This Day In History: 09/30/1954 - USS Nautilus Commissioned

This Day In History: 09/30/1954 - USS Nautilus Commissioned



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On this day, 24-year-old actor James Dean dies in a car accident. Although Dean appeared in only three movies during his brief movie career, he made a deep impression on American audiences with his portrayal of the angry, restless young man. His three films were Rebel Without a Cause (1955), East of Eden (1955), and Giant (1956).


USS Nautilus Commissioned 63 Years Ago Today

USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered submarine was commissioned on September 30, 1954.

Though I'm a pretty devoted nuclear submarine history buff, I was surprised to learn that fact this morning. September 30 wasn't one of the dates that I associated with the history of that important ship. I knew that First Lady Maime Eisenhower had christened the ship when it was launched on January 21, 1954 and that CDR Eugene Wilkerson had sent his famous message "Underway on Nuclear Power" on January 17, 1955.

The notification came to me via a tweet from @AtomicHeritage.

9/30/1954: The USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, is commissioned. Photo courtesy @USNHistory. @Atomicrod @coldwarhist pic.twitter.com/kuplXC2kne

— AtomicHeritage (@AtomicHeritage) September 30, 2017

As a career naval officer who has been involved in a few ship commissioning efforts, I was surprised to hear that the USS Nautilus had been commissioned before it had undergone any kind of sea trials. The ordinary sequence, at least in the modern Navy, is to conduct sea trials before accepting delivery and commissioning a ship.

However, searches told me that @AtomicHeritage was correct and that the USS Nautilus was commissioned on September 30, 1954 in what was reported to be a "routine ceremony" on page 8 of the October 1, 1954 edition of the New York Times, a publication that likes to call itself the nation's "paper of record."

Francis Duncan's authoritative book about the early days of the Nuclear Navy is simply titled "Rickover." There is no mention in that book of the fact that Nautilus was commissioned in September 1954. Instead, there is a story about a significant discovery made in mid September that ended up delaying the ship's sea trials by several months.

Electric Boat, which was the contractor responsible for fabricating and installing certain portions of the steam systems for the Nautilus, its prototype, the Seawolf and its prototype, had installed piping using the incorrect specification.

All four engine rooms required extensive tear out and reinstallation.

Probably A Fiscal Year Move

It is still a mystery to me why Nautilus became the USS Nautilus before it had successfully completed sea trials, but the chosen date might provide a hint about the reason for the decision to perform a quiet, routine commissioning ceremony for a ship that had already become famous around the world.

September 30th is the last day of the Federal government's fiscal year. All kinds of odd things happen as a result of trying to close out one year and begin a new one.

[Note: A former mentor at Navy Headquarters contacted me to let me know that the federal government fiscal year ended on Jun 30 until 1975. Starting in 1976 it shifted. That theory is disproven.]

I'd be interested in hearing other theories, but I'd be especially grateful if someone can provide an authoritative explanation.


USS Nautilus (SS-168)

Nautilus was originally named and designated V-6 (SF-9), but was redesignated and given hull classification symbol SC-2 on 11 February 1925. Her keel was laid on 10 May 1927 by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, California. She was launched on 15 March 1930 sponsored by Miss Joan Keesling, and commissioned on 1 July 1930 with Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Doyle Jr. in command.

The configuration of V-4, V-5, and V-6 resulted from an evolving strategic concept that increasingly emphasized the possibility of a naval war with Japan in the far western Pacific. This factor, and the implications of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, suggested the need for long-range submarine "cruisers", or "strategic scouts", as well as long-range minelayers, for which long endurance, not high speed, was most important. The design was possibly influenced by the German "U-cruisers" of the Type U-139 and Type U-151 U-boat classes, although V-4, V-5, and V-6 were all larger than these. A raised gun platform was provided around the conning tower, and deck stowage for spare torpedoes was included under the platform and in the superstructure. V-6 and her near-sisters V-4 (Argonaut) and V-5 (Narwhal) were initially designed with larger and more powerful MAN-designed diesel engines than the Busch-Sulzer engines that propelled earlier V-boats, which were failures. Unfortunately, the specially-built engines failed to produce their design power, and some developed dangerous crankcase explosions. The engineering plant was replaced in 1941-42. [4]

The as-built engine specifications were two BuEng-built, MAN-designed [3] direct-drive 10-cylinder 4-cycle main diesel engines, 2,350 hp (1,750 kW) each, with two BuEng MAN [4] 4-cycle 6-cylinder auxiliary diesel engines, 450 hp (340 kW) each, driving 300 kW (400 hp) [5] electrical generators. [6] The auxiliary engines were for charging batteries or for increased surface speed via a diesel-electric system providing power to the main electric motors.

V-6 operated out of New London, conducting special submergence tests, until March 1931. She was renamed Nautilus on 19 February and given hull number SS-168 on 1 July. She proceeded to Pearl Harbor where she became flagship of Submarine Division 12 (SubDiv 12). Reassigned to SubDiv 13 at San Diego, California, 1935–1938, then re-homeported at Pearl Harbor, she maintained a regular schedule of training activities and fleet exercises and problems throughout the decade. In July 1941, she entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for modernization – radio equipment, external torpedo tubes (two bow and two stern-firing in the gun deck), [11] re-engining (with four Winton diesels), [13] and air conditioning – until the following spring.

She departed San Francisco, California, on 21 April 1942, reaching Pearl Harbor on 28 April. On 24 May, Nautilus (commanded by Lieutenant Commander William H. Brockman Jr.) got underway for her first war patrol, to Midway Island to help repel the expected attack by the Japanese fleet.

