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 28, 2006

Care And Feeding Of VIPs

We've seen in the news recently stories about the various hotel service "requirements" of Vice President Cheney and Senator Kerry. The Sub Force has a similar "urban legend" -- the notorious list of requirements for when Admiral Rickover came aboard. The excellent biography "Rickover: Controversy and Genius" discussed the "list" of the Admiral's desires that was passed around; it included, if I remember right, two khaki uniforms that the Admiral would take home with him, stationary for writing letters to Congressmen, and several pounds of seedless white grapes. (One probably apocryphal story tells of Rickover approaching a submarine for sea trials and saying to his companion, "Well, it's time to get underway and eat those damn grapes again.")

One might think that when Rickover left, such a list would have gone by the wayside; if so, one would be mistaken. When I was Engineer on (then) PCU Connecticut, my CO and I were called into the office of the local head of the Naval Reactors office just before Alpha Trials, where we were given "the brief". By this time, there weren't any requirements for free uniforms, but we got some specific instructions on how to deal with the Admiral, along with some food and beverage choices that should be made available. In this particular case, this was only the 2nd Alpha Trials that this particular NR Admiral had been on, so they weren't quite sure what he really liked; they did know that he had asked for Diet Dr. Pepper when he was on the Alpha Trials for USS Louisiana, so we should probably have some on hand.

As it turned out, Admiral Bowman didn't give the MSs any trouble at all about the service, and made the men feel quite at ease. (The shipyard engineers, on the other hand, he kept on their toes, as was appropriate.) I don't know if they still do "the brief" for the new boats, but it was nice to be a part of a nuclear submarine tradition that few get to experience.


Blogger Rob said...

ADM DeMars rode us for Alpha Trials (USS Tucson SSN-770), and he had a "list"...being a fairly junior nuke, I didn't pay much attention to it (the "list" I was concerned with was the zone inspection/cleaning list, which made "War & Peace" look like a haiku on rice paper). But I understand he was somewhat hard to please...channeling Rickover?

3/27/2006 11:28 PM

Blogger Subsunk said...

Nah, Demars was a cupcake --- if you were doing OK. There was a list, administered by the NRO Office.

When Admiral Demars rode us for Alpha Trials, the NRO Commander came down a week or two before the visit and inspected my stateroom. We even tested to make sure it was cold enough and dark enough. I had to cover over the red plastic popout panel over my EAB manifold to keep out the light. It was "leaking" light into the stateroom. I cleaned out the medicine cabinet except my lower shelf, which had my toothpaste and toothbrush, and a bottle of vitamins my wife had given me because she was worried I was getting run down before the Trials.

So when "Naval Reactors, arriving" sounds on the 1MC on the Big Day, I rush from Control to the ladder to welcome the Admiral, and he is already in my stateroom looking through the medicine cabinet.

"Good Morning, Admiral", says I.

He turns around with a big grin on his face, holding my vitamins and says, "Are these for me?"

And so I says, "No sir. I'm sure you don't need those, sir. They are for me." Says I. He has a twinkle in his eye, and says he needs nothing else and I can go back to my job.

The rest of the trials went fine, --- long, tedious, problems came and went, kind of fine. Back in 26 hrs flat (USS Hartford was the next to last of the class, so the Alpha Trials agenda and schedule was a science by then). He got on the 1MC and congratulated us on a job well done (which I'm sure he does with everyone, but we, of course, chose to believe it put us in a class above all the rest).

So ADM Demars was a pussycat. Of course, he was less forgiving if you screwed it up, as we heard the last of the class encountered during their Trials.

Moral of the story: I'd rather be lucky than good, but you make your own Luck (through proper prior preparation).

Good stories Bubblehead. Brings back memories. Press on, son.


3/28/2006 5:51 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Adm Rickover used that stationery you refer to in letters to Congressmen, which today are collector's items. He was diligent about riding new launches and sending the letters to makes the points no one makes today.

3/28/2006 6:19 PM

Anonymous Rusty700 said...

Hello all, I am new hear and I just had to respond to this one. I am a submarine CS (used to be MS for you retired types) and I am currently working as a private quaters cook for an Admiral that will remain nameless. I just have to say that if you guy's think the Admirals can be demanding try working with their wives. Now they are a demanding bunch. Trust me I will never complain about the service an Admiral requests at sea again.

3/29/2006 9:37 PM

Blogger beebs said...

TINS, ADM Rickover was visiting the Idaho prototype sites in APR80.

There was still snow on the ground, but the Westinghouse folks had planted various flowering plants next to the base's flagpole.

11/21/2007 6:20 PM

Anonymous Bob Mhoon said...

Rickover Sea Trial Prep

I was plankowner on the USS Ray SSN-653 (Newport News) and USS Pogy SSN-647 (Ingalls). On one of those, we had to rent several flexowriters (see Wikipedia) that allowed us to print letters announcing successful sea trials on Rickover's letterhead using punched paper tape. The XO & Yeoman were a team and had to hand type the name of each member of the house / senate or other VIP and then run the programed paper tape to type the letter. Ahh, the dawn of word processing.

The critical step was proofreading and making sure that there were absolutely no smudges or other imperfections; even tiny flaws in the paper.

Admiral Rickover then proofed each and a few had to be retyped while at sea.

Bob Mhoon

1/25/2009 2:25 PM


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