Rickover Letters to RADM Roy S. Benson

By Rick Connole

Admiral Hyman Rickover served for 63 years and was the key force for USN’s Nuclear power program. He graduated from US Naval Academy in 1922. My step father RADM Roy Benson served for 40 years with many years in submarine development. He graduated USNA in 1929. Rickover and Benson crossed paths many times in their careers primarily in the early 1960’s when Roy was COMSUBPAC.

During the 1960’s, the USN significantly expanded the ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet. By 1964, 41 SSBN’s were authorized to be built.

ADM Rickover was heavily involved in the new fleets construction and operations. It was a Rickover tradition to “ride” a new SSBN during sea trials (prior to commissioning) to assure the quality of the boat and its crew. To commemorate the event, Rickover prepared a letter about the boat, but more importantly about the person for whom the boat was named. These letters were distributed widely to submarine and Chief of Naval Operations commands and Congress.

14 of the letters that Rickover sent to RADM Roy Benson (when he was Assistant Vice Chief of Naval Operations) are below.

They represent a “piece” of American history, describing some of the great men who were significant to our country’s history.