Nautilus To Undergo Preservation Work As Early As 2017
By Julia Bergman
New London Day
June 14, 2016
GROTON – The world's first nuclear-powered submarine will undergo preservation work as soon as next year.
Navy and Electric Boat officials still are determining an exact date for the Historic Ship Nautilus to go into dry dock for an exterior paint job and a preservation assessment to ensure the ship is still structurally sound.
EB, which built the submarine more than 60 years ago, will perform the work, which is expected to take about six months.
EB is preparing its response to the Navy's request for proposal for the preservation work, and expects to submit its proposal in the near future, Dan Barrett, a spokesman for the company, said by email.
The last time Nautilus went into dry dock was in January of 2002, according to, Lt. Cmdr. Reginald Preston, officer in charge of the ship.
The repair period lasted five months and cost $4.7 million, according to a May 2002 story in The Day.
Nautilus took about 18 months to build, and was commissioned on Sept. 30, 1954.
On the morning of Jan. 17, 1955, the day of the Nautilus' commissioning, the ship's first commanding officer, Cmdr. Eugene P. Wilkinson, uttered the historic radio message, "Underway on nuclear power."
At a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the commissioning of the Nautilus, the then-director of the Navy's nuclear propulsion program, Adm. John Richardson, told a crowd in Groton that Wilkinson's aides had drafted a two-page message that Wilkinson, who died in 2013 at the age of 94, chose not to deliver.
During its 26 years in service, the Nautilus achieved a number of firsts. It broke records for speed and distance while submerged, and was the first ship to cross the North Pole.
Nautilus could stay underwater for two weeks or longer compared to the 12 to 48 hours that World War II submarines could remain submerged.
After traversing more than 500,000 miles, Nautilus was decommissioned in March 1980, and later was converted to a historic ship.
It became a National Historic Landmark in 1982.
Moored in the Thames River, Nautilus has been the centerpiece of the Submarine Force Library and Museum since its opening in April 1986.
The museum previously was located at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.
The museum's collections include more than 33,000 artifacts, 20,000 significant documents and 30,000 photographs, according to its website.
Visitors also have access to its 6,000-volume reference and research library.
Preston estimated that about 130,000 people visit the site each year.