Diesel Boats Forever

Larry Jacobsen: Started in the Mold Loft in 1940; Became a Design Supervisor

I’d review drawings that came through and check for anything contrary to what specs said or what the trades could do, that kind of thing. I didn’t have a degree in engineering. I had experience. And I had physics and calculus – I went to Mitchell at nights. Later, I took several management courses at the University of Connecticut. I kept building it.

So I became a registered professional engineer in the state of Connecticut. I had to pass a test plus the orals. That was kind of hard. You didn’t know what kind of questions you were going to get, but I apparently satisfied them.

I liked that I had the freedom to use my engineering background to put my ideas on paper or in operations. That was very rewarding.

It was hard to resist the older people and supervisors. I know they resented some of the stuff

I pulled down. You take something like the bow planes and the stern planes and the appendages, the rudder. I worked on getting them to use foam, rigged foam, instead of wood for support. They said, “This is supposed to be built with wood.” You’d run into things like that.

My boss, when I was in the middle of the Nautilus, called me in one day and gave me a lecture about how the nuclear ship was never going to surpass the performance of the diesel submarines. I had to listen to that.

In the long run, it was a great experience. Today, an individual without their master’s degree would never be given the opportunity to do what I did.