 R-class boats built during WWI, and I see from my hard drive that it has appeared around here before. Designed specifically for high underwater speed as submarine hunter killers, they were fairly unsuccessful due to not being able to actually find their targets. Evaluating the USN's extensive trials of USS Albacore from 1953 to 1960 (but in particular a 1955--56 series), Norman Friedman called attention to another aspect of the R-class's unfortunate performance, their poor underwater handling. He points out, somewhere in The Postwar Naval Revolution, that the R-class were in the range in which simplified fluid dynamics modelling fails, much as is the case with the transonic flight regime in aerodynamics. Just as postwar aerodynamics depended extensively on full-scale models due to the inability to extrapolate from wind tunnel testing, so the Albacore was a good way of getting past the limits of theory to a good hull form for Skipjack and later nuclear submarines.
Whether any of this features in the Admiralty response to WWI-era experience with the R-class, the fact remains that another R-class, R4, was retained in service until 1934 as a high-speed underwater target. The whole idea of a submarine optimised for submerged speed with a "teardrop" hull was no novelty for the postwar Admiralty, is what I'm saying, and it is hard to believe that anyone ever thought that it was.
Unbelievable, but because of the October, 1952 decision to cancel the British nuclear submarine programme, one that I want to hold up to the light and squint at for a bit. Seriously. What's going on?
If I had to make three arguments for using Newsweek for postblogging, they would be: i) It's in PARC, and the library can get at the stuff in PARC, even as it begins to buy replacement copies of course work resources trapped in the ASRS facility on account of the automated retrieval system being broken and, at least for the moment, impossible to fix; ii) it has very pretty pictures that are more clearly out of copyright than Time's; iii) and this is where I stretch a bit, it is precisely because it is a bad newspaper. I mean, we're already reading The Economist, and it is, casual brutality and inordinate ego aside, a good paper. Why not see how the other side lives? Read the lazy, second-rate pundits and marvel at the idiotic predictions and rake-stepping proclivities of its business, political, and even show business prophets?*
So when Washington Trends drops word that the Navy is working on two nuclear submarines, and not just one, the reader is not sure what to make of this. It could well be like "the South will be decisive in 1952," just another case of Tom Connally (probably), playing a befuddled Ray Moley like a violin.
Or it could be something solid. As it happens, there was another nuclear submarine project proceeding in parallel with Nautilus. You haven't heard of it because it was a bit of an embarrassment, but Seawolf definitely happened.
Although makeshift repairs permitted the Seawolf to complete her initial sea trials on reduced power in February 1957, Rickover had already decided to abandon the sodium-cooled reactor. Early in November 1956, he informed the Commission that he would take steps toward replacing the reactor in Seawolf with a water-cooled plant similar to that in the Nautilus. The leaks in the Seawolf steam plant were an important factor in the decision but even more persuasive were the inherent limitations in sodium-cooled systems. In Rickover's words they were "expensive to build, complex to operate, susceptible to prolonged shutdown as a result of even minor malfunctions, and difficult and time-consuming to repair."