Facelift for a fabled submarine that has sailed into history

The great ship has already sailed powerfully — and stealthily — onto the pages of the world’s history books.

The USS Nautilus was the first vehicle ever to be propelled by atomic power.

A seafaring legend, the 320-foot submarine made a pioneering voyage under the polar ice cap in 1957, and then shattered all submarine records of the 1950s for speed, distance traveled submerged, and length of time underwater.

Decommissioned in 1980, the legendary vessel now sits so tightly wrapped in tarps that it was hardly recognizable as a submarine the other day under leaden skies that threatened a late-winter snowstorm here along the Thames River.

But it is the same ship envisioned by then-Captain Hyman Rickover who, in 1950, asked the Electric Boat shipyard a question for the ages: Could it build a hull for a nuclear-powered submarine?

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