Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ships named Nautilus
2.1 12-gun schooner 1799
The nautilus is a tropical mollusk, having a many-chambered, spiral shell with a pearly interior. Derived from a Greek word meaning "sailor" or "ship," Nautilus and its variants has been a common ship's name in several languages for centuries. Six ships of the United States Navy have been named Nautilus.
A popular misconception is that these ships were named for the fictional submarine in Jules Verne's 1870 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but Nautilus has been associated with proud fighting ships of the United States Navy since 1803, six decades before Verne christened Captain Nemo's submarine, Nautilus.
US Naval ships named Nautilus
Six ships of the U.S. Navy have been named Nautilus. Not all of these ships were called "Nautilus" throughout their service, the following dates may refer to the vessel's launch date, commissioning date, or rechristening date:
Launched as a merchant ship in 1799, Nautilus, a schooner of 12 guns, first appeared on the Navy list in 1803. Under the command of LT Richard Somers, she was with Commodore Preble's Squadron in the Mediterranean, during the campaign against the Tripolitan Pirates. Her battle plaque is inscribed with the names of Tripoli and Derne from this early war of the U.S. Navy. She continued in active service until she was captured by a British squadron at the outbreak of the War of 1812.
In 1911, Nautilus made her first appearance in the Submarine Force although later that year her name was changed to H-2. Built in San Francisco, the 150-foot, 467-ton diesel submarine saw service until 1922 when she was decommissioned.
During World War I the name and tradition were carried on by a 66-foot motor pleasure boat, built at City Island, New York. She was commissioned in 1917 and assigned to patrol and escort duties of the New York City area for the remainder of World War I.
The USS O-12 (SS-73) was an O-11-class submarine of the United States Navy, commissioned 18 October 1918, with Lieutenant Commander J.E. Austin in command. She did not begin as Nautilus but was later re-christened.
Submarine O-12 spent much of her career as a unit of Submarine Division 1, based at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone. In 1921, she was awarded a Battle Efficiency Pennant and trophy for gunnery (gun and torpedo).
She was converted by the Philadelphia Navy Yard for use on the Sir Hubert Wilkins Arctic Expedition of geophysical investigation—during which the submarine bore the name Nautilus. Afterward she was returned to the Navy Department and was scuttled 20 November 1931 in a Norwegian fjord.
War in the Pacific
With the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, Nautilus quickly joined the fight and established the reputation, which was to characterize her throughout the next three years of combat. On her first war patrol, at the Battle of Midway, she sank the aircraft carrier Soryu that had been previously damaged by aerial attacks.
On her second patrol, she carried out the first of many special missions that her size particularly suited her for. Carrying a detachment of the Second Marine Raider Battalion and in company with USS Argonaut she attacked and captured the enemy held island of Makin.
Presidential Unit Citation
On her third patrol, she accounted for three ships. For her distinguished service on these three war patrols she was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy's highest award to a fighting ship.
After fourteen war patrols, in which she sank seven ships and participated in the battles of Midway, Makin , Guadalcanal, Attu, the Gilbert Islands and Leyte, she was retired from combat service and decommissioned on 30 June 1945.
On 12 December 1951, the Navy Department announced that the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, SSN-571, would carry the name Nautilus. Authorized by the Congress in July 1951, her keel was laid at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut by the Honorable Harry S. Truman, President of the United States, on 14 June 1952. A year and a half later—on 21 January 1954—the First Lady, Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower broke the traditional bottle of champagne on her bow as the ship slid down the ways into the Thames River in Connecticut.
"Underway on nuclear power"
On 17 January 1955, USS Nautilus put to sea for the first time and signaled her historic message "Underway on nuclear power." She steamed submerged 1,300 miles from New London to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in just 84 hours. The success of Nautilus ensured the future of nuclear power in the Navy.
Now a museum, after undergoing a five-month preservation at Electric Boat division of General Dynamics, at a cost of approximately $4.7 million. The historic ship Nautilus attracts some 250,000 visitors annually to her present berth near the United States Naval Submarine Base New London, at Groton's Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut.
Other Ships named Nautilus
In addition to the US Naval ships and submarines, and the fictional Nautilus, other vessels have been christened Nautilus:
Perhaps the most famous fictional submarine, Nautilus, from Jules Verne's science fiction novels, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, was captained by Captain Nemo. Built in secret from parts manufactured throughout Europe, this electrically-powered vessel featured a "ramming prow", used to attack vessels by holing them below the surface.
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea's Nautilus fictional vessel
- USS Nautilus U.S. Military vessels named USS Nautilus
- Robert Fulton's Nautilus first Nautilus submarine
- USS Nautilus (1799) 12-gun schooner
- USS Nautilus (1847) 76-foot survey schooner
- USS Nautilus (1911) first military submarine
- USS Nautilus (1917) 66-foot patrol/escort vessel
- USS Nautilus (SS-168) second military sub Nautilus
- USS Nautilus (SSN-571) first nuclear submarine
- USS O-12 (SS-73) rechristened as Nautilus by Sir Hubert Wilkins' Arctic Expedition
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