Adm. John Richardson

Chinese artificial island landing strip

CAPITOL HILL: Adm. John Richardson sailed through his Senate confirmation hearing this morning. But two ominous issues breached the surface, hinting at growing conflict between the administration and Hill Republicans over how to handle China. Richardson, an experienced submariner nominated for Chief of Naval Operations, deftly dodged the difficult questions from Senate Armed Services Committee: Does US-China… Keep reading →

Adm. John Richardson

WASHINGTON: Even before it’s announced, the Pentagon’s pick for Chief of Naval Operations – the current head of Naval Reactors — is already being questioned, not because of his performance but because of his current job. When Adm. Hyman Rickover created the unique post of director of Naval Reactors (NR) with its eight-year term, he did it… Keep reading →

USS Nautilus 60th anniversary cake IMG_1217

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD: One of the most secretive agencies in the Navy didn’t just invite reporters to its headquarters today: It offered them cookies and cake. The agency? The Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program. The occasion? The 60th anniversary of the first submarine ever to sail under nuclear power. But there’s a lot more going on… Keep reading →

An Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine (SSBN).

FAIRFAX, VA: “No one should be sleeping comfortably at night,” Rear Adm. Dave Johnson warned Navy submariners and contractors today. For the fleet’s top priority program, the replacement for the aging Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine, fiscal 2015 “is a crucial year,” the Program Executive Officer for all submarine programs said this morning. “If we in this… Keep reading →

An Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.

WASHINGTON: It looks like the scum of scandals that’s afflicted the Air Force nuclear program has spread to the Navy — although top admirals took pains today to emphasize how different the two problems are. In both cases, military personnel cheated on exams to requalify so they could continue to work with nuclear materials. The… Keep reading →

PENTAGON: The Defense Department named new chiefs today for the Naval Air Systems Command, responsible for all naval aircraft acquisitions, and for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, better known as Naval Reactors (NR), an obscure but powerful organization shard between the Energy Department and the Navy.

Vice Admiral John Richardson, currently the commander of the Atlantic Fleet’s submarine force, will pin on his fourth star as a full admiral when he takes over NR, the job once held by the legendary Hyman Rickover. Rickover exploited NR’s anomalous position — reporting both to the Navy and to the Atomic Energy Commission (which evolved into the Department of Energy) — to build an almost autonomous empire, and the Navy nuclear propulsion program remains a world unto itself. Richardson, like Rickover and outgoing NR chief Adm. Kirkland Donald, is a career submariner, but he’s unusual in the normally reserved submarine community for writing a blog, including a recent, widely cited post on character that pulls together such diverse strands as the Naval academy cheating scandal, Ahu Ghraib, and Plato’s Republic. Keep reading →