Washington — Retiring Adm. Hyman Rickover, who pioneered the modern nuclear Navy, bade farewell to Congress Thursday by saying the Defense Department should be abolished and predicted the world will probably destroy itself in nuclear holocaust.
The outspoken, often irascible admiral officially retires Sunday after nearly 60 years in the Navy.
''To increase the efficiency of the Department of Defense,'' Admiral Rickover said in response to a question: ''You first have to abolish it. It's far too large.''
He said both nuclear weapons and nuclear power should be outlawed.
Rickover also gave a stern warning about the growing power of corporate America and its threat to US society.
''Through their control of vast resources, these large corporations have become, in effect, another branch of government,'' Rickover told Congress's Joint Economic Committee. ''They often exercise the power of government, but without the checks and balances inherent in our democratic system.''
Rickover said that defense contractors have learned how to get around rules to prevent excessive profits, so he submitted recommendations to Budget Director David Stockman on how to improve efficiency and economy in the Pentagon. No action has been taken, he said.