American submarine NR-1

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NR-1
NR-1 986.jpg
Deep submergence vessel NR-1
Career (United States)
Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Laid down: 10 June 1967
Launched: 25 January 1969
In service: 27 October 1969
Out of service: 21 November 2008
General characteristics
Displacement: 400 tons
Length: 45 m (147 ft 8 in) overall
29.3 m (96 ft 2 in) pressure hull
Beam: 3.8 m (12 ft 6 in)
4.8 m (15 ft 9 in) at stern stabilizers.
Draft: 4.6 m (15 ft 1 in)
Box keel depth (below base-line): 1.2 m (3.9 ft)
Installed power: one nuclear reactor, one turbo-alternator
Propulsion: 2 × external motors
2 × propellers
4 × ducted thrusters (mounted diagonally in two "x-configured" pairs)
Speed: 4.5 knots (8.3 km/h; 5.2 mph) surfaced
3.5 knots (6.5 km/h; 4.0 mph) submerged
Endurance: 210-man-days nominal
16 days for a 13 person crew
330-man-days maximum
25 Days for a 13 person crew
Complement: 3 officers, 8 crewmen, 2 scientists
Motto: The World's Finest Deep Submersible

Deep Submergence Vessel NR-1 was a unique United States Navy nuclear-powered ocean engineering and research submarine. Built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics at Groton, Connecticut NR-1 was launched on 25 January 1969, completed initial sea trials 19 August 1969, and was home-ported at Naval Submarine Base New London. NR-1 was the smallest nuclear submarine ever put into operation. Casually known as "Nerwin", NR-1 was never officially named or commissioned. The U.S. Navy is allocated a specific number of warships by the U.S. Congress. Admiral Hyman Rickover not only avoided using one of those allocations, but he also wanted to avoid the oversight that a warship receives from various bureaus.

History[edit]

NR-1's missions included search, object recovery, geological survey, oceanographic research, and installation and maintenance of underwater equipment. NR-1's unique capability to remain at one site and completely map or search an area with a high degree of accuracy was a valuable asset on several occasions.

NR-1 under way, with a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate in the background

Through the 1970s and 1980s, "NR-1" conducted numerous classified missions involving recovery of objects from the floor of the deep-sea. These missions remain classified and few details have been made public. One publicly acknowledged mission in 1976 was to recover parts of an F-14 that was lost from the deck of an aircraft carrier and sank with at least one of the then-new AIM-54A Phoenix air-to-air missiles. The secrecy normal to USN submarine operations was heightened by Rickover's personal involvement. Rickover shared details of "NR-1" operations on a need-to-know basis. Rickover envisioned building a small fleet of NR-1 type submarines, but only one was built due to budget restrictions. [1]

Following the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986, NR-1 was used to search for, identify, and recover critical parts of the Challenger craft.[2] Because it could remain on the sea floor without resurfacing frequently, NR-1 was a major tool for searching deep waters. NR-1 remained submerged and on station even when heavy weather and rough seas hit the area and forced all other search and recovery ships into port.

In 1995, Dr. Robert Ballard used the NR-1 and its support ship, MV Carolyn Chouest, to explore the wreck of HMHS Britannic, the sister ship of RMS Titanic, which sank off the coast of Greece while serving as a hospital ship during World War I.

On 25 February 2007, NR-1, towed by Carolyn Chouest, arrived in Galveston, Texas, in preparation for an expedition to survey the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and other sites in the Gulf of Mexico.[3]

NR-1 was deactivated on 21 November 2008 at the U.S. Navy submarine base at Groton, Connecticut, defuelled at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, then sent to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to be scrapped.[2] On 13 November, 2013, the U.S. Navy announced that salvaged pieces of the sub would be put on display at the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton.[1]

Capabilities[edit]

Early design sketch of NR-1

NR-1 performed underwater search and recovery, oceanographic research missions and installation and maintenance of underwater equipment to a depth of almost half a nautical mile. Its features included extending bottoming wheels, three viewing ports, exterior lighting, television and still cameras for color photographic studies, an object recovery claw, a manipulator that could be fitted with various gripping and cutting tools and a work basket that could be used in conjunction with the manipulator to deposit or recover items in the sea. Surface vision was provided by a television periscope permanently installed on a fixed mast in her sail area.

Ducted thrust is visible at NR-1's stern as she maneuvers

NR-1 had sophisticated electronics, computers and sonar systems that aided in navigation, communications, and object location and identification. It could maneuver or hold a steady position on or close to the seabed or underwater ridges, detect and identify objects at a considerable distance, and lift objects off the ocean floor.

NR-1 was equipped with two electric-motor driven propellers and its maneuverability was enhanced by four ducted thrusters, two forward and two aft. The vehicle had diving planes mounted on the sail, and a conventional rudder.

NR-1 could travel submerged at approximately four knots for long periods, limited only by consumable supplies — primarily food. It could study and map the ocean bottom, including temperature, currents, and other information for military, commercial and scientific uses. Its nuclear propulsion provided independence from surface support ships and essentially unlimited endurance.

The NR-1's size limited its crew comforts. The crew of about 10 men could stay at sea for as long as a month, but had no kitchen or bathing facilities. They ate frozen TV dinners, bathed once a week with a bucket of water and burned chlorate candles to produce oxygen. The sub was so slow that it was towed to sea by a surface vessel, and so tiny that the crew felt the push and pull of the ocean's currents. "Everybody on NR-1 got sick," said Allison J. Holifield, who commanded the sub in the mid-1970s. "It was only a matter of whether you were throwing up or not throwing up." [1]

NR-1 was generally towed to and from remote mission locations by an accompanying surface tender, which was also capable of conducting research in conjunction with the submarine. NR-1's last mother ship was MV Carolyn Chouest, which provided towing, communications, berthing and direct mission support for all NR-1 operations. An extremely versatile platform, she was an indispensable member of the NR-1 deep submergence team. NR-1 command was manned with thirty-five Navy personnel and ten civilian contractor personnel. NR-1 carried as many as thirteen persons (crew and specialists) at one time, including three of the four assigned officers. (The operations officer rode on Carolyn Chouest). All personnel that crewed NR-1 were nuclear-trained and specifically screened and interviewed by the Director, Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Awards[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Melia, Michael (13 November 2013). "Navy's NR-1 Submarine". Associated Press. 
  2. ^ a b Scutro, Andrew (30 November 2008). "Deep-diving NR-1 wraps up its 40-year career". Navy Times. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Shelander, PO3 Brandon (1 March 2007). "NR-1 in Texas For Gulf Exploration". Navy News (Military.com). Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]