MUCs For Everyone!
I was confused a couple of days ago by an AP article that was posted on the WTNH-TV website in Connecticut about the workforce at EB being "commended" for their work on my old ship USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) -- the article said that the boat "holds the record for the fastest construction time", which is clearly a false statement. I figured I'd wait for more information before I wrote about it.
Now I think I've figured out what's going on. According to this article in The Dolphin (the Subase NLON base newspaper), SupShip Groton and PMS 350 (the Seawolf Program part of PEO Submarines) were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation "for the work on the Seawolf-Class Submarine Program, with emphasis on the delivery, cost-effectiveness and unique capabilities of the first (sic) Seawolf-class submarine, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23)." (As you know, the Carter was the 3rd Seawolf-class boat; I shouldn't be too hard on the author of the piece, though, since he's an "MC3". What the hell is an "MC3", did you say? I had no idea until I found this message, which says that they're in the process of of combining the "Illustrator Draftsman", Lithographer, Photographer's Mate, and Journalist ratings into something called "Mass Communications Specialist", which is a move that's sure to give us a winning advantage over the terrorists. But I digress...)
The article goes on to explain that the MUC was awarded (for the period Feb 99 - Jan 05) mostly because "(t)he on-time delivery of the USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) and its unique multimission platform in December 2004 represented the fastest pace ever achieved for a new construction nuclear submarine from launching to sea trials and delivery." That sentence explains the cause of my earlier confusion; the AP writer didn't understand the difference between "construction time" and "launching to delivery" time. (Because I like showing pictures of my old boat, here's what she looked like just prior to launch:)
I'll admit that this sounds like quite an achievement. The Meritorious Unit Commendation is supposed to be awarded to a unit that "distinguished itself, under combat or non-combat conditions, by either valorous or meritorious achievement which renders the unit outstanding compared to other units performing similar service, but not sufficient to justify the award of the Navy Unit Commendation. .. To justify this award, the unit must have performed service of a character comparable to that which would merit the award of a Bronze Star Medal, or achievement of like caliber in a non-combat situation, to an individual." (The actual instruction is here for those who are interested).
So did SupShip Groton and PMS 350 distinguish themselves to this degree? Apparently they did, since they got the award. One thing that sticks in my craw a little bit, though, is this sinking feeling that the reason the boat was so quick from launching to delivery is that the Multi-Mission Platform was so late in actually arriving that the ship was much further along in construction than any other at the time of launch. My Engineering Department did one testing program that had never been done prior to launch by any submarine crew (with no problems, I might add). So, it seems to me that this was a rather convenient justification for the MUC that doesn't make sense if you look at it closely.
Not that it affects my retired pay at all, but it would have been nice if they had mentioned the crew as being just a little bit responsible for all the kudos.
Update 2115 17 Jun: Speaking of the Jimmy Carter, she just had a Change of Command last week.