Submarine Force Library and Museum
The U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum, located on the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut, is a museum which houses the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, along with many other artifacts and exhibits.
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.
The museum does not charge admission.
Collection and permanent exhibits
The museum has 33,000 artifacts along with the decommissioned USS Nautilus.
Also at the museum is a replica of David Bushnell's Turtle, built in 1775 and the first submarine used in combat; midget submarines from World War II; working periscopes, a submarine control room, models of submarines, and the Explorer, an early U.S. research submarine.
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. 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 ship). Documents in the collection include notes and calculations by John Holland for the Navy's first 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.
Established in 1955, the museum was originally operated by the Electric Boat Company, a 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. The name of the institution was changed in 1969. The U.S. Navy later donated the Nautilus to the museum. In 1984 the Connecticut Nautilus Committee was formed to raise funds for improvements to the museum. A new, 14,000-square-foot facility was built with funding from the state, individuals and businesses, and opened in 1986. In 1997 the Association decided to start planning and raising funds for a 13,465-square-foot 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.
Commentary on the museum
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", according to a brief 2009 article in Connecticut magazine. "Students of modern military history will be impressed" by the museum, Anna Mundow wrote in Fodor's "Compass American Guides" book, Connecticut & Rhode Island.
- C.P.R. (Cathy P. Ross), "Submarine Force Museum", a short (four-paragraph) article, p 30, Connecticut magazine, December 2009
- Web page titled "The Submarine Force Library & Museum / Home of the USS Nautilus" at the Submarine Force Library & Museum website, retrieved December 3, 2009
- Wiencek, Henry, The Smithsonian Guide to Historic America: Southern New England, p 353, New York: Steward, Tabori & Chang, 1989, ISBN 1556700512
- Web page titled "The Submarine Force Library & Museum Association" at the Submarine Force Library & Museum website, retrieved December 3, 2009
- Mundow, Anna, p. 91, Connecticut & Rhode Island, 2003, Fodors, ISBN 0676904920