Presented is an original typed and signed letter from Vice Admiral Rickover to Robert L. Michaels, dated January 31, 1972, regarding the capabilities of U.S. nuclear-powered submarines.
In this interesting letter, Vice Admiral Rickover writes while at sea in the North Atlantic from the latest nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Silversides, about its capabilities. Rickover writes that “[t]he new SILVERSIDES is equipped with the latest navigation and electronics systems and a computer controlled weapons system which enable her to detect and attack targets at considerable distances. These characteristics, combined with the ability to operate at high speeds for long periods of time and the environmental independence provided by nuclear propulsion, make her a powerful weapon against surface ships and submarines alike.”
Rickover then continues to discuss the United States’ submarine fleet as a whole, to show the growing force of nuclear-powered submarines, both in numbers and operational power. “In addition to the 56 attack type nuclear submarines, we also have 41 Polaris submarines and a deep submergence ocean engineering submarine, making a total of 98 nuclear submarines in operation. When all nuclear submarines presently authorized by Congress are completed, the United States will have 72 attack and 41 Polaris submarines.”
Hyman G. Rickover (1900-1986) was born in Russian Poland and migrated to New York City with his family in 1906. Two years later, they moved to Chicago. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1922 and was commissioned an ensign. He served on a destroyer and battleship before earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University in 1930. Rickover served on submarines from 1929 to 1933 and commanded a minesweeper for three months in 1937, but was soon sent to Washington for work in the Bureau of Engineering.
Rickover became an early proponent of the idea of nuclear propulsion for naval vessels, both submarines and surface ships. He led a team that developed a reliable nuclear reactor that could power submarines, the first being the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered vessel, launched in 1954. Promoted to Vice Admiral in 1958, Rickover received the first of two Congressional Gold Medals. Over the next three decades, Rickover interviewed and approved or rejected every officer being considered for a nuclear ship, eventually numbering in the tens of thousands of interviews. Rickover retired in January 1982, just after his eighty-second birthday, after sixty-three years of service in the U.S. Navy under thirteen presidents.
Very good condition. 1 page letter, typed, from Hyman G. Rickover to Robert L. Michaels. Dated January 31, 1972, USS Silversides, at sea, North Atlantic. Typed on cream USS Silversides Fleet Post Office letterhead. Signed in black ink, at bottom, “H. G. Rickover”. Unframed. Dimensions: 10.5" H x 8” W.
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