At 07:55, 4 June, while approaching the northern boundary of her patrol area near Midway Island, she sighted masts on the horizon. Japanese planes sighted the submarine at the same time and began strafing. After diving to 100 feet (30 m), she continued observation. At 08:00, a formation of four enemy ships was sighted: the battleship Kirishima, [14] the cruiser Nagara, [15] and two destroyers (misidentified, as they often were early in the war, as cruisers) [16] in company. Within minutes the submarine was again sighted from the air and was bombed. Two of the "cruisers" closed for a kill and nine depth charges were dropped at a distance of about 1,000 yards (910 m).

When the attack ceased, Nautilus rose to periscope depth. Ships surrounded her. Sighting on Kirishima, she fired two bow tubes one misfired, one missed. At 08:30, a destroyer immediately headed for the boat, which dived to 150 feet (46 m) to wait out the depth charge attack. At 08:46, periscope depth was again ordered. The cruiser and two of the destroyers were now out of range echo ranging by the third appeared too accurate for comfort. At 09:00, the periscope was raised again and an aircraft carrier was sighted. Nautilus changed course to close for an attack. The enemy destroyer followed suit and at 09:18 attacked with six depth charges.

By 09:55 echo ranging ceased and Nautilus raised her periscope. The carrier, her escorts, and the attacking destroyer had disappeared. (Unbeknownst to her skipper at the time, the counter-attacking Japanese destroyer Arashi, in her rush to rejoin the carrier, was tracked by Enterprise's VB-6, led by Wade McClusky, back to the Japanese task force.) At 12:53, a damaged aircraft carrier with two escorts was sighted. The carrier was identified as Sōryū, but later research suggests it was probably Kaga. An hour later, Nautilus had moved into attack position. Between 13:59 and 14:05, after the battle was largely over, Nautilus launched four torpedoes at the carrier from less than 3,000 yards (2,700 m). One failed to run, two ran erratically, and the fourth was a dud (a familiar problem for the Mark XIV), impacting amidships and breaking in half. [17] Nautilus reported flames appeared along the length of the ship as the first hit, and the skeleton crew which had been aboard (survivors of which reported no torpedo hit) began going over the side, with the air flask of the dud torpedo acting as a life preserver for Japanese sailors.

Nautilus went to 300 feet (91 m) as a prolonged depth charge attack commenced. At 16:10, the submarine rose to periscope depth. The carrier, burning along her entire length, had been abandoned. At 19:41, Nautilus resumed her patrol, having expended five torpedoes and survived 42 depth charges, but accomplished little of substance. (Not until much later was the importance of her attack on the battleship, and its connection to McClusky, recognized.) [18] Her commanding officer was awarded a Navy Cross for his actions.

Between 7 June and 9 June, Nautilus replenished at Midway Island and then resumed her patrol to the west. By 20 June, she was operating off Honshū at the northern end of the Tokyo-Marshall Islands supply route. On 22 June, she damaged a destroyer guarding the entrance to the Sagami Sea off Ōshima. Three days later, she sank the destroyer Yamakaze and damaged an oil tanker. On 27 June, she sent a sampan to the bottom and on 28 June, after damaging a merchantman, underwent her severest depth charging, which forced her back to Pearl Harbor for repairs, 11 July to 7 August.

Nautilus departed Hawaiian waters for her second war patrol, a special troop transport mission of three weeks duration, 8 August. Sailing with submarine Argonaut and carrying the Second Raider Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson (the Marine Raiders, or "Carlson's Raiders") she arrived off Makin Atoll on 16 August to stage a raid to divert Japanese attention from the Solomon Islands. Early the following morning, she sent the Raiders ashore on Butaritari Island in rubber boats rigged with outboard motors. At 07:03, she provided gunfire support against enemy positions at Ukiangong Point on Butaritari and shelled enemy ships in the lagoon, sinking two, a troop barge and a patrol boat. At 10:39, an enemy plane appeared and Nautilus dove. Two aerial attacks followed at 11:30 and at 12:55. The latter flight was made up of 12 planes, two of which landed in the lagoon to discharge troops. About 35 of the reinforcements made it to shore to fire on the Americans.

The Marines began to withdraw at 17:00. At 19:00, they launched their boats. Many were unable to clear the breakers without the aid of their damaged outboards. Only seven boats and less than 100 men returned that night. The remainder, less nine who were later captured and executed, discovered there were no Japanese left to fight and crossed to the lagoon side, whence they headed for the submarine after nightfall on 18 August. Thinking all surviving marines were on board, Nautilus and Argonaut set course for Pearl Harbor, arriving 25 August.

On her third war patrol, from 15 September to 5 November, Nautilus returned to Japanese waters to join the submarine blockade chain stretched from the Kurile Islands to the Nansei Shoto. Despite heavy seas, which precluded periscope use and torpedo firing during much of the patrol, and mechanical breakdowns, which impeded approaches to targets, she torpedoed and sank three marus (Japanese merchant ships) and, in surface action, destroyed three sampans to add over 12,000 tons to her score. On 12 October, however, the patrol became one of her more perilous, as she took a heavy depth charging. Two days later, her crew noticed a slight oil slick in her wake. The hindering seas now protected by breaking up the trace. By 19 October, the leak had enlarged considerably and on 20 October, the first relatively calm day since the depth charging, air leaks were discovered. Nautilus was leaving a trail for Japanese defense patrols. Moving to a quieter area, with less aerial activity, she continued her patrol until 24 October when she sank Kenun Maru, then headed for home without sighting enemy planes. She reached Midway Island 31 October, performed temporary repairs, and continued on to Pearl Harbor.

