Richard Boyer Laning – Captain, United States Navy

Captain Richard B. Laning was born January 1, 1918 in Washington, D.C., and is the son of Rear Admiral Richard H. Laning, MC, USN (Retired). He was graduated from Vallejo High School in VaIlejo, California and attended the University of California and Swavely Preparatory School before entering the U. S. Naval Academy.

He was graduated from the Academy and was commissioned Ensign, U. S. Navy on 6 June 1940.

During his early career Captain Laning served on the carriers YORKTOWN and HORNET before entering the submarine service in August of 1942. During World War II he served on the submarines SALMON and STICKLEBACK and was awarded a Letter of Commendation, a Bronze Star with combat “V”, Silver Star and was authorized to wear the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the SALMON for her eleventh war patrol.

Since World War II Captain LANING has commanded the submarines PILOTFISH, TRUTTA, and HARDER. He was the first commanding officer of the SEAWOLF, the second nuclear powered submarine. For exceptionally meritorious conduct as commanding officer of the SEAWOLF, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

Ashore, Captain Laning has served as Staff Officer Submarines Naval Reserve, FIRST Naval District and in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has received post-graduate training at the Naval Post-Graduate School and the University of California, where he was awarded a Master of Science degree in biophysics. He and has also received special training in submarine nuclear reactors. Captain LANING recently was graduated from the National War College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

He maintains his residence in the Washington area where his wife, the former Ruth Richmond and his two daughters, Christine and Lucille, reside.

Monday, Oct. 20, 1958

“The only things I missed,” decided Engineman First Class Joseph R. Minor, 27. of Sutton, Mass., “were the birth of the hula hoop and the death of the Purple People Eater.” As the nuclear submarine Seawolf surfaced and sailed into its home port of New London, Conn, last week, others among its 94 enlisted men and eleven officers got busy catching up on the changes in their world (three had newborn children) since they disappeared below the sea Aug. 7. Their 60 days of undersea cruising (14,500 miles) broke sister ship Skate's 31-day record for human survival out of touch with earth's atmosphere.

Life Below. The U.S. Navy was more interested in what had happened inside that cramped little universe where the crew, standing four-hour watches between eight-hour off-duty stretches, breathed mechanically purified air and coped with the modern submariner's most tenacious enemy: boredom. For his historic test of the psychological and physiological effects of such long isolation, Commander (now Captain) Richard Boyer Laning, 40, Seawolf's skipper, took along all the home comforts he could tuck into the $70 million ship. Aside from the usual supply of jukebox records and movies (carefully laced with training films), Laning had an electric organ. Sensitive nerves were spared, because an amateur musician could pour the outflow into earphones, and he alone could hear the sound. Seawolf's cooks tempted lackadaisical palates with steaks, roast beef, turkey and leg of lamb. Monotony-breaking Chinese and Italian meals kicked up mild gripes among the meat and potato set, but a refrigerator was always stocked with cold cuts. Average weight gain: 2 Ibs. Seawolf's medical officer, Lieut. Commander John H. Ebersole, dished out “tranquilizer” pills—half genuine and half dummies—to those who got insomnia, in a controlled experiment of the drug's usefulness.

The Navy's net finding on the voyage: total isolation from surface environment presents virtually no problems; Seawolfs crew could have stayed down, as Rear Admiral Hyman G. Rickover once said, “until time to re-enlist.”

Journey's End. Soon after Seawolf rose out of the sea amidst a cluster of welcoming ships and planes, Skipper Laning won his fourth stripe and, with proper TV show dates, took his proper place among the Navy's new roster of heroes. Son of a retired naval medical officer, Rear Admiral Richard H. Laning. and brother of four Navy and Marine officers, Annapolis Graduate ('40) Dick Laning won Bronze and Silver Stars for his World War II submarine record in the Pacific, took the coveted Seawolf command when she was commissioned in March 1957.

He keeps his stocky frame (5 ft. 6^ in.) fit at sea bv weight lifting, trains his brain on voluminous reading (mathematics, economics, psychology, foreign affairs, the Russian novelists), once berated a fellow officer for not having read Oswald (Decline of the West) Spengler. Father of two daughters (Christine, 13, Lucille. 8), he also runs a tight ship at home. Says his wife: “He thinks ‘togetherness' is for the birds. Father, to him, should be Head of the House, and command dignity and respect from the children. That's exactly what he gets from the children, too—plus adoration.”


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 01/01/1918
  • DATE OF DEATH: 05/05/2000


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/18/1920
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/28/2006

NOTE: His brother, Robert Comegys Laning, Rear Admiral, Medical Corps, United States Navy, is also buried in Arlington National Cemetery, as is his father, Richard Henry Laning, Rear Admiral, United States Navy.

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