. . . there are only two types of ships: submarines and targets.
The U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum on the Thames River is 4 miles north of Groton Connecticut at One Crystal Lake Road. Nearly 250,000 visitors come to this historic submarine museum each year.
The museum has a replica the first submarine used in combat, David Bushnell’s Turtle built in 1775, with a Japanese midget submarine from World War II. There is also an early US research submarine, the Explorer.
Within its collection are 33,000 artifacts many from World War I and World War II. A functional submarine control room has a working periscope. The museum highlight is the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571). Due to its ability to stay submerged for long periods of time it broke many records in its first years of operation. It completed the world’s first undersea voyage to the North Pole on August 3, 1958.
On May 2, 1966 USS Nautilus returned to homeport at New London after logging 300,000 nautical miles. Its travel and missions identified limits in its development, providing insights for further submarine generations.
USS Nautilus was authorized in 1951, launched in 1954 and finally decommissioned in 1980. A naval reactor, pressurized water reactor produced for the U.S. Navy by Westinghouse Electric Corporation provided power.
A thirty-minute self-guided audio tour leads visitors using an audio wand. The museum has a model of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus from Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. An original 1870 edition of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea may be seen at the museum. The library has 30,000 photographs, and 20,000 noteworthy documents.
Operating Hours November to April 30 are:
Wednesday – Monday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, closed Tuesday.
Admission and parking is free.
Groton is home to General Dynamics Electric Boat. It’s a town on the Thames River with a population of 40,115. General Dynamics Electric Boat has been a builder of submarines to the US Navy for over 100 years. Its shipyard is in Groton, the design and engineering facility in New London with hull fabrication/ outfitting in Quonset Point Rhode Island. New London is a seaport at the mouth of the Thames River, one of the smallest cities in land area in the state. It is positioned midway between New York City and Boston.
U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum is a six hour drive of 386 miles from Rochester NY. Drive east on I-90 to Springfield Massachusetts, then south on US 91 to Hartford Connecticut. Drive route 2 to Norwich then route 11. At exit, turn left to Route 82 then right onto route 85. Drive 15 miles to I-95 North to Exit 86, following signs 1.5 miles to Museum.
Here’s a useful comment from a 2009 article in Connecticut magazine. “The institution is “an absolute gem worth exploring, and […] chock-full of adult- and kid-friendly exhibits”, with the USS Nautilus as “the star attraction”.