… the stories they would tell. But alas, they are stories only a few know, and the rest of us will only be left to wonder.
NR-1 retired on 21 November. She was an incredible asset and I have no idea how we’re going to replace her capability.
Launched in Groton, Conn., in January 1969, for years NR-1 was a secret submersible built to dive so deep it had wheels for moving along the ocean floor. Because of its nuclear reactor, its dwell time was not limited by batteries like other submersibles. But it was not fast, managing a little more than 3 knots submerged.
In its nearly 40-year career, the NR-1 was called for countless missions — from searching for wrecked and sunken naval aircraft to finding debris from the space shuttle Challenger after its loss in 1986.
On its final deployments, McGrath said, the NR-1 was still conducting “highly classified military missions.”
The real loss with the passing of the NR-1, according to Ballard, will be its highly advanced sonar. Unlike the system on an attack submarine, which is directed at the entire water column, NR-1’s sonar was pointed downward and could, as McGrath put it, detect an “empty soda can buried in the sand a mile away.”
In addition to having wheels, NR-1 was also unique in that it had three portholes and 29 external lights to illuminate the depths, along with 13 cameras, hooks, grips and a robotic arm.
Fair winds and following seas.