During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military and to gain leverage in the post-war peace negotiations. Arab OPEC members also extended the embargo to other countries that supported Israel including the Netherlands, Portugal, and South Africa. The embargo both banned petroleum exports to the targeted nations and introduced cuts in oil production. Several years of negotiations between oil-producing nations and oil companies had already destabilized a decades-old pricing system, which exacerbated the embargo’s effects. (U.S. Department of State – Office of the Historian)
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973. Our little family, having recently moved from Idaho to Connecticut, was living in a tiny trailer with a small addition in Uncasville. Today, that same “neighborhood” is dominated by the nearby Mohegan Sun casino. We only lived there a couple of months before we moved into a low-income apartment in nearby Norwich.
(The trailer has recently been removed with a modern tiny home [pictured] now near where it had sat for decades. I was surprised as the old trailer had still been there on Google street view when I looked a few months ago.)
After the holidays and the beginning of the New Year, I joined the USS Casimir Pulaski, SSBN 633, Blue Crew, which had just returned from Scotland after turning over the boat to the Gold Crew. About three months later, we would be returning to Scotland to take our turn on patrol.
In the interim, and beginning when we got to Connecticut, we did a bit of exploring. Karen and I had been married for just over 2 years, with a daughter who would be 1 in February, and this was our fourth duty station. We didn’t have a car in Illinois, and weren’t there for very long after we got married, so exploring was limited, though we did make it into Chicago before leaving. In Vallejo, California, we didn’t have a car at first, so explored a bit on foot. After we got our first car, a 1973 Vega station wagon, we put a lot of miles on it and saw a lot in a short period of time. Gas was about 20 to 30 cents a gallon at the time and, sometimes, we literally saved pocket change to buy gas. Our explorations continued in Idaho, where my schooling was on shift work (since the training reactors operated around the clock, the hands-on training ran around the clock.) Because of the shift work, we had some long weekends where we were able to see quite a bit.
We did see some long lines at gas (petrol) stations while we were out ‘n about, but it really didn’t inhibit us much. The price of oil had quadrupled from US $3 a barrel to US $12, but, since a good share of the price of fuel was taxes, the price at the pump didn’t go up the same amount. The rising prices, though, did have a severe impact on the economy.
By the time the crew – and me – left to go to Scotland to take the boat, the embargo was over.
The refit period and patrol generally lasted 100 days and forty years ago today, I had recently returned from my first deterrent patrol on a nuclear submarine.