New Release of Digital 3D Model of Control Room Equipment and Consoles from
NR-1, the U.S. Navy’s First and Only Nuclear-Powered Submersible

The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum and The Arc/k Project worked together to capture the historic artifacts and make them accessible for online interactivity.

The United States Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington, and The Arc/k Project, a Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to digitally preserving the world’s heritage, are proud to announce the new unveiling of a digital 3D model of the control room and consoles from NR-1, the U.S. Navy’s first and only nuclear-powered submersible. The one-of-a-kind equipment was acquired by the museum in 2018 and is currently not on view. Through the power of 3D technology, these historic artifacts are now accessible to the public as an interactive digital model at the Arc/k Project’s Archival Collections website.

Visitors to the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum’s website can learn about NR-1 and click an image preview to access the 3D model and archival record at The Arc/k Project’s Archival Collections website. In addition to freely exploring the switches and technical features of the model, visitors can toggle through several annotations to enjoy a brief guided tour. 


A screenshot of the NR-1 control room 3D model, digitized and derived by The Arc/k Project. Explore the 3D model by clicking here or the screenshot above.

NR-1 was an experimental miniature submarine that could operate to 3,000 feet and remain submerged for up to 30 days. During her 39-year career, NR-1 performed missions such as searches, recoveries, oceanographic research, geological surveys, and installation/maintenance of underwater equipment. Highlights include finding and recovering a lost missile from the ocean floor in 1976 and investigating the remains of Civil War ironclad USS Monitor in 2002.

The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum and The Arc/k Project worked together during October 2020 while the museum was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following COVID-19 safety protocols and object handling procedures, staff from The Arc/k Project worked with museum curator Mary Ryan and collections manager Beth Sanders to accomplish this creative project. 

Group in front of control room equipment from NR-1

Beth and Mary of the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum with Brian, Ken, Scott and Brittany of The Arc/k Project in front of the control room equipment from NR-1.

To make the physical into a digital asset, members of the Arc/k Project used the 3D documentation technique known as photogrammetry. This image process combines photography, mathematics, and computer graphics. Founder/Executive Director Brian Pope and 3D Artist Ken Stranahan took hundreds of photos of the objects at different angles and heights, and Photogrammetry Supervisor Krista Benson used photogrammetry software to derive the photo data into the 3D model, bringing clarity and texture to the pieces’ details.

This was The Arc/k Project’s second time supporting the museum by digitally capturing highly significant artifacts in the museum’s collection. In 2016, The Arc/k Project digitized several objects for the museum, including diving helmets and an atmospheric diving suit. More recently, they 3D printed some of those artifacts for hands-on engagement in education and outreach programs. Brian Pope shares, “We’ve been thrilled to engage in archiving rare artifacts with the always forward-looking U.S. Naval Undersea Museum to engage in-person visitors and a virtual audience, offering interactivity and accessibility.”

Digitizing artifacts as 3D models gives the museum new ways of fulfilling its mission to connect the public to the unique experiences of the Navy’s undersea communities. Veterans and Sailors can reminisce and illustrate their service to family and friends from anywhere in the world; the general public can interact with rare artifacts they might never travel to see in person. And as with the museum’s exhibits and programs, digital content offers the opportunity to discuss and reflect on significant or complex subjects, learning from the lessons of history. Widespread access to the digital models lets these important stories reach a much wider audience.

“During the pandemic, virtual content took on greater importance than ever before,” noted museum Curator Mary Ryan. “Sharing content online is the primary way we engaged with our audience and carried out our mission while the museum was closed. We are delighted to continue expanding our online offerings through our collaboration with The Arc/k Project. NR-1’s control room equipment is one of the most significant artifacts in our collection, and the only example in the world. Capturing it as a digital model offers incredible access to such an important piece of Navy history.”

About The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum
The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum is a federal, accredited museum in Keyport, Washington, that interprets the rich history and experiences of the undersea Navy. The museum is home to almost 50,000 artifacts, the most comprehensive collection in the country of U.S. Navy undersea objects, documents, and reference material. Through exhibits, programs, outreach, and virtual content, the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum tells the stories of the exceptional people and cutting-edge technology that define the Navy’s undersea communities.

About The Arc/k Project
The Arc/k Project is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Los Angeles dedicated to digitally archiving cultural heritage around the globe in new and powerful ways for access, advocacy, education, preservation and research. They have aided institutions and communities around the world by teaching how to digitally document museum collections, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, historical monuments, public art, personal works and even whole ecologies. Their compelling 3D models and virtual experiences help expand access, create a valuable digital archive for posterity, and uplift the stories of unique places and objects. The Arc/k Project supports museums and cultural organizations with services of high-quality digital documentation of their collections. Explore all of Arc/k’s Museum Collections here.

NR-1 Control Room and Consoles Digital 3D Model and Archival Record at Arc/k Project Archival Collections:
Featured Artifact NR-1 at U.S. Naval Undersea Museum: