Hyman G. Rickover to be 2nd submarine named for the "father of the nuclear Navy"

North Kingstown, R.I. — Navy brass, political figures and the widow of the late Adm. Hyman G. Rickover will gather here Friday to mark the ceremonial start of construction on the second submarine to be named for the "Father of the Nuclear Navy."

Electric Boat's manufacturing plant in North Kingstown, R.I., will be the site of the keel laying ceremony for the submarine Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 795). The event marks the ceremonial start of construction on a submarine, when the ship's sponsor, in this case Darleen Greenert, wife of retired Navy admiral Jonathan Greenert, who led the service from Sept. 23, 2011 to Sept. 18 2015, will have her initials welded onto a metal plate that will be permanently affixed to the submarine. Actual construction on the Rickover began in September 2015.

It will be the second submarine to be named after Rickover, the outspoken Navy admiral who championed the design and production of the first nuclear-powered engines, and the development of the Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine.

The first submarine named after Rickover was a Los Angeles-class attack submarine commissioned in July 1984, and sponsored by his second wife Eleonore, who plans to attend Friday's ceremony and give brief remarks.

Reached by phone at her Arlington, Va., home Wednesday afternoon, Rickover, who turns 88 next month, said her late husband "was always interested in the safety of the sailors that were on the submarine."

Rickover served for 20 years in the Navy Nurse Corps, which is how she met her future husband. In the 1960s, she was working at Bethesda Naval Hospital where he was recovering from a heart attack. She said she planned to share the story of how they met on Friday.

Her husband would not have been surprised by the advancements made to the second Rickover submarine, which will cost an estimated $2.7 billion and be the Navy's most advanced attack submarine when it's commissioned in a few years. "He would expect that to happen," she said. The first Rickover submarine was inactivated in December 2006.

Admiral Rickover died in July 1986 at the age of 86 at home in Arlington. Nearly two years earlier, he attended the commissioning ceremony for the first Rickover submarine, making it one of the few Navy ships to be named for a living person. He did not speak publicly at the commissioning, which took place in the heavy rain. A photo from The Day's archive shows the Rickovers huddled under an umbrella.

"It's tremendous to be here on my day in the sun, even though it's raining," Eleonore Rickover quipped at the time. She gave brief remarks, saying the ship "came alive" in her mind after meeting the captain, crew and their families.

After hearing a recount on Wednesday of how her husband, at the commissioning, held her purse in one hand as he climbed down the hatchway of the new submarine, she replied, "That makes sense. He was a terrific husband."

j.bergman@theday.com

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