Submarines Before Nuclear Power: The Submarine Revolution 1945-1955

USS Nautilus (SSN-571)

USS Nautilus was the first nuclear-powered submarine. Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut—the same company that had sold the U.S. Navy its first submarine in 1900—laid her keel 14 June 1952. She was launched 18 months later and commissioned in September 1954.

Although Nautilus was a large boat for her time—323 feet (98 m) long and displacing 4,092 tons submerged, with a crew of 104—she was also fast. The newly developed S2W (Submarine, Model 2, Westinghouse) pressurized-water nuclear reactor provided her power both on the surface, where her top speed was 22 knots (41 km/hr), and underwater, where she could do 23 knots (42 km/hr).

Message from Nautilus to the Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic, at start of Nautilus' first sea trial, 17 January 1955, shortly after 11:00 a.m.

USS <i>Tiru</i> Guppy Submarine
First Nuclear Submarine, USS <i>Nautilus</i>
Father of the Nuclear Navy
The Snorkel

Nautilus was a fully functional warship. Here crewmen load a torpedo through the hatch on her deck. Courtesy U.S. Naval Institute

The Nautilus underwent sea trials in 1955. Courtesy Naval Historical Center

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