U.S. submarines rely on nuclear power for both propulsion and life support. The nuclear reactor heats water to make steam that drives a turbine to turn the propeller. The same system also provides steam for the boat's turbine generators, the source of electricity for all submarine systems, including oxygen makers.

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Copyright © 2000, The National Museum of American History

Maneuvering Room Consoles
Pictures to the right

Supervised by the engineering officer of the watch, one petty officer mans each of these three consoles to monitor and control the submarine's entire nuclear power plant. The console to your left controls the steam turbines. The center console is the nuclear reactor control panel, while the right-hand console controls the electrical system.

Displaying consoles like these in public, something never before done, has required modifications to protect sensitive classified information about the design and operation of nuclear-powered submarines. Where necessary, scales on instrument faces have been modified, instrument labels altered, or instruments repositioned, and some classified nuclear instrumentation has been removed.

The Navy has worked closely with the Museum to keep such changes to a minimum and to preserve overall appearance. These consoles look much as they did during their active life aboard the fast attack USS Sand Lance (SSN-660).