Nautilus To Return To Celebration In Groton
GROTON, Conn. (AP) _ The submarine Nautilus, the world’s first atomic-powered vessel, will end its final, 6,000-mile ocean voyage Saturday at the harbor where it was launched 31 years ago.
Thereafter, ″basically the longest voyage she’s going to take is up and down on the tide,″ said Michael Lamparelli, co-chairman of a committee preparing to welcome the Nautilus home.
The vessel will be prepared for its berth as the centerpiece of an $8 million museum and library dedicated to the history and development of submarines. It is scheduled to open in 1986.
Lamparelli, director of the Marine Commerce and Development Committee, said Wednesday that he expected 350,000 people to witness the sub’s arrival in the Thames River, location of the Naval submarine base at New London and of the Electric Boat Shipyard, where the Nautilus was launched on Jan. 21, 1954.
Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp. of St. Louis, built the Nautilus for $63 million, compared with the more than $1 billion spent on today’s top-of-the-line Trident submarines.
The Nautilus left the Mare Island Navy Base near San Francisco under tow in May and passed through the Panama Canal last month.
Decommissioned in 1980 after sailing 500,000 miles in 25 years of Navy service, the Nautilus had been destined for a final berth first at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., then at the Washington Navy Yard.
After late Gov. Ella T. Grasso agreed to guarantee $5 million in loans and grants for a museum did President Jimmy Carter say in 1980 that the Nautilus could return to Groton.
A year after the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite in 1957, the submarine helped bolster wounded national pride by becoming the first vessel to reach the North Pole under the polar ice cap.
The feat, generally considered impossible, took the Nautilus 96 hours before it resurfaced in the Greenland Sea. A ticker-tape parade greeted the returning crew in New York City.
With a revolutionary atomic fission propulsion system built by Westinghouse Electric Corp., the Nautilus on her first cruise broke records for distance traveled, time submerged and speed.
The Nautilus also was the first submarine to be christened by a U.S. president’s wife - First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.
The vessel also was the first submarine to use a soothing pastel color scheme to relieve the tension of undersea duty.