Monday, January 30, 2012


Art by David Levine
"Intelligence, the central virtue of moral life, is being able to judge the limitations of knowledge. Though there is no substitute for intelligence, it is not enough. People may be intelligent but lack the courage to act. To find a purpose in life, one must be willing to act, to put excellence in one's work and concern for what is right before personal interest."

Admiral H. Rickover


Justin Rogers ENS, USN (1170) said...

What would our Navy be today if we didn't have Nuclear propulsion? Hooyah Nuke Navy!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

Admiral Rickover was unlike any Officer I ever saw in the Navy, but one must remember that in his endeavors during the first portion of his Navy career he was not considered an example of intelligence and had a difficult time at the Naval Academy due to his views, these were the days that one could see posted in many establishments all over the country, a sticker on the lower portion of a window, near the entrance to that establishment, that was simply the letters, NJA, inserted in an oval display. Admiral Rickover did overcome the bias of some of our country’s citizens to rise to the top of his field. And I feel that some of his attitude still was based on those days of discrimination. He did not mind telling anyone how inferior they were, this included members of Congress and anyone else that confronted him in his endeavors to build the Nuclear Navy. But he succeeded in his endeavors and the Navy is far better off, when it comes to propulsion methods and the subsequent endurance of some Navy ships.

The Sailors that inherited what the Admiral built have been indoctrinated to think differently than the rest of the Navy and they are prone to consider themselves and their contribution to the Navy to be above any other factor that ever existed. Most of the Nuclear Power Engineers never once consider that the purpose of the Navy is to protect and defend the Constitution, they believe only in reactor safety.

One of the best Cooks (Mess Specialists) that ever provided sustenance to a Boat crew during deterrent patrols, that I ever saw, was a Second |Class Cook on the USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628), he spent 8 years on that boat and was never known to put out a poor meal, but he had no tolerance for nuclear trained individuals because of their attitude, he felt they thought they were more important than anyone else on the boat. And his most famous saying was “Nuc is only half a word”. He only used this phraseology after I told him that his other wording was unacceptable, 3was he was able to calm himself, and his attitude toward Nucs over a few patrols, but it was not an easy job.

Such was life on deterrent patrols during the Cold War.

Very Respectfully,

Justin Rogers ENS, USN (1170) said...

Master Chief,

The point of the post was to highlight Rickover's courage to act. His small experimental science projected has turned into a program that has built probably over 100 new cores. All of this since Three Mile Island, too. Reactor safety must be a central priority and this probably will never change. What we can change is the mis-aligned attitude you mention.

Anonymous said...

"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said." - Peter Drucker

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

My personal favorite:

"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." -Wayne Gretzky

Anonymous said...

ENS Rogers,

Few individuals in the world have ever been in the position of Admiral Rickover, and most of us who were military career people would have been unable to stay in the career that we had chosen if we had acted as he did, you might check what happened to General Pace when he used moral authority as an expression, or General McChrystal when he made remarks which he may have thought were courageous and correct and got fired by a non-combatant for using his mouth as a factor of courage. I am personally glad that Admiral Rickover has the intestinal fortitude to stand up to anyone that crossed his path but if you plan to stake your life on the Admirals advice you might reconsider that these days.

Part of the point of my post was to show that Admiral Rickover was not always the go-getter that he expected everyone else to be. That is everyone that had to do with his NR program, and every facet of that program from supplies, shipyard repair, total control of personnel and anything else that he could demand. He was certainly dedicated to his job, as he saw it, and that is not all bad, but then again it is not everything. If the Mess Specialists did not do an outstanding job of providing meals, if that A-Ganger failed to keep the oxygen generators doing their jobs, or the Sonar Techs were unable to provide contacts to the OOD underway, or if the Quarter Master did not have the proper charts, and a multitude of other things that are kind of important to a boats overall successful operation, that reactor might just as well be a big hunk of pig iron, a submarine is made up of many subsystems as they are sometimes described, and each must function to allow the overall ships mission to be accomplished.

When one has to take that boat on patrol, which might be anywhere from 70 to 90 days totally submerged, it is necessary for the crew members to understand that their Shipmates also have an investment in that boat and their job is important to the boat as well, you will be locked in together for some time and it behooves each of you to make a best effort to respect everyone of your shipmates and treat them as a Shipmate and not someone that is just a little lower than you. When a Sailor has to do this same thing for 5 or 6 patrols or more, he finds that even if reactor safety is considered important there are a lot of other important aspects of that Boat, as well.

I am unaware of any major reactor problems in the U S Navy (not including the reactors on the Scorpion and the Thresher) since the Nautilus was launched. I do not think that the Three Mile Island incident had anything to do with the 25 year span of the NR program before the Three Mile Island meltdown. There were more nuclear powered submarines built prior to 1979 than since that time and reactor safety has always been the primary goal of Nuclear Trained Personnel, they did achieve that goal. And on the Tecumseh these Nuclear Trained individuals also knew who was COB and even though this Sailor was a Weaponeer he was a daily visitor to Engineer Spaces including Maneuvering, and was always welcomed there.

Very Respectfully,