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USS Nautilus, Groton

#3 of 15 in Things to do in Groton
Military Museum · Hidden Gem · History Museum
USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was the world's first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole on 3 August 1958. Her initial commanding officer was Eugene Parks "Dennis" Wilkinson, a widely respected naval officer who set the stage for many of the protocols of today's Nuclear Navy of the US, and who had a storied career during military service and afterwards.
Sharing a name with Captain Nemo's fictional submarine in Jules Verne's classic 1870 science fiction novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the USS Nautilus (SS-168) that served with distinction in World War II, the new nuclear-powered Nautilus was authorized in 1951. Construction began in 1952, and the boat was launched in January 1954, attended by Mamie Eisenhower, First Lady of the United States, wife of 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower; it was commissioned the following September into the United States Navy. Nautilus was delivered to the Navy in 1955.

Because her nuclear propulsion allowed her to remain submerged far longer than diesel-electric submarines, she broke many records in her first years of operation and traveled to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines. In operation, she revealed a number of limitations in her design and construction. This information was used to improve subsequent submarines.

Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982. The submarine has been preserved as a museum ship at the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut, where the vessel receives around 250,000 visitors per year.

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USS Nautilus reviews

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145 reviews
  • The USS Nautilus offers a great self-guided walking tour of much of this historic US Navy submarine. After visiting the adjacent Submarine Force Museum, you descend down a narrow staircase...  more »
  • We made it a point to divert from driving south on I-95 to visit this museum and submarine. Entry is free, and is open to the public - just be sure to proceed straight at the last intersection with...  more »
  • Excellent museum! Really enjoyed the audio aspect of the tour. Packed with so much interesting information! Kids enjoyed trying the periscopes! The tour of the sub was very cool....went there when I was young with my dad and hoped my kids would enjoy it as much as I did! Brought back great memories for me and my kids really did enjoy it!
  • Fun, informative, and educational. Had a great time with the kids exploring the sub, and all the informative displays. They provide a nice self guided tour device that explains the different areas of the sub that you can walk through. Took several pics but seeing with your own eyes is worth the trip. Definitely will be back again.

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