Before closing in 2021, USS Nautilus (SSN-571) served as an exhibit at the Submarine Force Museum that allowed patrons to embark on the only nuclear submarine open to the public. During the scheduled closure, Nautilus received $36 million in refurbishments and preservation maintenance.

“Nautilus revolutionized not only submarine warfare, but all of naval warfare. The capability to operate virtually indefinitely without need to surface to run Diesel engines or recharge batteries gave it an immense tactical advantage,” said Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Director, Samuel Cox. “Today we forget the existential nature of the Cold War, which drove the incredible pace at which Nautilus was conceived, designed and built, truly a testament to American ingenuity. NHHC is proud to deliver this vessel back to the public and give future generations an opportunity to see it.”

Nautilus was towed to Naval Submarine Base New London in 2021 for dry-dock and refurbishment. Structural maintenance, such as the ship’s wooden deck replacement, repairs to the vessel’s superstructure, and restorations to the ship’s hull were performed to extend the vessel's longevity.

Following repairs, Nautilus returned to NHHC’s fleet of naval artifacts on Aug. 4, 2022. The vessel will remain ported in the Thames River, adjacent to the Submarine Force Museum.

NHHC's mission is to preserve and present naval artifacts, and as this vessel remains at sea on the Thames River, the ship’s crew and museum staff are excited to welcome the public aboard.

Commissioned in 1954, Nautilus was not only the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, but also the world's first submarine to reach the North Pole in 1958. Serving for 26 years, the ship decommissioned in 1980 with 2,500 dives and deploying 510,000 miles fueled by nuclear power. This vessel is now the official ship of the state of Connecticut.

“Our submarine force has long been at the forefront of defending out nations’ freedom in a dangerous world” said Cox. “The accomplishments of the crews of the Nautilus over the years, serve as inspiration to those who serve in submarines today on missions every bit as important to our national security as those of the past. We encourage the public, and submariners of today, to visit Nautilus to get a sense of what the ‘Silent Service’ has done, and continues to do, for our nation.”

The Submarine Force Museum in Groton Connecticut is scheduled to host a ceremony on Sept. 9, 2022, at 12:30 pm to commemorate the vessel's return to the public. Media inquiries should be directed to the New London Public Affairs office at (860) 694-5980.

NHHC, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for preserving, analyzing, and disseminating U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC comprises many activities, including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, ten museums, the USS Constitution repair facility, and the historic ship Nautilus.

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