“Underway on nuclear power.”

60 years ago today, at 11am on the morning of January 17, 1955 the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, eased away from her pier at Groton, CT, and moved out to sea under her own power. Her historic message was soon sent, “Underway on nuclear power.”


By today’s standards, Nautilus was almost crude. But her ability to operate submerged for extended periods of time completely revolutionized submarine warfare, and was also a key demonstration of the capacity for peaceful application of nuclear power.

BZ, USS Nautilus.

7 thoughts on ““Underway on nuclear power.””

  1. NAUTILUS was supposed to have the sound signature of a loaded freight train, but could outrun anything else, so who cared.

  2. The engineroom of Nautilus is set up as a museum like the rest of the ship, but is off-limits to the public because she can still teach the Russians and Chinese how to build a submarine reactor.

    1. I always thought it was kinda funny that when you tour an Ohio boat, they don’t care if you sit at the missile control panel, but NO WAY do you get to go back to the reactor spaces.

  3. Nautilus is one of those ship that should remain in commission for historical reasons as Constitution does. OTOH, given that a ship in commission must be operationally capable (Constitution is, although no one in his right mind would deploy it), it is understandable that the Navy would not want the tea kettle operational. Still, it probably should be in commission for purposes of honer. I think the same should be done with an Essex class carrier and the Mighty Mo. I’d choose the Mo over Wisconsin because of the historical attachments to the Jap surrender, not because weener dawgs don’t like Badgers.

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