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Huchthausen served as a line officer in the destroyer USS Blandy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, enforcing the naval blockade and verifying the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. He then served two combat tours of duty during Vietnam War, commanding a patrol boat and unit of ten river patrol boats in combat on the Mekong River with the United States Navy's Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. He returned to Vietnam as Chief Engineer in the destroyer USS Orleck, which provided naval gunfire support to Army and Marine forces operations along the Vietnam coast. Transferring to Naval Intelligence, he became a Soviet naval submarine analyst and served in anti-submarine warfare positions on the staffs of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, the United States First Fleet, The United States Third Fleet, and the Commander in Chief, Pacific Command. Later, he became the senior American naval attaché in Yugoslavia and Romania. Afterward, he became the chief of attaché and human intelligence collection operations in Western Europe for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Huchthausen served for three years in Moscow as the senior U.S. Naval Attaché to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
After retiring from active service from the United States Navy in 1990, Huchthausen returned to Moscow and opened an office there for an American firm. At this point, he began his research and writing career. He wrote nine books. Two were made into movies: the HBO movie, Hostile Waters and K-19: The Widowmaker.
He was survived by his daughter, Donna Davis (Colin); grandchildren Ewan and Blake of Perth, Western Australia; son Paul Huchthausen (Dana), grandchildren, Bailey Anne and Nicholas of Gum Spring, Virginia; as well as sisters Christa Mueller (Fritz) of Williamsburg, VA, Ann Ekman (Mike) of Waynesboro, VA; and former wife and friend, Kathleen Huchthausen of Kennebunk and Frye Island, Maine
- Echoes of the Mekong, by Peter A. Huchthausen and Nguyen Thi Lung. (Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Pub. Co. of America, 1996).
- Hostile waters, by Peter Huchthausen, Igor Kurdin, and R. Alan White (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide and became an HBO movie of the same name.
- Frye Island: Maine's newest town a history, 1748-1998, by Peter A. Huchthausen; illustrated by Christa H. Mueller. (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1998)
- K-19: the widowmaker: the secret story of the Soviet nuclear submarine , (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Books, 2002), also became a movie by the same name starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.
- October Fury. (Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley & Sons, 2002, ISBN 978-0-471-43357-6)
- America's splendid little wars : a short history of U.S. military engagements, 1975-2000. (New York: Viking, 2003)
- Shadow voyage: the extraordinary wartime escape of the legendary Bremen. (Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley & Sons, 2005), a story about the escape of the German passenger liner Bremen during the early months of World War II.
- Hide and seek: the untold story of Cold War espionage at sea, by Peter A. Huchthausen and Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix. (Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons, 2008).
- Finding God in the shadows: stories from the battlefield of life, by Marsha Hansen and Peter A. Huchthausen. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 2008).
- PeterHuchthausen.Com at the Wayback Machine (archived September 22, 2006)
- The Maritime Network Article written by Peter Huchthausen
- Naval Academy Alumni Association Obituary