Francis "Frank" L. Wadsworth
April 7, 1930 – August 13, 2020
Capt. Francis (“Frank”) Laughlin Wadsworth, 90, a resident of Old Lyme, CT and Block Island, RI, passed peacefully in New London, CT on August 13th, 2020. A proud U.S. Navy submariner and a veteran of the Cold War, he was one of the early officers of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program. He served as an officer on several nuclear powered submarines, including the first nuclear powered submarine, USS Nautilus. He was the commander of both the USS Triton and the USS Theodore Roosevelt. He was also the commander of the U.S. Navy’s deep submersible program prior to his retirement. Capt. Wadsworth was a recipient of the Legion of Merit along with numerous other U.S. Navy commendations.
Frank Wadsworth was born in Hartford, CT on April 7, 1930 to Robert and Frances Wadsworth. He attended Kingswood School, graduating in 1947. After enlisting in the Naval Reserve at age seventeen, he was later selected for the NROTC program and completed one year at the University of Virginia before transferring to the US Naval Academy where he graduated in the class of 1952.
Frank’s naval career spanned thirty years, including 19 years of duty at sea, 17 of those as a submariner, and 6 years leading strategic defense programs for the Navy in Washington, DC.
As part of his submarine career, Frank participated in three historic under-ice expeditions in the Arctic. He was a senior officer on the USS Nautilus as part of the first under-ice exploration of the Arctic Ocean by a nuclear submarine in which Nautilus, in 1957, penetrated and charted a total of 1343 nautical miles under the ice and reached latitude 87 degrees North, a record 180 nautical miles from the North Pole. This mission, with its risks and lessons, paved the way and made possible the subsequent historic Pacific and Atlantic transpolar voyage of Nautilus in 1958.
As commander of USS Triton, Frank continued his under-sea explorations and led numerous Cold War missions. He received the Legion of Merit for a particularly successful operation.
Frank went on to a career in the nuclear power industry as a consultant helping to improve the operations and safety of commercially operated US nuclear power plants.
Frank was a loyal Naval officer, a courageous leader and a servant to our country. He was also a dedicated and loving husband and father. He married June Heard in Hartford, CT in 1958, and they raised three sons.
In his spare time, Frank was an avid outdoorsman, and he loved skiing, sailing and fishing as well as spending time with his wife and family at their home on Cormorant Point on Block Island. Frank could often be seen fishing from his kayak in Cormorant Cove and the channel breakwater or teaching his sons and grandchildren how to sail and fish throughout the waters of Block Island. He greatly enjoyed Thursday night sailing races on the Pond, the beautiful sunsets, chasing blues and strippers from the beach, kayak or boat, and caring for his family’s Block Island home.
Frank was also an active member of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut.
He is survived by his wife, June; his sons, Rob, Steve and Jay; their wives, Terry, Lora and Laura; his eight grandchildren; his two great-grandchildren; his niece Katherine St. Onge; and his nephew Patrick St. Lawrence. He was predeceased by his sister Betty St. Lawrence.
Frank will be honored and celebrated in a service and burial at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Francis "Frank" L. Wadsworth
August 20, 2020
Frank was a good friend and fellow member of the Society of the Cincinnati. He was a great patriot and brought honor to his country, the US Navy and his family. We shall miss him. RIP.
August 19, 2020
Frank was a true American patriot ! His career as a submariner was awe inspiring. And his love for his family knew no bounds. A life very well lived Sir ! BZ !!
Fair Winds and Following Seas as you begin the next great adventure.
August 18, 2020
Frank was a true gentleman and a living piece of the cloth of the American Flag and all the good our country has to offer. Always willing to talk and listen. We have lost a true patriot and I hope that his spirit will return to watch over all of his family and our SOC. Godspeed , Sir, Salute with a tear and no other words!
August 17, 2020
A fine gentleman whom I'm glad to have known, albeit briefly. Thank you for your service to our country and your service to our one Society of friends. Fair winds and following seas, Frank.
August 17, 2020
I was please to have served under Cmdr Wadsworth on the Uss Theodore Roosevelt ssbn 600 gold he pinned my fish on a great man and a true leader.
Doug Russo CS2(ss) 1971