Construction of NAUTILUS was made possible by the successful development of a nuclear propulsion plant by a group of scientists and engineers at the Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, under the leadership of Captain Hyman G. Rickover, USN.

In July of 1951, Congress authorized construction of the world’s first nuclear powered submarine. On December 12th of that year, the Navy Department announced that she would be the sixth ship of the fleet to bear the name NAUTILUS. Her keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut on June 14, 1952.

After nearly 18 months of construction, NAUTILUS was launched on January 21, 1954 with First Lady Mamie Eisenhower breaking the traditional bottle of champagne across NAUTILUS’ bow as she slid down the ways into the Thames River. Eight months later, on September 30, 1954, NAUTILUS became the first commissioned nuclear powered ship in the United States Navy.

On the morning of January 17, 1955, at 11 am EST, NAUTILUS’ first Commanding Officer, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, ordered all lines cast off and signaled the memorable and historic message, “Underway On Nuclear Power.” Over the next several years, NAUTILUS shattered all submerged speed and distance records.

CDR Anderson On July 23, 1958, NAUTILUS departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii under top secret orders to conduct “Operation Sunshine”, the first crossing of the North Pole by a ship. At 11:15 pm on August 3, 1958, NAUTILUS’ second Commanding Officer, Commander William R. Anderson, announced to his crew, “For the world, our country, and the Navy – the North Pole.” With 116 men aboard, NAUTILUS had accomplished the “impossible”, reaching the geographic North Pole – 90 degrees North.

In May 1959, NAUTILUS entered Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine for her first complete overhaul – the first of any nuclear powered ship – and the replacement of her second fuel core. Upon completion of her overhaul in August 1960, NAUTILUS departed for a period of refresher training, then deployed to the Mediterranean Sea to become the first nuclear powered submarine assigned to the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

Over the next six years, NAUTILUS participated in several fleet exercises while steaming over 200,000 miles. In the spring of 1966, she again entered the record books when she logged her 300,000th mile underway. During the following 12 years, NAUTILUS was involved in a variety of developmental testing programs while continuing to serve alongside many of the more modern nuclear powered submarines she had preceded.

In the spring of 1979, NAUTILUS set out from Groton, Connecticut on her final voyage. She reached Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California on May 26, 1979 – her last day underway. She was decommissioned on March 3, 1980 after a career spanning 25 years and over half a million miles steamed.

In recognition of her pioneering role in the practical use of nuclear power, NAUTILUS was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior on May 20, 1982. Following an extensive historic ship conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, NAUTILUS was towed to Groton, Connecticut arriving on July 6, 1985.

On April 11, 1986, eighty-six years to the day after the birth of the Submarine Force, Historic Ship NAUTILUS, joined by the Submarine Force Museum, opened to the public as the first and finest exhibit of its kind in the world, providing an exciting, visible link between yesterday’s Submarine Force and the Submarine Force of tomorrow.

Commanding Officers USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571)

CDR Eugene P. Wilkinson | Sept. 1954 – June 1957

CDR William R. Anderson | June 1957 – June 1959

CDR Lando W. Zech, Jr. | June 1959 – April 1962

CDR Jeffery C. Metzel, Jr. | April 1962 – Oct. 1963

CDR Francis C. Fogarty | Oct. 1963 – April 1967

CDR Norman E. Griggs | April 1967 – January 1970

CDR David W. Cockfield | January 1970 – June 1972

CDR Alex Anckonie, III | June 1972 – Dec. 1976

CDR Richard A. Riddell | Dec. 1976 – March 1980

Officers-In-Charge Historic Ship Nautilus (SSN 571)

CDR John S. Almon | April 1985 – July 1985 (In Tow)

LCDR John M. Crochet | July 1985 – July 1987

LCDR Dale R. Immel | July 1987 – July 1989

LCDR Allan A. Adell | July 1989 – July 1991

LCDR Mark S. Ginda | July 1991 – Nov. 1993

LCDR Darrell W. Tworzyanski | Nov. 1993 – Oct. 1995

CDR Terence Henn | Oct. 1995 – May 1998

LCDR Bennett J. Siclare | May 1998 – May 2000

LCDR D. Benton Howard | May 2000 – May 2003

LCDR Frank M. Sides | May 2003 – Oct. 2004

LCDR Christopher W. Slawson | Oct. 2004 – March 2006

CDR Randolph J. Tupas | March 2006 – Feb. 2008

CDR Gregory R. Caskey | Feb 2008 – April 2011

LCDR Robert Sawyer | April 2011- May 2013

LCDR Benjamin Amdur | May 2013 – April 2016

LCDR Reginald N. Preston | April 2016 – April 2018

CDR Bradley M. Boyd | April 2018 – April 2021

LCDR Derek A. Sutton | April 2021 – July 2023

LCDR Bryan R. Chapman | Current

Current OIC Biography

LCDR Bryan R. Chapman, USN
Officer-in-Charge, Historic Ship NAUTILUS (SSN 571)
Director, Submarine Force Library and Museum

A native of Wadsworth, Ohio, LCDR Chapman enlisted in the US Navy in November of 2003. Following initial training as a nuclear Machinst’s Mate, he reported to USS Annapolis, SSN-760, in Groton, CT in August of 2006. He subsequently was accepted into the Seaman-To-Admiral 21 program and was commissioned as an officer after graduating from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics in May of 2010.

His junior officer tour was aboard USS Mississippi, SSN-782, from August of 2011 to August of 2014. As a plank owner, he served as the Reactor Controls Assistant, Quality Assurance Officer, Assistant Weapons Officer and Assistant Engineer while guiding the ship through a rigorous construction and modernization schedule prior to her transfer to the Pacific Fleet.

Following duty on Missisippi, LCDR Chapman completed a shore assignment as a Shift Engineer at the Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, SC from August of 2014 to October of 2017. While assigned here he completed a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University.

His Department Head tour started in May of 2018 aboard USS San Juan, SSN-751 where, as the ships Navigator, he completed a surge deployment and various training and testing exercises prior to relieving as the ships Engineer Officer. He then took the ship into a floating dry-dock to complete 18 months of maintenance prior to returning her to operational duty. He completed his department head tour as the Weapons Officer aboard USS Hartford, SSN-768 where he prepared the ship for an Engineered Overhaul at the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, CT.

LCDR Chapman completed his next shore tour at the Naval Submarine School in Groton, CT where he served as the Weapons Officer from July, 2021 to June, 2023. There he was responsible for training and mentoring all future submarine department heads and ensuring training standards were being upheld across the submarine fleet.

LCDR Chapman relieved as Officer in Charge of Historic Ship Nautilus, SSN-571 and Director of the Submarine Force Library and Museum in July of 2023.

LCDR Chapman’s awards include the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards) and various campaign and service awards. He resides in Voluntown, CT with his wife, Renee, and their seven children, Antonio, Gianna, Luca, Kaitlynn, Thomas, Emily, and Jacob.