Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Serving on the Jimmy Carter

Today, the blogosphere erupted in (mostly) good-natured humor as people finally realized that the Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) was about to be commissioned. While there were a lot of "attack rabbit" and peanut jokes (even from Frank J. ) there were many other posts which seriously questioned if President Carter should have been honored by the naming of a warship for him. To this question, my answer is an unqualified "yes".
First, a disclaimer. Yes, I served on the crew of the Jimmy Carter as the Engineer (Engineering Department Head) before I retired. (For those with a superficial knowledge of submarine personnel assignment procedures who may question this: the boat manned up in April, 2001. The Navy, recognizing the the long time between initial manning and the boat putting to sea in 2004 would mean that someone doing a normal 3 year Eng tour would not get any sea time, decided to bring in a served Engineer for a special "Post-DH Shore Tour" to be Eng for the first two years. Since I had already been the new construction Eng for the previous Seawolf, and was coming up for orders, they picked me.) I'm proud of my service on this unique boat, and wanted to share with you why I think the Navy did right by honoring President Carter.
Jimmy Carter is unarguably the most famous submariner in the world; not because he is a submariner, but in the same way that President Bush is the most famous former baseball team owner in the world. There are many people who disagree of the actions that Carter took as President, with his statements and actions since being voted out of office, and with his choice of family members. That's OK; as Americans we are allowed to criticize our leaders, past and present. I disagree with their apparent premise that his actions as President or since render him morally ineligible to be honored with the naming of a warship after him, and here's why. Despite what people may think about his beliefs or motives, I have never heard anyone say that he is not acting on his true beliefs. This, I don't think, can be said about other recent Democrat Presidents or presidential candidates. President Carter stood watch as Commander-in-Chief during the Cold War, when he had to live with the possibility that he might be awoken any night with the news that NORAD had detected a missile launch, and he had to decide what to do right away. Most of us remember how much the Presidency aged him; it's a tough job, and I admire anyone who can make it through 4 years of that stress. As long as ships are being named for political figures, I think that Jimmy Carter has as much right to claim that honor as anyone.
My first CO on the Carter shared this story: when he and his wife went to Georgia to visit President and Mrs. Carter, my Captain talked with Carter for about an hour in Carter's office. He noted that of all the memorabilia on the walls, there were only a few items from his Presidency, and an entire wall from when he served in the Submarine Force. Later, President and Mrs. Carter came to Groton, CT, with several members of their family, to meet with the crew and see the ship as she was being built. He spoke with passion about how honored he was to have the ship named for him, and in his abiding interest in protecting the national security of the United States. Although many don't believe that his actions, past or present, truly accomplished that goal, I think that he truly believes that by reducing tensions in the world, the U.S. will be safer. Simplistic? Probably. Naïve? I'd say so. Evidence that he supports our adversaries, or wishes the United States harm? No.
If anything, I'd say the Carter administration is evidence that submariners, being as a general rule micromanagers, probably aren't suited for the Presidency. However, I do believe that his well-intentioned service to our country, and the respect that is due the office which he held, make the naming of the world's most capable attack submarine after the profession's most widely-known practitioner a correct action. I am proud to have served on this vessel, and wish continued success for the crew as they get ready to really start having fun!

Staying at PD...


Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Eng on *two* Seawolves? Bloody hell.

OK, I'm impressed.

As regards Jimmy Carter - if he wasn't the worst POTUS of the 20th century, he's in the running. IMHO Two, no three caveats though: the "Killer Rabbit" beatup reminds me too much of the "Plastic Turkey". And the Mullahs of Iran thought enough of him to make great efforts to humiliate him personally, so he can't have been doing too badly. The final caveat - as you say, I wouldn't have the job of POTUS for quids. I have a very high opinion of myself, but not so high that I think I could have done half as well in his job.

Meanwhile, if I wanted to have the most advanced, stealthy and downright deadly sub specially fitted for Intel gathering to go "in harm's way" even more than most subs do, what better than the most innocuous name possible? One that's a standard (albeit unjust) joke? I doubt it was deliberate, but it may have been too good an opportunity to miss.

Hmmm... I wonder if instead of the usual V , they'll use a Playboy bunny symbol..

2/17/2005 6:17 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Well, I do happen to know that many of the crewmen have lusted in their hearts...

2/17/2005 6:24 AM

Blogger TheWanderingArtist said...

Im from GA, I love Ole' Jimmy. And Im dissapointed to hear that the ship is supposed to fall apart in two years or something like that. Jimmy Carter is one of the greatest presidents of our time, because he offered morality over scandalous politics, unfotunately scandalous politics make the wheels run in washington.
Check out my blog on my artwork and paintings:

2/17/2005 7:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thewanderingartist, think about what this link provides
I would say THAT is "scandalous politics" at its best.

2/17/2005 9:49 AM

Blogger Subsunk said...


If you were Engineer on 2 ships, then I assume Connecticut was your last ship before Jimmy Carter. Would love to hear whether this was with CAPT Roegge. Fritz and I were on COMSUBPAC staff together working for Jack Darby.

I was NUCON XO of Hartford and therefore can sympathize with your plight in the yard. Sea Trials out of Groton is pretty hard on your life. Bravo Trials occurred on 8 January and the Eng and I were on the bridge for the trip out. He was the biggest guy on the ship (6' 6" and built like an oak tree) so there wasn't much room on the bridge. Temp 8 degrees with a 35 knot wind. All we could do to cheer ourselves was surmise what it must be like to be leaving Murmansk at that time.

There's always someone who has it worse than you do.

Press on, young man.


2/17/2005 10:09 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Yeah, Fritz was my CO for my last 8 months onboard the 22. Great guy. XO Hartford, huh? I actually had orders for that job in early 2003 when the fates conspired and I had to go see the doc, so no more submarines for me. Therefore, I wasn't XO when she had her grounding off La Madd...

2/17/2005 10:41 AM

Blogger ninme said...

Okay, first of all, Alan's comment sent me into crazy giggles:

"Meanwhile, if I wanted to have the most advanced, stealthy and downright deadly sub specially fitted for Intel gathering to go "in harm's way" even more than most subs do, what better than the most innocuous name possible?"

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"This friend of his had first arrived on the planet Earth some fifteen Earth years previously, and he had worked hard to blend himself into Earth society-with, it must be said, some success. For instance, he had spent those fifteen years pretending to be an out-of-work actor, which was plausible enough.

"He had made one careless blunder though, because he had skimped a bit on his preparatory research. The information he had gathered had led him to choose the name "Ford Prefect" as being nicely inconspicuous."

And as to Jimmy Carter's presidency and character, I was born just as Reagan's campaign was steamrolling over his, so all I really know is that some really crappy things happened in the Middle East that he did nothing about and some guy on the news had this count of days it was happening, and so on and so forth, but in the end we all survived. No nuclear holocaust.

I'm inclined to agree with the idea that his doing what he believes in his heart mitigates the ridiculousness of what he's doing somewhat. Basically I think he's getting quacky in his old age, and should simply retire gracefully and with dignity, but if he chooses not to, that doesn't mean any of us should give more weight to his opinions than any other old man receives.

I do think, personally, he must be a very sweet person. Doesn't mean I like him, though.

2/17/2005 1:03 PM


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