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Submarine Restoration Project

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The following article appeared May 30, 2008 in the

 "Cubmarine" returns to science museum in
rehabbed yellow style".

By Tim O'Meilia
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

August 31, 2007

   The Beatles journeyed to Pepperland through a sea of green in their yellow submarine in 1968 but millionaire inventor and publisher John H. Perry's yellow submarine had already found a hydrogen bomb on the ocean floor.

   Perry's two-man Cubmarine explored the deep Woods Hole passage in 1962, mapped ocean reefs and, in 1966, earned international acclaim for recovering a lost U.S. H-bomb off the Spanish coast.

   The Cubmarine launched an industry and made Perry Submarine Builders in Riviera Beach the most successful maker of submersibles in the world.

   "Perry was like Henry Ford. He didn't invent the two-man sub, but he was the first one to reach production status and perfect fuel-cell technology," said Lee Dashiell, the museum's aquarium curator.

   The prototype of the Cubmarine - the Reef Hunter - stands once again at the South Florida Science Museum where it was the centerpiece of an undersea exhibit 34 years ago.

   Rehabbed and repainted its original cartoon yellow, the Cubmarine will be re-dedicated at an 11 a.m. Saturday ceremony that begins Undersea Adventure Day at the museum. A Beatles laser concert will help salute the Perry's two-man sub.

   Perry donated it to the museum in 1973 and for several decades after, the submarine was a fixture on the exhibit floor. Later it was stored outdoors and largely forgotten.

   "I first saw it five years ago, sitting under a tarp, rusted and covered with dry rot," said museum trustee Rick Newman. "I went on a five-year quest to restore it."

   But moving the 3-ton vessel was a problem until Hedrick Brothers Construction offered a crane to load it onto a flatbed. South Palm Automotive in Boca Raton did the repairs to the steel frame, aluminum hull and fiberglass coating.

   "We tried to do it as historically accurate as possible," said Newman, who runs and is a longtime contributor of artifacts to the museum. "We studied photographs and talked to people."

   Perry's venture into submarine building was inspired by a shark, one that nearly followed him ashore.

   A man-sized submarine would offer protection from watery predators during spear-fishing trips, he figured. So, he began experimenting with building maneuverable subs in Riviera Beach in the late 1950s.

   "It was built in the '60s before the first man landed on the moon when the question was 'Can we go there? Can we do that?' " Dashiell said. "Perry proved we could."

Perry Two-Man Cubmarine "Reef Hunter"

Body: Steel frame, aluminum hull, Fiberglas coating

Weight: 4,000 pounds (later models weighed 6,000 pounds)

Size: 18 feet long, 3 feet wide

Diving depth: 165 feet (later models rated for 600 feet but tested to 900)

Submersion: Up to 5 hours

Speed and range: 5 knots (3.5 mph), 20 nautical miles

Ascent/Descent speed: 2 feet per second

Payload: Two adults or up to 750 pounds

Power: Rechargeable battery

Maneuvering: Vertically or at an angle; turns in place

Undersea Adventure Day

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: South Florida Science Museum, 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach (off Summit Boulevard between Southern and Forest Hill boulevards)

What: 11 a.m. re-dedication of Perry's two-man Cubmarine, one of the first of its kind, by Lt. J.G. Dick Lawrence and U.S. Naval Sea Cadets. Events include Beatles laser concert, lectures on undersea life, touch tanks in the McGinty Aquarium, immersive videos, make-and-take crafts, bounce house, face painting, giveaways.

Admission: $9 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6 children

For more information, visit or call (561) 832-1988

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