Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, August 19, 2013


A ship's checklist for a visit from then-VADM Rickover has been floating around:
Preparation Checklist for VADM Rickover
 USS (Ship’s Name)
From: Executive Officer
To: All Officers
Subject: Preparation for VADM Rickover, USN
The following arrangements will be made by officers indicated to insure the Admiral’s comfort during Sea Trial ALPHA:
- Two full sets of khakis available in XOSR with sox and belt. Shirt size 14-32; trousers waist 30 length 29.
- Menu – Clear menu with OIC prior to 10/26. Fruit available – grapes/apples/etc. (fresh orange juice). Keep bowl in XOSR full. No milk, eggs, cheese, etc. Have margarine and skimmed milk available.
- Insure RM’s check out on Marine operator procedures. He will want to make ship to shore calls.
- Have late airlines schedules available to XOSR desk.
- Disconnect MC system, buzzers, dial-X. ringer in XOSR. DO NOT disconnect pantry call button. E Div. Officer see XO for details.
- Turn all MC speakers in the WR Country down to low, pleasant, but discernible level. He will talk to crew and it should be heard in Wardroom. IMC speaker outside XOSR disconnected.
- Ship’s force film badge and dosimeter Doctor deliver personally.
- Provide plenty of (SHIP’S NAME) stationary, envelopes, and pen available in XOSR desk.
- Do not pull in shore phone connection until last minute when getting underway and then with CO’s permission.
- Have foul weather jacket (Khaki) available in XOSR with jacket patch (leather name patch) and (SHIP’S NAME) patch. The jacket must be expendable.
- Rig for RED only when required by Standing Orders and with permission of OIC.
- Insure toilet articles such as soap, towels, etc. are available in XOSR.
- Insure at least 500 plain envelopes on board
- Insure latest weather reports are available immediately upon request.
- Insure stock of message blanks available in the XOSR desk. (Deliver to XO).
- Insure Engineer is in Engineering spaces any time Admiral is there.
- Insure bunk ready on barge for Admiral if he desires to use it. Be prepared to serve Sat.evening meal to Admiral and guests on the barge or boat if he desires.
- LT (NAME) should handle arrangements for departing.
- Insure brow hanging on crane on arrival. He may leave immediately.
- Have 2 stop watches available for Admiral in Maneuvering and one in XOSR. Flashlight in XOSR.
- Minimize use of 1MC. Emergencies and essential traffic only (and then use in a modulated unexcited voice).
- Have one yeoman available to take care of stenographic needs.
- Provide copy of local newspaper and Sunday’s New York Times (if possible) in XOSR. Also provide recent magazines (Time, U.S. News and World Report, Harpers, Newsweek, etc.)
- On scrams don’t fiddle around warming up mains. Get back on the line safely but quickly. Don’t forget to order a gravity taken.
- Provide dental floss in XOSR medicine cabinet. (Deliver to XO).
- Insure we have equipment for transfer to small boat.
- Have transportation sedan ready (on one minutes notice) clean, fueled, driver standing by, etc. (SO5 sedan).
- Be prepared for full camera coverage (Polaroid, 35121 and speedgraphics).
- Insure plenty good books and reading material available in XOSR and Wardroom (Librarian coordinate with XO).
- Insure embossing machine and at least three different colors of tape available. Provide plenty of tape.
- Check installation of flexowriters. Yea, XO and one Trial Alpha RM (Crypto Repair Trained) check out with Tech Rep. by Friday 10/23/
- Insure barber available in instant call with hair cutting equipment.
- Minimize use of Dial-X in Maneuvering.
- S.S. Pierce lemon drops.

I can confirm that, even in post-Rickover days, a local NR Rep will meet with the CO/XO/ENG before the NR Admiral gets underway on the ship for Alpha Trials. (I went through such a meeting before Alpha Trials for SSN 22.) We didn't get a checklist -- it was all verbal -- but it didn't include demands for free uniforms or hundreds of envelopes. The rep did tell us that the Admiral at the time seemed to like Diet Dr. Pepper.

Did you ever interact with ADM Rickover, or any of his successors?


Anonymous said...

I love that list. I think it'll make its way to the Cold War Submarine Veterans Facebook group.

I had my Rickover interview three days before he retired:

In some sort of karma backlash, the incumbent NR is my classmate. My NROTC daughter is hoping to interview with him in a few months...

8/19/2013 4:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fucking VIPs. You're a public servant like the rest of us, not a prince. You can live with the way the boat you're visiting is.

