August 1949 - The Chief of Naval
Operations establishes a January 1955 "ready-for-sea" date for development of a
submarine nuclear propulsion plant.
August 1950 - President Harry S. Truman
signs Public Law 674, authorizing construction of Nautilus.
August 1951 - Electric Boat begins
construction of the first nuclear-powered submarine.
June 1952 - President Truman lays the
keel of the Nautilus.
September 1954 - Nautilus is
January 1955 - Under the command of CDR
Eugene P. Wilkinson, USS Nautilus puts to sea for the first time--less than four years
after construction began--signaling her historic message, "Underway on nuclear
February 1955 - Nautilus steams 1,300
submerged miles from New London, CT to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 84 hours--ten times
farther than previously traveled by a submerged submarine. This is the first time
that a submarine maintains a high speed (about 16 knots average) for longer than an hour.
1957 - Nautilus is refueled after
steaming over 62,000 miles on her first core. The ship was fully submerged for more
than half the distance.
August 3, 1958 - Nautilus, during an
1800-mile, 96-hour historic trans-Polar voyage from Point Barrow, AK to the Greenland Sea,
becomes the first ship to reach the geographic North Pole. For demonstrating the
Arctic's strategic potential, President Eisenhower awards Nautilus the Presidential Unit
Citation (the first such award in peacetime) and her commanding officer, CDR William R.
Anderson, the Legion of Merit.
1960 - Nautilus deploys to the
Mediterranean and becomes the first nuclear-powered submarine assigned to the Sixth Fleet.
1960-1979 - Nautilus participates in
numerous defense missions, including the Naval quarantine during the 1962 Cuban missile
crisis, and demonstrates U.S. technical capability though high-visibility visits to
numerous foreign ports in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
April 1979 - Nautilus departs Groton,
CT en route to California for her final voyage. Completes her 2500th dive and
510,000 miles on nuclear power.
May 1979 - Nautilus enters Mare Island
Naval Shipyard for inactivation and conversion as a historic ship for public
display. Following this, Nautilus leaves California under tow for the Naval
Submarine Base in Groton.