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History of the Submarine

Nuclear Propulsion Submarines - Admiral Hyman Rickover


Admiral, Hyman Rickover was the

Admiral, Hyman Rickover was the "Father" of the Nuclear Navy

U.S. Navy
In the 1950s a revolution in sub design occurred - the introduction of nuclear propulsion. With nuclear power the submersible torpedo boat of old became a true submarine - a ship with greater endurance than its human crew.

Hyman Rickover - Background

Admiral, Hyman Rickover, the Father of the Nuclear Navy, was born in Makow, Russia (which is now Poland) on January 27, 1900. At the age of six, he emigrated with his parents to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois. Hyman Rickover entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1918 and was commissioned an ensign in June 1922.

Following sea duty aboard USS La Vallette (DD-315) and USS Nevada (BB-36), Hyman Rickover attended Columbia University, where he earned the degree of Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. From 1929 to 1933, he qualified for submarine duty and command aboard the submarines S-9 and S-48. In June 1937, he assumed command of USS Finch. Later that year, he was selected as an Engineering Duty Officer and spent the remainder of his career serving in that specialty.

During World War II, Hyman Rickover served as Head of the Electrical Section of the Bureau of Ships and later as Commanding Officer of the Naval Repair Base, Okinawa. In 1946, he was assigned to the Atomic Energy Commission laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and, in early 1949, to the Division of Reactor Development, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

USS Nautilus

As director of the Naval Reactors Branch, Hyman Rickover developed the world's first nuclear powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN 571), which went to sea in 1955. In the years that followed, Hyman Rickover directed all aspects of building and operating the nuclear fleet.

Hyman Rickover - Awards

Hyman Rickover's numerous medals and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Navy Commendation Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. In recognition of his wartime service, he was made Honorary Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Hyman Rickover was twice awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for exceptional public service. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter presented Admiral Rickover with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest non-military honor, for his contributions to world peace.

Hyman Rickover retired from the United States Navy on January 31, 1982, after over 63 years of service to his country and to 13 Presidents. His name is memorialized in the attack submarine USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709) and Rickover Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy. Hyman Rickover died on July 8, 1986 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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