Fast Attacks vs. Boomers
The other day at work, I had mentioned to someone that I am a submariner, and they asked me if I served on boomers. Reflexively, I gave the standard answer: "No, I'm heterosexual". Other than making me realize that this answer probably isn't appropriate around people who don't understand submarines (and may even get me in trouble in corporate America) I figured I should come to terms with my feelings about the great fast attack vs. boomer debate.
I never served on an SSBN, although I did got to sea on one once, for the Alpha Sea Trials of USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), the last of the Ohio-class boats. The advantage of serving on boomers seemed to be that you had a long-range schedule that they stuck to pretty closely; if someone called to see if you could attend a family reunion six months from now, you knew if you'd be at sea or not. Boomers have two crews (Blue and Gold) that rotate about every 3 months, so half the time you don't even have a boat to take care of. On fast boats, you're lucky if you know your schedule for the next month. (I had one underway in early December 1991 where we went out for 4 days, and came back three weeks later, the day before Christmas, after picking up an assignment for one of our sister ships that'd turned their diesel into a seawater pump.)
On the fast boats, the time you spend in-port is often more intense than it is at sea, what with having to get all the maintenance done. Although I've heard that "refit" periods between patrols for SSBNs can be pretty intense, boomers have an organization called Trident Refit Facility that does most of your major maintenance for you. On the fast boats, it's a pain to get your guys to the schools they need, whereas the boomers have a 2 month period between patrols where they have nothing to do but training.All that sounds like being a boomer Sailor would be a pretty sweet deal, quality of life-wise. And I suppose it is.
What I don't think I would have liked about boomer life, though, is what you did when you were at sea. Boomers go to sea to hide; their job is to be ready to launch their D-5 missiles when ordered. Sometimes you get to do test launches, which I suppose could be fairly eventful. The rest of the time, you try to stay away from other ships, and run drills. I, being a sneaky bastard, really preferred to do something at sea that involved sneaking up on other people, whether they were warships, interesting wildlife, or even people on sailboats. All in all, I'm glad I did my sea time on fast boats, but I still respect those who served their country honorably on ballistic missile submarines, and I really don't think you're gay. Really. I don't.