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Connecticut News

USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered sub, begins preservation at New London base

Captain Kenneth Curtin stands before the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine.
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU Public Radio
Captain Kenneth Curtin stands before the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine.

A $36 million preservation project is underway to restore USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, based in Groton, Connecticut.

Senior Navy leaders and elected officials attended a special ceremony at the Submarine Force Museum to see the historic ship off.

“The commencement of Nautilus’s long-awaited preservation and the very rare opportunity to see this historic ship free of permanent pier moorings and underway once again, even if not under the power of the atom,” said Captain Kenneth Curtin, the 53rd commander of Submarine Base New London.

Gary Schmid served aboard Nautilus in the late 1960s. He was emotional as he watched the sub being guided down the Thames River.

“It’s quite an experience — almost brings out tears. That we all served so strongly on her, and she’s had such a history and to see her underway, even though it was with tugboats is good to see again,” Schmid said.

Nautilus will be dry docked at the sub base where the ship will undergo repairs, have the hull repainted and upgrade electrical systems over the next six months.

The submarine was commissioned in 1954 and built in Groton by Electric Boat on the Thames River. It not only ushered in a new era of nuclear power for submarines but also broke speed and submergence records.