During her fourth patrol, conducted in the Solomon Islands from on 13 December 1942 to on 4 February 1943, Nautilus rescued 26 adults and three children from Teop Harbor on 31 December and 1 January, then added the cargo ship Yosinogawa Maru to her kills and damaged a tanker, a freighter, and a destroyer. On 4 February, she arrived at Brisbane, debarked her passengers, and sailed for Pearl Harbor. Arriving 15 April, she departed five days later heading north. On 27 April, she put into Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and commenced instructing the 7th Infantry Division Provisional Scout Battalion in amphibious landings. She then embarked 109 Scouts (including Alaskan Native scouts of the Alaska Territorial Guard) [19] and on 1 May, headed for Attu. There, on 11 May, she landed her "passengers" five hours before the main assault.

Overhaul at Mare Island occupied most of the summer and on 16 September Nautilus left Pearl Harbor to spend her sixth war patrol conducting photo-reconnaissance of the Gilbert Islands, concentrating on Tarawa, Kuma, Butaritari, Abemama, and Makin, all of which had been reinforced, particularly Tarawa, since the sub's 1942 excursion into those waters. The information, including continuous panoramic pictures of the coastlines and chart corrections, which she brought back to Pearl Harbor on 17 October, proved among the most useful intelligence gathered of the area prior to the invasion of Tarawa.

She returned to Tarawa 18 November to obtain last-minute information on weather and surf conditions, landing hazards and the results of recent bombardments. At 21:59, 19 November, mistaking her as an enemy, the destroyer USS Ringgold fired at her, sending a five-inch (127 mm) shell through the conning tower, damaging the main induction valve. Diving as soon as the water depth permitted, the boat was rigged for depth charge and the damage control party went to work. Within two hours repairs were sufficient to allow Nautilus to continue with her primary mission: landing a 78-man scouting party, composed of 5th Amphibious Reconnaissance Company marines and an Australian scout, on Abemama.

At midnight 20–21 November, Nautilus lay 3,000 yards (2,700 m) off an island in the Abemama Atoll, Kenna to discharge her passengers. By 15:00, all were safely ashore. On the afternoon of 22 November, Nautilus provided fire support to bring the tiny (25-man) enemy garrison out of their bunkers. This proved accurate, killing 14 the remainder committed suicide. By the time the main assault force arrived on 26 November, Abemama had been secured and preparations to turn it into an air base for the Marshall Islands campaign had begun.


This Day in History for September 30

1777 – Continental Congress flees to York, Pa., as British forces advance.

1846 – Anesthetic ether used for 1st time by American dentist Dr. William Morton who extracts a tooth.

1867 – Midway Islands formally declared a US possession.

1898 – City of New York established.

1919 – Avery Hopwood’s “Gold Diggers” premieres in NYC.

1922 – Yanks clinch pennant #2, beating Boston 3-1.

1934 – St. Louis Cards clinch pennant as Dizzy Dean wins his 30th of year.

1935 – Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” premieres in Boston.

1935 – The Hoover Dam, astride the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada, is dedicated by FDR.

1949 – American chemist Percy L. Julian at the Glidden Company announces an improved method for producing cortisone.

1949 – Pirates Ralph Kiner hits his 54th HR & National League record 16th in September.

1954 – 1st nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus, commissioned by the US Navy.

1960 – On Howdy Dowdy’s last show Clarabelle finally talks “Goodbye Kids”

1961 – Bill for Boston Tea Party is paid by Mayor Snyder of Oregon who wrote a check for $196, the total cost of all tea lost.

1968 – 1st Boeing 747 rolls out.

1975 – The Hughes (later McDonnell-Douglas, now Boeing) AH-64 Apache makes its first flight.

1977 – Due to budget curs, the Apollo program’s ALSEP experiment packages left on the Moon are shut down.

1980 – Ethernet specifications published by Xerox working with Intel and Digital Equipment Corporation.

1997 – Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 4.

2004 – The AIM-54 Phoenix, the primary missile for the F-14 Tomcat, retired from service. Almost two years later, the Tomcat retires.


This Day in History: The U.S. Navy establishes the Atomic Submarine Division

Commander Eugene Wilkinson of the World's first nuclear powered vessel, the submarine USS Nautilus, points out the dates and battle actions of the ships that previously bore the name Nautilus.

Navy personnel stationed in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in the mid 1950s, learn how to operate the Nautilus S1W, the prototype of the Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine.

The USS Nautilus on Aug. 30, 1954, at the commissioning ceremony placing the world's first atomic-powered submarine in the service of the U.S. Navy.

USS Skate during an Arctic surfacing in 1959.

Lieutenant Commander John H. Ebersole, Navy Medical Corps, uses chemical separation of radioactive isotopes to determine the source of radiation in the nucleonics laboratory aboard USS Nautilus. Ebersole was responsible for the radiation hygiene and safety of its officers and crew.

ON MARCH 31, 1958, the U.S. Navy established the world’s first Atomic Submarine Division. Its inception had been announced to the press earlier in the month and reported in the New York Times. Three atomic submarines, Nautilus, Sea Wolf, and Skate, joined three diesel-powered submarines, Hardhead, Bang, and Halfbreak to make up the unit. The latter were replaced as more atomic submarines were commissioned, beginning with the launch of the Skipjack in May of 1958. For the first three months, Atomic Submarine Division 102 was under the command of Comdr. Roger G. Black, a WWII submarine veteran. In July, command was passed to Capt. Eugene P. Wilkinson (first skipper of the Nautilus — the world’s first atomic submarine) after he completed his studies at the Naval War College.

In the years during and after WWII, Chelsea continued to live up to its reputation as Timekeeper of the Sea, manufacturing thousands of clocks for the United States Armed Forces for use on Liberty ships, destroyers, submarines, battleships, cruisers, and aircraft carriers.


UPI Almanac for Monday, Sept. 30, 2019

Today is Monday, Sept. 30, the 273rd day of 2019 with 92 to follow.

