U.S.S. Little Rock
Commanding Officer Biography

Page last updated: 15 March, 2020
Rear Admiral Peter K. Cullins

24 Jul 73  - 17 May 75

Captain Cullins


Rear Admiral Cullins, born November 19, 1928, in Annapolis, Maryland, received his early education in Palos Verdes Estates, California and attended the University of Houston, Houston, Texas. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD and graduated in June 1951, as an Ensign with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Following graduation he served four years in destroyer assignments in the Pacific Fleet during the Korean War:  USS ROGERS (DDR 876) as Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer and Communications Officer; and USS CARPENTER (DDE 825) as Combat Information Center Officer and Operations Officer.

In 1955, RADM Cullins was selected to attend the Navy's first officer course in guided missiles at Pomona, California.  He subsequently served aboard USS BOSTON (CAG-l) as a Weapons Division Officer and Combat Information Center Officer, and was promoted to Lieutenant February 1, 1956.

In late 1957, he was selected as an instructor for a senior officer course in guided missiles with the Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center, San Diego.  In January 1960, he became a student of computer programming at the Naval Electronics Laboratory (NEL), San Diego.
LT. Cullins, who had learned computer programming andNaval Tactical Data System (NTDS) operations at NEL, oversaw the NTDS installation on the USS ORISKANY (CVA 34) and USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN 65). In January 1961 Cullins reported to the USS ORISKANY) as Naval Tactical Data Systems Officer. He then reported to the commissioning detail of the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE , and served as Naval Tactical Data Systems Officer and Assistant CIC Officer from July 1961 to July 1963.

Following a year at the Naval War College, Newport, RI , 
RADM Cullins served as Executive Officer aboard USS LUCE (DLG-7) . He was promoted to Commander March 1, 1966. Subsequent assignments included: USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9) , Operations Officer; Electronics Warfare/Command and Control Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D. C. and his initial command assignment as commanding Officer of USS WADDELL (DDG-24) , home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan., also operating with American Naval forces in Vietnamese waters.  During his command of WADDELL, the ship won the Cruiser-Destroyer Battle Award two years in a row.

After a two-year assignment in the Ship Acquisition and Improvement Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-03), RADM Cullins took command of the 1000 man guided missile cruiser USS Little Rock CLG 4, flagship for Commander, Sixth Fleet, home-ported in Gaeta, Italy.  LITTLE ROCK also won the Atlantic Fleet Battle Efficiency Award during the second year of RADM Cullins’ command.

In May 1975, RADM Cullins was assigned to the Surface Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-03).  In June of 1976, he assumed duty as Director, Information Systems Division, Navy Program Planning, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP-090).  This division was reorganized, and became part of the Command, Control and Information Systems Division in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations (OP-094).  On January 1, 1977, he took command of the Navy's computer command, the Naval Data Automation Command, which he had formed and organized, and served as its first commander for three years.

In March 1980, RADM Cullins assumed duties as Commander South Atlantic Force, headquartered in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and operated with the navies of South America and West-Central Africa throughout 1980 and 1981.

RADM Cullins retired from the Navy in 1981, and in May 1985 joined The Retired Officers’ Association in Alexandria, Virginia, as Director of Management Information Systems.

RADM Cullins holds two Legions of Merit, Bronze Star with Combat “V”, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal, Republic of Vietnam Distinguished Service Order, Navy Unit Commendation and Meritorious Unit Commendation awards.

RADM Cullins is married to the former Valaree M. Jacobson of Long Beach, California, daughter of the late Commodore Jacob H. Jacobson and Mrs. Jacobson.  They have two children, Mrs. James A. Wilcox of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Mr. Richard F. Cullins, of Annapolis, MD.

Ed. Note:  To read RADM Cullins' Oral History relating to his time on Little Rock, click HERE.

RADM Cullins' Memoirs

RADM Peter K. Cullins contributed to an extensive memoir, a significant portion of which is reproduced with permission on this website. This extract is part of a series of interviews conducted with RADM Cullins by Capt. Kent R. Siegel USN (Ret.) for the Naval Historical Foundation's Oral History Program.

The read this extract, which pertains to then Captain Cullins' time on the USS Little Rock, click HERE.

Peter K. Cullins RADM, USN (Ret)

November 19, 1928 - May 3, 2012

Rear Admiral Peter K. Cullins, USN (Ret.), died after a protracted illness on May 3 at his home in Camp Springs, MD.

Admiral Cullins was born on November 19, 1928 in Annapolis. He lived through the 1930's and 1940's in Palos Verdes Estates, CA, save for his father's assignment from 1940 to 1942 to the US battleship Oklahoma, where his father survived her sinking at Pearl Harbor.

