Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have had the privilege of knowing and serving with Bus Cobean ever since we entered the Naval Academy in 1943. We were both from small towns far from the sea, (Winnemucca, Nevada and Roswell, New Mexico) and were assigned to the same cutter crew that first week. The crew was especially happy to have Bus on board since he was our muscle man. We were assigned to the same battalion at USNA and 2 years after graduating both applied for sub school. After one year on diesel subs we were both selected along with Les Kelly to be on the first engineering crew of NAUTILUS.
NAUTILUS prototype in Idaho. We wrote from scratch all of the procedures for operating and maintaining the engineering plant. Bus and his crew not only wrote the first procedures for operating the reactor, but he was personally in charge of bringing the nation’s first power reactor critical in March 1953. We carried out extensive tests of the plant, and uncovered and corrected problems. We then undertook a 96 hour voyage in the desert simulating driving a submarine across the Atlantic at an average speed of25 knots. From there we all became plank owners on NAUTILUS. Les, Bus and I each advanced to Executive Officer as NAUTILUS revolutionized naval propulsion and in fact naval warfare. Bus was Executive Officer during NAUTILUS’ first attempt to reach the North Pole in 1957. Because of her successful demonstration of nuclear power more than 200 nuclear powered ships and submarines have been built. They helped win the Cold War and contribute today to the global war on terrorism.
Both Bus and I were subsequently ordered as Commanding Officers of diesel submarines in the same division in Pearl Harbor. Bus on TIRU beat me on PICKEREL for the E. He was admired and absolutely adored by his crew as Charlie Cobean, Jean, Pat and I were privileged to see during subsequent TIRU reunions.
Not only did Bus make significant contributions to the success of NAUTILUS and therefore the nuclear Navy, he played significant roles in the success of the nation’s strategic submarine program. He commanded two SSBNs, was key member of Squadron 14 responsible for the deployment of the first Polaris Submarines and finally became Deputy Director of the Strategic Systems Project Office which developed the Trident as well as Polaris and Poseidon missiles.
After retirement from the Navy he became one of the premier experts in the country on civilian utility nuclear plants. After starting at Con Ed he not only became President of Bums & Roe, but he became a highly respected consultant to the Boards of several utilities.
On one occasion Bus even allowed Les Kelly and myself to assist him in assessing some problems at the Tennessee Valley Authority. The resultant Cobean Report led to improvements in the management and safety of those reactors.
Throughout all of these years, Pat and I have shared with Bus and Jean the successes and disappointments, the highs and lows of our respective lives and we treasure these memories.
What a legacy Bus has left with significant contributions to the nuclear Navy, to the nation’s strategic deterrent systems and to civilian nuclear power!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I propose a toast to one of the finest Naval Officers and gentlemen I have ever known, to Bus Cobean.
Editor’s Note: It is my privilege to add a personal note to these tributes to Bus Cobea11. My relationship with him was somewhat special in that I relieved him of his last submarine command when it was my first. He was a Captain and I was a Lieutenant Commander. The ship and crew was USS GEORGE C. MARSHALL (SSBN 654) Blue and it was his fourth submarine command.
I have often remarked that when I relieved Bus Cobean, GEORGE C. MARSHALL was the best built, best trained and best nm submarine I had ever seen. It was a delight, and an honor, to follow such a consummate professional and fine gentleman. Once again,
Once again, a thank you to Bus Cobean.
– Jim Hay