I was the Gold Commissioning Commanding Officer of UL YS-SES S. GRANT (SSBN 631) in the spring of 1964 at the Electric Boat Division in Groton, Ct. We were all busy preparing for the imminent Initial Builders Trials at which Admiral Rickover would be present. Captain Larry From, the Blue Com-manding Officer, had asked me to meet Admiral Rickover upon his arrival on the evening before the two-day trial. I had assured Larry that I would indeed do just that.
I ascertained the Admiral’s itinerary and knew of his planned arrival at LaGuardia airport in Long Island. I also knew that he would indeed be chauffeured to the shipyard by the Electric Boat’s limousine. So I made a calculation of his expected arrival time based on a simple time/distance formula. I then applied a generous safety factor. I absolutely did not want to miss the Admiral’s arrival, particularly since I would be the de facto host of the pre-trials meeting.
When I arrived at the agreed rendezvous I was surprised to see that everyone else was already there. The President of the Electric Boat Division, the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, the Atomic Energy Commission on-site representative, and others were patiently waiting. Not only that, almost immediately, in the gathering dusk of a June evening, around a building came a large, black limousine with headlights on. It slowly approached the waterfront rendezvous point and I just knew that the Man was arriving. After the Admiral had disembarked and everyone had made a private greeting, I led the group to the wardroom of GRANT’s waterfront barge where we had placed a large bowl of grapes at the head of the table for the Admiral’s noshing pleasure.
The Admiral then proceeded to hold court. There was simply no escaping the withering gaze and the acerbic diction that were so expressive of his displeasure. The meeting broke up just before midnight and I was pleased. It meant that I could get four hours sleep before the events of the morrow commenced.
Captain From, under the Admiral’s watchful eye, conducted an extremely successful Initial Builder’s Trial. A bit hectic at times, but successful, and completed right on schedule. A few days later, it bothered me how I almost missed the Admiral’s arrival. It was, after all, a basic time/distance calculation which is relatively simple. I resolved to find out where I had erred in my assumptions. So I made an appointment the next day to meet with Mr. Joe Wornam, the Public Affairs official of the Electric Boat Division. Mr. Womam was one of those rare individuals in most organizations who always seems to know what is really going on.
After arriving and the pouring of coffee was completed I related that somehow or another I had missed in predicting Admiral Rickover’s arrival time. Was it perchance because the Admiral had taken a different flight? Joe broke into gales of laughter. After his laughing subsided he explained that Admiral Rickover had stated that he needed to spend quality time with the various officials at EB and therefore he needed to get to Groton in a hurry after arrival at LaGuardia. That meant that EB needed to make a Special Run with the limo. And for Special Runs, Mr. Bill So and So was always engaged to be the chauffeur.
He was a retired executive with the Connecticut State Police and was well-known in police circles. After he had picked up the Admiral and had driven onto the Parkway he floorboarded it. “You know our Cadillac limousine can cruise quite comfortably at 120?” All I could say was “Oh”.
The story might have ended there except that a month later I was pinched for doing 70 on the Parkway. Because of that, my license was suspended for thirty days.