Tales of a Cold War Submariner

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Texas A&M University Press, Aug 24, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 266 pages
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Following the Second World War, Dan Summitt cruised the China Sea in a destroyer. During the Cold War, he worked with Adm. Hyman Rickover and commanded two nuclear submarines. In Tales of a Cold War Submariner, Summitt tells the dramatic story of his military life on and under the sea, focusing on his experiences with nuclear submarines and Admiral Rickover, “the father of the nuclear navy.” His stories, anecdotes, and detailed descriptions bring this tense era to life for the reader. Summitt recounts his service as commander of the USS Seadragon on its secret mission to the North Pole, where he rendezvoused with the USS Skate to conduct experiments under the ice. Following a posting to Naval Reactors, Summit then took command of the USS Alexander Hamilton, one of forty-one Polaris submarines in the U.S. fleet. A submarine of this class was 425 feet long and carried sixteen Polaris missiles, each 35 feet high and weighing 35,000 pounds. Summitt takes the reader on a tour of the spacious vessel, describing everything from its living quarters to practice missile launches to the coveralls worn by the crew. He recounts Christmas at the Duke of Argyle’s castle, discusses the difficulties of steering with a single propeller, and describes how the Alexander Hamilton was almost lost because of a faulty needle piston in the snorkel head valve cylinder, a reminder that even the most sophisticated machine can be undone by a simple mechanical failure. In the best tradition of naval literature, Summitt’s memoir offers a first-person view of life in the navy during a crucial period in our history. Readers will enjoy weighing anchor with Captain Summitt, and scholars will find his memoir an important contribution to the literature on the U.S. Navy and the Cold War.
  

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Contents

HOW IT ALL STARTED
3
MY DESTROYER DAYS
11
MY EARLY SUBMARINE DAYS
45
ANNAPOLIS AND WEST POINT
74
BACK TO SEA DUTY
86
NUCLEAR POWER TRAINING
90
DUTY ABOARD SARGO
96
PROSPECTIVE COMMANDING OFFICER TRAINING AT NAVAL REACTORS
107
HEADING HOME
162
FINAL DAYS ABOARD SEADRAGON
178
WORKING AT NAVAL REACTORS
186
PREPARING FOR COMMAND OF USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON
200
COMMAND OF USS ALEXANDER HAMILTON
209
DUTY WITH COMSUBLANT STAFF
239
COMSUBFLOT 8
244
THE PENTAGON AND RETIREMENT
255

SEADRAGON OPERATIONS
112
OFF TO THE ARCTIC
132
SEADRAGON AND SKATE CONDUCT JOINT OPERATIONS
146
USS SEADRAGON SSN584 SAILING LIST FOR ARCTIC OPERATION
259
INDEX
261
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Dan Summitt was born in Nashville, Tennessee, far from the ocean and submarines. He attended Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech each for a year and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1947, served a year aboard a destroyer, and then entered Submarine School. He rose to the position of deputy chief of staff for the commander of the Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet and as chief of staff for the Submarine Flotilla 8 in the Mediterranean. He retired in 1974.  He passed away in 2011.

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