Last weekend, I visited the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut. As you can see, it wasn’t the prettiest of days, but that didn’t matter as I descended into the centerpiece of the museum, the USS Nautilus.
The USS Nautilus was launched in 1954, becoming the first commissioned nuclear-powered sub. Mamie Eisenhower broke the champagne bottle across her bow, which went on to be the first to cross the North Pole, among other missions. It’s been at the Submarine Museum since 1986, and it’s all set up for a self-guided audio tour.
This is the only submarine museum operated by the U.S. Navy, in fact, it’s practically on the grounds of an active submarine base. The museum is meant to present the heroism, endurance and creativity of the people who have worked on and in submarines throughout history, and it ends up being quite inspirational.
It’s also a good reality check on the submarine movies you might have seen. Touring the Nautilus gave me a visceral understanding of the level of cramped claustrophobia — or perhaps I should call it, amazingly efficient use of space — on a sub. I banged my shins several times on the high thresholds between rooms, and although I stand only 5’6, my head was really not that far from brushing the ceiling.
I spotted this sign, and while some of its provisions only logically apply to a submarine in distress, a few struck me as good advice in many of life’s less pleasant circumstances. (Click to enlarge.)
I’ve been pondering the notion of “personal damage control” ever since.
Alison J. Stein
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