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Robert K.R. Worthington papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSC-186

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of eight boxes that are divided into nine series. Series I, Biographical Data, contains Worthington’s obituary and several official biographical statements. Series II, Naval Orders, 1938–1962, houses naval orders, memoranda, and fitness and medical reports covering his active military career. Series III, Correspondence, undated–1995, contains both letters sent and received, including correspondence regarding the daring COCHINO rescue. Series IV, Writings, has Worthington’s wartime diary, 1941–1943, writings by other authors on submarines, and “The Silversides Story” by Frank Tannenbaum. Series V, Subject Files, has materials on USS SILVERSIDES, USS TOLOVANA, USS TUSK, USS COCHINO, and DEEP QUEST. Series VI, War Patrol Logs, contains the logs from ten war patrols of USS BALAO. Series VII, Miscellany, contains certificates, citations, calling cards, invitations, programs, rosters, newspaper clippings dealing with the COCHINO rescue and DEEP QUEST, memorabilia, and diplomas. Series VIII, Photographs, has photographs of a number of submarines, ships, submersibles, and people. Of special interest are photo albums of USS SILVERSIDES and USS BALAO. Series IX, Films and Slides, has videos of the BALAO, SARDA, TUSK, and SILVERSIDES. There are several reels of 16 mm film, including one entitled “The Silent Service.”


  • Creation: 1938 - 1996


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical Note

Robert Kemble Rittenhouse Worthington was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1915. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1938 near the top of his class and he ranked first in the Submarine School class of 1940 where he earned the Spears Prize. He was in the submarine service for the greater part of his naval career.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, Worthington was an officer in the USS SILVERSIDES. The ship quickly retaliated and was responsible for sinking over 100,000 tons of enemy shipping, including two submarines, earning twelve battle stars. The daring exploits of the SILVERSIDES formed the basis for the movie “Run Silent, Run Deep.” When the war ended, he was commanding officer of USS BALAO, which fired the last shots of the war when she sank an enemy freighter off Honshu, Japan. Worthington received the Silver Star, three Bronze stars, and the Navy Cross as well as many campaign and commendation ribbons for his heroism and leadership under fire. After the war, he received an M.S. in Physics and Electronics from UCLA and later attended the National War College.

Worthington went on to more dramatic exploits as captain of USS TUSK. In 1949, his ship was responsible for rescuing the crew of the USS COCHINO, which sank after a battery explosion in the Barents Sea off Norway. Additional sea duty followed in oilers and submarine tenders. His last assignment was on the staff of the Twelfth Naval District in San Diego. He retired from the Navy in 1962 and worked for Lockheed Corporation on the design and construction of the submersible DEEP QUEST, which submerged to a depth of 8000 feet during test dives.

After retirement from Lockheed in 1975, he sailed as master on several ocean vessels in Caribbean and Alaskan waters. He died on February 28, 1996, in San Diego after suffering a stroke. He is survived by his wife Anne P. Worthington, son Robert, and daughter Dr. Robin W. Woo. Worthington was a member of the Sub Vets of WWII and the Deep Submersible Pilots Association. He personified the heroism, dedication, and patriotism of the men of the submarine service throughout his naval career.


8 boxes

Language of Materials



Biographical information; Correspondence, letters sent and received, including details of the COCHINO rescue, 1945–1996; Naval Orders, 1938–1962; War Patrol Logs from BALAO; Writings, including diary, November 30, 1941–June 1943; Speeches, reports and typed manuscript. Subject Files on TUSK, COCHINO, SILVERSIDES, and TOLOVANA rescues; Photographs of Worthington, various ships and Deep Quest; Films of TUSK, BALAO and SILVERSIDES; Miscellany, including rosters, certificates citations, invitations and programs; Newspaper clippings; scrapbooks, photograph albums and memorabilia.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Robert K. R. Worthington papers were gifted to the Naval War College Foundation for deposit in the Naval Historical Collection by his wife, Anne, in 1998.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US