USS Nautilus SSN 571 - "Realm Of The Arctic Circle"

  • Sale
  • Regular price $50.00

Launched in January 1954 and commissioned in September of that same year, the USS Nautilus SSN-571 is the world's first operational nuclear-powered submarine. The nuclear propulsion system enabled the submarine to remain submerged far longer than diesel-electric submarines. , Almost immediately, Nautilus began to set records.

On January 17, 1955, Nautilus left the pier with the historic message sent by Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, "Underway on nuclear power." On May 10 of that year, the submarine traveled completely submerged for 1,100 nautical miles from New London to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The boat covered a total of 1,200 nautical miles in less than ninety hours. At the time, this set a record for the longest submerged cruise by a submarine as well as the highest sustained speed (for at least one hour) ever recorded.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite, Sputnik. In response to this achievement, President Eisenhower ordered the U.S. Navy to attempt a submerged transit of the North Pole. This would demonstrate operational feasibility of the submerged ICBM program which was in development. The clandestine mission would be called “Operation Sunshine". Not even her crew knew about the mission when they left port. They only found out once well underway. The hull number and identifying markings were painted out for the duration of the mission.

On April 25, 1958, under the command of William R. Anderson, Nautilus got underway headed for the United States’ West Coast. She made port at San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. On June19, she entered the Chukchi Sea, but was unable to complete the passage and had to turn back and head to Pearl Harbor due to deep ice in the relatively shallow waters. On July 23, another attempt was made and Nautilus steamed northward. Exploring off the Alaskan coast, Nautilus found a deep entry point and entered the Barrow Sea Valley submerged on August 1. On August 3 at 2315 hours EDT, Nautilus reached the geographic North Pole.

USS Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and survives today at the “Submarine Force Library and Museum” in Groton, CT.