John Sawyer Leonard, Electric Boat Engineer , passed away 15 Jan 2005

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Since 03-06-05

May His Soul Rest in Peace

Excerpted from NSL UPDATE 01-21-2005


John “Jack” Sawyer Leonard, died Sunday Jan. 16, 2005 in Lyme, CT.  He was born February 20, 1917 in Hyde Park, MA he son of Merton S. and Mable Whitehead Leonard. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1938.

From 1938 to 1982 he was employed at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation until his retirement in 1982. The early years involved diesel engine and submarine propulsion systems design, construction and testing. He developed heating, ventilating and air conditioning design analysis techniques and the detail concepts of snorkel systems as first applied on U.S. submarines. In 1941, he was made Guarantee Engineer for the submarine USS Mackerel.

In 1951, after a year of schooling at the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology, Jack became a part of the newly formed nuclear power division of the design department, where he was the head engineer for the Naval Reactor Submarine Project, featuring the nuclear reactor submarine SSN-571 Nautilus. He was directly responsible for the engineering and design of all fluid systems and mechanical components. In December of 1951, he became the Chief Marine Engineer, a position he held until 1955.

Between 1955-1959, Jack headed the E.B. division design team for the single-screw, body of revolution, nuclear attack submarine proposal, which was accepted by the Navy and resulted in the S5W-powered USS Skipjack SSN 585. The Skipjack was the forerunner of 100 submarines so-powered. In this effort, Jack was the S5W project manager responsible for the engineering, design construction and testing of the nuclear power plant for the USS Skipjack.

His achievements on the Skipjack were followed by several other projects including S5G which started with a land-based prototype in Idaho and powered the USS Narwhal. He was Project Manager for S2W, S3W, S4W, S5W, and S5G.

From 1964-1966 he was nuclear engineer & manager , before being assigned to the position of NR-1 project manager in 1967. NR-1 was the world's first deep-submergence nuclear-powered submarine. Jack also worked on the nuclear test hull vehicle (NHTV). Jack was also on the Trident review team and managed the Major Sea Water Valve design and construction effort for years.

Retiring from EB couldn't keep him from working. He became a Consultant to Proto Technology Corporation, a subsidiary of Kollmorgen Corporation. He also was a Consultant to Magnetic Bearings Incorporated. During this time, Jack was an inventor of several patents related to high-temperature gas-cooled reactor systems.

He was a Life member of the Naval Submarine League, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the United States Naval Institute. He was a member of the original assemblage of the School of Reactor Technology at Oak Ridge. He was a past commodore and a life member of the Hamburg Cove Yacht Club and the longest-participating judge of the Antique & Classic Rendezvous at Mystic Seaport. Outside his career and family, he had great pride in and love for his classic motor yacht, "Duchess".

Jack is survived by his two children; Jan Leonard of Salem and John R. Leonard of Lyme, four grandchildren, Eight great-grandchildren and One great-great grandchild. He is also survived by his fiancé, Anita Sherman. He was pre-deceased by his brother, wife, granddaughter and two great-grandsons.

There will be no calling hours. A gathering to celebrate Jack's life will be held at the Hamburg Cove Yacht Club in Lyme, CT on Saturday, February 12, 2005 during the hours of 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM. Byles Memorial Home, 99 Huntington St., New London, CT is in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be sent to Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT 06355 or the Hamburg Cove Yacht Club, Capitol Fund, 13 Cove Road, Lyme, CT 06371.