National Register of Historic Places (Listed, 2009), Commissioned in 1959, the USS Blueback (SS-581) is nationally significant for its engineering as the last surviving example of a Barbel Class submarine. Only consisting of three ships, the Barbell class combined proven WWII-era diesel-electric motor technology with a revolutionary tear-drop hull shape, high-strength steel, and other improvements that were incorporated into later submarine designs. The technological advance was driven by the transition in submarine warfare from the older Fleet Boat system to the modern nuclear-powered vessels of the Cold War. However, the Blueback and her sister ships were a transitional design. After independently studying nuclear power in the Nautilus test ship and the tear-drop hull shape with the Albacore test submarine and the active-duty Barbell Class, these technologies were later combined to create the modern nuclear submarines used by the U.S. Navy from the Cold War to the present. As the last diesel-electric submarine to join the US Navy and the last to be decommissioned, the Blueback represents an important transition in maritime technology and navel warfare. Source: Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. The USS Blueback was acquired by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, Oregon, in February 1994. This submarine appeared in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October before being towed to its present location, a pier right outside the museum. It was opened to the public on May 15, 1994.
This image is included in Building Oregon: Architecture of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, a digital collection which provides documentation about the architectural heritage of the Pacific Northwest.