After attending Annapolis High School and Valley Forge Military Academy, he attended the University of Houston until he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1947. Upon graduating, he served on the destroyer USS Rogers in Korea, then the destroyer USS Carpenter in Honolulu. In 1955 he attended the Navy's first Guided Missile School at Pomona, CA. He was then sent to the cruiser USS Boston, the first guided missile warship for a two year assignment. From 1957 to 1959, he was a senior instructor for Fleet Air Defense and Guided Missiles in the senior officer course at the Fleet Air Defense Training enter in San Diego, CA.

In 1960, Admiral Cullins was sent to the Naval Electronics Laboratory, San Diego for Instruction in computer programming for the Naval Tactical Data System. In 1961, he spent months on aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, installing the initial NTDS at the Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. In the summer of 1961, he was ordered to the pre-commissioning detail of the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in Newport News, VA as the Assistant CIC Officer/ NTDS Officer. During this tour of duty, the Enterprise was also the first carrier on scene during the Cuban missile crisis.

In 1963, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI, where he also earned a Master's degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. Admiral Cullins then became the Executive Officer of the destroyer USS Luce in Mayport, FL, the first ship on scene during the Dominican Republic crisis of 1965. In late 1965, he was sent as Operations Officer of the nuclear cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN 9) because of his experience with the NTDS and the Navy's first Fixed Array Radar. The Long Beach fired the first missiles against North Vietnamese Migs, shooting down several. aircraft. For this deployment Long Beach received the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

In 1967,  he was sent to the Pentagon in charge of Tactical Data Systems standards coordination. In 1969, Admiral Cullins took command of the destroyer USS Waddell homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. During his two years of command, USS Waddell won numerous awards including the Navy Unit Commendation Medal and in 1971 was awarded the Marjorie Sterrett award as the top readiness ship in the Pacific Fleet. During this time he was also a representative to the Command Excellence Forum, established by Adm. Zumwalt, at the Naval War College.

In 1971, he went back to the Pentagon, to the Ship's Characteristics and Fleet Modernization Division for Cruisers and Destroyers.

In 1973, Admiral Cullins took command of the cruiser USS Little Rock CLG 4, the Sixth Fleet flagship, homeported in Gaeta, Italy.

In 1975, he went back to the Pentagon to head the Program and Budgeting Office for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Surface Warfare. Selected in 1976 for Rear Admiral, he took over the Information Systems Division of Naval Operations and formed the Navy's first business computer command, which became the Naval Data Automation Command.
Admiral Cullins last sea duty was as Commander, South Atlantic Force. In 1980 and 1981, homeported in Roosevelt Roads, PR, he was charged with planning the annual cruises around South America and West Africa to operate with the host navies.

Admiral Cullins's awards include two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal First Class, Republic of Vietnam Distinguished Service Order Second Class, and fourteen other campaign or service ribbons.

After retirement in 1981, Admiral Cullins, beginning in 1985, became head of the Information Technology Department of the Retired Officers Association until 1996.

A resident of Camp Springs since 1967, Admiral Cullins's avocations were reading history, gardening, stamp collecting, racquetball and scuba diving, where he was certified as a Master Diver.

His wife of 54 years, Valaree, daughter of the late Commodore and Mrs. J.H. Jacobson, preceded him in death in 2008.

Survivors include his son and daughter-in-law,  Dr. Richard F. Cullins and Linda Cullins of Annapolis; daughter, Linda J. Wilcox of Gainesville, FL; three grandchildren, Lewis J. Taylor IV, Esq. of Columbia,  Stephanie Vader of Columbia,  Jennifer L. Taylor of Gainesville, FL and Daniel Wilcox of Jacksonville, FL; Tracey Wilcox of Jacksonville, FL; and four great-grandchildren, Robert L. Taylor and Lindsay J. Taylor of Gainesville, FL, and Mei Lien Vader and An Lien Vader  of Columbia.

Interment was private. RADM Cullins was laid to rest at the Naval Academy with full military honors.

Crew Remembrances & Anecdotes
(Add yours..... Contact Art Tilley)

Bob Wilkins,  DS1 1972-1976, on 06 Dec 09 contributed this: "....Captain Cullins was big on sports and organized a number of teams, particularly basketball, around the Tiger theme.  Check out the team shirts on pages 31 and 32 of the 1974 cruise book and you'll see the emblem on the team shirts.  Another thing I remember about Captain Cullins is that he always used to play the Tiger Rag over the 1MC whenever we were breaking away from an UNREP."

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Charles Singleton,  on 19 Jul 10 added:  "Was just reading the page on Peter Cullins.  I remember very well the Tiger Rag, as I thought it was funny that I'd go (indirectly) from a high school which used that as its "fight song" (BIG football school) to a ship that used the same song on breakaways.
What I remember most about the (then) captain is that we always called him "Pistol Pete" because almost every time we got underway for ANY transit, we'd end up shooting the guns, mainly the 5-inchers. As I was usually in Radio when that happened, it was impossible to ignore, as Radio was directly behind the 5-inch mount."

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