This edited article about the USS Nautilus first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 584 published on 24 March 1973.
In 1870 Jules Verne wrote about a mighty submarine that could cruise thousands of leagues under the sea. He called it the Nautilus.
On January 21st, 1954, at a Connecticut shipyard the dream of Jules Verne came true. As Mrs Eisenhower smashed a bottle of champagne against the dark green hull of the Nautilus, the world’s first atom-powered submarine slid into the water.
Nautilus is 300 feet long, displaces 3,000 tons and cost £10 ½ million to build. Her atomic power can carry her round the world without refuelling.
And her speed is in excess of 20 knots.
When the cheers of the launching ceremony died away Nautilus went to work. Soon she was breaking records and in 1957 came a voyage of exploration as exciting as any that man has known.
The brief of her captain, Commander William Anderson, was to explore beneath the ice packs of the North Pole. The rasp of the diving alarm sounded and for the first time Nautilus edged under the ice.
Somewhere in the ship a juke-box was playing. Off-duty members of the crew relaxed in their almost luxurious quarters.
In the mess another group were eating dinner. Meanwhile in the control room, Commander Anderson wondered what they would find below the ice.
It wasn’t long before the answers to questions that had been puzzling scientists for many years began to arrive. By means of a sonar machine scientists on board were able to form a very good picture of what the ice overhead was like.
A sonar machine is a device that picks up sound and so enables the navigator to detect the presence of any objects outside his ship. This he does by listening for the echo made by an object in the path of a beam of sound.
First they found that it was a huge, ever-moving mass of varying thickness. It was made up of floes ranging from a few feet to ten or twelve feet but not often more.
The North Pole ice-pack is interspersed here and there with small lakes, little more than cracks in the surface.
After cruising for some time beneath the surface Commander Anderson decided to attempt to bring Nautilus to the surface in one of these cracks.
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