Historic Nautilus ship reopens after $36 million preservation project

Nautilus remains a marvel today as the only nuclear-powered United States Navy vessel available to the public for general viewing.

GROTON, Conn. – Senior Navy leaders, government and state officials, veterans and members of the public will gather in Groton Friday morning to celebrate the return of the USS Nautilus to public display after a preservation project of ten months estimated at 36 million dollars.

“We did the decking for the top face. We did a full blast and paint the hull, so we took it back to bare metal and painted everything. We went to all the reservoirs. We did inspections, repairs if necessary,” said Lt. Commander Derek Sutton, director of the submarine force museum and officer in charge of the USS Nautilus.

The USS Nautilus (SSN 571) is the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. According to Navy leaders, the preservation has ensured that the historic ship will be able to inform, educate and engage the public for the next 30 years.

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The centerpiece of the Submarine Force Museum, as well as a National Historic Landmark and State Ship of Connecticut, USS Nautilus (SSN 571) was launched and commissioned in 1954.

The first “true” submarine, with the unrivaled speed, stealth, mobility and endurance that only nuclear propulsion could provide, Nautilus was limited only by the food the ship could carry for the crew.

Nautilus would become the first ship to reach the Geographic North Pole in 1958 and would actively serve the Navy and the nation for over 25 years. During the submarine’s service, Nautilus completed 2,500 dives and traveled more than 510,000 miles on nuclear power.

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“It is the first ship to have reached the North Pole. As soon as she hit the water, she set speed records, immersion time records,” Lieutenant Commander Sutton said. “Before that, with diesel-powered submarines, they were severely limited as to how much fuel they could take on and then if they were on battery, how long the batteries would last.”

Nautilus remains a marvel today as the only nuclear-powered United States Navy vessel available to the public for general viewing. On average, more than 100,000 guests visit the historic ship each year.

“It’s a huge connection point between the Navy and the underwater community and Subbase New London with all of southeast Connecticut,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sutton. “Being able to help tell the stories of the daring and courageous sailors who have served aboard not just the Nautilus but all American submarines throughout our 120-year history is extremely important.

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Friday’s reopening ceremony coincides with the kickoff of the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival, which takes place on the River Thames and in Groton and New London from September 9-11.

The ship and museum are open to the public Wednesday through Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Nautilus Ship and Submarine Force Historical Museum is located at 1 Crystal Lake Road, Groton, CT, 06340.

Angelo Bavaro is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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