The moon is waxing. Morning stars are Neptune and Uranus. Evening stars are Jupiter, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn, Uranus and Venus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Libra. They include Persian poet Rumi in 1207 Pope Nicholas IV in 1227 chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. in 1861 German physicist Hans Geiger, co-inventor of the Geiger counter, in 1882 film director Lewis Milestone in 1895 novelist Truman Capote in 1924 actor Deborah Kerr in 1921 actor Angie Dickinson in 1931 (age 88) Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel in 1928 singer Johnny Mathis in 1935 (age 84) singer Marilyn McCoo in 1943 (age 76) actor Len Cariou in 1939 (age 80) actor Victoria Tennant in 1950 (age 69) actor Barry Williams in 1954 (age 65) actor Fran Drescher in 1957 (age 62) actor Eric Stoltz in 1961 (age 58) actor Crystal Bernard in 1961 (age 58) actor Monica Bellucci in 1964 (age 55) actor Jenna Elfman in 1971 (age 48) actor Marion Cotillard in 1975 (age 44) author Ta-Nehisi Coates in 1975 (age 44) tennis star Martina Hingis in 1980 (age 39) U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Dominique Moceanu in 1981 (age 38) actor Lacey Chabert in 1982 (age 37) actor Kieran Culkin in 1982 (age 37) rapper T-Pain, born Faheem Rashad Najm, in 1985 (age 34) actor Ki Hong Lee in 1986 (age 33) actor Ezra Miller in 1992 (age 27) actor/dancer Maddie Ziegler in 2002 (age 17).

In 1630, John Billington, one of the first pilgrims to land in America, was hanged for murder -- the first European criminal executed in the American colonies.

In 1846, a dentist in Charleston, Mass., extracted a tooth with the aid of an anesthetic -- ether. It was the first time an anesthetic had been used.

In 1927, Babe Ruth set a Major League Baseball record with his 60th home run of the season. The mark would stand for 34 years.

In 1938, Germany, France, Britain and Italy met in Munich, Germany, for a conference after which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain predicted "peace for our time." World War II began less than one year later.

In 1946, verdicts were handed down in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. Twelve Nazi leaders were sentenced to death by hanging.

In 1954, the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear submarine, was commissioned by the U.S. Navy, under the command of Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson.

In 1955, movie idol James Dean died in a car crash at age 24.

In 1962, James H. Meredith, an African American, was escorted onto the University of Mississippi campus by U.S. marshals, setting off a riot in which two men died before violence was quelled by more than 3,000 soldiers. Meredith enrolled the next day.

In 1992, the United States returned most of the Subic Bay Naval Base to the Philippine government after more than a century of use.

In 1993, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck India's Maharashtra state, killing nearly 10,000 people. The disaster primarily affected the Latur and Osmanabad districts.

In 1993, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell announced his retirement from the military. Effective upon his retirement, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II approved his knighthood.

In 2005, Michael Eisner resigned as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. One week later, he departed his position on the board of the company.

In 2008, thousands of worshipers making their way through a narrow passage to a Hindu temple in India for a religious festival broke into a stampede when a wall collapsed. Police put the death toll at 224 with more than 100 people injured.

In 2011, a missile from an American drone aircraft strike over Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Islamic cleric linked to several high-profile terrorist incidents in the United States and subject of a two-year manhunt.

In 2017, in a series of tweets, President Donald Trump blasted San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz for "poor leadership ability" during recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria. In a televised interview the day before, Cruz begged the public for help and said the government was "killing us with the inefficiency."

A thought for the day: "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are." -- Basketball Hall of Fame member John Wooden


September 30, 1954: USS Nautilus Commissioned

On this day the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, is commissioned by the U.S. Navy.

The Nautilus was constructed under the direction of U.S. Navy Captain Hyman G. Rickover, a brilliant Russian-born engineer who joined the U.S. atomic program in 1946. In 1947, he was put in charge of the navy’s nuclear-propulsion program and began work on an atomic submarine. Regarded as a fanatic by his detractors, Rickover succeeded in developing and delivering the world’s first nuclear submarine years ahead of schedule.

Engineer Hyman Rickover with Model of Nuclear Sub

In his 1986 obituary, the New York Times memorialized Rickover as a controversial but staunch officer: “He attacked Naval bureaucracy, ignored red tape, lacerated those he considered stupid, bullied subordinates and assailed the country’s educational system.”

Rickover steps aboard Nautilus at NY harbor

In 1949 he accomplished what became a classic example of maneuvering against red tape. The Atomic Energy Commission was persuaded to create a Reactor Development Division and within it a Naval Reactors Branch. To head the branch it came up with Captain Rickover.”

Wearing both hats, the captain sometimes wrote letters to himself asking for certain things he would then answer the letters in the affirmative. Thus there was virtually always agreement between the Navy and the Atomic Energy Commission.

“The idea of the nuclear-powered submarine did not originate with Admiral Rickover, who was an engineer and not a scientist. But he was responsible for the design and production of the world’s first nuclear-powered engines and the development of the Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-propelled submarine,” the New York Times also noted.

Launched into the Thames River

In 1952, the Nautilus’ keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman, and on January 21, 1954, first lady Mamie Eisenhower broke a bottle of champagne across its bow as it was launched into the Thames River at Groton, Connecticut. Commissioned on September 30, 1954, it first ran under nuclear power on the morning of January 17, 1955.

Much larger than the diesel-electric submarines that preceded it, the Nautilus stretched 319 feet and displaced 3,180 tons. It could remain submerged for almost unlimited periods because its atomic engine needed no air and only a very small quantity of nuclear fuel. The uranium-powered nuclear reactor produced steam that drove propulsion turbines, allowing the Nautilus to travel underwater at speeds in excess of 20 knots.

