You’ve heard, I’m sure, of the Nautilus. I don’t mean the version of the Nautilus–creation of Captain Nemo–dreamed up in the 1954 movie 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, or even the version o the Nautilus featured in the 2003 movie
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Though fascinating in their own way,
even more fascinating was the USS Nautilus. SSN-571, the first nuclear powered submarine, in fact, the first nuclear powered warship, launched January 21, 1954.
The Nautilus was, for its time, blazingly fast, achieving 23 knots underwater. Its nuclear power plant made the Nautilus the first true submarine rather than a surface ship that could submerge for short periods. Among its incredible accomplishments was the first under-the-ice transit of the North Pole.
The Atlantic has a fascinating article about the construction and testing of the nuclear reactor, in of all places, Idaho. It is absolutely worth your time.
The Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980 and since 1985 has been on display in Groton, Connecticut, where it was built.