By Ann D. Winters
I was honored to participate in a panel session on November 14, 2018, at the American Nuclear Society’s Winter Meeting in Orlando, Florida. The title of the session was “Underway on Nuclear Power: A Retrospective,” focusing on the importance to nuclear power of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover and Vice Admiral Eugene P. “Dennis” Wilkinson.
The now well-known phrase Underway on Nuclear Power was first transmitted by flashing light at 11:00 a.m. on January 17, 1955, as the submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571) made history as the first sea-going vessel of any kind to be successfully powered by a nuclear reactor. Rickover’s and Wilkinson’s collaborations and commitment to highest standards of operating excellence were key to the development and implementation of the U.S. Navy’s use of this new power source. It changed underwater military tactics and the world.
While their first collaborations began 70 years ago, the importance of these two men to the nuclear industry is as vital today as it was back then. Rickover and Wilkinson were remarkable leaders, each in his own way, who made nuclear power a viable propulsion option for the Navy and that later was transferred to the commercial sector as a worldwide energy source. Years later, Wilkinson was the first CEO of the newly established Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, and further influenced the commercial nuclear power industry.
My fellow panelists at the Winter Meeting’s session were Joe Colvin, Captain Richard Claytor, and Paul Cantonwine.
Joe Colvin, CEO-emeritus of the Nuclear Energy Institute and past ANS president (2011-2012), served as session chair and panel moderator. Joe added depth to the discussions from having personally interacted with Admiral Rickover during his Navy career and later working with Admiral Wilkinson at INPO and later still in the commercial nuclear

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