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Admiral Hyman G. Rickover was born in Poland on 27 January 1900, just a few months before the American submarine force came into existence. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1922 and served on board USS LaVallette and USS Nevada until he returned to the Academy for postgraduate education in electrical engineering. Rickover underwent submarine training between January and June 1930. His service as head of the Bureau of Ships' Electrical Section during World War II brought him a Legion of Merit and provided him with experience in directing large development programs, choosing talented technical people, and working closely with private industry. Assigned to the Bureau of Ships in September 1947, Rickover received training in nuclear power at Oak Ridge Tennessee and worked with the bureau to explore the possibility of nuclear-powered ship propulsion. In February 1949 he received assignment to the Division of Reactor Development at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and as Director of the Naval Reactors Branch in the Bureau of Ships. This twin role enabled him to lead the effort to develop the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN-571), commissioned in January 1955. Promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral by 1958, Rickover exerted tremendous influence over the nuclear Navy in both engineering and cultural ways. His views touched matters of design, propulsion, education, personnel, and professional standards. In every sense, he played the role of father to the nuclear fleet, its officers, and its men. After sixty-four years of service, Rickover retired from the Navy as a full admiral on 19 January 1982. He died on July 8, 1986.
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