USS Nautilus (SSN-571) is the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine. She was also the first vessel to complete a submerged transit across the North Pole. Namesake of the submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and named after another USS Nautilus (SS-168) that served with distinction in World War II, Nautilus was authorized in 1951 and launched in 1954.
Presidential Unit Citation
For outstanding achievement in completing the first voyage in history across the top of the world, by cruising under the Arctic ice cap from the Bering Strait to the Greenland Sea.
During the period 22 July 1958 to 5 August 1958, U.S.S. NAUTILUS, the world’s first atomic powered ship, added to her list of historic achievements by crossing the Arctic Ocean from the Bering Sea to the Greenland Sea, passing submerged beneath the geographic North Pole. This voyage opens the possibility of a new commercial seaway, a Northwest Passage, between the major oceans of the world. Nuclear powered cargo submarines may, in the future, use this route to the advantage of world trade.
The skill, professional competency and courage of the officers and crew of NAUTILUS were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States and the pioneering spirit which has always characterized our country.
To commemorate the first submerged voyage under the North Pole, all members of the Nautilus crew who made the voyage are authorized to wear their Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with a special clasp in the form of a gold block letter N. (see image above).
Learn more about this submarine in Wikipedia
This U.S. Navy newsreel shows Commander William Anderson of the nuclear powered submarine Nautilus, being greeted at the White House by President Eisenhower.