USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571)
Fleet Post Office
New York, New York
3 AUGUST 1958
Director Museum of Science and Industry
Joseph E. Degman EM1 (SS)
USS NAUTILUS SSN 571
F.P.C. New York N.Y.
As a native of Chicago and a frequent visitor of the Museum I feel obligated to send you one of the first letters in history to be written and postmarked hundreds of feet beneath the polar ice cap directly under the North Pole. I sincerely hope you will have some use for the post marked envelope in one of your exhibits.
This data may be of interest.
DEPTH OF WATER: 2235 fathoms
THICKNESS OF ICE: 12 ft. AVG. 150 ft. Maximum
WATER TEMPERATURE: 33.6 degrees f.
SALINITY: Not recorded
Joseph E. Degman
3 August 1958
With continued good fortune NAUTILUS will soon accomplish two goals long sought by those who sail the seas:
First, the opening of a route for rapid voyages between the great Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Second, the attainment of the North Pole by ship.
Thus our remarkable ship has been blessed with her greatest opportunity – the discovery of the only truly practicable Northwest Passage. On this historic Sunday, August 3rd, 1958 let us offer our thanks to He who has blessed us with this opportunity and who has guided us so truly.
Let us also rededicate ourselves at this crucial time to the service of our Navy and our country. I believe sincerely that this voyage will enhance the prestige of the United States. With you I share the hope that it will thus contribute to the hard fight for world peace at this minute being waged by the President and the American people.
Let us remember too those who have preceded us by other means – some to triumph, some to defeat, some to disaster. Without the observations of many Arctic explorers – some made at the expense of untold hardship – this voyage would not be possible.
We should also pay tribute at this time to the truly key ingredient of this voyage – nuclear power – and to the farsightedness of the man who did the most to provide us with it – Admiral Rickover.
Last, but far from least, I want to pay tribute to you, the officers and crew. I have never seen a ship nor a crew perform as well as on this cruise. No Commanding Officer could ask for more. I am convinced that no better ship than NAUTILUS has ever been built. I am even more convinced that no finer group of officers and crew have ever put to sea.
August 13, 1958
Mr. Joseph E. Degman, EM1 (SS)
U.S.S. NAUTILUS, SSN 571
F.P.O. New York, New York
Dear Mr. Degman:
We at the Museum were delighted to get the letter written and postmarked from BENEATH THE POLAR ICE CAP. We are going to put the postmarked envelope and your letter on our bulletin board for every one to see.
A year ago in May, I flew some 2,800 miles for an overnight trip on the Nautilus, so you can imagine how intrigued we all are here by your letter and your recent exploit.
We have at the Museum the captured German submarine U-505, which is as different from the Nautilus as some of our antique cars are from the cars on the road today, but I think that if you have not already seen it, you might be interested in the sub and the movie of the battle at her capture. The U-505, first man-of-war captured on the high seas since 1815, was captured by a force under the command of a Chicagoan, and we certainly are all glad that a Chicagoan was aboard the Nautilus.
I would like to extend to you and to all the officers and crew of the Nautilus an invitation to visit the U-505 as my guest, and I hope that anytime any of you get to Chicago, you will come to my office and introduce yourself.
With kindest regards and best wishes to you and all the crew of the Nautilus, I am