Though it has been more than 30 years since Admiral Rickover finally retired from his position as the head of Naval Reactors, his legacy lives on in the people he directly trained and in the people that those initial Navy nukes trained and led.
A new book titled Against the Tide: Rickover’s Leadership Principles and the Rise of the Nuclear Navy, by Dave Oliver provides another look at what others can learn from Rickover’s successes and failures.
RADM Dave Oliver graduated from the Naval Academy in 1963 and entered the US Navy nuclear submarine program near the peak of its rapid build up from no nuclear powered submarines in 1954 to more than 140 nuclear submarines by the end of the 1980s.
Though he was not assigned to Admiral Rickover’s staff, he had more than his share of direct contact with the “Kindly Old Gentleman” and is able to share a number of unique experiences that provide insight into Rickover’s techniques for inspiring, cajoling or forcing people to work hard and perform well.
One of the assignments that brought him closer to the Admiral than many of his contemporaries was his tour as the Engineer Officer on the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine. By the time Oliver was assigned to the job, the Nautilus was showing her age and the fact that she was a first of a kind.
Sometimes Rickover’s way of doing business made him a lot of enemies, sometimes it made him a hero in the eyes of the people who controlled the purse strings in Congress and in the White House. Unfortunately, some of the people who served in the Nuclear Navy took drastic actions when they decided they could no longer take the stress of trying to meet Rickover’s standards or work ethic.
In the book and during our discussion, Oliver relates a tragic story about one of his best friends.
To learn more about RADM Dave Oliver and find out what other books he has published, please visit DaveOliverBooks.com.
I hope you enjoy the show.