Sharing names with the submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the USS Nautilus broke numerous submarine travel records and in August 1958 accomplished the first voyage under the geographic North Pole. After a career spanning 25 years and almost 500,000 miles steamed, the Nautilus was decommissioned on March 3, 1980. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982, the world’s first nuclear submarine went on exhibit in 1986 as the Historic Ship Nautilus at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut.


USS Nautilus commissioned

USS Nautilus

in 1946. In 1947, he was put in charge of the navy’s nuclear-propulsion program and began work on an atomic submarine. Regarded as a fanatic by his detractors, Rickover succeeded in developing and delivering the world’s first nuclear submarine years ahead of schedule. In 1952, the Nautilus‘ keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman, and on January 21, 1954, first lady Mamie Eisenhower broke a bottle of champagne across its bow as it was launched into the Thames River at Groton, Connecticut. Commissioned on September 30, 1954, it first ran under nuclear power on the morning of January 17, 1955.

Much larger than the diesel-electric submarines that preceded it, the Nautilus stretched 319 feet and displaced 3,180 tons. It could remain submerged for almost unlimited periods because its atomic engine needed no air and only a very small quantity of nuclear fuel. The uranium-powered nuclear reactor produced steam that drove propulsion turbines, allowing the Nautilus to travel underwater at speeds in excess of 20 knots.

In its early years of service, the USS Nautilus broke numerous submarine travel records and in August 1958 accomplished the first voyage under the geographic North Pole. After a career spanning 25 years and almost 500,000 miles steamed, the Nautilus was decommissioned on March 3, 1980. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982, the world’s first nuclear submarine went on exhibit in 1986 as the Historic Ship Nautilus at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut.


Contents

The conceptual design of the first nuclear submarine began in March 1950 as project SCB 64. [9] [10] In July 1951, the United States Congress authorized the construction of a nuclear-powered submarine for the U.S. Navy, which was planned and personally supervised by Captain (later Admiral) Hyman G. Rickover, USN, known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy." [11] On 12 December 1951, the US Department of the Navy announced that the submarine would be called Nautilus, the fourth U.S. Navy vessel officially so named. The boat carried the hull number SSN-571. [1] She benefited from the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power (GUPPY) improvements to the American Gato-, Balao-, and Tench-class submarines. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus ' s keel was laid at General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut, by Harry S. Truman on 14 June 1952. [12] She was christened on 21 January 1954 and launched into the Thames River, sponsored by Mamie Eisenhower. Nautilus was commissioned on 30 September 1954, under the command of Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, USN. [1]

Nautilus was powered by the Submarine Thermal Reactor (STR), later redesignated the S2W reactor, a pressurized water reactor produced for the US Navy by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory, operated by Westinghouse, developed the basic reactor plant design used in Nautilus after being given the assignment on 31 December 1947 to design a nuclear power plant for a submarine. [13] Nuclear power had the crucial advantage in submarine propulsion because it is a zero-emission process that consumes no air. This design is the basis for nearly all of the US nuclear-powered submarine and surface combat ships, and was adapted by other countries for naval nuclear propulsion. The first actual prototype (for Nautilus) was constructed and tested by the Argonne National Laboratory in 1953 at the S1W facility, part of the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho. [14] [15]

Nautilus' ship's patch was designed by The Walt Disney Company, and her wardroom currently displays a set of tableware made of zirconium, as the nuclear fuel cladding was partly made of zirconium. [ citation needed ]

Following her commissioning, Nautilus remained dockside for further construction and testing. On the morning of 17 January 1955, at 11 am EST, Nautilus ' first Commanding Officer, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, ordered all lines cast off and signaled the memorable and historic message, "Underway on Nuclear Power." [16] On 10 May, she headed south for shakedown. Submerged throughout, she traveled 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km 1,300 mi) from New London to San Juan, Puerto Rico and covered 1,200 nautical miles (2,200 km 1,400 mi) in less than ninety hours. At the time, this was the longest submerged cruise by a submarine and at the highest sustained speed (for at least one hour) ever recorded. [ citation needed ]

From 1955 to 1957, Nautilus continued to be used to investigate the effects of increased submerged speeds and endurance. The improvements rendered the progress made in anti-submarine warfare during World War II virtually obsolete. Radar and anti-submarine aircraft, which had proved crucial in defeating submarines during the war, proved ineffective against a vessel able to move quickly out of an area, change depth quickly and stay submerged for very long periods. [17]

On 4 February 1957, Nautilus logged her 60,000th nautical mile (110,000 km 69,000 mi), matching the endurance of her namesake, the fictional Nautilus described in Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. [18] In May, she departed for the Pacific Coast to participate in coastal exercises and the fleet exercise, operation "Home Run," which acquainted units of the Pacific Fleet with the capabilities of nuclear submarines. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus returned to New London, Connecticut, on 21 July and departed again on 19 August for her first voyage of 1,200 nautical miles (2,200 km 1,400 mi) under polar pack ice. Thereafter, she headed for the Eastern Atlantic to participate in NATO exercises and conduct a tour of various British and French ports where she was inspected by defense personnel of those countries. She arrived back at New London on 28 October, underwent upkeep, and then conducted coastal operations until the spring. [ citation needed ]

Operation Sunshine – under the North Pole Edit

In response to the nuclear ICBM threat posed by Sputnik, President Eisenhower ordered the U.S. Navy to attempt a submarine transit of the North Pole to gain credibility for the soon-to-come SLBM weapons system. [19] On 25 April 1958, Nautilus was underway again for the West Coast, now commanded by Commander William R. Anderson, USN. Stopping at San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, she began her history-making polar transit, "Operation Sunshine", as she departed the latter port on 9 June. On 19 June, she entered the Chukchi Sea, but was turned back by deep drift ice in those shallow waters. On 28 June, she arrived at Pearl Harbor to await better ice conditions. [ citation needed ]

