Thursday, June 4, 2015


The Grand Maestro of the U.S. Nuclear Navy was Admiral Hymen G. Rickover.  He stood throttle watch with me in No.1 Engine Room Enclosed Operating Station for 4 hours standing just a few feet from me on board the California one evening in the open Atlantic Ocean in 1977.  I was very confident of my capabilities as a watch stander since I had stood the watch many times on the Mediterranean cruise from which we were returning. 
I made no mistakes on the throttle watch for 4 hours but I was in awe of the Admiral’s very presence with us in the confining enclosed operating station that had the officer of the watch, me, Admiral Rickover and several of his Aides, the Electrical Plant Operator and the Reactor Operator.  It was a stressful time, but we all made no mistakes with our machinery controls and operations.
We Nuclear Engineering Operators were naturally nervous because Admiral Hymen G. Rickover was the Father and Head Admiral in charge of the entire Nuclear Navy, its ships, Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers, Submarines and all Officers and Petty Officers that he trained to operate them.  His Orchestra and Choir included all Senior Officers and Petty Officers in the Nuclear Navy, U.S. Presidents, World Leaders he advised on Nuclear Power, Senators, Congressmen, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Cabinet Members, Defense Secretaries, Pentagon and other military elites, shipyard and material executives, Navy Admirals, Journalists and Authors who championed him and his Nuclear Navy that could operate and steam on the open seas for 20 years without refueling.  

That’s really holding a note in the orchestra pit and choir lofts!!

The Admiral left as he came, with the whir and chatter of his helicopter that was tied down on the ship’s fantail.  I was there as he came and as he went, since I was placing and clearing systems tags on the main deck.  His helicopter flew over to the Nimitz where he was transported to the mainland by a bigger chopper or cargo plane with his 7 ft.300 pound 1st Class Petty Officer body guard that walked ahead of him to clear the way.

Admiral Rickover was in his 70’s at that time, but was very active and spry as he traveled from one nuclear ship or submarine to another.  He often took rides in his small personal nuclear sub-marine which he’d had made with his specifications with controls and small-size to and in harbors and seas of his liking and interest.  It was marked the “NRI” and was a technological marvel.

Later, much later, after Admiral Rickover passed away, the Navy scrapped all the nuclear cruisers, which never would have happened if he had still been alive.  We were a very viable part of the nuclear task groups with our nuclear carriers we escorted and protected from incoming fire.  We were also a viable feature that saved oil during operations in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.
Post Script:  We were normally firing 5”/54 Caliber guns and firing many different missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes during battle drills when not escorting the Nimitz when she was in Flight Ops at Flank Speeds!