New England is forever connected to the vast Atlantic seas by trade and history. Mystic is part of a long maritime heritage that harkens back to colonial era shipbuilding. Today that heritage is still honored and proudly carried on by the craftsmen of the modern submarine era. There’s no substitute; The Submarine Force Museum, home to the USS Nautilus, is the very best place to see this craftsmanship and heritage of the sea on proud display. Located on the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut, The Submarine Force Museum maintains the world’s finest collection of submarine artifacts. Just a short drive from Downtown Mystic, this family-friendly museum is free of entry fees and a fun and educational stop during your next trip to Mystic.
The Submarine Force Museum traces the development of the “Silent Service” from experimentation during the revolutionary war to today’s Ohio and Virginia class submarines. See how the Navy, along with local shipbuilders at Electric Boat, took on the challenge of submarine development and created the world’s most advanced and effective sea craft. More than 83,000 documents, artifacts, and photographs within the Submarine Force Museum help reveal the history of submarine development.
The USS Nautilus
And at the heart of the museum, on proud display, is the record-shattering USS Nautilus; the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. Museum visitors are openly welcome to enter the hatch and take a tour of the Nautilus. The tour is entirely radio-proximity guided. View the exhibits at your preferred pace, lingering or passing as you see fit. The Nautilus has not been retrofitted for civilian pedestrian traffic. You will literally be walking along the same corridors and ducking through the same hatchways that the crew used during active service. See how the sailors serving aboard the Nautilus worked, ate, slept, and entertained themselves on their voyage “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!”
You can witness firsthand the engineering spectacle that maximized every inch of usable space aboard a US Naval Submarine. There is no denying the remarkable quality of the submariners who crewed the Nautilus. The conditions under which they operated are sobering and inspiring. The Nautilus is no friendly space for those who experience claustrophobia, and the Museum takes active steps to forewarn visitors of the cramped quarters and low hatches that exist aboard the Nautilus. So take a few deep breaths and be sure to watch your head! This is your chance to see how American submariners were required to conform their mindset to close-quarter teamwork, maritime resiliency, and persevering excellence. You’re sure to earn a new appreciation for submariner service and your spacious living quarters at home.
The Submarine Force Museum is also honored to house a Medal of Honor Gallery. Here visitors learn the stories of eight Submarine Medal of Honor recipients. Their incredible and heroic stories and those of the US Navy Submarine Force can all be found within, at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut.
Hour of operations are 9 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and closes at 4 pm during the Winter season. Admission and Parking (this is outstanding) are absolutely free! FREE!