Commanding a Cold War US Navy Nuclear Missile Submarine



Bill Woodman is a former US Navy nuclear missile submarine commander, who shares his rich experiences from joining the US Naval Academy in 1964 to commanding two submarines, the USS James Monroe and the USS Alabama during the Cold War.

Bill opens up about his initial aspirations, rigorous training at the Naval Academy, and his challenging interviews with the legendary Admiral Rickover who directed the original development of US naval nuclear propulsion and controlled its operations for three decades.

Bill Woodman standing on the sail plane of the USS Henry L. Stimson (SSBN 655) (Gold).

He gives detailed insights into submarine operations, leadership challenges, operational readiness exercises, and the constant concern of being detected by enemy or friendly forces.

We also delve into Bill’s personal challenges and the pressures on submarine families, his final patrol commanding the USS Alabama, and reflections on movies and literature that accurately depict submarine life.

Throughout, Bill shares anecdotes illustrating the camaraderie, mental fortitude, and technical prowess required to lead in the silent, unseen world of submarine warfare, eventually culminating in a discussion on the ethos and existential considerations inherent to nuclear deterrence missions.

Book recommendation Wahoo: The Patrols of America’s Most Famous World War II Submarine by Richard O’Kane

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