8/19/2013 4:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insure? Ensure?

It's also plainly clear that the barber on request provision was written out entirely either prior to or during ADM Donald's tour.

8/19/2013 4:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the list! It would have been an honor to have him on any of my boats. One of my Physics college professors once told me a story about his interview with VADM Rickover, good times. I am curious, was the embossing machine and at least three different colors of tape available for labeling valves he found missing lables? And just what was 500 envelopes for?!?!?!

8/19/2013 4:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When he came on PCU727 they couldn't find seedless grapes and they had a crank follow him around as he spit the seeds everywhere.

8/19/2013 5:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interviewed with Rickover (kicked me out...twice), and later had him sitting in my chair in maneuvering while I stood alongside during my 688 class boat's first underway and submerged crash back maneuver. Couple of good stories...both told elsewhere here.

The list, BTW, was something his minions had come up with over time. Since he was so long in the job, I've no doubt that it grew to this monstrosity because of the cumulative zealousness of aides and others. I saw no prince-like behavior from Rickover when he was 81 years-old. Arcane, yes...still in-charge, yes...prince-like, not so much.

8/19/2013 5:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I freaking hated having to give haircuts to zeros! After someone saw me in the head cutting my own hair, I was "volunteered" to be the ship's barber.

8/19/2013 5:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^And yet the experience thankfully did not leave you a bitter, whining troll...{eye roll}

8/19/2013 5:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This list is everything wrong with the Navy. It's a real shame that Rickover didn't stomp the CO's dick for wasting time and energy on this crap instead of getting the ship ready for Alpha trials. I especially like the part where the XO gets cut out from general ship's announcements... would work well in a casualty I suppose.

8/19/2013 5:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSBN 655 Archives has list from 1966 Builder's Trials. 6 pages long. It is what was expected to be available when he rode the boat.
Loree Riggs, Historian
USS Henry L. Stimson SSBN 655 Association

8/19/2013 6:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of this all is simply the gear shifting/crashing that comes with elevating the senior onboard officer's rank and responsibilities from O-5 to O-10 when Rickover walked onboard.

It's easy to hoot from the bleachers. Rickover worked in a realm that very few are directly familiar with.

Oh...and the man likes his grapes? BFD.

8/19/2013 6:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I especially like the part where the XO gets cut out from general ship's announcements... would work well in a casualty I suppose."

XO gets booted from his stateroom on ALPHA trials.

8/19/2013 6:32 PM

Anonymous Steve Jones said...

My comments went awry. Obviously an older boomer as they had docs. I was on 702 for A Trials with him and on 734 for A Ttrials with McKee. It was much more low keyed with McKee. I had a 45 second interview with him which I also have memorized from 1976.

He wore the uniforms. I did not see a suitcase or sea bag. He had a briefcase. He used the toiletries and read the occasional book and mag which he'd take. Spending a couple of hundred bucks per sub is nothing. He was the synthesis of the sub force and nuclear power. What happened was due to him, with great speed, less obstacles and, while skirting protocols, what he did was for the good of America and not for personal gain. As America and defense got more transparent, he got forced out. He was in control and while he was a dictator he was a benevolent one. He was a great man and a brilliant one. He tolerated no fool and wanted you to think and be direct- no beating around the bush. we are better off because of him and his legacy is a great one.

8/19/2013 7:53 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

AS mentioned by previous posters, seedless grapes were also on the list. For those that wonder, Rickover had a mailing list of foreign dignitaries, congresspersons, etc. that he sent a short hand written note to during the sea trials - Something to the effect that "I am on board TREPANG on initial trials. blah, blah" These were VIP collector items. He gave away the ship jackets, patches, etc. to Congress folks and other influential persons. The check list may seem like overkill but it did permit his visit to go smoothly - Especially if Wegner or some other senior NR person was not immediately available to run interference for the CO. It certainly was better than some VIPs who visited and demanded items that the ship was not prepared to provide since they had no idea it was wanted/needed until the request was made. My strongest Rickover memory from initial trials was when he walked into control while we were transiting between areas and announced "I don't want to be here" and left control. Shortly there after there was a Reactor Scram drill. I guess he went forward rather than aft. The KOG was a unique person and the Naval Nuclear Power program would not have been as successful without his high standards and foresighted engineering designs (especially in the area of plant shielding). May he rest in peace.

