As a Navy nuke, I was carefully taught to believe that everything we learned about atomic energy had to be strictly protected from release to anyone who was not “cleared”, especially anyone who was not a US citizen. I started to question that policy after I completed my tour as the Engineer Officer on the USS Von Steuben. That was nearly 23 years ago.
I hope that my questioning attitude and continuing curiosity about exploring all aspects of nuclear energy that are not actually related to Navy nuclear propulsion is obvious to anyone who reads Atomic Insights, listens to the Atomic Show, hears me speak, or reads the comments that I have been sprinkling around the web (often under the nom de plume of Atomicrod) since the days when the Usenet was the “social media” service where all of the cool kids hung out.
One of the legends that we learned in the Navy nuclear program is that Rickover really started clamping down on sharing information after he returned from a trip to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1959. Through the amazing technology that we now have at our fingertips, I recently found a contemporary newsreel account of one of the key events that led Rickover to decide that the US needed to draw a veil around our Navy’s atomic energy program.
Rickover’s participation on Nixon’s trip to the Soviet Union and his two to three hour tour of the Lenin is also described in Francis Duncan’s Rickover, published by the US Naval Institute Press in 2001. With more time and space available, Duncan provides a deeper background about the trip and the tour.
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