Hidden History: The Aluminaut went where no other watercraft had gone before

(Photo Courtesy: Science Museum of Virginia)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In the 1960’s, a new kind of watercraft was going where no other had gone before.

“It kind of dovetails the history and science together,” explains Chuck English, the Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry at the Science Museum of Virginia.

The Aluminaut was an experimental deep-sea submarine first conceived by the Reynolds Corporation in the 1940’s in Richmond.

Now at the Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond is the Aluminaut’s final resting place.

“It did not have a very long run, but it did accomplish several important tasks,” says English.

The Aluminaut was instrumental in search and recovery missions between 1964 and 1970.

“It was a craft that was designed to be able to actually go down, pick up and retrieve safely, like picking up the hydrogen bomb and missing torpedoes. From what I understand, it’s our hydrogen bomb that went missing,” English chuckles incredulously.

The Aluminaut could hold up to eight researchers for 36 hours or even longer with emergency supplies.

“It was used for research in a lot of different places,” says English. “So it wasn’t just one main area, but even Jacques Cousteau had a film feature with the submarine in it.”

English explains the Aluminaut was a history maker in other ways too. During one mission, it broke a record of traveling 15-thousand feet under water.

The Science Museum of Virginia acquired the Aluminaut in the 1990’s, and it is currently on display during regular museum hours.

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.