8/19/2013 8:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spending a couple hundred bucks per sub is not nothing. An O-1 buys his extra uniforms out of pocket; an O-10 can certainly do the same. I don't know what they paid four-stars back then but it's certainly very generous today. Even if his EA places the order the admiral can eat the cost. He's just a man.

Fluffing the VIPs might help the mission but it's only because of their vanity. It's not a good in itself. I'll never be a protocol officer but as far as I'm concerned if you aren't standing a watch, you take what the boat has available. The flags should dig the down-to-earth image it helps with and the civilians should dig the cheesy "boat experience" it gives them so it's win-win.

8/19/2013 9:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^Troll bait. Any takers?

8/19/2013 10:32 PM

Blogger fourfastboats said...

The commissioning Supply Officer and CO of USS TUNNY attended the inactivation ceremony. One of the stories they told was all of the preparations for Admiral Rickover's ride for Alpha trials. All preparations were complete, including the special paper embossed with the three star flag, when sea trials were delayed. During the delay, Admiral Rickover was promoted to full Admiral and the only way for the ship to get the special paper was for the Chop to fly to the manufacturer and pick it up. They even had to buy an extra seat on the plane to bring the paper back.

8/19/2013 11:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The list, BTW, was something his minions had come up with over time. Since he was so long in the job, I've no doubt that it grew to this monstrosity because of the cumulative zealousness of aides and others. I saw no prince-like behavior from Rickover when he was 81 years-old. Arcane, yes...still in-charge, yes...prince-like, not so much."

Yea, and this happens on a daily basis even without flags onboard. By the end of my tour, I had a habit of going to the CO directly often for 'clarification' because I would get tasking that was so retarded and confusing that it had to have been 'misinterpreted' by several people (read: chopped up and modified by the XO and DHs quibbling over getting a better fitrep instead of just doing the goddamn job).

If something doesn't make sense, it's probably not true.

8/19/2013 11:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also plainly clear that the barber on request provision was written out entirely either prior to or during ADM Donald's tour.

Ain't that the truth? I met him shortly after assuming the post in December of 2004 and could not believe how shaggy he was.

8/20/2013 2:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The flag officer record for long hair has to belong to Admiral "Ace" Lyons. During a tour of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in the mid-1980s, his shaggy mop of hair would have made the Beatles proud. He was also big-time fat. Military personnel who saw him wondered why they had to maintain military standards when the admiral didn't.

8/20/2013 6:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was with Rickover on Tunny Alpha trials. The was a doctor onboard, hidden in crew's berthing. The grapes were required to be seedless. Otherwise he spit the seeds out on the XOSR floor. Hard to do when not in season. XO not pleased.

8/20/2013 7:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction to "Ace" Lyons posting, it was Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

8/20/2013 9:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duty lunch boat in Pearl during an Admiral Bowman tour. He makes an off handed remark when arriving that it was such a nice day and would be a gerat day to eat outside. To this day I'm not sure how they did it, but by the time the tour was done the wardroom empty and a table was set up on the pier, linens, china and all.

8/20/2013 4:32 PM

Anonymous horsefarmer said...

STeve Jones - 702 fame

I remember Rickover and was impressed with his knowledge. Only saw him once, going thru crews mess.....
Doc Lee

8/20/2013 6:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly, most of you negative bad-mouthing commenters above owe(d) your very navy careers (those that succeeded, anyway) to Rickover's keen foresight, persistence, intransigence, and pure insistence on best practices. The good admiral was so far ahead of his time that the current batch looks like castrati flags.


8/20/2013 6:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Smiley. Not having to pack a suitcase because you get clothing at your destination (at taxpayer expense) sounds like a great practice - for the one doing it. But tell that to the duty driver who gets his ass chewed because he picked up McDonald's for the duty section on the way back from some errand.

8/20/2013 7:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The XO really needs to understand difference between "insure" and "ensure". Attention to detail...Rickover would've crushed him.

8/20/2013 8:26 PM

Anonymous bullnuke said...

