USS Nautilus – The Adventure Across the North Pole with Two Members of the Historic Crew

| October 9, 2013 | 0 Comments


The USS Nautilus (SSN 571) was the first nuclear powered submarine.

USS-Nautilus_90N-position-record_300w_The-American-Age-RadioIn 1958, the Nautilus embarked on a top secret mission to be the first submarine to navigate under the ice across the North Pole.

This mission would allow submarines to quickly move from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and back again. A very important strategic advantage for the time.

Three attempts were made by the USS Nautilus. The third being successful.

The first attempt was made from the Atlantic side of the pole and nearly ended in tragedy. Each attempt was a learning experience.

In that first attempt, it was learned that an improved navigational system had to be developed to navigate where normal instruments could not be used at the top of the world.

The second attempt was tried from the Pacific side to enter through the

Scientifically, this mission was an exercise in new systems and techniques.

The task to prove that nuclear power was the way to power vessels efficiently and safely. How to create long term living conditions under water. To conquer the unknown. To travel for long distances without the need to surface.


Above: The route of the USS Nautilus in its third and successful navigation across the top of the world.

On The American Age Radio, we were joined by two crew members of the USS Nautilus on that historical mission. Both from the engineering department handling the new nuclear power that allowed the submarine to travel under the massive sheet of thick ice at the top of the world.

david-long_uss-nautilus_the-american-age-radioDavid Long – reactor operator.

With a long career in the United States Submarine Service, David experienced a time when submarines were greatly transformed.

Moving from the difficult conditions of a WWII type submarine, to the improved conditions of the diesel submarines in the middle of the 20th century to the initial, yet modern conditions of nuclear powered submarines.

bruce_aquizap_uss-nautilus_the-american-age-radioBruce Aquizap – Engineering / Nucleonics

Bruce has a very similar experience as David in the United States Submarine Service.

He joined the crew of the USS Nautilus at the same time for the second and third attempts to conquer the North Pole.

frank-holland_uss-nautilus_the-american-age-radioFrank Holland –

Holland was present for all three attempts to conquer the North Pole. His recorded interview appears on The American Age Radio episode with David and Bruce.

Frank Holland’s long career in the United States Submarine Service began back to the early 1940s. He was convinced to join while working as a “soda jerk” as a teenager while having conversations with a submariner who would come regularly to the soda shop for Frank’s expertly made milk shakes.

His account of the first attempt is dramatic, riveting and very revealing of new details.

Frank was involved with making the first mail from the North Pole and created the cancellation stamp while underway on the mission. His original, hand carved stamp now resides at the Smithsonian Institute Museum in Washington DC.


USS Nautilus SSN 571 gets underway on the mission at midnight from Seattle.


The helm of the USS Nautilus on its historic journey into history.


The torpedo room of the USS Nautilus – in the nose of the submarine.


Dr-Lyon-and-Admiral-Rickover-on-the-USS-NautilusDr Waldo Lyon was founder and chief research scientist for the U.S. Navy of the Arctic Submarine Laboratory. He was the scientist on board for the mission of the USS Nautilus.

Pictured Left: Dr Lyon with Admiral Rickover as the Nautilus returns to NYC after its mission. While Dr Lyon made the journey, Admiral Rickover’s life was not allowed to be risked on the dangerous mission. However, it is obvious that he longed to be present.

USS_Sea_Fox_300w_the-american-age-radioDavid Long spoke of his first diesel submarines he was assigned to and experiencing long cruises in the far east.

Pictured to the right is the USS Sea Fox in an actual photo as it journeyed from San Diego to Tahiti.

The USS Menhaden was David’s first submarine. It was on this submarine that he experienced his first long cruise to the far east. He participated in the Westpac cruise with tests in anti-submarine warfare exercises.

In both these actual photos of the Sea Fox and Menhaden, David is on board tending the engines.



The actual citation issued from President Eisenhower upon the USS Nautilus completing it’s mission.

To hear the interview and story of the USS Nautilus on The American Age Radio

Click “listen online” at the top menu bar of any page and select Show #101




Category: Our Guests on The American Age Radio

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