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In 1954 Superior Tube provided the zirconium cladding for the USS Nautilus, world’s first nuclear-powered submarine


Superior Tube Company’s Products Go 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

1954 saw the launch of the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus. Superior Tube provided the zirconium cladding for its nuclear power plant as well as the specially welded cruciform control rods for its reactors. Named after the submarine in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Nautilus became the first vessel to pass beneath the North Pole and went on to become the first submarine literally to travel 20,000 leagues under the sea!

Superior Tube’s successful involvement in the Nautilus project was a major factor in the company’s decision to establish its Nuclear Products Division in 1956, specializing initially in the manufacture of vacuum welded zirconium and hafnium fabrications for reactor fuel and control rod assemblies.

By the time of the launch of Nautilus, Superior Tube was already manufacturing the power plant cladding for the USA’s second prototype nuclear submarine, USS Seawolf. Then, towards the end of the decade, the company was involved in the development of the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, which was to feature Superior Tube’s unique cruciform control rods as well as its nuclear grade tubing. The Enterprise was launched in 1960.

In addition to its involvement in some significant firsts for the US Navy, Superior Tube also supplied 200,000 feet of cladding for the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania which opened in 1957 – the world’s first full-scale nuclear power station devoted exclusively to producing electricity for a civilian population.

And one final first for the 1950s – this was the decade in which Superior Tube Inc and Fine Tubes Ltd first established a formal affiliation.

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