Melvin Abrahams – Captain, United States Navy

Melvin Abrahams, 85, a retired Navy Captain who later worked for the Atomic Energy Commission, died of emphysema April 11, 2004, at his home in Pompano Beach, Florida.

He was born in New York City, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1940 and reported to the Northampton, a heavy cruiser in the Hawaiian detachment. The ship was on patrol away from Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but returned December. 8.

Captain Abrahams was aboard the ship when it was torpedoed and sunk at the Battle of Tassafaronga on November 30, 1942, the last of the sea battles in the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Granted survivors leave, he married and went into the submarine service. He took command of the R-11, a submarine commissioned in 1911, in Key West, Florida, where it served as a training ship. He served as executive officer of the Pargo and commanding officer of the Baya. His last seagoing duty was as navigator of the Proteus, a sub tender.

In 1947, he was assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington. He resigned his commission later that year and subsequently became a civilian intelligence analyst, a member of a Naval Reserve intelligence unit and a graduate of Georgetown University's law school, in 1950.

Intelligence activities took him from naval intelligence to Air Force intelligence and then to the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1959, he was designated the commission's director of the office of east-west exchanges. For almost 15 years, he directed AEC efforts on scientific exchanges in the peaceful uses of atomic energy with the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China. The last U.S.-Soviet agreement on exchanges in which he was involved was signed in a White House ceremony by President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev.

Captain Abrahams retired from the AEC in 1974 and for the next two years served as a consultant to the commission and to a private software computer firm. He then retired in 1976 and moved from Bethesda to Pompano Beach.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Ruth Rubin Abrahams of Pompano Beach; four children, Gail Himelfarb of Potomac, Gary Abrahams of Bethesda and Jupiter, Florida, Nancy Lipman of Bethesda and Jay Abrahams of Germantown; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 06/10/1940 – 06/10/1978
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/10/1918
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/11/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/16/2004
  • Arlington National Cemetery

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