Admiral Rickover made a tour of A1W in '71 or '72 (long time ago). The Westinghouse people went into a the time we used salmon-colored "DEFICIENCY" tags which were placed on as locators for items with non-serious deficiency issues that needed correction (could be on a valve wheel, deckplate, handrail, j-box, etc.). There were right around 1,000 of these tags hanging around in-hull (remember that this was a large plant)and the serialized tags were logged outside the POCS office. We had one shift to clear all these "DEFICIENCY" tags before the Admiral made his tour. I know the 1,000 number because I removed around 200 tags myself. The Admiral made his tour, all of the high power Westinghouse people, Idaho Branch Office reps, Captain Kauderer (Site CO), and a couple of commanders in tow. The Admiral stopped on ERLL next to 3B MFP and the recip bilge pump, pointed to a deck plate. The two commanders jumped down and lifted the plate. The Admiral made the comment "A1W's bilges never did drain correctly." (there was a 3' x 3' x 1/4" puddle in the bilge.) The commanders dropped the deckplate and the tour continued aft to the power absorber room. Total time in hull both sides including Water Treatment(we had guys timing it): 8 minutes. Needless to say, we spent the next 2 or 3 weeks chipping, grinding, priming and recoating the bilges on the engineroom side because the Admiral had stated that the bilges were unsat. And we rehung all 1,000 salmon-colored "DEFICIENCY" tags. Luckily for us, some poor Nuc over at S5G had to the Admiral his requisite haircut on that visit.

8/20/2013 11:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

KOG supposedly stands for "Kindly Old Gentleman."

What did it really stand for back in the day?

8/21/2013 9:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I worked in CSS-7 Ops, the NRRO weenies all thought they were such hot shit. If a PERSTRANS was scheduled at DD4 at Pearl in the wee hours of the morning, I was always inundated with calls from NRRO who were supposed to embark from a small boat to the boat for ORSE to change the PERSTRANS time to a more civilized hour. When denied, their demands got more strident to change the time. Finally the Commodore would get involved and flatly deny their request. I would later hear from the crew what a ball buster of an ORSE they had. Freakin whiners.

8/21/2013 10:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

KOG supposedly stands for "Kindly Old Gentleman."

What did it really stand for back in the day?"

Answer: Rickover...who was anything but.

8/21/2013 11:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

KOG = King of Grapes

8/21/2013 11:52 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

KOG really stood for "Kindly Old Gentleman." Rickover was that to all spouses and Congresspersons but not to anyone who worked in nuclear power. The wives that met Rickover at Ship Commissionings or other social events did not understand why all of us males were afraid of him.

8/21/2013 1:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 8/21 @10:24: NRRO on an ORSE? Never heard of it (in the 50 or so I did when on the NPEB and another dozen or so on boats). Are you sure you are making this up?

8/21/2013 2:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I walked into Rickover's office for my nuclear-power interview, my first thought--upon seeing such a tiny old man behind his giant desk--was that I was in the wrong place. But before I could even get seated, he started yelling at me that I was stupid and didn't work hard enough. My second thought was, for better or worse, that I was in right place.

8/21/2013 2:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: bullnuke said... at 8/20/2013 11:34 PM

"Admiral Rickover made a tour of A1W in '71 or '72"

That would probably Mar/Apr of 72 as I was a nub at S5G then and happened to see him walking towards the hull with a crowd of folk.

Perhaps it was because I was a nub but I don't remember much anxiety on the part of the staff. Just a "stay out of the way" warning is about all I recall.

Old Chief from the dark ages

8/21/2013 3:26 PM

Blogger Bryan Lethcoe said...

We had Admiral Bowman tour our boat (734) with his UK counterpart in 2001 for the British Sub Force Centenary celebration - including the engineroom, which, naturally, was as clean as anyone had ever made it. It certainly impressed the UK admiral.

It was a nice visit, and he presented the ship with a plaque in appreciation of our efforts. A bit of a surprise coming from NAVSEA 08, as to our understanding it was the first time ever that NR had presented any boat with a plaque.

8/21/2013 6:35 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Back in the old days, before the ORSE board, NR did the safeguards exams on all submarines, not just initial criticality after a refueling or new construction. In 1966, SEADRAGON had the honor of experiencing the last NR exam with the new NPEB PAC observing. Another sub, I forget which one, got to experience the first ORSE by an NPEB with the NR team observing. From then on, the NPEB LANT OR PAC did the ORSE. The NRRO never did ORSE or Pre critical exams.

8/21/2013 6:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In short: NRRO-tough ORSE correlation is not causation.

Sorta like how the New York Times not covering the mortal shooting of Australian Chris Lane -- at all -- or the White House not discussing his death -- with any meaning -- is not simply because it doesn't fit their narrative. It just looks that way.

8/22/2013 7:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NYT isn't covering it because no one in the metropolitan NYC area actually cares. There are murders committed by bored gang members almost everyday much closer to home.

