Rickover: Documentary airs on PBS

PBS television is premiering on December 9 the documentary “Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power” at 7 pm Central time. (Please check TV listings for scheduled viewing times in your area. Not all PBS stations will air the documentary on December 9.)

Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, is described by PBS as a unique American hero, unafraid to buck the system and yet inspiring to the men under him.

20141112_075918_301659rickover4.jpg.640x360_q85When few thought it possible, then-Captain Rickover undertook a quest to harness the power of the atom to drive the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, whose trip under the polar ice pack was one of the great adventure stories of the 1950s, according to PBS. Later, Rickover was instrumental in the building of the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant at Shippingport, Pa. Rickover’s achievements made him into a national celebrity, and he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

Many questioned Rickover’s goal of a nuclear Navy. Others questioned his methods—PBS noted “his arrogant, high-handed behavior, and his creation of a technocratic elite, his own navy within the Navy.” Few, however, contested that he had transformed the Navy and much of U.S. industry, and changed the course of America’s technological development.

Today, as the United States looks for alternatives to fossil fuels such as nuclear power and tries to lower its carbon footprint, many wonder whether the nation can maintain its technological pre-eminence. Accordingly, PBS noted, “we would do well to consider the man who created the nuclear Navy, as well as the civilian nuclear power industry, Hyman Rickover.”

m_690090Manifold Productions has assembled a distinguished Board of Advisors for the documentary: Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret); Richard Hewlett, and Richard Rhodes.

A book on Rickover—”The Never-Ending Challenge of Engineering: Admiral H.G. Rickover in His Own Words“—is available from the American Nuclear Society by clicking here.

5 thoughts on “Rickover: Documentary airs on PBS

  1. charley untracht

    This documentary missed a historical event and made a statement that was not true and the end. The USS Thresher was lost at sea: Quote “The second USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead boat of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. Her loss at sea in the North Atlantic during deep-diving tests approximately 220 miles east of Boston, Massachusetts, on 10 April 1963 was a watershed event for the U.S. Navy, leading to the implementation of a rigorous submarine safety program known as SUBSAFE. Judging by the 129 crew members and shipyard personnel who were killed in the incident, historic context and significance, the sinking of Thresher was then, and remains today, the world’s worst submarine disaster. As the first nuclear submarine lost at sea, its disappearance generated international shock and sympathy.”
    The writers and producers should correct this immediately.

  2. Charles R Jones (Technidigm)

    This is a great documentary, ringing true with all who loved and hated Rickover. As for engineering, in 1981 the non-nuke naval engineers once came to us nuclear navy engineers for help to get a non-nuke missile cruiser underway for deployment, a ship that at the time could not get underway for sea trials without being towed back into port. The work backlog was estimated at 6 months, but the ship had to get underway in 30 days. The non-nuke captain pleaded for our help since “Nukes are good engineers.” The ship deployed on time.

  3. John Bradburne

    I worked for or with Jim Vaughan, Dennis Wilkenson, lando Zech and Ken Carr. These men were vital to Rickover’s success in so many ways and are models of why we have the strongest nuclear deterrent in history. They made it all work.