The USS Nautilus was a nuclear-powered attack submarine launched in 1954; she was in fact the first ship of nuclear propulsion ever built.
The name "Nautilus", formerly adopted by other units of the United States Navy, paid tribute to the revolutionary submarine manned
by Captain Nemo in the famous novel by Jules Verne "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea". Like her fictional counterpart, the USS Nautilus
was then the only submarine capable of covering 20000 miles without emerging to the surface of the sea. Nuclear propulsion has been the
ideal solution to the problem of remaining submerged during long periods of time, as much as the crew could endure. In fact, United States
has been so satisfied with this solution that not even a single military submarine of conventional propulsion has been commissioned by this
country since the late 1950s, a situation which has no similar in any other country. In the opposite side of the scene is Germany, a rich
country of the finest submarine tradition which has never commissioned a nuclear-powered vessel.
The first reactor core supplied to the USS Nautilus allowed for 100681 kilometers of navigation; a conventional propulsion plant of the same
size would have required nine millions of liters of gasoil to cover the same distance. The second reactor core supplied to the vessel endured
146940 kilometers, and the third core lasted for roughly 241350 kilometers. The USS Nautilus achieved fame as well by the travel effectuated
in the summer of 1958, when she departed towards the Arctic from the Hawaiian base of Pearl Harbor. She managed to reach the North Atlantic
after having found her way beneath the ice cap of the North Pole, emerging to surface after 1830 miles and incurring in an error in the course
inferior to ten miles. During this dangerous crossing her torpedo tubes were ready for launching at any time, in case they were needed to
open a passage accross the ice. Featuring as well a highly hydrodynamical hull, the USS Nautilus was capable of speeds not seen before
in a submarine.
The service life of the USS Nautilus ended the 3rd May 1980, when her nuclear fuel was dismantled and she was left deactivated at
Mare Island, California. From that dock the submarine, properly escorted, was towed through the Panama Canal to the same place where she
had been built 26 years ago: the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut. There she arrived the 6th July 1985 for being reconverted into the
museum ship that nowadays she is.
Class: Nautilus (1 unit)
Type: Nuclear-powered attack submarine
Length: 97.5 meters
Beam: 8.5 meters
Draught: 7.9 meters
Displacement (surfaced): 3533 tonnes
Displacement (submerged): 4092 tonnes
Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine, 1 x nuclear reactor Westinghouse S2W 70 megawatt, 13400 shaft horsepower
Speed (surfaced): 22 knots (40.7 kilometers/hour)
Speed (submerged): 23 knots (42.6 kilometers/hour)
Range: 54363 nautical miles (100681 kilometers) as built
Test depth: 213 meters
Armament: 6 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube (at prow), 18 x torpedo reload