The Nuclear Submarin Nautilus and the Submarine Museum
A friend of mine was visiting the nuclear submarine Nautilus, the only nuclear submarine on display in the world and the museum attached; the other attraction was the Aquarium. I realized that I had seen some lovely aquaria at both Florida and at Singapore, but would never get an opportunity to see a nuclear submarine, ever! So off I went.
Mystic has a long seafaring history, and even today, is a place where submarines are still built, though there is a move afoot to cut the production down as Virginia will be where more will be built in the future.
I told my friend that I had already seen, in great detail, one submarine museum at Portsmouth, England ; and so, I said, my attention span would be very short, and I would be ready to go whenever he was through….as it happened, at the end of 2 and a half hours, he had to drag me out!
We were, of course, only allowed to see less than one-third of the nuclear sub; but that was quite impressive enough for me. The torpedo tubes, the extreme crampedness of the men’s quarters, the directions “not to lose a chance to help the ship even as long as a bit of hope remains” the way food was cooked and eaten, the way sailors took showers and relaxed….I would have given each sailor a medal just for being on that submarine for weeks at a time!
The Nautilus actually went past the geographical North Pole and later also surfaced there…no small feat!
We had a young man at the entrance to the gangway who willingly answered our questions (how do they prevent the sub from stinking? How do they address lack of sunlight and lack of vitamin D?) and kept us spellbound. We later saw his photograph, too, along with those who were in charge of the sub now!
There were other submarines, including “midget” subs and a strange sub with a “double-head” through which two torpedoes at a time could be fired, on display in the garden.
You can imagine that I willingly decided to skip lunch in order to spend more time at the museum! There was one section where one could “sit” at the sub’s controls; another where one could actually peer through the periscopes; children were encouraged to touch everything and imagine life on board the sub!
A memorable experience. I wish we had museums like this! I remember scrambling for permission and visiting the INS Vikrant, the aircraft carrier, when she was berthed in Chennai….I guess I will always love visiting the places where those who keep us safe live and do their work.