Common Questions About USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571)

What is the significance of NAUTILUS?

NAUTILUS was the world’s first nuclear – powered ship and the first vessel to go to the North Pole.

What special recognition has NAUTILUS received?

NAUTILUS was named a National Historic Landmark in 1982 and Connecticut’s State Ship in 1985.

Where was NAUTILUS built?

Electric Boat Company, one of the nation’s leading constructors of submarines, built NAUTILUS in Groton, 3 miles south of where she is presently moored.

When was NAUTILUS built?

June 1952; President Harry Truman officiated at NAUTILUS keel-laying. January 1954; Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, wife of the president launched NAUTILUS. In September 1954; NAUTILUS was commissioned.

How many men were on board?

NAUTILUS carried 11 officers and 105 enlisted men.

How deep could it go?

NAUTILUS could dive to 700 feet.

How fast could it go?

In excess of 20 knots.

How long is it?

319 feet – a little longer than a football field.

How much does it weigh?

3,400 tons on the surface.

How deep does NAUTILUS extend below the surface?


How long can it stay underwater?

NAUTILUS was the first true submarine and could stay underwater for very long periods of time. Whereas World War II submarines would remain submerged for 12-48 hours. NAUTILUS could remain underwater for two weeks or more.

Was NAUTILUS the first ship to go to the North Pole?

Yes, NAUTILUS sailed from Alaska under the Polar ice cap, passed under the North Pole, and surfaced near Greenland. This record setting voyage took place in August 1958.

When was NAUTILUS taken out of service?

The Navy decommissioned NAUTILUS in March 1980.

How many years was NAUTILUS in service?

Twenty-six; from 1954 to 1980.

Can NAUTILUS go to sea again?

No. In converting NAUTILUS for visitation to the public, the Navy made extensive renovations which prevent NAUTILUS form sailing on her own power again.

What does its number 571 mean?

The Navy numbers all its submarines consecutively since the first one, USS HOLLAND (SS-1) commissioned in 1900. NAUTILUS was the 571st submarine built for the U.S. Navy.

What do the red and white letters on the conning tower stand for?

These letters represent awards for excellence that NAUTILUS earned on active duty: *The white E--This is the coveted Battle Efficiency E for excellence in combat readiness. *The red E--This is an award for excellent engineering. *The red A --This is an award for excellence in anti-submarine warfare.

What is the red, blue and yellow flag on the conning tower?

This is the Presidential Unit Commendation. NAUTILUS became the first ship to ever win this coveted award in peacetime by going to the North Pole.

Is the glass building on the bow (front) part of the original submarine?

No; this was added for visitor convenience when NAUTILUS was modified for visitation.

Are the long stairs part of the original submarine?

No; the stairs are also an addition to make it easier for visitors to enter NAUTILUS.

How do I get on board?

There isa wide walkway (brow) leading from the pier to the submarine.

Will I get seasick on board?

No. NAUTILUS is very stable and moves very little.