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Nautilus (Verne)

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Title: Nautilus (Verne)  
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Subject: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo, Jules Verne, The Mysterious Island, Submarine films
Collection: Fictional Submarines, Jules Verne
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Nautilus (Verne)

The Nautilus under way.
The Nautilus, as pictured in The Mysterious Island.

The Nautilus is the fictional submarine captained by Nemo featured in Jules Verne's novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874). Verne named the Nautilus after Robert Fulton's real-life submarine Nautilus (1800). Three years before writing his novel, Jules Verne also studied a model of the newly developed French Navy submarine Plongeur at the 1867 Exposition Universelle, which inspired him for his definition of the Nautilus.[1]


  • Description 1
  • Appearances 2
  • Other Verne submarines 3
  • Images 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


The Nautilus is described by Verne as "a masterpiece containing masterpieces". It is designed and commanded by Captain Nemo. Electricity provided by sodium/mercury batteries (with the sodium provided by extraction from seawater) is the craft's primary power source for propulsion and other services.

The Nautilus is double-hulled, and is further separated into water-tight compartments. Its top speed is 50 knots. Its displacement is 1,356.48 French freight tons emerged (1,507 submerged). In Captain Nemo's own words:

The Nautilus uses floodable tanks in order to adjust buoyancy and so control its depth. The pumps that evacuate these tanks of water are so powerful that they produce large jets of water when the vessel emerges rapidly from the surface of the water. This leads many early observers of the Nautilus to believe that the vessel is some species of whale, or perhaps a sea monster not yet known to science. To submerge deeply in a short time, Nautilus uses a technique called "hydroplaning", in which the vessel dives down at a steep angle.

The Nautilus supports a crew that gathers and farms food from the sea. The Nautilus includes a galley for preparing these foods, which includes a machine that makes drinking water from seawater through distillation. The Nautilus is not able to refresh its air supply, so Captain Nemo designed to do it by surfacing and exchanging stale air for fresh, much like a whale. The Nautilus is capable of extended voyages without refuelling or otherwise restocking supplies. Its maximum dive time is around five days.

Much of the ship is decorated to standards of luxury that are unequalled in a seagoing vessel of the time. These include a library with boxed collections of valuable oceanic specimens that are unknown to science at the time, expensive paintings, and several collections of jewels. The Nautilus also features a lavish dining room and even an ramming prow to puncture target vessels below the waterline, the world thinks it a sea monster, but later identifies it as an underwater vessel capable of great destructive power, after the Abraham Lincoln is attacked and Ned Land strikes the metallic surface of the Nautilus with his harpoon.

Its parts are built to order in France, the United Kingdom, Prussia, Sweden, the United States, and elsewhere. Then they are assembled by Nemo's men on a desert island. The Nautilus most likely returned to this island and later helped castaways in the novel The Mysterious Island. After Nemo dies on board, the volcanic island erupts, entombing the Captain and the Nautilus for eternity.


The Nautilus from the 1954 film.

Beside her original appearance in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, the Nautilus and Captain Nemo have appeared in numerous other works.

  • In the 1954 film and The Return of Captain Nemo, it is suggested that the Nautilus is powered by nuclear energy. This version also appears in the video game Epic Mickey, under the name of Notilus.
  • The comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and its film adaptation feature a much larger version of the Nautilus; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier states that it is a second, larger submarine built after the destruction of the first one from Verne's novels. This version features a design evoking a squid attacking a whale; the squid section, which has functional tentacles, can be detached as shown in the cross-section from The Black Dossier. The version in the film adaptation has a more straightforward appearance of a long, thin silver submarine, albeit of massive proportions, equipped with a sharpened front end and missile launchers, narrow enough to comfortably travel through the canals of Venice.
  • The Nautilus can also be seen at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneysea, the one in Paris being a walk-through, while the Disneysea version is a static prop in a lagoon that can't be accessed by the public.
  • In Kevin J. Anderson's Captain Nemo: The Fantastic History of a Dark Genius, the Nautilus appears as a real submarine, apparently cigar-shaped like the one from the novel, built by Nemo for the Ottoman Empire.
  • In Warren Ellis's Planetary series, Elijah Snow hides himself aboard the Nautilus, which has been captured by villains The Four.
  • In the book Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen. Nemo and the Nautilus, which is also called the Yellow Dragon, both appear.
  • In the MMORPG MapleStory, Nautilus is a submarine that looks like a whale with a skull attached to the front. In other words, it is also the town of pirates.
  • In Valhalla Rising, by Clive Cussler, Nemo and the Nautilus are discovered by a researcher and stored in a hidden cave as his private research lab. Its propulsion in the novel is described as a Magneto-hydrodynamic drive.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, a steampunk-themed anime set in 1889, the Nautilus is an ancient Atlantean war machine. It is approximately 150 meters in length and filled with scientific marvels, such as electricity, indoor plumbing and a "particle annihilation engine" as its power source.
  • In the Japanese anime feature film Kaitei Daisensō: Ai no 20,000 Miles (Japanese: 海底大戦争 愛の20000マイル, "The Great Navy Battle: 20,000 Miles of Love" (1981)) Captain Nemo plans to use the Nautilus to confront humanoid aliens who have invaded Earth.
  • In Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, the main characters locate the Nautilus and use it to escape the sinking island, kick-starting its dead batteries with power from a massive electric eel.
  • In the 1969 movie Captain Nemo and the Underwater City the Nautilus and its sister ship Nautilus II are depicted as industrialised stingray-like vessels, flattened with pronounced tumblehomes supporting rounded deckhouses; each has a heavy girderwork tail at the tip of which are mounted twin rudders and diving planes.

Other Verne submarines

Besides the Nautilus, other submarines do feature in Jules Verne novels. In the 1896 novel Facing the Flag the pirate Ker Karraje uses an unnamed submarine that acts both as a tug to his schooner The Ebba and for ramming and destroying ships which are the targets of his piracy. The same book also features HMS Sword, a small Royal Navy experimental submarine which is sunk after a valiant but unequal struggle with the pirate submarine. In the book The Master of the World, Robur's secondary vehicle, which is called the Terror, is a strange flying machine that has a submarine mode, as well as an automobile and speedboat mode. It briefly eludes naval forces on the Great Lakes by diving.


See also


  1. ^ Notice at the Musée de la Marine, Rochefort


Jules Verne's text in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea provides a great deal of information about the Nautilus as discussed on this page: Jules Verne's Nautilus. Many artists and ordinary folk have envisioned over the decades their own interpretations of the Nautilus: DesignsNautilusA Catalog of

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