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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

Ulua (SS-428)

Radio Call Sign: November - Kilo - Tango - Romeo

Ulua (SS-428) a Balao class submarine was laid down on 13 November 1943 at Philadelphia, Pa., by the Cramp Shipbuilding Co., but the curtailment of naval construction programs, in the closing days of the war against Japan, resulted in the suspension of further construction on 12 August 1945. The partly completed submarine was launched 23 April 1946 and towed to the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard for maintenance, prior to beginning her career as a test hull. Towed to Norfolk, Va., in 1951, she participated in tests to gather research data on new weapon and submarine design. Ulua's usefulness to the Navy ended, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 12 June 1958. Her hulk was sold for scrap on 30 September 1958 to the Portsmouth Salvage Co., Inc.
While doing research for my Balao / Tench class project, I discovered that the Turbot (SS-427) and Ulua (SS-428) both built by Cramp and delivered to the Navy incomplete, were actually Balao class boats, not Tenches. These boats were at the tail end of the boats contracted to Cramp, which built its submarines using plans supplied by Portsmouth. Even though Portsmouth had already begun building subs to the Tenches plans, it was decided that all of Cramp's boats would be Balaos. Cramp had experienced considerable difficulties in building its' assigned boats, mostly due to problems in hiring experienced workers and difficulties in getting all the necessary parts from subcontractors. It was felt that having Cramp shift over to the Tenches plans would only exacerbate the problems. Thus hulls 425-428, even though the numbers fell out of sequence, were built to Balao plans.
Ulua was sold 10/15/58 to Portsmouth Salvage Co, Portsmouth, Va for $45,690 after serving as a underwater explosive test hulk at Norfolk, Va from 1951-1958, she was stricken 6/12/58 still having never been completed.
Partial data submitted by David Johnston (USN, retired) & Yves Hubert.

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Ulua28kThe Ulua, Caranx ignobilis. Photo courtesy of
Ulua & Tusk138k


Ulua (SS-428) & Tusk (SS-426) being built at the Cramp Shipbuilding Co. in Philadelphia on 7/2/45. The Ulua has not received her superstructure main deck or bridge. The Tusk is just about complete.
Diesel intakes (induction) are visible on board the Ulua. They trunk up into the main induction just abaft the conning tower pressure vessel. The starboard branch feeds the forward engines, the port branch, whose 22-in pipe is visible under the flat boards, feeds the after engines. When snorkels were installed postwar, their intakes connected to the main induction visible here. Exhaust piping is also visible.
The bow of the Turbot (SS-427) is just visible behind the stern of the Ulua.


Photo and partial text courtesy of The Floating Drydock, "Fleet Subs of WW II", by Thomas F. Walkowiak.
Partial text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press, & The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy: A Design and Construction History, by John D. Alden, Commander USN (Retired).
Ulua299k Ulua (SS-428) construction cancelled. Photo courtesy of
NR Navy Believed Preparing Underwater Atomic Blast
Informed quarters believed today that the Navy is preparing to set off history's first deep underwater atomic explosion. The purpose would be to explore the posibility of using atomic charges against Russia’s huge submarine fleet in event of war, and to find out if America’s newest submarines and ships would stand up against such a weapon...
New evidence that a deep water test is being readied was seen in a letter sent to congressional leaders yesterday by Assistant Defense Secretary Daniel K. Edwards. He said the Navy is planning “underwater explosion tests” of the "highest priority,” and asked Congress to give the Navy permission to use a partially completed new submarine, the Ulua(SS-428), as a target in the tests...
Image and text provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill, NC.
Photo from the The Daily Record. [volume] (Dunn, N.C.) 1950-1978, 03 August 1951, Second Section, Image 10, via
NR A-Subs to Be Faster Under Sea Than Most Warships on Surface
35-Knot Speed Forecast; Nuclear Engine Now Being Developed at 2 Laboratories...
Meanwhile, President Truman yesterday signed a congressional act that will allow the Navy to use a partly completed submarine for tests before building an atomic sub. .....The submarine is the Ulua (SS-428) and the tests are intended to show how it will react to the shock of depth charges after a dummy atomic plant has been installed in the hull. The special act was needed because Navy officers said the tests may result in sinking and loss of the hull, although that is not part of their plans...
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from the Evening Star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, 13 October 1951, Image 1, via

Crew Contact And Reunion Information
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Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Guppy Submarines
Tench Class Submarines
Ep-21 (1) - Victory At Sea ~ Full Fathom Five - HQ

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