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.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dolphins in 30 Days...

This concerns me a bit. I'll say at the beginning that I don't want to question the integrity of the Tuscon's qual program, but this story from Navy News says that an MM2 received his dolphins after only 30 days aboard USS Tucson (SSN 770). I could see it if he went to another boat first, but there's no indication that he did. Ignoring the obvious idiocies in the story (like "Massie attributed his rapid qualification to working with 637-class training submarines in Charleston, N.C., before reporting to the boat.") he's obviously a Nuke who worked on one of the two old Boomers set up as MTSs in Goose Creek, SOUTH Carolina -- so either the SubPac JO2 who wrote the story doesn't have a clue and misquoted him, or this newly-qualified submariner doesn't know the difference between an old boomer and a fast boat. I'd guess the former -- I assume Massie knew he was really in South Carolina for the nuke pipeline. (Or, we really have random 637s sitting around Charleston available for random Sailors to train on that I had no idea existed.) Again, I don't mean to question the integrity of the Tucson's qual program, but this does seem a little fast to me... since you have to qualify an inport and at-sea watchstation, I'm assuming he's an ELT, since that's really the only legitimate way you can get both watchstations done that quick (ELT counts for both...) I guess the only thing I can really say is "Congratulations, MM2(SS) Massie." The story also mentions an MMFN that qualified in two months, and the SubPac website has a picture of him under the News heading. Any thoughts on this in the comments would be greatly appreciated -- I'm really kind of conflicted on this one, and I feel upset with myself for feeling this way.
The intel source for this story, BTW, was The Sub Report, who is now at a new URL (

Going Deep...

Update 2206 15 March: There's some good discussion on this issue over at Ron Martini's BBS, here and here. Also, one of the comments there let me know that I'd mis-spelled "Tucson", so I corrected it in the entry above. It appears that the verbiage for the picture I linked to above that originally said it showed the MMFN has now been changed to say it shows MM2(SS) Massie. Finally, some of the commenters over at Martini's place say it's not a big deal, since he worked on the 637 class subs in Charleston. As I mentioned above, as far as I know there is no such thing, and the Moored Training Ships there have the front part of the boats completed scooped out and replaced with MTS-specific equipment, such that I'd guess that maybe 5% or less of the systems are the same as you'd find on an actual submarine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought there was a minimum time aboard requirement to prevent something like this from happening. I didn't think it could be done (per regs) any sooner than 3 months or so. And if the guy is a nuke, he had to get his engineering quals done too. Just ELT wouldn't cut it, it would have to be an actual watchstation. But then again, I have been out six years and it has been over a decade since I got my dolphins.

I do know that we had a MM1/SW come over from one of the decommed nuke cruisers and even he didn't qualify that quick.

3/15/2005 9:53 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I know when I got my Dolphins there was a 3 month minimum. I would be sad to hear that they are allowing < 30-day quals. Part of the pride of the brotherhood is knowing what it takes to earn your dolphins. If it comes cheap and easy it devalues the whole thing for everybody. It is an exclusive club and should remain so.

3/15/2005 2:52 PM

Blogger bubbleheadfl said...

There is obviously somethingwrong with this picture. Even in the seventies, the fastest I saw someone qualify was 5 months. He was an STS3 that devoted his life to quals. He RARELY went on liberty and every spare minute of his time was spent tracing systems or his book in PIP or SIM. I sat on his final qual board and he knew more than some of my A gangers. And yes he also qualed Sonar Operator at sea and Topside then Below Decks inport, all during this time.
All the senior Agangers at the time were ex diesel boat sailors and they were my sea dads. I was a hard charger and qualified in 10 months. However, I did make the dink list ONCE! We were in the ship yard at the time and I was taped to a chair, sat on the QD of the living barge with a sign around my neck that said "I am dink, beat me about the head and shoulders before you go on liberty." I can assure you that this was the ONLY time I went delinquent on ship quals. I also recieved no sympathy from my father or grandfather (both retired submariners). Where has the pride in being HEAVY gone? Has our submarine qual system gone the way of liberlism? I truly hope not or our boats would be in serious trouble if we ever had to fight a submarine war.

