Oil Embargo, 1973–1974

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)

imageThe 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  imageapartment 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.

america, american history, commentary, connecticut, history, military, nuclear energy, places

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  • Rummuser Aug 1, 2014

    Interesting that a big war is currently going on and none of the Arab Heads of States are making any noise nor is there any talk of embargo/stopping of production of oil. Grapevine says that all of them would like to see the end of Hamas bar Iran!
    Rummuser recently posted…The Silver Lining Of Failure.My Profile

    • Mike Aug 1, 2014

      How true. But for Hamas, this strife would not be happening. Hamas is a threat to the stability — what little there is — of the entire region.

      The stance of our officials and media bothers me. Repeatedly calling for restraint on the the part of Israel is nonsense. If someone was launching missiles onto any part of our land, there would be hell to pay. Israel exhibited enormous restraint up to the point that the order was given to send in the military. The news of civilian casualties is heart rending. However, this is war and civilians die in war. The Palestinians are in harms way because of Hamas. Until Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists are eliminated, there is no hope for lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

  • Rummuser Aug 1, 2014
  • Alan G Aug 1, 2014

    I was already working at Arkansas Nuclear One at the time and there in Russellville nor any surrounding areas did I ever note any evidence of the ongoing gasoline shortages. I suppose living in a somewhat rural area had its advantages. I presume that demand would have been much greater in urban areas.
    Alan G recently posted…Movie Review – “The Butler” (2013)My Profile

  • Hilary Aug 3, 2014

    Hi Mike .. I remember the oil embargo and rationing with petrol in England … we’d moved north of London about 100 miles, and my father and I both worked in London … he must have manipulated supplies of petrol for two cars from the local petrol station! We certainly couldn’t fritter the stuff – just make sure we could get to London for a week’s work. I can’t remember anything really about those times – except that petrol was in short supply.

    Cheers Hilary
    Hilary recently posted…Conflagration – Eastbourne Pier …My Profile

    • Mike Aug 3, 2014

      I guess I can remember quite a bit about those times because it was still early in our marriage, we were in a new place, and I was in a new situation in my military job. There is a lot that I’ve forgotten, though, of course. It was 40 years ago, after all! 😉
      Mike recently posted…Transforming a photo to artistic sketch for a non-artist.My Profile

  • Cheerful Monk Aug 5, 2014

    What I remember was we could only buy gas every other day. At the time we walked back and forth from work, about a half mile each way, so it didn’t affect us much.

  • Mike Aug 5, 2014

    I guess the biggest long term impact for us was the 55 mph speed limit. That made a difference in how long it took to get someplace on some our longer trips. Funny, these days when we are driving the motorhome pulling our little car, we don’t go much faster than that. Of course, we limit our long we drive each day. This morning, we are in Kinsley, Kansas. Tonight, we’ll be outside Ogallala, Nebraska.
    Mike recently posted…Transforming a photo to artistic sketch for a non-artist.My Profile

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