Commanding Officer (Gold) USS ULYSSES S. GRANT
(SSBN 631) 1963-1967
It was a classic entre nous. Admiral Rickover had called Captain From, the Commissioning Blue Commanding Officer, with a special request. Captain From, one of the Admiral’s most trusted and experienced skippers, would be the host of Congressman Craig Hosmer during the Blue test firing of a Polaris A-3 missile from USSULYSSES S. GRANT (SSBN 631) near Cape Kennedy. It would be a private visit and the main Navy hierarchy and Public Affairs people would be excluded. To this request Captain From readily agreed.
Over the years Admiral Rickover had fought and won many battles. There were generally three basic reasons for his success. First, he had a deep understanding of the meaning, intent and fine print of the legislation, principally the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Second, he was strongly supported by the Atomic Energy Commission. Third, and by no means last, he enjoyed the steadfast support of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE). The JCAE was one of those rare instances where the two Houses of Congress agreed to have one committee, with joint membership, deal with a certain issue-in this case Atomic Energy. In this Committee the ranking minority (Republican) member had been a congressman from the Long Beach area of California for many years-Craig Hosmer. For his loyalty Admiral Rickover wanted to do something special; in this case arranging a trip on a Polaris submarine to witness a test firing.
The visit went very well with the firing on schedule and the missile on target. Upon return to port the Special Projects Representative on site, Captain William (Pappy) Sims, asked the Congressman if he needed a ride to the airport. Mr. Hosmer replied that he had come to the Cape to ride a submarine and he intended to continue to do that. So it happened that he was a welcome but unexpected visitor when I took GRANT to sea for a short sea trial period to do basic drills and such.
On the second day the weather turned stonny. It was September and the attendant hurricane season. The weather report showed a hurricane rapidly building. I decided that under the circumstances the best course of action would be to stay at sea. I told the congressman of my decision and asked what I could do for him. He said that he would like to write two messages, one to his wife and one to his secretary, and would I please ensure that the messages were sent I assured him that I would make certain that they were transmitted.
So it came to pass the Mr. Hosmer was at sea in GRANT for five days instead of the planned three. During that period he was a perfect guest and the officers and men in my crew went out of their way to be sociable with the Congressman.
Upon our return I called Admiral Rickover who by now had learned of the change in the basic plan. I told him that the Congressman was even now en route back to Washington. I explained that during the period we held several drills including scram drills. I assured the Admiral that Mr. Hosmer was very impressed with the professionalism and the teamwork shown. I then mentioned a special event of interest. I said that while in the tunnel Mr. Hosmer had asked if he could have his picture taken near a valve which was manufactured in his district.
“What did you say” screamed the Admiral. “I told him that it was not permitted under the rules.”
“That’s right, he was probably just testing you, you know.”
I went on to say that we did have some photographs taken in the forward part of the ship and the periscope stand in particular.
“Aye, aye, Admiral”
Needless to say, all the other issues of the moment were set aside while I set about locating the films, Fortunately, Andy Urbane had already started the process and so, in reasonably short order, the photographs were sent Express Mail to the Admiral.
Congressman Hosmer and I corresponded until his death in 1982