Nelson Institute of Marine Research

Santa Barbara, California


After a long and illustrious career in the Navy, Admiral Harriman Nelson retired to see the fruition of his dream--the design and building of a submarine. Not just any submarine. It would be the first submarine not built under the auspices of the U.S. Navy. This submarine would house the largest mobile oceanographic laboratory in the world. It would be the largest submarine afloat. It would be able to travel farther and faster than any existing submarine. It was designed to seek out the mysteries of the deep as well as be the ultimate testing facility for weapons research.

The design had been on the drawing board for quite sometime, but with the disinterest of the Navy for the project, Admiral Nelson decided that if he were ever to see his dream unfold it would all depend on him. He spent his own family fortune as well has monies he had earned from many of his patents and processes. He also received money from foundations and even children were caught up in the dream as they sent their pennies to see the dream come alive.

Realizing the potential of such a craft, the government formed the Federal Bureau of Marine Exploration with the newly formed Nelson Institute of Marine Research, which has grown to be the largest marine research center on the west coast, as its first installation. The FBME was the ocean's counterpart to NASA. It was created to build facilities and craft for the exploration of the oceans to acquire scientific knowledge and as an arm to bolster the defense of our country through this increase in knowledge.

An important part of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research is the submarine Seaview, a nuclear powered submarine with here to fore unheard of capabilities for research, development and defense. Being attached to the FBME, the Seaview is a reserve boat in the U.S. Navy and thus is called upon for missions and testing as her diving and speed capabilites allow her to do more than any other boat in existence. It is the culmination of several years of research and planning by Admiral Nelson. The design is unique in several respects. The shape and the transparent nose the most obvious. The plates in the nose are made of X-tempered Herculite. A hardened alloy developed by Admiral Nelson that is transparent as glass, but can withstand the pressures of a normal null.

During the first year of operation, tests were being done on a small, very maneuverable submarine that could also take to flight at speeds over 2 MACH. After production, the Seaview was drydocked and was altered dramatically to make room for the housing of this "Flying Sub".

Since the inception of NIMR and the launching of Seaview, great strides have been made in research of the oceans and the development and design of weapons and will prove to be one of the greatest catalyst for the advancement of science and defense in our time.

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