The interior of the Submarine 1st Generation Westinghouse prototype, located at the Naval Reactors Facility on the INL site, circa mid-1950s. (Photo: DOE)
The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced on February 10 that it is set to deactivate and demolish the prototype for the reactor used for the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole.
The author of a recent biography of Vice Admiral Dennis Wilkinson, the first commanding officer of the first nuclear-powered submarine, shares her recollections of him over their 33-year friendship.
Dennis Wilkinson would have celebrated his 100th birthday on August 10, 2018. The life and career of the man who captained the first nuclear-powered submarine and the first nuclear-powered surface ship and was the first president and chief executive officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) have been captured in Ann Winters’s book, Underway on Nuclear Power: The Man Behind the Words, Eugene P. “Dennis” Wilkinson, Vice Admiral USN.
Because of his inherent drive, Wilkinson was often called a cowboy, maverick, visionary, innovator, and superb leader. As the first commanding officer of USS Nautilus, he was a major player in revolutionizing underwater warfare. Nautilus and its crew were immensely popular, at home and abroad, and in the 1950s became what we now call “rock stars.” Nautilus gave nuclear power celebrity status at a time when the United States and the world were grappling with Cold War issues.