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INL recognizes Rickover's impact on Site, nuclear power

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Rickover at hull entrance to the Nautilus prototype reactor

INL recognizes Rickover's impact on Site, nuclear power

Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover
Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover
Idaho National Laboratory's close ties with the Nuclear Navy were personified by Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover. He envisioned a nuclear-powered Navy and commissioned the work to prove it could be done. The reactor prototype for the first nuclear-powered sub, the USS Nautilus, was built in Idaho. Rickover visited the Idaho reactor when it went critical on March 30, 1953, and again two months later when it was time to show that the reactor's power could turn a propeller shaft.

The reactor's success led to the launch of the USS Nautilus in January 1954. Rickover sent the first Nautilus crew to train at the Idaho reactor, which was an essential part of the system of nuclear training schools Rickover established. And he made sure the thousands of trainees that came through the program were exposed to his safety philosophy. When visiting the Idaho facilities, Rickover preferred to show up unannounced, both to avoid ceremony and to observe everyday conditions.

1950s Nautilus crew at work
Naval personnel operating the Nautilus prototype reactor equipment
Many of the sailors who trained on submarine reactor prototypes at the INL Site's Naval Reactors Facility later returned to work in nuclear operations or other fields at the Idaho Site when they completed their Navy careers.

Read more about Rickover's impact on nuclear power in this Dr. Theodore Rockwell speech, delivered at the 1992 Joint International Conference of the American Nuclear Society and the European Nuclear Society commemorating the 50th anniversary of the birth of nuclear power.

Idaho National Laboratory Research Programs

Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office