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.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Legend Of The Midnight EOOW

I just got back today from taking my daughter back to college, which means I drove through the part of Idaho I lived in when I was stationed at the Naval Reactors Facility at what is now known as the Idaho National Laboratory. As I was driving down I-15 between Blackfoot and Pocatello, and wondering how many times I'd ridden down that road before, I started thinking about my experiences at "The Site". Specifically, I started thinking about The Midnight EOOW.

The Midnight EOOW wasn't just one person -- it was a good portion of the officer students that were going through "prototype" training in Idaho. What made Idaho different from the other prototype sites was the distance you had to travel to get back to where you were living -- unless you lived in Blackfoot (which no one did) it was at least 75 minutes on the bus each way. On top of the 12 hour days that students did, students were frequently expected to put in extra time -- the dreaded "plus fours". When you did that, it didn't make sense to ride the bus home, so they provided a bunkroom for students to sleep in. There was a separate bunkroom for officers; someone not familiar with the Nuclear Navy might think this was just because officers are always supposed to sleep in quarters away from enlisted men -- the "9 man" bunkroom on LA-class boats is proof that this isn't a requirement. The real reason they provided a separate officer bunkroom was so the enlisted guys wouldn't laugh at The Midnight EOOW.

What made someone a "Midnight EOOW"? Well, as the officer students started standing watch in Maneuvering, it was a pretty intense learning experience. You had to stand some number of training watches prior to a "Final Evaluated Watch", which was a make-or-break casualty period in which the student was evaluated by a board of two instructors and a Naval Reactors guy. The process was so intense that the young Ensigns would literally spend each night dreaming of standing watch in Maneuvering. Those with a tendency to talk in their sleep would start screaming out orders in the bunkroom, much to the amusement (and annoyance) of everyone else in there. These were the Midnight EOOWs -- some say that, as you're driving down the highway past the now decommissioned NRF, you can still hear their cries on a cold, windless night: "Very Well, Electrical Operator!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Saratoga Springs we had the option of drinking those horrible, horrible dreams into submission...and we did!

Luckily that's all the local townfolk did in their spare time too, so we fit right in.

9/03/2006 3:47 AM

Blogger Subsunk said...


I am now presenting a proposal for my company to DOE at INL. Have been back to Idaho Falls twice now, and boy, has it changed. My FEW was easy, but it sure felt like the end of the world at the time.

After 20+ years of taring down reactor plants to parade rest and bringing them back on a shoestring, it seems almost comical now. But my biggest screw ups came from "very wells" to the CO instead of to the ROs. Some of my COs didn't react well to my midwatch responses in the dark on the way to PD of "Very Well" instead of Aye, Sir.


9/03/2006 12:12 PM

Blogger Dale Courtney said...

Which prototype were you at?

I was at A1W from April - Oct 83.

I did many of those nights in the bunkroom.

Such memories.


9/04/2006 6:03 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I was at A1W as well from Dec '84 - Jun '85, and also at S5G from Oct '89 - Apr '90, which is where I met the Midnight EOOW.

9/04/2006 10:28 PM

Anonymous R Gardner said...

Hmm, winter of '85. I was S1W (Surprise, it works) Sep 84-Mar 85, and was trapped at the site during the great blizard that winter. Got lots of prac facs signed off when we were stuck for several days. You didn't mention the nasty funk smell in the bunkhouse.

In August 2002 I went through the area on my bicycle (Rexburg, Mud Lake, etc). The INEL buses still approach the speed of light blasting their way to the Site. Except it is now INEEL - "Engineering and Evironmental" - right, environmental.

9/05/2006 12:07 AM

Blogger WillyShake said...

And me? A1W, Jan-Jul '93. Pulled "Midnight EOOW" duty and proud of it!

Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane--makes grad school look like a cake walk!

9/05/2006 7:41 AM

Blogger bothenook said...

A1W Sept 73-Jul74. and the only night i spent in the bunk room was when i had to do my cross crew watch for mechanical operator. i lucked out and was able to go home on a 5 off after my ELT cross-crew watch. the thing i remember about staying in the bunkroom was how hard the water in the showers was. no way to get a lather, and no way to get it all off.

9/05/2006 1:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

my father Grayson M. Glaspell was there sometime in the either the late 50's or early 60's. I am guessing he would have been either a Chief, Warrant Officer, or LTJG. He was a mustang. Just wondering if there is anyone who could let me know more about that time, even perhaps who knew him. Am sorry can't be more specific, but both he and my mother have passed away. I know he was a plankowner on SSN Skipjack (585).
Dave Glaspell

9/08/2006 3:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a student at A1W in the early 70's...... i would spend the last couple of nights at the sight when we were on Day shift...... not to work on my quals..... but rather............... get some extra sleep ...... so I would be fully rested and ready to go for the 5 off

9/26/2011 7:48 PM

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10/19/2011 11:46 AM

Blogger sub dub 2010 said...

Just passed my FEW on Friday at MARF up in NY. It is truly the most awkward watch I have ever stood. Ask me a question outside of the box I could talk for hours, ask me in the box and I go full retard!

10/31/2011 5:16 PM

Anonymous Harriet said...

Thank you for your post, pretty helpful material.

9/08/2012 12:10 PM


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