By 23 July, her wait was over, and she set a course northward. [20] She submerged in the Barrow Sea Valley on 1 August and on 3 August, at 2315 EDT she became the first watercraft to reach the geographic North Pole. [21] The ability to navigate at extreme latitudes and without surfacing was enabled by the technology of the North American Aviation N6A-1 Inertial Navigation System, a naval modification of the N6A used in the Navaho cruise missile it had been installed on Nautilus and Skate after initial sea trials on USS Compass Island in 1957. [22] From the North Pole, she continued on and after 96 hours and 1,590 nautical miles (2,940 km 1,830 mi) under the ice, surfaced northeast of Greenland, having completed the first successful submerged voyage around the North Pole. The technical details of this mission were planned by scientists from the Naval Electronics Laboratory including Dr. Waldo Lyon who accompanied Nautilus as chief scientist and ice pilot. [23]

Navigation beneath the arctic ice sheet was difficult. Above 85°N both magnetic compasses and normal gyrocompasses become inaccurate. A special gyrocompass built by Sperry Rand was installed shortly before the journey. There was a risk that the submarine would become disoriented beneath the ice and that the crew would have to play "longitude roulette". Commander Anderson had considered using torpedoes to blow a hole in the ice if the submarine needed to surface. [24]

The most difficult part of the journey was in the Bering Strait. The ice extended as much as 60 feet (18 m) below sea level. During the initial attempt to go through the Bering Strait, there was insufficient room between the ice and the sea bottom. During the second, successful attempt to pass through the Bering passage, the submarine passed through a known channel close to Alaska (this was not the first choice, as the submarine wanted to avoid detection). [ citation needed ]

The trip beneath the ice cap was an important boost to America as the Soviets had recently launched Sputnik, but had no nuclear submarine of their own. During the address announcing the journey, the president mentioned that one day nuclear cargo submarines might use that route for trade. [25]

As Nautilus proceeded south from Greenland, a helicopter airlifted Commander Anderson to connect with transport to Washington, D.C. At a White House ceremony on 8 August, President Eisenhower presented him with the Legion of Merit and announced that the crew had earned a Presidential Unit Citation. [26]

At her next port of call, the Isle of Portland, England, she received the Unit Citation, the first ever issued in peace time, from American Ambassador JH Whitney, and then crossed the Atlantic reaching New London, Connecticut, on 29 October. For the remainder of the year, Nautilus operated from her home port of New London. [ citation needed ]

Operational history Edit

Following fleet exercises in early 1959, Nautilus entered the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, for her first complete overhaul (28 May 1959 – 15 August 1960). Overhaul was followed by refresher training and on 24 October she departed New London for her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, returning to her home-port 16 December. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus spent most of her career assigned to Submarine Squadron 10 (SUBRON 10) at State Pier in New London, Connecticut. Nautilus and other submarines in the squadron made their home tied up alongside the tender, where they received preventive maintenance and, if necessary, repairs, from the well-equipped submarine tender USS Fulton (AS-11) and her crew of machinists, millwrights, and other craftsmen. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus operated in the Atlantic, conducting evaluation tests for ASW improvements, participating in NATO exercises and, during October 1962, in the naval quarantine of Cuba, until she headed east again for a two-month Mediterranean tour in August 1963. On her return she joined in fleet exercises until entering the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for her second overhaul 17 January 1964. [ citation needed ]

On 2 May 1966, Nautilus returned to her homeport to resume operations with the Atlantic Fleet, and at some point around that month, logged her 300,000th nautical mile (560,000 km 350,000 mi) underway. For the next year and a quarter she conducted special operations for ComSubLant and then in August 1967, returned to Portsmouth, for another year's stay. During an exercise in 1966 she collided with the aircraft carrier USS Essex on 10 November, while diving shallow. [27] Following repairs in Portsmouth she conducted exercises off the southeastern seaboard. She returned to New London in December 1968 and operated as a unit of Submarine Squadron 10 for most of the remainder of her career. [ citation needed ]

On 9 April 1979, Nautilus set out from Groton, Connecticut on her final voyage under the command of Richard A. Riddell. [28] She reached Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, California on 26 May 1979, her last day underway. She was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 3 March 1980. [29]

Noise Edit

Toward the end of her service, the hull and sail of Nautilus vibrated sufficiently that sonar became ineffective at more than 4 knots (7.4 km/h 4.6 mph) speed. [30] As noise generation is extremely undesirable in submarines, this made the vessel vulnerable to sonar detection. Lessons learned from this problem were applied to later nuclear submarines. [31]

Presidential Unit Citation Edit

For outstanding achievement in completing the first voyage in history across the top of the world, by cruising under the Arctic ice cap from the Bering Strait to the Greenland Sea.

During the period 22 July 1958 to 5 August 1958, USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered ship, added to her list of historic achievements by crossing the Arctic Ocean from the Bering Sea to the Greenland Sea, passing submerged beneath the geographic North Pole. This voyage opens the possibility of a new commercial seaway, a Northwest Passage, between the major oceans of the world. Nuclear-powered cargo submarines may, in the future, use this route to the advantage of world trade.

