Turtle (DSV-3) was designed and built by the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics Corporation at Groton, Connecticut. Turtle and her sister Sea Cliff (DSV-4) were launched on December 11, 1968. Turtle was named after Turtle Town, a small community in Polk County, Tennessee. Her name also pays tribute to the American submarine Turtle which served in the American Revolution. Turtle was accepted by the US Navy on September 25, 1970 at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Turtle was designed to dive to 6000 feet. When DSV-2 Alvin installed a new titanium hull, the Alvin steel hull was installed in the Turtle. The Turtle depth rating was then increased to 10,000 feet. It has a hull 2 inches thick, and a hatch about 3-1/2 inches thick held in place by the pressure of the water above it (it is tapered, narrower inward). The Alvin-class DSV's were designed to replace older DSV, such as the less maneuverable Trieste-classbathyscaphes.
In fiction, she was featured in the 1980 film Raise the Titanic; she was one of several submersibles in the salvage fleet, and one of two (along with the fictional NUMA submersible Deep Quest) that actually discovered the wreck.