8/22/2013 8:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too often we take Rickover's accomplishments wrt starting the Navy nuclear power program as meaning he demonstrated good leadership when he spit grapes on the XOSR floor or shoved a wannabe into the closet. In reality he was acting like a self important cockbag and it's a miracle he was able to man his nuclear fleet because I sure as hell wouldn't want to work in an organization whose boss gets a chubby off of hazing civilians in interviews.

8/22/2013 10:16 AM

Anonymous Ex MM1 (SS) said...

I like how the list goes from what to do on a scram to making sure he has dental floss available!

8/22/2013 11:34 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

" In 1966, SEADRAGON had the honor of experiencing the last NR exam with the new NPEB PAC observing." - wtfdns

Six years earlier, SEADRAGON had been the subject of a B&W newsclip at the movies:

Rickover stood up alone for nuclear- powered subs and the Sub Safe program. Nucs who don't know their history and geography really belong in the other Nuuk-land.

8/22/2013 12:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE “Rickover stood up alone for nuclear- powered subs and the Sub Safe program. Nucs who don't know their history and geography really belong in the other Nuuk-land.”

There is no doubt in my mind the Rickover was a staunch advocate for Sub-Safe. Records indicate he was not happy with construction etc. of all things sub that were outside of his control. BUT!

(Warning, part of what follows is from reading testimony on the Thresher incident and part is from fellow Nucs who were serving in that time period).

Rickover was adamant at the Thresher hearings that “his” nuclear propulsion system was in no way the cause of the loss of the Thresher. Really? It was not long after that the RPMs were updated with the fast scram recovery procedure. Were reactor safety procedures in place at the time of the loss a major contributor and an unintended consequence of being too safe?

We will never know if FSR could have saved the Thresher but to this day I think Rickover was aware of the problem and lied to commission by omission to protect “his” program.

Rickover was an intelligent, conniving, old bastard that was willing to do just about anything to see his baby succeed. Could it have succeeded without him? I think the answer is yes but it would have taken some as strong willed as he but, hopefully, not as much of an asshole!

Old chief from the dark ages

8/22/2013 2:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One man's asshole is another man's (in this case, Rear Admiral Earle Mills') get-it-the-fuck-done guy.

Could it have succeeded without him? Let's ask the Army or the Air Force how their nuclear technology programs fared without a Rickover in charge.

Just sayin'.

8/22/2013 4:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nuclear propulsion on aircraft is retarded; even Rickover couldn't have overcome that.

Naval nuclear power has the advantage that the ultimate heat sink is in plentiful supply, and if the ship gets blown to bits they won't be near enough to any population centers to be a radiological concern.

8/22/2013 5:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Rickover could have overcome the nuclear propulsion on aircraft shutting it the hell down before they spent anywhere near $1 Billion in 1960's dollars on it.

8/22/2013 9:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old chief from the dark ages, did you know Atwood?

8/23/2013 7:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Atwood

I don't think so.

Old chief from the dark ages

8/24/2013 1:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the Army's nuc program - other than SL1, they had a surprisingly successful albeit low key program. They worked hand-in-hand with the Navy for many years which I only discovered recently while doing a little research on the reactor plant they used in Greenland. (The site failed because of shifting ice not because of nuc problems. The original plan was to base nuc missiles but that fell through with the ice problem)

As far as the Air Force – that can only be explained as a “me to” attitude.

Old Chief from the dark ages

8/24/2013 1:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Other than Fukushima, the Japanese had a surprisingly successful program..."

8/24/2013 5:47 AM

Anonymous Steveeas said...

Stood next to KOG on the bridge of CALIFORNIA DLGN36 when reactors powered up for first time. I was OSSA s/p talker. The instructions included no talking, no smoking, no nothing.

8/24/2013 4:03 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

ADM Skip Bowman rode Maryland in 2001 accompanying some of the DACOWITS folks who were looking at the feasibility of women on Tridents. He was standing outside of the wardroom looking very bored when our COB came by, saw him and asked him if he would like to come to the goat locker for a cup of coffee- he accepted. He sat in there with us for over an hour and just shot the breeze about his time as CO on City of Corpus Christi, etc. He was a decent guy and I enjoyed my time talking with him.

8/24/2013 5:05 PM

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8/26/2013 8:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anon 8/23/2013 7:32 PM
I knew Atwood when he was WMFO and I was an instructor at 8G.
Fondest memory was him diming me out for playing (inspecting) with a valve (with a broken SCD) during a sample. Thankfully he didn't show up for the repair later that week.

8/26/2013 11:43 AM

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