The Deep Submergence Vessel NR-1 is a unique US Navy nuclear-powered ocean engineering and research submarine. It was built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics at Groton, Connecticut. It was launched on 25 January 1969, completed its initial sea trials 19 August 1969, and is homeported at Naval Submarine Base New London. Casually known as "Nerwin", NR-1 was never officially named or commissioned. The United States 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.
NR-1's missions have 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 has been a valuable asset on several occasions.
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. Because it can 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 her support ship, the Carolyn Chouest, to explore the wreck of the HMHS Britannic, the sister ship of the RMS Titanic, which struck a mine and sank off the coast of Greece while serving as a hospital ship during WWI.
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.
The NR-1 was deactivated on 21 November 2008 at the USN submarine base at Groton, Connecticut. . Currently NR-1 is located at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard waiting to be scrapped.
The NR-1 performs 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 include extending bottoming wheels, three viewing ports, exterior lighting, television and still cameras for color photographic studies, an object recovery claw, a manipulator that can be fitted with various gripping and cutting tools and a work basket that can be used in conjunction with the manipulator to deposit or recover items in the sea. Surface vision is provided by a television periscope permanently installed on a fixed mast in her sail area.
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