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Fair winds, Rear Admiral Harold L. Young, USN (Ret.)

By: Samuel J. Cox Rear Adm., USN (retired) Director of Naval History, Curator for the Navy Director, Naval History and Heritage Command

It is with deep regret I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Harold Lawrence “Ted” Young, U.S. Navy (Retired) on September 1, 2020 at age 91.  Ted entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1950 and served as a surface, submarine and materiel professional officer until his retirement in 1988 as the Vice Commander of Naval Sea Systems Command and Chief Engineer of the Navy. He deployed to Vietnam in 1972 as Senior Advisor on the U.S. Naval Advisory Group. He served in command of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, NH and Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair at Groton CT, where he had a major role in the design and construction of Ohio and Los Angeles-class nuclear submarines.

Rear Admiral Harold L. Young

Ted was in his final year at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy when he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating from “Mass Maritime” he entered the Naval Academy in June 1950 with the Class of 1954. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Naval Science and graduated and was commissioned an ensign in June 1954. His first assignment was as Engineer aboard the Fletcher-class destroyer Twining (DD 540) homeported in San Diego and deploying to the Far East. In June 1957, Lieutenant (junior grade) Young reported to the NROTC unit at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he graduated in June 1960 with a Masters Degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and a degree as a Naval Engineer.

In June 1960, Lieutenant Young attended Naval Submarine School, New London before reporting in December 1960 as Gunnery Officer and qualifying in submarines on diesel attack submarine Trumpetfish (SS 425) which underwent a major refit at Charleston, South Carolina for modification to Greater Underwater Propulsive Power Program (GUPPY II) configuration in 1961. In August 1962, Lt. Young assumed duty as Quality Assurance Officer at Charleston Naval Shipyard, S.C., where he was promoted to lieutenant commander in November 1963.

Rear Admiral Harold L. Young, supervisor, Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, addresses guests during the commissioning of the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS La Jolla (SSN 701).

In June 1965, Lt. Cmdr. Young reported to the staff of Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic fleet as Materiel Officer and was promoted to commander in May 1968. In July 1968, Cmdr. Young commenced duty as Quality Assurance Officer for Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair at Newport News, Va. In 1969 he completed the Progressive Management Development Course at Harvard University, Mass.

In March 1972, shortly before his promotion to captain in July, Cmdr. Young served with the Naval Forces Advisory Group, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) as Senior Advisor in charge of the Vietnam Naval Shipyard in Saigon. In June 1973, Capt. Young reported again to the staff of Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, this time as Assistant Chief of Staff for Materiel. In July 1976, Capt. Young assumed duty as Production Officer at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in Kittery, Maine.

In August 1979, Capt. Young assumed command of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in a tour he later described as his favorite and the pinnacle of his Navy career. In April 1981 be became Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair at Groton, Conn. where he supervised the construction of nuclear submarines including the first Trident ballistic missile submarine, USS Ohio (SSBN 726) where he was awarded a Navy Distinguished Service Medal for his extensive contributions. He was promoted to rear admiral on May 1, 1981. In 1982, Rear Adm. Young was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration by the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

In September 1983, Rear Adm. Young reported to Washington, D.C. to the Naval Sea Systems Command as Deputy Commander for Submarines.  In August 1984, he then reported to the Office of the CNO as Director of the Material Division. In October 1984 he moved over to Office of the Undersecretary of the Navy as Director, Naval Industrial Fund Activity Program Review/Special Assistant. In 1985, Rear Adm. Young received designation as a Material Professional.

In June 1985, Rear Adm. Young reported for his last assignment as Vice Commander Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C., with additional duty as Chief Engineer of the Navy. Rear Adm. Young retired on September 1, 1988.

Rear Adm. Young’s awards include Distinguished Service Medal (2), Legion of Merit (2), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross), Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Civil Action) and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

After his retirement from active duty, Ted taught Sunday School, traveled a lot internationally, and devoted himself to enjoying life with his wife, five children, 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Ted’s dream was to be an officer in the United States Navy, and he lived that dream to the fullest, to the betterment of the Navy and anyone he came in contact with. He was known for his close personal leadership style and getting down to deckplates with shipyard workers and Sailors alike. He volunteered for assignment to Vietnam and arrived just as the major North Vietnamese “Easter Offensive” commenced in the spring of 1972, when his work in the Vietnam Shipyard in Saigon was acutely needed to build and repair vessels that the Republic of Vietnam Navy needed to hold off the Communist attack. (It should be noted that the South Vietnamese Navy held out the longest against the final North Vietnamese onslaught in 1975, a testament to work done by the Naval Advisory Group before the U.S. chose to withhold further support). Ted’s subsequent work at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and as Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair at Groton had profound and lasting effect on the U.S. Navy; 33 of 62 Los Angeles-class and all 18 Trident submarines remain in service today. His leadership in senior positions in the 1980’s played an important role in the readiness of U.S. Navy forces and in particular the nuclear submarines that played a key role in bringing about the end of the Cold War, greatly decreasing the risk of nuclear annihilation. Rear Adm. Young’s leadership and career made the Navy, and the world, a safer and better place. His legacy lives on and his contributions will be long remembered. 

Rest in Peace Admiral Young.