Thames River Heritage Park: The Navy and Groton Bank

Groton, CT, United States
Est. 2.2km / 43 mins

Thames River Heritage Park: The Navy and Groton Bank - Cya On The Road

Naval connections to this river go back to the very beginnings of an American navy. At the start of the American Revolution, Connecticut outfitted its own state navy, and its several ships, including the Spy, Defense, and Oliver Cromwell sailed out of this port with local crews. So did the Continental Navy brig Resistance and ship Confederacy. As state and Continental navy agent, New London merchant Nathaniel Shaw managed preparations for these vessels and for a local fleet of privateers.As private armed vessels licensed to capture an enemy’s merchant ships and sell them for a profit, privateers were important adjuncts to the American navy in both the Revolution and the War of 1812. In Groton, Thomas Mumford and Captain Timothy Starr operated privateers during the Revolution. Captain Rufus Avery Jr., who lived in the Avery Copp House along Thames Street, was an owner and prize master of the privateer Mars during the War of 1812.After the American Revolution, the US Navy was reestablished in 1797. This port was protected by a couple of small gunboats, but major warships came to call. In 1810, the frigate USS Constitution spent the winter in the river, and Groton mathematician Nathan Daboll taught navigation to her young midshipmen. One of them is buried on Groton Bank, the victim of a duel.During the War of 1812, the navy returned in 1813 when Captain Stephen Decatur arrived with the USS United States, Macedonian, and Hornet, and they were blockaded in the river, as will be described on this tour.More than 50 years later, the navy returned to set up a coaling station and base upriver from here. Opened in 1872, the based housed inactive vessels and was almost closed before a detachment of submarines was stationed there in 1915. The next year it became the US Navy’s first submarine base, and it was especially busy during World War II and the Cold War. Sixteen attack submarines call it home today, and it is the principal training base for navy submariners.As will be described on this tour, the presence of the New London Ship and Engine Company, building submarine engines on Groton Bank, led to the establishment of the Electric Boat Company here, which has been the leading builder of navy submarines for more than 80 years. The world’s first nuclear-powered vessel, the submarine USS Nautilus, was launched there in 1954 and now is a museum ship, which you can visit at the Submarine Force Museum at the sub base.With the submarine base to the north and Electric Boat to the south, Groton’s role as the submarine capital of the world maintains its long relationship with the US Navy.

by Thames River Heritage Park
A collection of national and historic sites along the Thames River that tell the stories that shaped our nation during the past 400 years.

Get the full experience in the app

Discover 7 hidden gems with captivating audio stories, explore top-rated nearby hotels, find affordable flights and enjoy the best local eats - all in the Cya On The Road app.

Download now and search for Thames River Heritage Park: The Navy and Groton Bank.