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Rickover – The Man, The Submarine

The USS Hyman Rickover will be christened in July 2021.
The “new” USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-795) takes shape at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn. Her keel was laid in 2018, and the boat is scheduled to be “christened” and launched in July 2021 and commissioned in 2022. It will carry the name of the nation’s longest-serving military serviceman and is the second submarine with that name (the first served in the fleet from 1984 to 2006).

Lost in the mists is the reason I receive emails from the Hyman G. Rickover Commissioning Committee, a civilian group headquartered in Chicago’s Union League. I must have signed up for the emails at some point, and I’m glad I did. The committee is promoting the launch and commissioning of America’s newest nuclear submarine, the USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-795), and regularly sponsors speakers and seminars on naval topics. For instance, former Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, Seth Cropsey, is scheduled to present an online talk in July 2021 titled “Adrift: Why the U.S. Needs a New Naval Strategy?” about the need to focus on the China threat.

It’s appropriate the upcoming launch of the Rickover should generate provocative and controversial discussions because the submarine’s namesake spent a career rattling cages and pushing superiors past their breaking points. Rickover cajoled, argued, lobbied, conspired, went over heads and behind backs to get the U.S. Navy to develop a nuclear reactor small enough to fit on submarines. Rickover cultivated friends in Congress, the Navy high command, and even the White House, overcoming numerous enemies. His system worked. Rickover revolutionized submarine warfare, and served 63 years on active duty making him not only the longest-serving naval officer in American history but the longest-serving member of the U.S armed forces.

The small pressurized water reactors revolutionized shipboard propulsion, especially on submarines.
Hyman Rickover pushed the U.S. Navy into developing small pressurized water reactors to power submarines and later aircraft carriers.

The submarine

Rickover the boat is a Virginia-class fast attack submarine designed for a wide variety of missions both in the open ocean and near shore. The Virginia-class is conceived as a less expensive alternative to the Seawolf-class attack submarines, designed during the Cold War era, and are replacing older Los Angeles-class submarines.

During the Cold War, American submarines held one overarching mission — kill Soviet submarines in the event of war. Post Cold War American submarines concentrated on intelligence gathering. But with the revival of “Great Power” competition with a reawakened Russia and muscle-flexing China, Navy submarines will once again be on the prowl for enemy boats. Still, the Rickover is not a one-shot wonder. It will be loaded with capabilities for clandestine intelligence surveillance, insertion and recovery of special operations forces, surprise strikes against land targets with Tomahawk cruise missiles, and offensive and defensive mine warfare. For a peek inside the world of submarines and some commentary on the actual Hyman Rickover, check out this documentary filmed on the “old” Rickover https://youtu.be/7Qt7dyhB-jg.

Artist rendering of the USS Rickover firing one of its many sophisticated weapons.
The Rickover will be loaded with weapons such as Mark 48 advanced capability torpedoes, Tomahawk land attack missiles, Mark 60 CAPTOR mines, advanced mobile mines, and unmanned underwater vehicles. This artist’s rendering provided by the Rickover Commissioning Committee.

The man

Hyman G. Rickover with President Kennedy.
Admiral Rickover with President Nixon.
Admiral Hyman Rickover with President Carter, a former protégé.
Admiral Rickover knew which side of the bread to butter, one of the reasons he was able to stay in the Navy for 63 years. He cultivated friends in high places like presidents and hit the jackpot when one of his former students/proteges — Jimmy Carter — became president.

In the documentary I referenced above, one of Admiral Rickover’s admirers used the ABCs to list his attributes — “abrasive,” “belligerent,” “cantankerous,” so you can see how truly unique Rickover was. I guess you couldn’t be a pushover to lead the revolutionary development of small nuclear reactors for not only shipboard use but also civilian electrical generation. The naysayers who said it couldn’t be done were legion, but Rickover always had a knack for making even more powerful friends in important positions.

To say Rickover led the Navy’s nuclear program would be a vast understatement. He WAS the Navy’s nuclear program. He personally interviewed 14,000 applicants who wanted to work under him, including future president Jimmy Carter. His interviews were notorious for taking odd twists and turns such as making his subjects answer theological questions.

