Eugene P. "Dennis" Wilkinson was a United States Naval officer who was selected for two historic command assignments. The first, in 1954, was as the first Commanding Officer of the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear submarine. The second was in 1961, where Admiral Rickover selected him to serve as the first Commanding Officer of the USS Long Beach, America's first nuclear surface ship.
During his three-year tour aboard the Nautilus, he presided over pre-commissioning and post-commissioning trials of the submarine. These trials established the capabilities of the nuclear-powered submarine and were used in the development of early nuclear-powered submarine tactics. Nautilus successfully attacked surface ships without being detected and evaded most pursuers.
At 1100 on 17 January 1955, after getting underway, CDR Wilkinson signaled "Underway on Nuclear Power." This historic message ushered in the nuclear age for the United States Navy, as well as the world. CDR Wilkinson was the first commanding officer in a nuclear fleet that would eventually cover most of the aircraft carriers, several cruisers, and the entire submarine fleet for the United States Navy. Following his tour aboard Nautilus, he commanded the Navy's first nuclear-powered surface ship, USS Long Beach (CGN-9).
The Japanese government awarded Wilkinson the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class.