The US Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) a $31 million contract for work on the preservation of the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine.
The company will be responsible for overhauling Historic Ship (HS) Nautilus (SSN 571) at the Naval Submarine Base New London in New London County, Connecticut, after the submarine moved there from its location near the Submarine Force Library and Museum last month. The “float off” in October marked the first time in 20 years the USS Nautilus moved from its berth.
GDEB was awarded the contract after being the only company to bid for the undertaking. During the overhaul, the boat’s hull will be blasted and painted, new topside decks and planks will be installed, interior lighting will be replaced and forward and aft free-flood areas will be replaced. Electric Boat is the lead on this job and will manage the efforts of two contractors. Industrial Marine and Industrial Applicators will be responsible for the painting, while Mystic Seaport is responsible for the decking.
In 1950, Electric Boat was approached by then-Captain Hyman Rickover, who asked if the company’s shipbuilders could build a hull for an atomic submarine. Just four years later, Nautilus was christened and on her way to the history books.
Officially commissioned on September 30, 1954, USS Nautilus broke many records in its first years of operation and traveled to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines.
Nautilus was the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole during Operation Sunshine and earned its crew a Presidential Unit Citation.
For years Nautilus continued to be used to investigate the effects of increased submerged speeds and endurance, rendering previous progress made during World War II obsolete. On March 3, 1980 she was officially decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.
Nautilus now serves as a museum of submarine history in Connecticut operated by the Naval History and Heritage Command where visitors may tour the forward two compartments, with guidance from an automated system. It has also been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Secretary of the Interior.