USS Nautilus (SSN-571)

Launch of the Nautilus on 21 January, 1954. US Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

The world's first operational nuclear powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN-571) commissioned 30 September, 1954, but continued fitting out until January. On the 17th, she made her first trip under nuclear power, then conducted shakedown in May. Through 1957, Nautilus was involved in testing, proof of concept, and training exercises, with both American and NATO forces. Nautilus became the first vessel to transit the North Pole submerged, on 3 August, 1958. Nautilus spent most of her career operating with Submarine Squadron 10 in the Atlantic, but also deployed to the Mediterranean and Pacific. She was deployed to assist in the quarantine of Cuba in October, 1962. Nautilus logged her 300,000th nautical mile in May, 1966, and collided with the carrier USS Essex in November. Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980, and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1982. She is preserved as a museum in Groton, Connecticut, and is that state's official State Ship.

Bonus Photos

The prototype of Nautilus' nuclear reactor undergoing testing. Photo in the collection of the Idaho National Laboratory.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Late in her career, Nautilus vibrated so much at over 4 knots speed, that her sonar was rendered useless.