Today in Wyoming history: (1931) USS Wyoming rescues submarine attempting Arctic crossing - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Today in Wyoming history: (1931) USS Wyoming rescues submarine attempting Arctic crossing

Nautilus is towed by USS Wyoming June 14, 1931 (University of Wyoming Foundation, Facebook)

CASPER, Wyo — On June 14, 1931, the ship the USS Wyoming rescued the submarine Nautilus in the Atlantic Ocean. The USS Wyoming was on a training cruise with midshipmen from the Naval Academy, and the Nautilus was preparing for an expedition to the North Pole, according to a social media posting by the University of Wyoming Foundation.

According to Don Walsh of the United States Naval Institute, Australian-born George Hubert Wilkins chartered the decommissioned World War I submarine from the U.S. Shipping Board and renamed it Nautilus in honor of Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” He’d planned to make a submerged crossing of the Arctic Ocean from Spitzbergen to the Bering Straits via the North Pole. “Using open leads in the ice, or special drills to open breathing holes, the sub would charge batteries and replenish the air inside,” Walsh wrote.

The submarine began its Atlantic crossing on June 4, 1931. On June 13, Nautilus lost both main engines due to stormy weather. After sending out an SOS, the battleship Wyoming (BB-32) towed Nautilus into Queenstown, Ireland. Repairs and test runs were attempted, but the submarine had fallen into disrepair.

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On 30 November 1931, the submarine was towed three miles off the Bergen Fjord and scuttled in 1,138 feet of water. In 2005, high-resolution sonar images by a Norwegian Navy showed Nautilus sitting upright on the flat seafloor.


Walsh, D. (2005). 1931: The first nautilus north pole expedition. United States Naval Institute.Proceedings, 131(11), 87. Retrieved from