Submarine Force Library and Museum

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Submarine Force Library and Museum
UGM-84 Harpoon at Submarine Force Museum entrance.jpg
A UGM-84 missile outside the entrance
Established 1955
Location Groton, Connecticut, United States
Type Military museum
Collection size 33,000 artifacts
20,000 significant documents
30,000 photographs
Visitors 150,000/year
Curator Steve Finnegan

The United States Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum, located on the Thames River near Groton, Connecticut, United States, is the only submarine museum managed exclusively by the Naval History & Heritage Command division of the U.S. Navy, which makes it a repository for many special submarine items of national significance, including USS Nautilus (SSN-571).

Visitors may take a 30-minute self-guided audio tour of the submarine. In a 2009 visit to the museum, a writer for Connecticut magazine found several veterans of the U.S. submarine force who talked about their experiences while visiting the Nautilus.[1]


Established in 1955, the museum was originally operated by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics and was known solely as the Submarine Library. In 1964, it was donated to the U.S. Navy and moved to its current location along the Thames next to Naval Submarine Base New London. It received its official title in 1969. Hoping to convince the U.S. Navy to donate the Nautilus to the museum, in 1984 the "Connecticut Nautilus Committee" was formed to raise funds for an improved museum. A new, 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) facility was built with funding from the state, individuals and businesses, opening in 1986. In late 1997 the Committee decided to start planning and raising funds for a 13,465-square-foot (1,250.9 m2) addition to the museum building. Fundraising started the next year, and construction project ran from 1998 to early 2000. The new addition was officially opened to the public on April 28, 2000 "in conjunction with the Centennial Celebration of the United States Submarine Force", according to the museum.[2]

Collection and permanent exhibits

The museum has 33,000 artifacts,[3] including the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world, the USS Nautilus. Launched in 1955 and decommissioned in 1980, the submarine had traveled under the polar ice cap and reached the North Pole during the Cold War. Also at the museum is a replica of David Bushnell's Turtle, built in 1775 and the first submarine used in combat;[1] midget submarines from World War II; working periscopes, salvaged parts from the nuclear USS NR-1,[4] a submarine control room, models of submarines, and the Explorer, an early U.S. research submarine.[5]

The sail section from the USS George Washington, the first US nuclear powered ballistic missile sub, showing its hull number 598 is on outdoor display near the main entrance.

In addition to its large collection of submarines and related objects, the museum also has a library with around 20,000 documents and 30,000 photos related to the history of submarine development.[3] The library also includes 6,000 books related to the field of submarine history, including a 1551 text on submarine retrieval, and an original 1870 copy of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (the museum also has a model of the fictional Nautilus). Documents in the collection include notes and calculations by John Holland for the U.S. Navy's first commissioned submarine, "one-of-a-kind artifacts from World War I and World War II", and the submarine library collections of both Electric Boat Corporation and the U.S. Navy.[2]

Commentary on the museum

The institution has been called "an absolute gem worth exploring", with the USS Nautilus as "the star attraction", according to Connecticut magazine.[1] According to Anna Mundow in Fodor's "Compass American Guides" book, "Students of modern military history will be impressed" by the museum.[6]

Other Navy museums

See: U.S. Navy Museum and U.S. Navy Museum#Other Navy museums

See also


  1. ^ a b c C.P.R. (Cathy P. Ross), "Submarine Force Museum", a short (four-paragraph) article, p 30, Connecticut magazine, December 2009
  2. ^ a b Web page titled "The Submarine Force Library & Museum Association" at the Submarine Force Library & Museum website, retrieved December 3, 2009
  3. ^ a b Web page titled "The Submarine Force Library & Museum / Home of the USS Nautilus" at the Submarine Force Library & Museum website, retrieved December 3, 2009
  4. ^
  5. ^ Wiencek, Henry, The Smithsonian Guide to Historic America: Southern New England, p 353, New York: Steward, Tabori & Chang, 1989, ISBN 1-55670-051-2
  6. ^ Mundow, Anna, p. 91, Connecticut & Rhode Island, 2003, Fodors, ISBN 0-676-90492-0

External links

  • Official website
  • Submarine Force Medal of Honor Recipients. Submarine Force Museum website
  • Submarine Museums in the United States

Coordinates: 41°23′23″N 72°05′21″W / 41.38972°N 72.08917°W / 41.38972; -72.08917

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