Admiral Hyman George Rickover

Admiral Hyman George Rickover, U.S. Navy, was known as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy”, which as of July 2007 had produced 200 nuclear-powered submarines, and 23 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and cruisers, though many of these U.S. vessels are now decommissioned and others under construction.

With his unique personality, political connections, responsibilities and depth of knowledge regarding naval nuclear propulsion, Rickover became the longest-serving active duty military officer in U.S. history with 63 years of continuous service.  Rickover’s substantial legacy of technical achievements includes the U.S. Navy’s continuing record of zero reactor accidents, as defined by the uncontrolled release of fission products subsequent to reactor core damage.

He was born in Russian Poland in 1900 to Rachel, nee Unger, and Abraham Rickover, a tailor who brought his family to Chicago. After completing high school in 1918, Rickover received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he was often confronted with anti-Semitism. He graduated in 1922 and was commissioned an ensign. Assigned to sea duty, he remained there for five years before being assigned to the Naval Academy to do graduate work in electrical engineering. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he received his M.S. degree in 1929.

When he was a child still living in Russian-occupied Poland, Rickover was not allowed to attend public schools because of his Jewish faith. Starting at the age of four, he attended a religious school where the teaching was solely from the Old Testament in Hebrew. School hours were from sunrise to sunset, six days a week.

Following his formal education in the U.S. as described above and the birth of his son, Robert, Admiral Rickover developed a decades-long and outspoken interest in the educational standards of the United States.  Rickover was particularly of the opinion that U.S. standards of education were unacceptably low. His first book centered on education and was a collection of essays calling for improved standards of education, particularly in math and science, entitled Education and Freedom. In this book, the Admiral states that, “education is the most important problem facing the United States today and only the massive upgrading of the scholastic standards of our schools will guarantee the future prosperity and freedom of the Republic.”

You can read more about this fascinating personality at the following sources:


  • Hyam Rickover converted to christianity while at Columbia he met his future wife, Ruth D. Masters, a Christian and graduate student in international law, whom he married in 1931 after she returned from her doctoral studies at the Sorbonne in Paris. Shortly after marrying, Rickover wrote to his parents of his decision to become an Episcopalian, remaining so for the remainder of his life

  • While I recognize Rickover’s achievements as far as nuclear technology and it’s implementation to the modern U.S. Navy, this proviso:

    I ultimately lose my respect for this now rather “ordinary” man, due to his renouncing of his former Jewish faith. 

    Yes, Anti-semitism was rife in the time frame (actually, it still is) Rickover became an offficer in the U.S. Navy.  IMO, any man of real character would have excelled, regardless of interpreted threats to his success due to his being Jewish.

    In the end, he just winds up being a big putz.

  • Something very shallow about a Jew who becomes a Christian. Obviouslky done to advance his social

    and military status. Regardless of his achievements, I have no respect for person.

  • Rickover was Jewish and never converted to Episcopalian, that’s just something someone keeps writing on wikipedia.  Ruth Masters (his first wife) wasn’t even Episcopalian, which makes this inaccuracy even more ridiculous.

    • ADM. Rickover absolutely converted.  If you read “Rickover: Father of the Nuclear Navy (Potomac’s Military Profiles)” by Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar, they state on pp 635-638 that he did not consider himself a jew once he converted and married his first wife and from that point on he was an episcopalian.  This caused strife between him and his parnets for sometime.

  • I hope you’re correct that he never converted.

    We can lay a lot of blame on organized christianity for two millenia of anti-semitism. So any Jew who voluntarily converts to Christianity is beneath contempt.

  • Wow. Listen to the hate speech.

    I suppose if he was a Christian convert to Judaism he would be a hero.

    Hate, hate, hate.

    So, regardless of his achievements, his religious preference reduces him to an object of rejection and hate. I wonder if his sexual preferences would have resulted in rejection and hate? You all are racist, sexist, religiophobic, homophobic, hypocrites.

    Sounds like some people here are very intolerant and anti-Diversity.

    I served proudly in Adm. Rickover’s Nuclear Navy, and he remains a hero of mine to the death, regardless of your hate-mongering bigotry.

  • I don’t hate Rickover. But I have contempt for any Jew who converts to a religion whose leaders fostered hatred toward Jews in their gospels and are directly responsible for centuries of persecution. How can someone embrace that kind of religion? One answer: Many Jews converted in order to be able to practice thier professions or their artistic endeavors. As you must know, Christian societies in Europe and the US held back Jews from pursuing their professions. Not as bad now as it was up to the middle of last century, but Jews are still subjets of descriminated.

  • ADM. Rickover absolutely converted.  If you read “Rickover: Father of the Nuclear Navy (Potomac’s Military Profiles)” by Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar, they state on pp 635-638 that he did not consider himself a jew once he converted and married his first wife and from that point on he was an episcopalian.  This caused strife between him and his parnets for sometime.

  • louise ratonyi

    To whom it may concern:  What was the original religion of the chapel at us naval academy?  I know it is a non denominational chapel but what religion was the chapel based on?  thank you

    louise 11-2-2010

  • I’m not an expert in this, but I’m sure that if there was only one chapel at the Naval Academy, it

    would have been non-denominational, as the US government cannot accomodate only one religious

    group on a miliary base at the expense of all other groups. They could have either several chapels to accomodate different religions or one chapel for them all. I know that West Point has a Jewish Chapel. But it also has chapels for Roman Catholics and Protestants.

  • It makes me ashamed to be Jew and read some of the comments above by people who basically know nothing about Admiral Rickover or his life or his times except a comment they read somewhere.

    For anyone who wants to take the time to read a short piece by someone who actually knew him intimately – his son – you might want to read this:

  • Susan, I’ll accept it that Rickover was a nice person and a good father. However it doesn’t change my feelings about him abondoning his

    heritage. Sorry, but I can’t condone that.

  • So anyone who “abandons his heritage” is not to be condoned??  Or is it just Jews?

    If your answer to the first question is “yes”, then I assume you couldn’t condone a Jewish convert such as myself.  If the answer to the second question is “yes”, then I have to say that’s the kind of bigotry that makes me ashamed to be Jewish.

  • My answer to first question is no; to second question is yes. Don’t be ashamed to be Jewish because a Jew condemns another Jew’s conversion.

    It is my belief that Rickover converted in order

    to either advance in a “restricted” gentile society or to please his wife. I don’t think he actually embraced the Christian belief in Jesus as the son of God, the virgin birth, the trinity, etc. He was too intelligent for that. This is just my opinion. Don’t condem me for that. I judge

    people on their merits not their beliefs. But, based on historical truths, I do have a prejudice

    against the organized Christian religion. Big


  • Your third sentence – “It is my belief…” – says it all and takes us right back to my original point.

    The truth is you weren’t there and have no idea of his motives.  And yet you’re prepared to judge the man.

    Lucky you that the man you do not condone devoted his life to to our country.

  • Of course it’s my belief; my opinion. I didn’t know him amd neither did you. It appears to be a fact that he did convert. And I have the same low opinion of any Jew who converts; whether it’s Hyman Rickover or Joe Schwartz. If you know the history of the church’s persecution of Jews, perhaps you’ll understand my feelings.