3/15/2005 7:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Qualifying in 30 days is a phenomenal task. I have to ask how many grapes were received. I work in Combat Systems at Pearl and I am still learning the interlocks for the tubes (21 years active Duty and 3 years PHNSY Combat Systems Engineering Technician). The photo that was published at shows him in the Torpedo Room attempting to remove a Breech Door Connector (not opening the door or do anything else).

As for qualifying in 30 days, my money is on the fact that he is light. Unfortunately and fortunately, you must prove your knowledge of the boat (heavy) to qualify.

I have to go with NUB until prove differently.

Rat Bastard
Qualified, 16 March 1983

3/15/2005 10:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been worried about the quals program since reporting onboard USS Honolulu (SSN-718) in the late 80's. I initially qualified on USS Barbel (SS-580) in 1981. My qual board lasted 8 grueling hours. I was questioned on EVERY system on the boat. On the Hono, qual boards were not to last longer than 2 hours and you were only allowed to question the non-qual on (i think) 3 systems. Always made me nervous. I have one additional comment. DAMN those 688I's look funny with no sailplanes!

3/16/2005 6:23 AM

Blogger Subsunk said...

I was SUBPAC Retention Officer many moons ago, and as such, responsible for the qual letters for officers and qual regs for enlisted. It was required by the regs that the CO notify and request permission from SUBPAC/SUBLANT when an enlisted sailor qualified in less than 6 months and an officer in less than 9 months. A waiver was required to qualify any earlier than those dates, approved by CSP/CSL, endorsed by the ISIC. The regs specifically said no enlisted in less than 3 months, and no officers in less than 6 months.

If these periods listed in Navy Times are in fact correct, then we should all be upset about it. I had an exceptional MMFN qualify on USETAFISH (I was Eng) in 6 months. He was better than anyone I've ever come across before or after. But no one can qualify by trading on their time on a non-operational or decommissioned ship and be knowledgeable and proficient in just in 30 days on their first command. The qualification is too cursory, and the proficiency of the sailor cannot be trusted unless he has time on the pond or at least on watch. In my book, yard time counts because of the watchstanding, but even then, the regs said enlisted folk would be encouraged to sail on ships out of the yard for experience before qualification. When you look at the requirements for crew certifications out of the yard, you see we are concerned primarily with crew proficiency in operating the ship. Although this may not be as serious because there are other qualified personnel onboard with these gents, they don't have the experience necessary to do it alone. We are correct to be concerned about their qualifications. This means we trust them to operate the ship with appropriate supervision only. I'm not saying they can't stand watch. But must they be given the ultimate badge of submarine proficiency with only 30 days on a ship? I hope not. It is not worth the risks to get a PR feather in your cap over one of your crewmen's swift qualification achievements. The fault here lies not with the crew, but with the CO and CSL for approving it.


3/18/2005 12:38 PM

Blogger Sub ELT said...

Just want to provide a little perspective on MM2(SS) Massie. I am currently stationed on the USS Tucson. I was left in port during the underway in which he got his dolphins, so this is not all first-hand knowledge.

He is a nuke mechanic (not an ELT) and was a staff pick at prototype, so his engineering quals were done as a requal. This is how he got his at-sea (ERLL) and in-port (SRW) watchstation quals done so quick. Obviously, for a nuke, the engineering blocks on the ship's qual card get knocked out pretty quick.

The manning for M-div and ELT's is so high that we were able to send a bunch of mechanics and an ELT forward to qualify as members of the torpedo reload party. Because of the time spent with all the weapons department people in the torperdo room, he was able to learn a lot more about the torpedo room and weapons systems than is typical for a nuke. Also, since the torpedo reload party isn't in constant motion 24/7, he had a lot of time off watch to pursue his quals.

Basically, he had a lot of benefits that your typical submariner doesn't have: lot's of spare time, lot's of prior watchstanding experience, and essentially being assigned to work full time as a member of weapons department.

Add to this the fact that MM2(SS) Massie is exceptionally motivated and extremely bright, and maybe you can understand how he got his dolphins in a month.

I will say that what he accomplished is not typical of the average new guy on board. Most of the new guys take just as long to qualify as they do on any other submarine that I have been stationed on.

I, for one, have no problem trusting him as much as any other submariner on board.

4/02/2005 11:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I qualified on the LA in 93 days and that was tough as hell. I was an ST with a great rapport with a few key nukes back aft. No grapes on my card, just the right people taking me under their wings and helping me.

8/15/2013 7:34 PM


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