Eye on the Navy larized. He promised Congress that he would ensure the integrity of his program, and demanded personal integrity of everyone involved with it. While Rickover was demanding of his subordinates, he expected them to speak their mind. "One must create the ability in his staff to generate clear, forceful arguments for opposing viewpoints as well as for their own," he said. While today's nuclear propulsion systems have benefited from constant improvement, they are essentially the same propulsion systems that Adm. Rickover delivered decades ago. The result of his legacy stands out: the U.S. Navy's nuclear propulsion program to this day has never had a reactor accident. There have been submarine incidents, but not because of the nuclear propulsion plant. Rickover overcame inertia and red tape to bring his Naval Reactors group together with the Special Project Group then developing the Polaris missile. The missile team had figured out how to launch a strategic missile from underwater, and needed a submarine designed and built to do it. The Navy hierarchy said it would be at least a five to seven year effort, maybe longer. Rickover made it happen in less than three. Although past mandatory retirement age, he remained secure in his position because of his strong ties with influential lawmakers. But it wasn't until 1982 that Secretary of the Navy John Lehman made him retire at age 82. It was with modest reluctance, and perhaps still smarting from being ousted, that a retired Admiral Rickover attended the Aug. 27, 1983 christening and launching of the Los Angeles-class submarine named for him (the lead ship of the class, USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) just turned 30). I was at the event which took place at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, CT. He wasn't a man who sought honors. Few living men before him had naval ships named for them. But his wife, Eleonore, was the sponsor for the boat. It was she who broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the bow to send the boat into the water. So he had to be there. In her remarks at the launching, Eleonore Rickover acknowledged the families of the submariners. "They also serve those who only stand and wait," she said. A year later, on July 21, 1984, the USS Hyman G. Rickover was commissioned at the Naval Submarine Base, just up the Thames River in Groton. Again I was there that day. It rained, I remember. But I also remember watching the way that Admiral Rickover looked at his wife in a very human and endearing way. He passed away in 1986. The submarine that served for 22 years to honor his legacy returned to port for the final time in October 2006. Eleonore Rickover was there to welcome the ship home. The USS Hyman G. Rickover will be deactivated in Dec. 2006. But Admiral Rickover's legacy will steam on. Captain Edward Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior science advisor with Alion Science and Technology in Washington, D.C. He supports the U.S. Navy's Surface Warfare Directorate. This Day in Navy History December 2, 1775 - Congress orders first officers commissions printed. 1965 - USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) and USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) become first nuclear-powered task unit used in combat operations with launch of air strikes near Bien Hoa, Vietnam December 3, 1775 - LT John Paul Jones raises the Grand Union flag on Alfred. First American flag raised over American naval vessel. December 4, 1918 - 1944 - USS Flasher (SS-249) sinks Japanese destroyer Kishinami and damages a merchant ship in South China Sea. Flasher is only U.S. submarine to sink over 100,000 tons of enemy shipping in World War II. December 5, 1843 - Launching of USS Michigan at Erie, Penn., America's first iron-hulled warship, as well as first prefabricated ship. December 6, 1901 - First report of Ship Model Basin at Washington Navy Yard issued by Naval Constructor David W. Taylor who designed the basin. First facility of this type in U.S. to test hull shapes. December 7, 1941 - Japanese carrier aircraft attack U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. December 8, 1941 - USS Wake (PR-3), a river gunboat moored at Shanghai, is only U.S. vessel to surrender during World War II. December 9, 1938 - Prototype shipboard radar, designed and built by the Naval Research Laboratory, is installed on USS New York (BB-34). December 10, 1941 - Aircraft from USS Enterprise attack and sink Japanese Submarine I-70 north of Hawaiian Islands. A participant in the Pearl Harbor Attack, I-70 is the first Japanese combatant ship sunk during World War II. 1979 - First Poseidon submarine configured with Trident missiles, USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) completes initial deterrent patrol. December 11, 1954 - First supercarrier of 59,630 tons, USS Forrestal (CVA-59), launched at Newport News, Va. December 13, 1775 - Continental Congress provides for the construction of 5 ships of 32 guns, 5 ships of 28 guns, and 3 ships of 24 guns December 16, 1907 - Great White Fleet departs Hampton Roads, VA to circumnavigate the world. December 18, 1965 - River Patrol Force established in Vietnam. December 20, 1822 - Congress authorizes the 14-ship West Indies Squadron to suppress piracy in the Caribbean. December 22, 1841 - Commissioning of USS Mississippi, first U.S. ocean-going side-wheel steam warship, at Philadelphia. December 27, 1777 - Floating mines intended for use against British Fleet found in Delaware River. December 28, 1905 - Drydock Dewey left Solomon's Island, MD, enroute through the Suez Canal to the Philippines to serve as repair base. This, the longest towing job ever accomplished, was completed by Brutus, Caesar, and Glacier. December 30, 1959 - Commissioning of first fleet ballistic missile submarine, USS George Washington (SSB(N)-598), at Groton, Conn. December 31, 1862 - USS Monitor founders in a storm off Cape Hatteras, NC. 1942 - Commissioning of USS Essex (CV-9), first of new class of aircraft carriers, at Norfolk, VA (Source: www.history.navy.mil) December 2006 35
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