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See the return of the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine — a photo essay

The color guard aboard USS Nautilus.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
The color guard aboard USS Nautilus

USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, has returned to public display after almost a year undergoing a $36 million preservation.

Naultilus through the shoulders of US sailors.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Naultilus through the shoulders of U.S. sailors

USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, has returned to public display after almost a year undergoing a $36 million preservation.

Senior Navy leaders, government, veterans and state officials welcomed back the historic ship to her home at the U.S. Submarine Base in Groton. It was controversial when the submarine was built in 1951, against the Navy’s wishes by Admiral Hyman Rickover, who became known as “The Father of the Nuclear Navy.”

“The Nautilus was built from used parts [from] a diesel submarine already under construction — liquid holding tanks from a bankrupt New Jersey dairy; emergency diesel engines salvaged from a mine sweeper that had spent the last few years sunk on the bottom of a river; and a refurbished engine room appropriated from a pre-World War II destroyer,” U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) recalled.

“[Rickover] was thus able to build the world’s first Nuclear powered submarine for less than $70 million,” he continued.

The preservation of Nautilus will ensure the ship will be open to educate and inform visitors for the next 30 years. Its return helped to kick off the state’s annual Maritime Heritage Festival over the weekend.

“Welcome back Nautilus. We missed you,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “Refurbished, ready to go at home, right where you belong.”

“This is the gateway, this is a way that we remember and celebrate each and every one of you, the submariners, their families, essential workers and what the fleet means for keeping us safe and freedom isn’t free.”

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.