Rickover reached international celebrity status including the cover of Time magazine in 1954 when the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, was launched. In 1958 the Nautilus sailed under the North Pole without surfacing. By the way, the Nautilus incorporated many of the hull design features of Nazi Germany’s Type XXI U-boats, but several nations including Russia were not shy about copying the innovative XXI so there was really nothing unseemly. You can visit Nautilus, which today is a floating museum in Groton, Conn.

Rickover ran out of powerful friends shortly after his 82nd birthday in 1982 and finally retired. Secretary of the Navy John Lehman was convinced Rickover’s eccentric ways were hurting the Navy, and the admiral was blamed for a mishap during a submerged test on a new submarine. Rickover died in 1986 at age 86. Ex presidents, cabinet members, and admirals participated in his funeral, not a bad way to go out.

News you may use

Unmanned drone refuels fighter

Watch a fighter jet and drone make ‘wet contact’ for the first time.
This is not a Photoshopped image. That’s a drone actually refueling a F-18 Hornet jet fighter.

The drone is called a MQ-25 also known as the Stingray made by Boeing. It is 51 feet long and 75 feet wide and launched from an aircraft carrier. It delivered several hundred pounds of fuel at 10,000 feet during a recent test. More evidence unmanned vehicles are assuming more and more military tasks.

I guess there will always be a need for humans to design, build, maintain, and remotely operate these vehicles, right?

Will UFO report answer questions?

Video of an unidentified aerial phenomena more commonly known as a UFO.
What is it? An impending UFO report will not answer that question, but the report should publicly open up debate on what the military calls “unidentified aerial phenomena” or “anomalous aerial vehicles.”

Insiders say the report, which could be released at any time in the summer of 2021, will not prove alien-driven flying saucers are intruding on American air space. But the report should list dozens of previously secret encounters with flying machines that seemingly defy the laws of physics. Dozens of Navy and Air Force pilots have seen UAPs, AAVs, or UFOs perform fantastic maneuvers at great speed.

Officials such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio say the encounters are a matter of national security not little green men. The senator said we simply have to know if another nation possesses technology years ahead of our own.

The military is not accustomed to sharing its UFO research, but a couple of developments forced the hand of the brass. One is a revolt by Navy and Air Force pilots who were tired of having their videos and eyewitness accounts dismissed out of hand. Sightings have increased dramatically since 2014 as the mysterious aerial vehicles teased American planes. There are even radar records, but pilots reported feeling ignored and worried their careers might be harmed by reporting encounters.

The other impetus for the report is legislation. Buried in a $2.3 trillion appropriations bill last year (easy to hide stuff within $2.3 trillion dollars) was a stipulation under the heading, “Advanced Aerial Threats.” The legislation mandates the Director of National Intelligence to work with the Secretary of Defense on a report detailing everything the government knows about UFOs.

Whether the report will be a whitewash or a shocking revelation has yet to be determined, but warhistorybuffs will be interested.

Crazy sniper shot

Sniper using a Barrett .50-caliber rifle.
A sniper sighting a Barrett .50-caliber rifle on a target.

Perusing my old emails I was startled to see this bit of news that will interest warhistorybuffs. A SAS (British) sniper killed five Islamic State fighters with a single shot from 3,000 feet away, according to an article in Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. The incredible shot occurred in November 2020 in Syria. The special forces soldier used an American-made Barrett .50-caliber rifle to shoot a jihadist target in the chest. That would be fatal enough, but the jihadist was wearing a suicide vest and the ensuing bomb blast killed four other Islamic State fighters including their commander.

That got me wondering — what is the longest kill shot by a sniper? There are people who keep track of such things. The record was set in Iraq in 2017 by an unnamed Canadian special forces soldier. He used a McMillan Tac-50 rifle to kill an enemy at 3,871 yards. That’s 2.2 miles.

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Posted in Submarines, Snipers, UFOs, Future war, U.S. president, U.S. Navy, Congress, outer space, robots, Space Force, U.S. government, War History, weapons

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