“Rickover and Rolls Royce” or “How England Got Nuclear Submarines”


in Bombs and rockets, Economics, Geek stuff, History, Politics, Security

This remarkable interview with Robert Hill, Former Chief Naval Engineer Officer of the Royal Navy, discusses the peculiarities of Hyman Rickover, including some very revealing stories, as well as Rickover’s role in developing the civilian reactor at Shippingport. The description of Rickover’s interaction with the chairman of Rolls Royce is quite amusing, though it also highlights the absurd degree of capricious control one unpopular admiral had over the proliferation of military nuclear technologies.

It also makes me want to find this 1962 paper “Submarine Propulsion in the Royal Navy”.

Part of the same set of interviews is another remarkable one with Stanley Orman, Former Deputy Director of the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. He seems to clearly provide classified nuclear weapon information, for instance on the details of uranium oxidation in oxygen and nitrogen; plutonium-tritium interactions and how to inhibit them; long-term plastic and rubber degradation as major issues in maintaining weapon functioning; and details on systems to prevent unauthorized nuclear detonations.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

. June 10, 2016 at 5:30 pm
ANON November 20, 2016 at 11:48 pm

Start at 18:56

. May 17, 2019 at 3:41 pm
. September 18, 2021 at 3:56 am

Named AUKUS, the partnership was announced together with a bombshell decision: The United States and UK will transfer naval nuclear-propulsion technology to Australia. Such a decision is a fundamental policy reversal for the United States, which has in the past spared no effort to thwart the transfer of naval reactor technology by other countries, except for its World War II partner, the United Kingdom. Even France—whose “contract of the century” to sell 12 conventional submarines to Australia was shot down by PM Morrison during the AUKUS announcement—had been repeatedly refused US naval reactor technology during the Cold War. If not reversed one way or another, the AUKUS decision could have major implications for the nonproliferation regime


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