It wasn’t until he sent me to Pittsburgh and wanted to be kept advised how Westinghouse was doing that I had frequent communications with Captain Hyman Rickover. He would call me and talk every night, read a draft letter, ask me what I thought of it, and tell me when I would differ that I didn’t know what I was talking about. But he’d change it.
In his oral history, published by the Naval Institute in 2006, Vice Admiral Eugene P. “Dennis” Wilkinson recalled pioneering nuclear propulsion for submarines with Rickover in 1948-1950. Rickover had the wisdom to want industry—Westinghouse—with its manufacturing capability, not one of the national laboratories, to develop and build the thermal energy neutron water-cooled reactor, but he had to persuade Congress. At one committee hearing, with Lieutenant Commander Wilkinson seated behind him, he said, “Listen, this poor dumb line officer has shown that the work the national laboratory did was wrong.” He would prevail, and he and Wilkinson would form a lifelong professional bond.