Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Jimmy Carter

39th American President

President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter graduated from the Naval Academy in 1946 with distinction, after which he was assigned to USS Wyoming (E-AG 17) as an ensign. After completing two years of surface ship duty, Carter applied for submarine duty. He served as executive officer, engineering officer, and electronics repair officer on the submarine SSK-1. When Admiral Hyman G. Rickover (then a captain) started his program to create nuclear-powered submarines, Carter wanted to join the program and was interviewed and selected by Rickover. Carter was promoted to lieutenant and from 3 November 1952 to 1 March 1953, he served on temporary duty with the Naval Reactors Branch, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, D.C., to assist "in the design and development of nuclear propulsion plants for naval vessels."

From 1 March to 8 October 1953, Carter was preparing to become the engineering officer for USS Seawolf (SSN-575), one of the first submarines to operate on atomic power. However, when his father died in July 1953 Carter resigned from the Navy and returned to Georgia to manage his family interests. Carter was honorably discharged on 9 October 1953 and transferred to the retired reserve at his request with the rank of lieutenant. The Seawolf-class submarine Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) is named for the 39th president. Read President Carter's complete biography.