Adm. H. G. Rickover "is a documented loser and a menace to taxpayers" when it comes to negotiating ship contracts and President Carter should remove him from that business, the Navy's former procurement officer said yesterday.
Gordon W. Rule, until last year the director of Navy Procurement control where he supervised shipbuilding contracts, added that Rickover is the Navy's "No. 1 problem" in shipbuilding.
The lack of new ships, Navy leaders have said, is forcing sailors to keep serving aboard over-agedships, aggravating such Navy manpower problems as the record-high desertion rate.
Rule, in a speech before the Baltimore chapter of the National Contract Management Association, asserted that only if Rickover is pulled out of contracting will the new ships the Navy needs get built any time soon.
Because "no one in authority in the Navy - military of civilian - has the courage or guts to oppose this man and tell him what to do or what not to do regardless of how wrong he may be," Rule charged, Rickover has become the obstacle between the rest of the Navy and the shipbuilders.
"The admiral" is "constantly injecting himself into the contractual or business side of the Navy," said Rule, "an area in which he has no assigned duties and no discernible competence." Rickover is the Navy's director of nuclear propulsion.
Rule accused Rickover of torpedoeing a nuclear cruiser settlement Rule had negotiated with Newport News (Va.) Shipnuilding in Virginia, and of insisting on unfair shipbuilding contracts for the 688-class attack and Trident missile submarines, thus assuring delays and cost overruns.
"President Carter is the only person with the ability to take the required action concerning Adm. Rickover," Rule said.
Carter should take Rickover aside, Rule said, "and intimate to him that perhaps he would be more comfortable confining his efforts for the next two years, from age 78 to 80, to nuclear propulsion for Navy ships and leave ship contracting to fair-minded professional negotiators."
Rule, who won the Navy distinguished civilian award while director of the Navy's procurement control, retired from that post at the end of 1976. He has previously attacked publicly Rickover's contracting activities, but not in language as strong as he used yesterday.
Asked if he wished to comment on Rule's charges, Rickover said through an aide that he embraces these words of Abraham Lincoln: "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, 10 angels swearing Iwas right would make no difference."