Submarine BECUNA

Length: 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

Launched in 1944,  Submarine Becuna (SS-319) completed five wartime patrols in the Pacific Ocean. Submarine Becuna is similar to many submarines built in Philadelphia for the U.S. Navy.

Submarine Becuna is a BALAO-class submarine built in New London, CT. During World War II, "Becky" prowled the Pacific Ocean for Japanese ships, and is credited with sinking 3.5 Japanese merchant ships. Converted in 1951 to a Guppy 1A type with sophisticated radar and torpedo equipment including nuclear warheads, she is the only Guppy 1-A submarine on display.

Submarine Becuna's Cold War missions often found her in the Atlantic, trailing Soviet submarines with eavesdropping equipment aboard. She served in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and ended her long and distinguished career as a training submarine.   

Submarine Becuna was decommissioned in 1969 and has belien part of Independence Seaport Museum's Historic Ship Zone since 1996. 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 is an official project of Save America's Treasures.

Submarine Becuna: A Deeper Dive audio tours are available. Provided on a handheld device or your own smart phone 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. $2 upcharge per person

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 Resources 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 contact the Seaport Museum's Chief Curator.

Want to volunteer on Submarine Becuna? Contact Travis Davis, Superintendent of Boats and Docks at tdavis@phillyseaport.org or 215-413-8686.