In Which Submarine Detailing And XO Screening Are Discussed
Chapomatic has a post up on some of his frustrations with PERS-42 (the submarine officer detailers and personnel shop). Looking back, I realize that my career was filled with wonder that the people who work there can keep a straight face when talking to people.
My frustrations with the submarine detailers started when I was coming up for Department Head orders. I had taken the Shift Eng job at Charleston specifically because they said that if you did, you got your choice of homeport for DH. When it came time for me to "negotiate" orders, though, and I mentioned that agreement, the first thing the detailer said was, "Did you get that in writing?" I hadn't, so it was null and void. "Look, just call my old detailer, and he'll tell you what was said," I complained. Didn't do any good. So, instead of going back to San Diego, I ended up in Groton.
I hadn't known what orders I was getting until the detailer called me and told me I was going to be Eng on Connecticut. I figured that was SOP, until I got to SOAC, and heard some of the guys talking about their negotiation process with the detailer in coming up with their orders. I asked, and it turned out 14 of the 16 guys had heard they were being considered for the job they got before the slate was closed. Only me and another Connecticut DH had been in the dark. (And yes, I understand that they need people who meet certain requirements to take the newcon Eng jobs, and I might have been the only one in my class to meet those requirements. It still pissed me off.)
XO detailing was even worse. There are certain "interlocks" that have to be met in wardroom balance between the CO/XO/Eng, among others. I figured, though, that since I had done a "bonus" Eng tour, they would cut me some slack to get me where I wanted to go. (I had done some research this time, and figured out that at least one, if not two, San Diego XO jobs would be in an upcoming PXO class, and I had arranged my transfer date accordingly.) Did I get one of those San Diego jobs? Not a chance. (As it turns out, of course, it was a moot point, since I got medically disqual'd before my PXO class started... I didn't get nearly the pleasure out of the thought of them having to jump through hoops to fill my job as I should have, though.)
The thing that pissed me off the most was the sanctimonious declarations from the detailers that they couldn't give the boats that were on a given slate out before the slate closed. "We can't plan that far ahead, things might change, so we don't give the answer out to anyone" was their standard answer. So how did I find out? From a buddy whose boss was better connected than mine. Of course the names of the boats on the slate get out; it just depends on who you know as to whether you find out.
XO screening is another thing. In Chap's post, I talked about the Sub Force's reluctance to even release the list of names of people who screened:
"I was surprised when I got to the carrier to find out that the airdales and skimmers published their XO screening results in a community magazine. I asked the sub detailers the next time why we didn’t do it, and they said the one time they did there was so much bitching and moaning (”He screened? He molests collies”) that they decided to make it the “state secret” we all know and loathe."
OK, I can't really blame the detailers for the fact that submarine officers are -- well, not very understanding, as a rule, when it comes to who screens when they didn't. What I can blame them for is coming around each year with the same presentation that had a slide about "projected XO screening rates" for upcoming years. Every year, they'd show that numbers now weren't too good, but starting next year, they'd shoot right up. Then the next year, it'd be the same thing... and the next year... always that "this year group got screwed, but the next YG will have a much better screening rate." When I was on post-JO shore duty, my YG was supposed to screen for XO at over 70%. The real number? About 20% lower; the same number as for all the recent previous YGs. Sometimes I think they didn't even make a new slide; they'd just increase the YG numbers by one on the x-axis, the put it right into the presentation. They had to know they were lying through their teeth...
And that's enough of that; otherwise, I could be bitching all night, and wouldn't get any sleep.
Update 2257 15 Dec: Submandave has more, from the perspective of someone who's been there.