In the World's Submarine Capital
A tour of the USS Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut, is an undersea adventure.
On the banks of the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut, is the Submarine Force Museum and Library with the USS Nautilus sitting in the water. It is the only submarine museum operated by the United States Navy. I recently took an audio tour of the Nautilus. It was like having history blaring in your head!
The Nautilus was the world's first nuclear powered vessel and the first ship to travel UNDER the North Pole. It is named after the ship in the Jules Verne book, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." An original copy of the book is on board the ship.
Submarines may look big from the outside, but the hallways inside are so narrow, I could reach both arms out and touch both walls, side to side The bunks, where the crew sleeps, are so tight, the sinks fold up! I felt like I was in a little kid's playhouse as I almost had to crawl to get through a small doorway.
Oh, but the good part of this was that I learned that if you worked aboard the Nautilus, you would only have to work six hours and then get 12 hours off! And when you were done with that work, you could easily grab a snack. They served food there every six hours! But there's a catch. You are on this narrow, tight, windowless sub for six months! That's half a year away from your family. Once you are back on shore, however, sailors can stay the next six months at home.
Did you know that today's submarines are about as big as the one I toured? Touring the USS Nautilus was really cool because I got to feel like a sailor living on a submarine.
PHOTOS: (TOP) Caitlin Wardlow before boarding the USS Nautilus submarine. (BOTTOM) A look inside a bunk on the nation's first nuclear powered sub. (Photos courtesy Caitlin Wardlow)