In Defense Of Submarine CPOs
Rob found a very interesting letter from a retired aviation Master Chief in this week's Navy Times that he discusses over at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. The whole thing is posted there; here's a brief snippet to whet your appetite:
I think that the nuclear Navy has a certain endemic problem with its chief petty officers in that they have no real chiefs’ mess from which to glean knowledge and leadership. The gold and blue crews are just that, and there is no goat locker where a chief can go to ask assistance from his fellow chiefs. The [chief of the boat] is not a mess president, he is a leading chief with the responsibility of caring for all ranks and rates onboard the vessel. He wears many hats, but not the one that is most important to the command structure — that of the president of the chiefs mess. Why? Because they do not have a CPO mess. There is no room, and most nuclear Navy types believe they can get leadership from a book. Case in point [is] the outgoing master chief petty officer of the Navy...Needless to say, I disagree with the Master Chief. I did one deployment on an aircraft carrier, so I'm not the world's biggest expert on the matter, but I'd put the leadership abilities of submarine CPOs against any others in the Navy. From what I saw, one doesn't demonstrate leadership by hanging out in the Goat Locker and talking about it while eating; you learn by doing. Drinking coffee in the Chief's Mess all day is all well and good for carrier guys, I suppose, but I'd take a submarine Chief who spends his time on the deckplates any day, and learns from a COB who's also out with the troops.
... I do not believe that a nuclear Navy submariner chief should be allowed to participate in the command master chief program until he has done at least one tour onboard a large surface combatant and is exposed to a real chief’s mess and understands his position in that mess. Leadership is a trait honed in the chief’s mess, and no book can give you the knowledge that a seasoned master chief can from his experiences alone.