Captain US Navy Hyman George Rickover
In the early years of the Cold War, atomic energy and a human dynamo combined to produce the nuclear submarine, an event that would change the navies of the world and global politics profoundly. Later on it will be known as East-West deterrent.
The American propulsion breakthrough came from an unlikely source, a diminutive US Navy Captain Hyman George Rickover, an unusual US Navy officer, and a Polish emigrant born on August 24, 1898.
After graduating Annapolis and serving 5 years at sea he returned to Annapolis and then went to Columbia University for advanced engineering training, receiving his master’s degree and promotion to full lieutenant.
Rickover volunteered for submarine training and after graduation was assigned to S-48, on which he spent three years. In the coming years he would be assigned engineering duties a shore until he was appointed head of a Navy team trying to evaluate practical uses for atomic energy. The Navy, one of the greatest users of power in the world, thought atomic energy could by used for ship propulsion. Rickover quickly grasped the technology of atomic power and foresaw how it could be transform the Navy.
Later on he summed his view on the subject stating that the US Navy can have a nuclear-powered submarine in 5-8 years.
Rickover became a crusader, ignoring the chain of command to push his ideas to admirals, scientists, and congressmen-anyone with influence.
In 1949 the Naval Reactor Branch was created under Captain Rickover, the prestige ofthe Navy was now on his shoulders. Rickoverpressured Westinghouse to develop a nuclear power plant small enough to fit into a submarine. The Electric Boat Company would build the first nuclear submarine to be named Nautilus.
Rickover now was a man possessed, as if he himself were powered by atomic energy. He drove everyone around him unmercifully; nothing less then perfection was tolerated.
On January 21, 1954, within the 8 years he promised, the 320-foot Nautilus was launched.
“In many ways, Nautilus can be considered the first real submarine. Previously, submarines can really been surface vessels capable of submerging for short periods at a best. Nautilus is the first ship whose natural habitat is the depths themselves”. (The Electric Boat Company).
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||Admiral G.H. Ricover, father of the nuclear submarine, Groton CT, 27 March, 2000