The skill, professional competency and courage of the officers and crew of Nautilus were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States and the pioneering spirit which has always characterized our country. [32]

To commemorate the first submerged voyage under the North Pole, all Nautilus crewmembers who made the voyage may wear a Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with a special clasp in the form of a gold block letter N (image above). [33]

She was named as the official state ship of Connecticut in 1983. [35] Following an extensive conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Nautilus was towed back to Groton, under the command of Captain John Almon, arriving on 6 July 1985. On 11 April 1986, Nautilus opened to the public as part of the Submarine Force Library and Museum. [21]

Nautilus now serves as a museum of submarine history operated by the Naval History and Heritage Command. The ship underwent a five-month preservation in 2002 at Electric Boat, at a cost of approximately $4.7 million. Nautilus attracts some 250,000 visitors annually to her present berth near Naval Submarine Base New London. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus celebrated the 50th anniversary of her commissioning on 30 September 2004 with a ceremony that included a speech from Vice Admiral Eugene P. Wilkinson, her first Commanding Officer, and a designation of the ship as an American Nuclear Society National Nuclear Landmark. [ citation needed ]

Visitors may tour the forward two compartments, with guidance from an automated system. Despite similar alterations to exhibit the engineering spaces, tours aft of the control room are not permitted due to safety and security concerns. [ citation needed ]


Contents

The conceptual design of the first nuclear submarine began in March 1950 as project SCB 64. [9] [10] In July 1951, the United States Congress authorized the construction of a nuclear-powered submarine for the U.S. Navy, which was planned and personally supervised by Captain (later Admiral) Hyman G. Rickover, USN, known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy." [11] On 12 December 1951, the US Department of the Navy announced that the submarine would be called Nautilus, the fourth U.S. Navy vessel officially so named. The boat carried the hull number SSN-571. [1] She benefited from the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power (GUPPY) improvements to the American Gato-, Balao-, and Tench-class submarines. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus ' s keel was laid at General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut, by Harry S. Truman on 14 June 1952. [12] She was christened on 21 January 1954 and launched into the Thames River, sponsored by Mamie Eisenhower. Nautilus was commissioned on 30 September 1954, under the command of Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, USN. [1]

Nautilus was powered by the Submarine Thermal Reactor (STR), later redesignated the S2W reactor, a pressurized water reactor produced for the US Navy by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory, operated by Westinghouse, developed the basic reactor plant design used in Nautilus after being given the assignment on 31 December 1947 to design a nuclear power plant for a submarine. [13] Nuclear power had the crucial advantage in submarine propulsion because it is a zero-emission process that consumes no air. This design is the basis for nearly all of the US nuclear-powered submarine and surface combat ships, and was adapted by other countries for naval nuclear propulsion. The first actual prototype (for Nautilus) was constructed and tested by the Argonne National Laboratory in 1953 at the S1W facility, part of the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho. [14] [15]

Nautilus' ship's patch was designed by The Walt Disney Company, and her wardroom currently displays a set of tableware made of zirconium, as the nuclear fuel cladding was partly made of zirconium. [ citation needed ]

Following her commissioning, Nautilus remained dockside for further construction and testing. On the morning of 17 January 1955, at 11 am EST, Nautilus ' first Commanding Officer, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, ordered all lines cast off and signaled the memorable and historic message, "Underway on Nuclear Power." [16] On 10 May, she headed south for shakedown. Submerged throughout, she traveled 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km 1,300 mi) from New London to San Juan, Puerto Rico and covered 1,200 nautical miles (2,200 km 1,400 mi) in less than ninety hours. At the time, this was the longest submerged cruise by a submarine and at the highest sustained speed (for at least one hour) ever recorded. [ citation needed ]

From 1955 to 1957, Nautilus continued to be used to investigate the effects of increased submerged speeds and endurance. The improvements rendered the progress made in anti-submarine warfare during World War II virtually obsolete. Radar and anti-submarine aircraft, which had proved crucial in defeating submarines during the war, proved ineffective against a vessel able to move quickly out of an area, change depth quickly and stay submerged for very long periods. [17]

On 4 February 1957, Nautilus logged her 60,000th nautical mile (110,000 km 69,000 mi), matching the endurance of her namesake, the fictional Nautilus described in Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. [18] In May, she departed for the Pacific Coast to participate in coastal exercises and the fleet exercise, operation "Home Run," which acquainted units of the Pacific Fleet with the capabilities of nuclear submarines. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus returned to New London, Connecticut, on 21 July and departed again on 19 August for her first voyage of 1,200 nautical miles (2,200 km 1,400 mi) under polar pack ice. Thereafter, she headed for the Eastern Atlantic to participate in NATO exercises and conduct a tour of various British and French ports where she was inspected by defense personnel of those countries. She arrived back at New London on 28 October, underwent upkeep, and then conducted coastal operations until the spring. [ citation needed ]

Operation Sunshine – under the North Pole Edit

In response to the nuclear ICBM threat posed by Sputnik, President Eisenhower ordered the U.S. Navy to attempt a submarine transit of the North Pole to gain credibility for the soon-to-come SLBM weapons system. [19] On 25 April 1958, Nautilus was underway again for the West Coast, now commanded by Commander William R. Anderson, USN. Stopping at San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, she began her history-making polar transit, "Operation Sunshine", as she departed the latter port on 9 June. On 19 June, she entered the Chukchi Sea, but was turned back by deep drift ice in those shallow waters. On 28 June, she arrived at Pearl Harbor to await better ice conditions. [ citation needed ]

By 23 July, her wait was over, and she set a course northward. [20] She submerged in the Barrow Sea Valley on 1 August and on 3 August, at 2315 EDT she became the first watercraft to reach the geographic North Pole. [21] The ability to navigate at extreme latitudes and without surfacing was enabled by the technology of the North American Aviation N6A-1 Inertial Navigation System, a naval modification of the N6A used in the Navaho cruise missile it had been installed on Nautilus and Skate after initial sea trials on USS Compass Island in 1957. [22] From the North Pole, she continued on and after 96 hours and 1,590 nautical miles (2,940 km 1,830 mi) under the ice, surfaced northeast of Greenland, having completed the first successful submerged voyage around the North Pole. The technical details of this mission were planned by scientists from the Naval Electronics Laboratory including Dr. Waldo Lyon who accompanied Nautilus as chief scientist and ice pilot. [23]

