Full Speed Into the Nuclear Age

Making Groton the Submarine Capital of the World

EB built the world’s first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, in the 1950s. Now it struggled to standardize construction and business processes, meet the Navy’s growing demands and understand the needs of the men taking submarines to sea in the early years of the Cold War. It wrestled with horrific tragedies, including the loss of the Thresher and a fire that killed three shipyard workers on the Flasher.

EB’s dominance would be challenged in the decades ahead. But by the end of the ’60s, it had established itself as a truly modern yard.

The stories were recorded in the fall of 2014 by Barbara Nagy of Groton, who covered EB for The Day and then The Hartford Courant in the 1990s. She edited the interviews into the excerpts you see here today. The recordings and transcripts will be archived at the Groton Public Library for public use.

The 1960s cemented Electric Boat as America’s premier designer and builder of nuclear-powered submarines for the U.S. Navy. This exhibit is about the tradespeople, engineers, managers and support staff who made it possible. It tells their story through the voices of 30 people who worked at EB then. Sponsored by the Groton Public Library with support from Connecticut Humanities and the Town of Groton.

Make a selection from below to learn more:

Ann Lamb

Ann Lamb: Started in 1954 in the Steno Pool; Retired in 1996 as a Personal Secretary


An Office of 40 People, Four of them Women

Beth Komorowski: Started in 1963 after Two Years of Engineering at UConn


‘Come on Kid, Get out of the Way!’

Bob Rosso: Started in 1963 as a Pipefitter


I Was Directing Traffic in the Sail

Bruce Caron: Started in 1958 as a Machinist; Retired as a Supervisor


She Said, ‘I Got to Put this Valve in, Dad’

Bruce Caron: Started in 1958 as a Machinist; Retired as a Supervisor


Jackie Kennedy Visits EB

Connie Stoddard: Started in 1958 as a Clerk; Retired in 1993 as a Private Secretary


The Legacy of the Thresher

Dan Hall: Joined the Design Workforce in 1965


With a Drafting Pencil, You Could Have Style

Don Degidio: Started in April 1966 as a Bottom-Step Learner in Design


Nobody Knew How Fast Nuclear Would Grow

George Lucas: Started in Ships Management in the Fall of 1953


‘What the Hell Are You Doing with Your Car?’

George Lucas: Started in Ships Management in the Fall of 1953


My Goal? To be the Best Welder EB Ever Had

George Strutt: Started as a Welder on November 16, 1964


Building an Efficient, Modern Shipyard

Henry Nardone: Started in 1959; Retired as Director of the Trident Program


Getting Feedback from Cold War Skippers

Henry Nardone: Started in 1959; Retired as Director of the Trident Program


‘The President Needs a Secretary of Peace’

Herman Sheets: Hired in 1953; Left in 1969 (Recounted by Paulann Sheets)


It Doesn’t Take an Enemy Attack to Lose a Ship

Jack Komorowski: Started in R&D in September 1965


A Rhode Island Trooper Is at the Gate for You

Jack Komorowski: Started in R&D in September 1965


A Beautiful Paint Job?

Jack Pillar: Started as an Inspector in 1962; Later Joined the Design Workforce


Fire on the Flasher

Jack Pillar: Started as an Inspector in 1962; Later Joined the Design Workforce


I suppose I am a trailblazer

Jane Manley: 2nd Woman Draftsman in EB History


‘Get That Place Running Properly’

Jim Burbank: Hired as a Planner in the Late 1940s


Experimenting with a Midget Submarine

Jim Carnell: Worked at EB as an Engineer from 1956-63


‘Are You Getting Ready for College?’

Jim Colonis: Started as a Pipefitter; Later Became a Draftsman


‘Welcome Sinners’

John Azzinaro: Started as a Welder in 1963; Retired as a Supervisor


Try to Kick your Foot through this Door

John Azzinaro: Started as a Welder in 1963; Retired as a Supervisor


We Listened to Tapes of Soviet Submarines

Ken Brown: Started in 1961 as a Nuclear Engineer; Retired as VP of Operations


Diesel Boats Forever

Larry Jacobsen: Started in the Mold Loft in 1940; Became a Design Supervisor


The Percussionist in the Shipyard Band

Mike Coffey: Started as a Shipfitter in 1957


I Had Pride in What I Did Because of my Father

Mike Dunphy: Hired as a Machinist in 1962


When Friends Cross the Picket Line

Mike Dunphy: Hired as a Machinist in 1962


If You Screwed It Up, Raise Your Hand

Mike Toner: Started June 28, 1965 as a Nuclear Engineer; Became President of EB in 2000


‘I Worked on this Ship. I Want to See it Float.’

Mike Toner: Started June 28, 1965 as a Nuclear Engineer; Became President of EB in 2000


Want to Put a Submarine on the Moon?

Niel Spillane: Started in 1953 as a Planning Engineer; Left in 1977


You’re Lucky to Work with a Guy Like Jimmy

Ralph Martin: Started in 1959 as a Rigger


The 1st Deep Dive after the Thresher

Richard Wren: Started as a Hydraulic Engineer in 1960


My Father Said, ‘You’re Going to Work at EB’

Ron Britagna: Third-Generation EB Shipfitter


When You’re Accountable, You Learn

Sam Grills: Started in October 1956 as a Shipfitter; Still Working as a Design Tech


Their Clothes Would be Full of Asbestos

Richard E. “Soupie” Desrosiers: Started in 1963 as a Pipefitter


It Was a Living Wage

Richard E. “Soupie” Desrosiers: Started in 1963 as a Pipefitter


‘I’m Going to Make You a Ship Superintendent’

Tom Bonelli: Started in 1965 as a Piping Inspector and Retired as an Area Superintendent


The Foremen Were People Like my Father

Wayne Chiapperini: Started in 1967 in Nuclear Engineering


We Helped Win the Cold War

Wayne Magro: Started August 18, 1959 as an Electrician; Retired as a Program Manager


It’s the American Dream. Hard Work Does Pay.

Wayne Magro: Started August 18, 1959 as an Electrician; Retired as a Program Manager

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