The Day – Nautilus leaves Submarine Force Museum for $ 36 million preservation project

Groton – The USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, was towed Friday afternoon from its home at the Submarine Force Museum upstream to a jetty at Naval Submarine Base, where it will make the object of a preservation project estimated at $ 36 million.

Captain Kenneth Curtin, the new subbase commander, and other Navy officials said it would ensure the historic ship will exist another 30 years to educate and engage the public. He should return to the museum in the spring or summer.

The last time the Nautilus left its moorings for preservation work, the Navy said, was in 2002 for a $ 4.7 million renovation.

The Nautilus made its maiden voyage in 1955, was decommissioned in 1980, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982.

“It has revolutionized naval warfare from the time Electric Boat launched it until today,” said retired Rear Admiral Samuel Cox, director of naval history and command. heritage for the Navy. He said it was the most important work done on the Nautilus since it became a museum ship.

Cox and other military officials spoke at a ceremony outside the Submarine Force Museum ahead of the Nautilus’ departure.

The Nautilus is now at the subbase, but Navy spokesman Chris Zendan said there was some prep work to do before moving the boat to dry dock, and the USS Cheyenne is currently in dry dock.

The Navy said preservation work will include repairing and painting the hull and superstructure, replacing the upper deck, inspecting tanks and voids, and upgrading lighting and works. electric.

Kurt Hesch, senior vice president of programs at Electric Boat, said EB traders “are very, very excited to be working on Nautilus” and have called it “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Jim Belz, director of maintenance and modernization at EB, said the company is taking the lead in maintenance activities and has the support of people from International Marine and Industrial Applicators and the Mystic Seaport Museum.

“We’re going to completely explode and paint the entire exterior. You can imagine the rust,” Belz said. He added that he believes that there will be a major replacement of the steel under the superstructure, and that there will also be beautification work, such as improving the brightness of the engine room.

Belz said many of the people who will be working on the Nautilus have worked on the USS Hartford, a Los Angeles-class submarine. But working on a museum ship, rather than one still in service, is unique.

While the Nautilus is under maintenance, museum visitors can view a virtual tour of the submarine.

Gary Schmid, who served on the Nautilus from 1968 to 1971, was present at the ceremony.

Being at the ceremony “means so much, especially seeing it again on the way,” Schmid said. He recalled being on board the Nautilus in the Caribbean and elsewhere, and said that “everywhere we went with her you could feel the history”.

Schmid, who was previously president of the Nautilus Alumni Association, said the camaraderie and goal of keeping the ship in working order still lingers today with those who served on the Nautilus.

Bob Ross, executive director of the state’s military affairs office, noted that while the Nautilus “is in the process of getting a facelift,” its pier at the museum will become very busy as a new landing is being built for it. water from the Thames River Heritage Park. Taxi.

He also called the Nautilus a “tremendous asset” for tourism, history and education.

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