Navigation beneath the arctic ice sheet was difficult. Above 85°N both magnetic compasses and normal gyrocompasses become inaccurate. A special gyrocompass built by Sperry Rand was installed shortly before the journey. There was a risk that the submarine would become disoriented beneath the ice and that the crew would have to play "longitude roulette". Commander Anderson had considered using torpedoes to blow a hole in the ice if the submarine needed to surface. [24]

The most difficult part of the journey was in the Bering Strait. The ice extended as much as 60 feet (18 m) below sea level. During the initial attempt to go through the Bering Strait, there was insufficient room between the ice and the sea bottom. During the second, successful attempt to pass through the Bering passage, the submarine passed through a known channel close to Alaska (this was not the first choice, as the submarine wanted to avoid detection). [ citation needed ]

The trip beneath the ice cap was an important boost to America as the Soviets had recently launched Sputnik, but had no nuclear submarine of their own. During the address announcing the journey, the president mentioned that one day nuclear cargo submarines might use that route for trade. [25]

As Nautilus proceeded south from Greenland, a helicopter airlifted Commander Anderson to connect with transport to Washington, D.C. At a White House ceremony on 8 August, President Eisenhower presented him with the Legion of Merit and announced that the crew had earned a Presidential Unit Citation. [26]

At her next port of call, the Isle of Portland, England, she received the Unit Citation, the first ever issued in peace time, from American Ambassador JH Whitney, and then crossed the Atlantic reaching New London, Connecticut, on 29 October. For the remainder of the year, Nautilus operated from her home port of New London. [ citation needed ]

Operational history Edit

Following fleet exercises in early 1959, Nautilus entered the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, for her first complete overhaul (28 May 1959 – 15 August 1960). Overhaul was followed by refresher training and on 24 October she departed New London for her first deployment with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, returning to her home-port 16 December. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus spent most of her career assigned to Submarine Squadron 10 (SUBRON 10) at State Pier in New London, Connecticut. Nautilus and other submarines in the squadron made their home tied up alongside the tender, where they received preventive maintenance and, if necessary, repairs, from the well-equipped submarine tender USS Fulton (AS-11) and her crew of machinists, millwrights, and other craftsmen. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus operated in the Atlantic, conducting evaluation tests for ASW improvements, participating in NATO exercises and, during October 1962, in the naval quarantine of Cuba, until she headed east again for a two-month Mediterranean tour in August 1963. On her return she joined in fleet exercises until entering the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for her second overhaul 17 January 1964. [ citation needed ]

On 2 May 1966, Nautilus returned to her homeport to resume operations with the Atlantic Fleet, and at some point around that month, logged her 300,000th nautical mile (560,000 km 350,000 mi) underway. For the next year and a quarter she conducted special operations for ComSubLant and then in August 1967, returned to Portsmouth, for another year's stay. During an exercise in 1966 she collided with the aircraft carrier USS Essex on 10 November, while diving shallow. [27] Following repairs in Portsmouth she conducted exercises off the southeastern seaboard. She returned to New London in December 1968 and operated as a unit of Submarine Squadron 10 for most of the remainder of her career. [ citation needed ]

On 9 April 1979, Nautilus set out from Groton, Connecticut on her final voyage under the command of Richard A. Riddell. [28] She reached Mare Island Naval Shipyard of Vallejo, California on 26 May 1979, her last day underway. She was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 3 March 1980. [29]

Noise Edit

Toward the end of her service, the hull and sail of Nautilus vibrated sufficiently that sonar became ineffective at more than 4 knots (7.4 km/h 4.6 mph) speed. [30] As noise generation is extremely undesirable in submarines, this made the vessel vulnerable to sonar detection. Lessons learned from this problem were applied to later nuclear submarines. [31]

Presidential Unit Citation Edit

For outstanding achievement in completing the first voyage in history across the top of the world, by cruising under the Arctic ice cap from the Bering Strait to the Greenland Sea.

During the period 22 July 1958 to 5 August 1958, USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered ship, added to her list of historic achievements by crossing the Arctic Ocean from the Bering Sea to the Greenland Sea, passing submerged beneath the geographic North Pole. This voyage opens the possibility of a new commercial seaway, a Northwest Passage, between the major oceans of the world. Nuclear-powered cargo submarines may, in the future, use this route to the advantage of world trade.

The skill, professional competency and courage of the officers and crew of Nautilus were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States and the pioneering spirit which has always characterized our country. [32]

To commemorate the first submerged voyage under the North Pole, all Nautilus crewmembers who made the voyage may wear a Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with a special clasp in the form of a gold block letter N (image above). [33]

She was named as the official state ship of Connecticut in 1983. [35] Following an extensive conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Nautilus was towed back to Groton, under the command of Captain John Almon, arriving on 6 July 1985. On 11 April 1986, Nautilus opened to the public as part of the Submarine Force Library and Museum. [21]

Nautilus now serves as a museum of submarine history operated by the Naval History and Heritage Command. The ship underwent a five-month preservation in 2002 at Electric Boat, at a cost of approximately $4.7 million. Nautilus attracts some 250,000 visitors annually to her present berth near Naval Submarine Base New London. [ citation needed ]

Nautilus celebrated the 50th anniversary of her commissioning on 30 September 2004 with a ceremony that included a speech from Vice Admiral Eugene P. Wilkinson, her first Commanding Officer, and a designation of the ship as an American Nuclear Society National Nuclear Landmark. [ citation needed ]

Visitors may tour the forward two compartments, with guidance from an automated system. Despite similar alterations to exhibit the engineering spaces, tours aft of the control room are not permitted due to safety and security concerns. [ citation needed ]


Watch the video: The First Nuclear Submarine in The World - HERO SHIPS USS Nautilus