Former President Jimmy Carter is well-known for being a volunteer, and Carter’s service in the United States Navy reflects his volunteer spirit. While every sailor must do his assigned duties as given, there is one area where people only serve on a volunteer basis, says the Navy, and that is on submarines. All personnel who serve on submarines volunteer for their positions. Being on a sub means sharing a small space with about 140 other people and being underwater for months at a time.
President Carter entered the United States Naval Academy after his studies in college at Georgia Southwestern College and Georgia Tech. Carter’s service in the United States Navy as an active duty sailor began in 1946 when he graduated from the United States Naval Academy.
Entering The Service
He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets over a span of seven years. During that time, moved up the ranks and was a lieutenant when he resigned his commission in 1953. Carter’s service in the Navy might have continued had his father not passed away in 1953-which prompted him to return home to Plain, Georgia to help run his family’s agricultural business.
President Carter’s service in the United States Navy came at a critical juncture in the evolution of modern naval weapons and equipment. World War II had just ended, and the submarine had proved to be a critical weapon, just as the modern bomber and fighter planes had proved to be critical to the air force. Submarines would become the backbone of the tactical nuclear arsenal by the time Carter was campaigning for political office in the 1960s.
A Naval Nuclear Pioneer
In 1947, after graduating from the Naval Academy, President Carter’s service in the United States Navy first took him on board battleships-first the USS Wyoming and then the USS Mississippi. Battleships were still patrolling in the Pacific at that time, but they had also become floating laboratories for testing new electronic equipment that was becoming ever more important to naval operations. Carter worked in more than one lab and also in training others.
During Carter’s service in the United States Navy, it was the technology of submarines themselves that was developing into what we have in service today, and the former president played an important role in the development of nuclear-powered submarines. In 1951, Carter himself was chosen by United States Navy Admiral Hyman Rickover to participate in the nuclear sub program. Carter had been an active submariner since 1948.
Rickover was a captain at the time and played a lead role in the program that developed nuclear submarines from concepts into prototypes. Carter studied nuclear physics and later played a role in developing the program supervised by Rickover. President Carter’s service in the United States Navy led him to having a spot on the US Atomic Energy Commission’s naval nuclear reactor program. He had been preparing to take the role of Engineering Officer on the USS Seawolf, the nation’s second nuclear-powered submarine, in 1953, but his father’s death then prompted him to retire from the United States Navy.