First commander of Nautilus nuclear sub dies - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

First commander of Nautilus nuclear sub dies

USS Nautilus (U.S. Navy file photo) USS Nautilus (U.S. Navy file photo)

GROTON, Conn. (AP) -- Retired Vice Adm. Eugene P. Wilkinson, the first commanding officer of the U.S. Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine, has died, the Naval Submarine Base in Connecticut said Tuesday.

Wilkinson, who was 94, died in Del Mar, Calif., last week. The cause of his death wasn't disclosed.

Wilkinson received his commission in 1940 and reported to the heavy cruiser USS Louisville for his first tour of duty.

He graduated from the Naval Submarine School in Groton in March 1942. During World War II, he participated in eight submarine war patrols.

Wilkinson commanded the Nautilus, which was commissioned in 1954 as the world's first nuclear-powered ship. On Jan. 17, 1955, he ordered all lines cast off and signaled the message, "Underway on nuclear power."

The Submarine Force Library and Museum said on its Facebook page that delivering the message was not a simple matter. Wilkinson said two Navy captains who handled public relations advised him he was about to take part in a historic event and he should send a "historic message."

"'Listen,' I replied, 'we're doing our part getting ourselves, the ship and its systems checked out and ready,'" the museum quoted Wilkinson as saying. "'You gentlemen are public relations experts. Write a historic message, and we'll send it.'

"That took care of them for a day and a half," he said. "Then they gave me a message that was one and a quarter typewritten pages long with some elegant-sounding words."

Instead, Wilkinson said, he wrote the briefer message.

Wilkinson was born in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 10, 1918. After attending the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., in 1957-58, he served as commander of a submarine division.

In September 1961, he was assigned as the initial commanding officer of the first nuclear-powered surface ship, the guided missile cruiser Long Beach. He was director of the submarine warfare division from 1963 to 1966.

Wilkinson served as executive officer in three submarines: the Menhaden, the Raton and the Cusk, which was the first submarine to fire guided missiles. And he commanded four submarines: the Volador, the Sea Robin, the Wahoo and the Nautilus.

Wilkinson retired from the Navy in 1974 as a vice admiral and later was executive vice president of Data Design Laboratories, a high-tech company. In 1980, he became the first president of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

His wife, Janice Wilkinson, died in 2000. He is survived by four children and four grandchildren.

  • Connecticut NewsConnecticut NewsMore>>

  • Dad delivers baby into toilet

    Dad delivers baby into toilet

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:43 AM EDT2014-07-30 15:43:04 GMT
    A Connecticut father proudly helped deliver his own baby... into a toilet.
    A Connecticut father proudly helped deliver his own baby... into a toilet.
  • Dad accidentally delivers baby into toilet

    Dad accidentally delivers baby into toilet

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 1:28 PM EDT2014-07-29 17:28:12 GMT
    A West Haven baby has arrived with a splash, right into a toilet bowl.
    A Connecticut baby has arrived with a splash, right into a toilet bowl. The baby's father, David Davis says that he was forced to deliver the newborn in the bathroom of his West Haven home Friday morning after his wife, Lillie, went into labor. He says the baby slipped through his hands during the delivery, but luckily went into the water. He says she began crying and it was the best sound he'd ever heard.

  • Report: Connecticut averages 14 domestic homicides a year

    Report: Connecticut averages 14 domestic homicides a year

    A new report shows Connecticut each year averages about 14 homicides committed by intimate partners. The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic violence examined deaths that occurred between 2000 and 2012. Between those years, there were 162 female victims and 26 male victims. Most of the perpetrators, 166, were male, 166. Twenty-two were female.
    A new report shows Connecticut each year averages about 14 homicides committed by intimate partners. The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic violence examined deaths that occurred between 2000 and 2012. Between those years, there were 162 female victims and 26 male victims. Most of the perpetrators, 166, were male, 166. Twenty-two were female.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices