twenty five years in storage, one of the South Florida Science
Museum's longtime attractions has resurfaced.
On Saturday, the
museum rededicated its 5,000-pound Perry Cubmarine, tabbed the
Reef Hunter, following a six-week restoration.
Automotive in Boca Raton repaired the submarine's
undercarriage, aluminum hull and fiberglass shell.
The Cubmarine was
a prototype two-person submarine developed by the late John H.
Perry Jr. of Palm Beach for undersea exploration. The
Cubmarine was one of the first such vehicles used for
scientific studies, according to Lee Dashiell, resident marine
biology expert at the museum.
In the early
1960s, Mr. Perry — a World War II Navy reconnaissance pilot
and a former publisher of The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach
Daily News — designed and constructed three Cubmarines at a
Riviera Beach facility. The first of the battery-powered
submarines was leased to the pioneering Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution and is believed to have been the
first submersible to explore Woods Hole Passage, off the New
England coast. The U.S. Navy used the second to recover
munitions on the Pacific Range and a hydrogen bomb (H-bomb)
lost off the Spanish coast in January 1966. Perry donated the
prototype, painted a bright yellow with blue trim, to the
museum in 1973.
might not be the first of the type, it was the first of the
type of mind set, where we actually started using submarines
for exploration rather than for warfare," Dashiell said.
submersibles can dive thousands of feet below the ocean's
surface. The Perry Cubmarine typically operated at a depth of
about 190 feet. Some were tested at 900 feet.
"The sub was
built and completed in 1966, which was a few years before the
first man ever walked on the moon," Dashiell said.
Submarines such as the Cubmarine opened the door for
scientific exploration of the largest component of the
planet's surface. "So what that sub did was answer a
fundamental question for mankind," Dashiell said.
"That question being, can we go there? And the answer is
yes, we can. We did, we have and we will continue to."
The restoration of
the prototype, the Reef Hunter, was spearheaded by museum
board member Rick Newman. Board member Dale Hedrick's donation
of the use of a crane and flatbed truck made the restoration
possible, Newman said.
submarines were an integral part of deep sea
exploration," Newman said. "So it seemed appropriate
to get it back up and refinished."
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