August 3, 1958, the "Nautilus" is the first submarine to pass under the North Pole

The USS Nautilus (SSN-571) of the United States Navy was the first nuclear-powered submarine in history and the first ship to cross the North Pole submerged.

Baptized as "Nautilus" in homage to the submarine of the same name from Jules Verne's novel, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", it was built thanks to the work of the physicist Philipo Abelson.

It was 91 meters long, weighed 3,000 tons and had an S2W naval reactor, a pressurized water reactor built by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Nuclear propulsion gave it unprecedented autonomy up to that date (several weeks of immersion and up to 140,000 km at cruising speed, 23 knots).

On February 4, 1957, the "Nautilus" reached 60,000 nautical miles (111,120 km) in immersion, which corresponds to the 20,000 leagues in Jules Verne's novel.

On August 3, 1958, at 11:15 a.m., it became the first submarine to pass under the North Pole cap, but in its three attempts it failed to emerge. It had to be the USS Skate submarine that carried out the feat on March 17, 1959 and of which there is photographic evidence.

The USS Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and declared a Historic Site in 1982, before being converted to a museum ship.

Access to the best


on Energy and Environment
Go to resources