Today in History: The World's First Nuclear Submarine Gets Commissioned

Today, the USS Nautilus got commissioned by the U.S. Navy. 

The USS Nautilus was constructed by a U.S. Navy Captain named Hyman G. Rickover. He was a Russian-born engineer who joined the United States atomic program in 1946. By 1947, Rickover was placed in charge of the navy's nuclear propulsion program and he immediately began working on blueprints for an atomic submarine. 

This process moved significantly faster than expected. Rickover succeeded in developing and delivering the world's first nuclear submarine, many years before the suggested due date. 

In 1952, Rickover presented the Nautilus to President Harry S. Truman, and on January 21, 1954, the submarine was christened by Mamie Eisenhower, who broke a bottle of champagne across its bow as it launched into the Thames River in Connecticut. 

The Nautilus was much larger than the diesel-electric submarines that were being used prior to the nuclear revolution. 

The vessel stretched roughly 320 feet long and it displaced 3,180 tons of water while floating. 

The vessel also did not need to come to the surface practically ever because the nuclear engine was much more efficient, did not need oxygen to power, and only used a small amount of uranium to power itself. 

Similar to how a nuclear powerplant works, the Nautilus used the uranium to heat up a reactor that produced steam, propelling the enormous vessel underwater at roughly 20 knots top speed from a standstill. 

That's roughly 23 mph, by the way. 

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