Wilkinson received his commission in 1940 and reported to the heavy cruiser USS Louisville for his first tour of duty.
He graduated from the Naval Submarine School in Groton (GRAH'-tuhn), Conn., in March 1942. During World War II he participated in eight submarine war patrols.
Wilkinson commanded the Nautilus, which was commissioned in 1954 as the world's first nuclear-powered ship. On Jan. 17, 1955, he ordered all lines cast off and signaled the message, "Underway on nuclear power."
The Submarine Force Library and Museum says Nautilus broke all submerged speed and distance records.
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