Submarine BECUNA


Length after GUPPY refit: 307 feet, 7 inches

Beam: 27 feet

Displacement: 1,800 tons surfaced, 2,400 tons submerged

Crew: 8 commissioned officers, 5 chief petty officers, 67 enlisted men

Top Speed after Guppy refit: 15 knots (17mph) submerged, 18 knots (21mph) surfaced

Submarine Becuna (SS-319) is a Balao-class submarine launched on January 30, 1944 at Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut after nine months of construction.  She was commissioned on May 27, 1944 and sent immediately to the Pacific Ocean where she engaged the naval forces of Imperial Japan during World War II.  Becuna completed five wartime patrols, sinking three and a half ships and earning four combat stars for her service. 

Becuna returned to the United States in 1949 where she was reassigned from the submarine base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to the one located in New London, Connecticut.  In 1951 she underwent modernization as part of the United States Navy's Greater Underwater Propulsion & Power Program, otherwise referred to as the GUPPY Program.  Becuna was refitted with a Guppy 1A modification that included a streamlined hull, a hydrodynamic fairwater or "sail," upgraded batteries, and a snorkel system.  Becuna is the only Guppy 1-A type submarine remaining anywhere in the world. 

During the Cold War, Becuna was primarily a training vessel, station at the submarine school in New London, Connecticut.  There she taught the next generation of submariners how to go to sea by completing training cruises and participating in NATO exercises.  Becuna's service also took her to the Arctic Circle, the Mediterranean, and more where she conducted surveillance assignments against the Soviet Union, taking photographs of radar installations through per periscope and recording the sonar signature of Soviet submarines.

Becuna was finally decommissioned on November 7, 1969 after 25 years of service.  She was made a museum in July 1976 as part of Philadelphia's celebration of the Bicentennial Celebration of the Declaration of Independence and moved to Penn's Landing to sit beside Cruiser Olympia.  In 1996, Becuna became part of the collections at Independence Seaport Museum, where she resides today.  Submarine Becuna is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 2001, Submarine Becuna received the American Welding Society's Historical Welded Structure Award as an official project of Save America's Treasures. 

Submarine Becuna: A Deeper Dive audio tours are available free of charge. Provided on a handheld device or your own smartphone via mobile app, audio tours are a unique way to further experience and immerse yourself in the fascinating history and science of this National Historic Landmark ship. Available in English, French, Dutch, Mandarin and Spanish.

This project, Submarine Becuna: A Deeper Dive, has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.  

This program received Federal financial assistance for preservation of historic maritime resources and for increasing public awareness and appreciation for the maritime heritage of the United States. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age of Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally funded assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity National Park Service, 1849 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20240. 

This project is supported by a grant through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Historic Ship Collections

Along with the Cruiser Olympia and Submarine Becuna, the Seaport Museum also maintains a vast collection of historical artifacts and records relating to both vessels. The Cruiser Olympia Collection has been inventoried and a collections guide can be found on the Online Catalog page of the website.

The Submarine Becuna collection, which is not currently processed, dates from the 1940s until the 1960s. The collection is essentially divided into two parts: the submarine's plans and mechanical operations, and the personal accounts and artifacts of those that served aboard her. Accounts and artifacts include correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, oral histories, biographies and ephemera, like menus, ration cards, invitations, and programs, relating to submariner's time on Submarine Becuna.

For more information about either historic ships' collection, please contact the J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. If you are interested in donating historical artifacts and records to the collections, please click here.  

Want to volunteer aboard Submarine Becuna? Contact us today!  

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