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May 25, 2018  |  

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Nautilus launched 60 years ago

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The atomic-powered submarine USS Nautilus hits the water in the Thames River at Groton, Conn., Jan. 21, 1954, at the official launching. Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower christened the craft moments earlier.

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Adm. Robert B. Carney, the chief of naval operations, said of the new submarine, "As remarkable as this development seems to us now, Nautilus will probably appear to our sons and grandsons as a quaint old piece of machinery which introduced the transition to a new age of power."

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The USS Nautilus, world's first atomic-powered submarine, rests on the ways in the General Dynamics Corp. shipyard in Groton, on Jan. 20, 1954, a day before the launching ceremonies.

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On Jan. 21, 1954 some 15,000 people witness the USS Nautilus launching at General Dynamic's Electric Boat shipbuilding facility in Groton. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christened the Navy's first nuclear-powered vessel before 11 a.m. on an unusually warm (57 degree) January morning.

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Just before First Lady Mamie Eisenhower christened the Nautilus with a bottle of champagne, an EB worker high on a girder called out, "Hit it good and hard, Mrs. Eisenhower."

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Henry J. Nardone stands in the stairwell to his basement Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 with a photo of the USS Nautilus underway.

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Dignitaries at the launching ceremony included Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, right, who became known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy" for his efforts to develop nuclear submarines. At left is Cmdr. Edward L. Beach, then a Naval aide to President Eisenhower. He was also an author of note and in 1960 made submarine history by circumnavigating the earth submerged in the USS Triton.

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When the Nautilus put to sea for the first time on Jan. 17, 1955, its commander, Cmdr. Eugene P. Wilkinson, signaled the historic message, "Underway on nuclear power."

Related ArticleA short ride into history on Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine