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Rear Admiral Charles Elliott Loughlin, USN (Ret.) (1910-1989)

Rear Admiral Charles E. Loughlin, USN (Ret.)Based on seven interviews conducted by John T. Mason Jr. from August through October 1980, the volume contains 355 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1982 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.

While at the Naval Academy, Admiral Loughlin was All-American basketball player and top-flight in tennis as well. He graduated in 1933 and served in the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40), part of the time as an assistant to Lieutenant Hyman G. Rickover. Loughlin went to submarine school and served in various boats before taking command of the S-14 in the Panama area. He was CO in the USS Queenfish (SS-393) during four war patrols, including wolf pack operations. He was involved in the controversial sinking of the Japanese merchant ship Awa Maru in 1945. Loughlin served on various staffs, was XO of the tender Orion (AS-18), and commanded a submarine division and squadron. He as Naval Academy director of athletics and commanding officer of the oiler Mississinewa (AO-59) and cruiser Toledo (CA-133). He was plans officer on SACLant staff, Commander Submarine Flotilla Six during the buildup of the Polaris force, and Commandant Naval District Washington. In his oral history, he also discusses post-retirement service as director of Naval Academy Foundation.

 

An index to this volume can be viewed here (.pdf).

 


 

Rear Admiral Loughlin: Shall we go on to the BB NEW MEXICO?

 

John T. Mason, Jr.: Yes.

 

Rear Admiral Loughlin: I was there four years. I was there four and a half years actually. One of the big influences on my life was, I call him Mr. Rickover because at that time he was a Lieutenant and was called Mr. Rickover. He was the Assistant Chief Engineer and I worked for him for two and a half years. We, meaning the Engineering Department, and we put three white "E's" on the ship. There are many feelings about Admiral Rickover. My feeling is that he is not a genius. He's intelligent, but he's not a genius. In my opinion, he is the hardest working Naval Officer I have ever worked for in my life or I've ever known. Contrary to popular belief, if you work for him and he likes you, he is one of the most loyal Naval officers I've ever worked for. I could do no wrong with Admiral Rickover. At that time Lieutenant Rickover. Even though he was only the Assistant Chief Engineer the Chief Engineer was smart enough to let him run the whole darn show.Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, USN (Ret.)

 

John T. Mason, Jr.: He obviously has the ability to focus on what he is doing.

 

Rear Admiral Loughlin: That's right. He didn't like Warrant Officers and he still doesn't. He told me once, "I'd rather have four hard working Ensigns as my division officer than the best Lieutenants in the Navy." I hope you don't think this is bragging again, but at one time on the BB NEW MEXICO, the four division officers at that one time all made flag rank. Ed Batcheller, Charlie Curtze, Bill Brockett and myself. Brockett and Curtze ended up as the head of BUSHIPS and Deputy BUSHIPS. Batcheller had many major commands and I had quite a few. At one time those four were his division officers, all as Ensigns or had just made JG. I give him most of the credit for my maturing and growing up. I think I was doing it gradually anyway the year and a half before he came there or a year anyway. He made a tremendous difference. My attitude toward him---

 

 

John T. Mason, Jr.: That's very interesting, can you say more about him because it would be useful for some future historian.

 

Rear Admiral Loughlin: Well, for instance, we couldn't get married for two years. We were the first class again affected by this rule. We couldn't get married for two years. So, one Sunday, and they had a regulation that you shouldn't play on athletic teams, on ships teams. So, there was nothing to do except work. I didn't have any money. So, one Sunday I was in the Log Room looking up some material and an officer comes in and introduces himself as Lieutenant Rickover. He was relieving Allen Hobbs as Assistant Chief Engineer. So, he was going through some work. I had the A Division at the time. He was going through some work on his desk and he said, "What do you know about the gasoline system here?"

 

I said, "Well, it's in my division and I know that it starts in the peak tank forward and it runs through the ship. I traced it out once but not as thorough as I should have."

 

He said, "Well, that's not good enough. Let’s take a look at it."

 

So, for two hours on that Sunday afternoon we traced that damned gasoline system out right from the stem to stern. I found out right there that if you have a job and if you are responsible for it then you'd better know where every darned thing there is to know. That was the very first time I ever saw him was that Sunday afternoon. He and I got into dungarees and for two hours we traced that system.

 

John T. Mason, Jr.: He gave you at that point the secret of his success.

 

Rear Admiral Loughlin: I think he did. He was very unpopular on the ship because he wanted to be the most efficient engineering outfit in the fleet. Two or three typical examples, perhaps not typical, but two or three examples of how he worked.

 

I got married in 1935. Incidentally, Bill Dawson who lives out here in town and Bill Brockett who I mentioned before were my bridesmaid and best man. We went to Mexico to get married because we couldn't afford the three day wait in California.

John T. Mason, Jr.: Is this a romance that was developing during-

Rear Admiral Loughlin: No, I had known this girl in high school. Rickover still had his transportation check from crossing the country, so he must have reported to the ship in the spring of 1935. He said, "Do you need any money?"

 

I said, "No, I've got ninety dollars in the bank."

 

He said, "Here is my transportation money." He said, "I really don't need it, you take it."

 

I said, "No. I don't know when I can repay it and I don't need it anyway."

 

"No." he said, "you go ahead and take it anyway."

 

I said, "Thank you Sir, but no."

 

Well, we went to Mexico and got married. Bill Dawson loaned me his car. I didn't even drive in those days so my new wife drove back to Long Beach. I had three days leave and the ship was leaving San Diego where it was at the time. It was to come back to Long Beach.

 

I got undressed that night and taking off my coat in the side pocket was Rickover’s check, endorsed which I didn't cash, incidentally.

 

But, that's one side of his character which no one has any idea of. But, some of the unique things he did was during that three-day period Dusty Dornin, whom I'm sure you’ve heard of, Dusty was my JO, and the damned evaps flooded. So, I came back to the ship, I was called back, as a matter of fact, and Rick- over wanted to know how it happened.

 

I said, "Mr. Rickover, I wasn't even here on board."

 

He kind of laughed. They never did find out how it happened. The next day I went to town, Long Beach, and got time clocks for every engineering space on the ship. Not only my A division, but every engineering-space.

John T. Mason, Jr.: This was your own initiative?

Rear Admiral Loughlin: No, no, no, he told me to do it. They were installed and I was given the responsibility of checking the inspection schedule to which people had to punch the clock. In other words, people had to punch the clock as when they inspected all dead engineering spaces every single night of the world. We never had another flooding of the evaps or any other accident there. There the record was, the inspection was made on such and such time during the midwatch, eight to twelve, or four to eight watch.

John T. Mason, Jr.: That bears out his attitude toward nuclear submarines so there won't be any accidents?

 

Rear Admiral Loughlin: That's right. Showers, he plugged about three quarters of the holes in the shower heads to keep from wasting water. In port he could close off half of the radiators in the ward room to keep from wasting the auxiliary steam.

 

We went out to Pearl on a fleet cruise, a fleet maneuver and we tied up to one of the moles there where they all were in Pearl Harbor. During the midwatch Rickover and I and a few enlisted men rigged some hoses to the water supply at Ford Island and filled up all of our tanks with fresh water so we wouldn't have to use the evaps. He got the commanding officer to sign an order directing the officer of the deck, mind you, to get permission from the Engineering Officer of the watch in port to light off another generator whenever we were having battle station drills. He cut down so many things. Most ships had all four generators on for battle stations. We did it with one. They couldn't even hoist a boat up during gunnery drills in port. They couldn’t even use a crane unless they got the Engineering Officer's permission. They didn't get it very often because it meant lighting off those generators. You were right on the upper edge of the curve with one generator. Everybody else was firing four for four. But, I mean this is just typical of his approach to all engineering problems.

 

 (Note: Due to edits, corrections, and/or amendments to the original transcription draft, there are some inconsistencies between the recording and the text.)


 
 

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