RICKOVER: The Birth of Nuclear Power will broadcast on PBS, December 9th at 8 p.m. (check local listings).
Combative, provocative and searingly blunt, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover was a flamboyant maverick, a unique American hero. When few thought it possible, then-Captain Rickover undertook to harness the power of the atom to drive the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, whose trip under the polar ice pack was one of the great adventure stories of the 1950s. Later, Rickover built the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant at Shippingport, PA. Rickover’s achievements made him into a national celebrity, and he appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Many questioned Rickover’s goal of an all nuclear navy, and others questioned his creation of a technocratic elite, his own navy within the Navy. However, few contested that he had transformed the Navy and changed the course of America’s technological development.
Today, questions about nuclear power have arisen again, in the wake of the disaster in Japan, yet nuclear power remains one of the main alternatives to fossil fuels. Many wonder whether America can maintain its technological pre-eminence and whether we can still build and manage large-scale projects. To understand these issues, we would do well to consider the story of the man who created the nuclear navy as well as the civilian nuclear power industry: Hyman G. Rickover.
RICKOVER: The Birth of Nuclear Power won Best Feature Documentary at the 2014 GI Film Festival.
See the trailer here.