By Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Amdur, Officer-in-Charge of Historic Ship NAUTILUS (SSN 571)
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Vice Adm. Kenneth M. Carr on Sunday, November 15, 2015. He was 90 years old. Admiral Carr is a U.S. Navy Submarine Force icon and longtime champion of Historic Ship Nautilus (SSN 571) and the Submarine Force Museum. Born on March 17, 1925 in Mayfield, Kentucky, Admiral Carr was predeceased by his wife Molly in 2014.
Vice Adm. Carr enlisted in the Navy during World War Two, serving on an assault landing craft in the Pacific Theater. During the war he earned an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating as a member of the class of 1949. After serving as the Assistant Gunnery Officer onboard USS Eversole (DD 789), he entered Submarine School at the New London, Connecticut Submarine Base in 1950. He served on the diesel submarines USS Flying Fish (SS 229) and USS Blackfin (SS 322) until 1953 when he was assigned to the pre-commissioning crew of USS Nautilus (SSN 571) submarine, the world’s first nuclear-powered ship.
Vice Adm. Carr was first assigned as the Gunnery Officer, in charge of Torpedo Division, on Nautilus. As a young Lieutenant on the ship’s crew, he was credited with coining the popular phase “The sun always shines on Nautilus,” after the cloudy skies parted just before the submarine’s launching in 1954. With the exception of twelve months spent at nuclear power training from June 1956 to May 1957, he served in a number of billets on the ship, including as the ship’s engineer during her first overhaul. He transferred in December 1960. He had the distinction of being the only officer who was both a Nautilus plank owner (member of the commissioning crew) and a “PANAPO” (member of the 1958 Nautilus crew who traveled to the North Pole. He was on watch as the ship’s conning officer when USS Nautilus made history on August 3rd 1958, as the first ship to voyage under the North Pole. The submarine proceeded to Portland, England where her crew received the Presidential Unit Citation, the first ever issued in peacetime.
Following his service on Nautilus, Vice Admiral Carr served as the Executive Officer of USS Scorpion (SSN 589) and USS James Monroe (SSBN 622) and as the first Commanding Officer of USS Flasher (SSN 613) and USS John Adams (SSBN 620) (Gold Crew). Shore assignments included the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Research and Development) and as a senior member of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board. In 1972 Admiral Carr was assigned as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Submarine Force of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1973, he assumed the duties of Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
From June 1977 to May 1980, he commanded the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force (COMSUBLANT). As COMSUBLANT he returned to
USS Nautilus on March 3rd, 1980 as the keynote speaker for the ship’s decommissioning after 25 years of service. He served as Vice Director of Strategic Target Planning at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, before assuming duties as Deputy and Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command in April 1983. Vice Admiral Carr retired from the U.S. Navy in May 1985.
In 1986 Vice Adm. Carr was appointed a Commissioner with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and in 1989 he became the Commission’s Chairman. He retired from the NRC in 1991.
Vice Adm. Carr’s decorations include, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with one Gold Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, a Presidential Unit Commendation with Gold “N”, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation and the American Campaign medal, Asiatic and Pacific Campaign medal with two Engagement Stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense medal with one Bronze Star, the Korean Service medal, the Korean Presidential medal, and the United Nations Service medal.
The Historic Ship Nautilus (SSN 571) and Submarine Force Museum, located on the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut, maintains the world’s finest collection of submarine artifacts. It is the only submarine museum operated by the United States Navy, and as such is the primary repository for artifacts, documents and photographs relating to U.S. Submarine Force history. The museum traces the development of the “Silent Service” from David Bushnell’s Turtle, used in the Revolutionary War, to the Ohio and Virginia class submarines. The museum’s collections include more than 33,000 artifacts, 20,000 significant documents and 30,000 photographs.