USS Nautilus (SSN-571) is the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine. She was also the first vessel to complete a submerged transit across the North Pole.
Namesake of the submarine in Jules Vern’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Nautilus was authorized in 1951 and launched in 1954. Because her nuclear propulsion allowed her to remain submerged for far longer than diesel-electric submarines, she broke many records in her first years of operation and was able to travel to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines. In operation, she revealed a number of limitations in her design and construction; this information was used to improve subsequent submarines.
The Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982. She has been preserved as a museum of submarine history in Groton, Connecticut where she was launched. she receives some 250,000 visitors a year.