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.)

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Pet Peeve

Navy NewsStand posted some pictures from USS Key West's homecoming I mentioned Wednesday; some good pictures are posted here, here, here, and here. There was one picture, though, that I didn't like as much -- not because of what the Sailors were doing, but because of what they were wearing. Here's the picture:

Like this poster at Rontini's BBS, I've always wondered what the purpose is of making topside linehandlers ruin a good dress uniform just so everyone on the boat can be in whites (or dress blues) during a return from deployment. Even if the people ordering this to go on aren't worried about the cost the Sailors have to bear out of pocket, they should consider the safety aspects -- having guys handling lines topside in dress shoes (vice deck shoes) seems like an ORM investigation waiting to happen if a guy goes overboard. Sure, it looks nice for the families assembled on the pier to have everyone dressed up pretty, but a landing is still an inherently risky situation.

What do you think? Am I overreacting, or should submarine COs and COBs decide that safety and utility are more important that having nice pictures to post on Navy NewsStand? Alternately, should the command at least buy a set of "linehandling whites" for each member of the linehandling party and let the guys wear deck shoes? Let me know in the comments.

36 Comments:

Blogger midwatchcowboy said...

This is not an example of "Operational Excellence."

8/31/2007 9:17 AM

 
Blogger Dale B said...

I had the same thoughts when I saw the picture at the Navy NewsStand. At a minimum they should be wearing deck shoes.

Pretty pictures are not worth compromising safety.

8/31/2007 9:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never had to worry about that when pulling into Holy Loch. The squids on the Slimy Snake didn't care.

The CO should get a reprimand, and the XO and deck div chief should get their asses chewed...

8/31/2007 10:08 AM

 
Anonymous kamster said...

I used to love/hate pulling in from Westpac and being topside because we had to wear our dress whites in the '90s. At least they made us wear deck shoes for our safety under the old kapoks. Shore power cables were another story. A few of us did have a set of working dress whites for this kind of "show". Dress whites with boondockers back aft was also normal. Not sure how it is now.

Definitely looking like a future accident waiting to happen.

8/31/2007 10:12 AM

 
Anonymous kamster said...

BTW, welcome home Key West! I'm sure the pictures don't tell the whole story.

8/31/2007 10:14 AM

 
Blogger John said...

I also agree with you, at the very least they should be wearing deck shoes.

8/31/2007 11:04 AM

 
Blogger SonarMan said...

What you said, Bubblehead.

It's sad to see stupidity go on in the Nav, despite losing two shipmates overboard just less than a year ago.

What was the CO thinking?

8/31/2007 12:06 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found it here: http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/media/flash/issues/aprmay02.pdf

Submarine Deck Shoes (Topsiders)

FTCM(SS) Clements

An often-heard statement topside is,
“Oops! I slipped!” Are your topside watch
standers and maneuvering watch personnel
wearing the correct submarine deck shoes? The
COMSUBLANT/COMSUBPACINST 5400.39,
5400.38 SSN/SSBN SSORM (article 4329)
requires the use of submarine deck shoes by
topside personnel. An exception is topside
weapons handling personnel who are required to
use steel toe shoes. As referenced in the AELs,
(2-330075129; 2-330075130) the only
authorized submarine deck shoe is the Sperry
topsider (style MP601, only available from
Sperry Topsider). The AEL gives stock numbers
for all sizes available in the supply system.
Advice code “2B” must be indicated on the
requisition to prohibit substitution.

Chief Torpedoman

8/31/2007 1:02 PM

 
Blogger enginerd said...

You're on target again, Bubblehead.

How can smart people be so stupid?

8/31/2007 1:48 PM

 
Blogger reddog said...

Just shows you how much I don't know. I never heard of going topside in whites except maybe for a staged photo op. Guess I had a good Captain.

Sometimes the XO can get carried away with activities like this but the Capt should have reigned him in.

8/31/2007 5:58 PM

 
Blogger Subvet said...

Like reddog I was never under the command that expressed it's stupidity in this fashion. Lucky me, they always found other ways!

Ditto to what everyone else has said, it's an accident waiting to happen.

And yeah, someone besides the snuffies topside should bear the cost of replacing/cleaning the uniforms used for this idiocy.

8/31/2007 9:21 PM

 
Anonymous TMC said...

As of the Minneapolis-St.Paul incident last December "deck shoes" are no longer authorized for use topside. What is authorized for use is rubber soled shoes. I agree that whites is a little overboard, however, shoe wise....they are correct. Check out the new SSORM requirements. The change was instituted the middle of the summer by COMNAVSUBFOR.

8/31/2007 10:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forward pukes likely don't know the difference. Probably the COB trying to look good for the old man. Good being a nuke and the last off after shutdown. No need worry about looking pretty on the way to your cold beer! Everyone still stinks like a boat whether in whites or blues!.

9/01/2007 12:27 AM

 
Anonymous STSCS/SS (retired) said...

You're right on the whites. Even after 23 years in the Navy, this never made sense. At least on my first boat, a 637, the guy diving the freeflood to retrieve the lines was wearing a poopie suit, but even this was only because retrieving the lines happened prior to he boat getting in view from the pier.
Wearing whites is a classic example of being more concerned about appearance than taking care of our guys.
I completely disagree with you on the deck shoes, or "topsiders". This is another example of appearance before function. Sure, the SSORM requires them, but my experience as crew member on 4 operational submarines (1rst LT on 3 of them) and at-sea experience on numerous others would indicate otherwise. The absolutely do not provide as much traction as standard working boots, not even close. Topsiders are dangerous and need to be gotten rid of. I know more than a few COBs and other senior enlisteds that agree with me.
Topsiders are functional on perfect non skid, but if your nonskid has ever been painted over, (a third example of appearance over function), or if you happen to step in an area where there is no nonskid, in the vicinity of the forward cleats for example, the give as much traction as greasy bacon. I personally have seen 4 man overboards and numerous close calls caused by wearing these in mindless compliance to regulation. Yes, in each case, they were the correct submarine sneaker.
Furthermore, topsiders provide absolutely no toe protection to keep a cleat from slicing your toe off when you roll it. Yes, you should be aware of exactly where your foot is, but backups to backups is the submariner's code.

9/01/2007 6:51 AM

 
Blogger Mr. C. said...

You have to wonder who was on the pier waiting for them to pull in.

Was it an inspection team? How high ranking was the senior member?

I have lots of memories of my CO's doing just that very thing -- not dressing up the topside line handlers for the wives, but for the inspectors.

As if that would make a difference...

Best,
Dale

9/01/2007 8:43 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We did'nt know about the new instruction, but my Cob had me shit can all our topsiders about 2 years ago and has us wear boots. Good times.

9/01/2007 10:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TMC, thanks for the correction on the shoes. After reading your comments, I agree that rubber soled shoes are better. Steel toed boon dockers would be even better than that.

Chief Torpedoman

9/01/2007 5:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside form the obvious safety thing which for me is a constant worry because my husband just sorta barrels through life.
But having spent more than a few hours with a q-tip/scrub brush and acetone trying to get paint stains out of utilities because someone on more then one occasion didn't put up wet paint signs...would be beyond angry if he were to come home with stains on his dress whites. I think whom ever told them to wear that would get an itemized bill for either cleaning or replacement.
Not that we need to worry about that anymore.

9/01/2007 8:48 PM

 
Blogger RickyCWO said...

Bubblehead,
It's pretty amazing itsn't it? We are the top 10% of the navy, yet we emulate the surface fleet in this ridiculous display. I'm glad I was on watch back in the plant, I never had to deal with that coner crap!
RickyCWO

9/01/2007 9:03 PM

 
Blogger Subvet said...

Yoohoo, rickycwo and others, don't blame the coners for this stupidity. These policies get promulgated by commissioned officers who are all nuclear trained. As a former senior chief auxiliaryman I can tell you that more than one such idiocy of "O-Gang" has been blamed by denizens of the local Goat Locker on their association with Hymie's boys.

I might be wrong but I'd bet the old diesel boats never experienced this stupidity.

9/02/2007 1:46 AM

 
Anonymous Steeljaw Scribe said...

"I might be wrong but I'd bet the old diesel boats never experienced this stupidity."

According to this picture, apparently they didn't...
-SJS

9/03/2007 7:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's rediculous to wear dress uniforms topside when handling lines. All to impress WHO?? I was a boomer sailer and never had dress uniforms on-board the boat. Not allowed to wear them ashore in Rota, had to wear civilian clothes. Home base in Charleston, we wore work clothes, jeans to and from base. It's dangerous for topside personal not to be according, slippery decks and watching out not to get your uniform dirty instead of paying attention to the job at hand.

9/03/2007 8:45 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can only force so much stupid on your guys before it takes a toll.

RM1/SS

9/04/2007 7:26 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who are interested, here is the email address of the ComSubPac Public affairs. According to Comsubpac web site, the Key West is part of Subron 3.

n00p1@csp.navy.mil

Chief Torpedoman

9/04/2007 8:51 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the bright orange life vests? I've seen photos of green ones. Now blue?

Last time I looked, the ocean's color varied between green, blue, and black.

It seems that a man overboard wearing a green or blue life vest would be much more difficult to spot than the same guy wearing an orange one.

Anyone know why the orange ones have gone away?

Birdie

9/04/2007 11:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is in fact unsat. It is an example of not understanding what is important and what is just show. As a very successful COB, at least from a operation standpoint, I had line handling personnel in safety equipment while others were in dress for the ride in. I had all but the line handlers go below while the evolution of mooring happend. My CO backed me up 100% but I guess some of the so called leaders from shore diddnt allways see it that way, maybee that is one of the reasons why it made more sense to move on after a very successful first tour.

CMDCM (SS) Rick C.

9/04/2007 12:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't speak for the coners, but on my first boat, a new engineer wanted shore power to be pulled in dress blues during a westpac return. Our div cpo presented him a bill for all new dress blues for the shore power handling crew, lo and behold, we were able to pull shorepower in dungarees. Nothing works like boondockers on skid.

9/04/2007 1:01 PM

 
Anonymous RM2(SS) said...

As a former raghat I was issued a working uniform in my seabag... dungarees.

Those linehandlers are working.

Shame on their COB for allowing this and shame on the CO/XO for the "perfumed prince" mindset.

9/06/2007 1:25 PM

 
Blogger dbfcaye482 said...

I knew being an old fart had it's good points. Only served on teak deck boats until I was COW for maneuvering watch. Even before Zumwalt, most of my skippers were submariners enough to say that it was dungarees for linehandling. Of course it is 50 years ago that I qualified on the USS IREX (SS 482).

Ken Caye, STCM(SS), USN, Ret.

9/08/2007 11:11 PM

 
Anonymous Ping Jockey said...

We shit canned the topsiders a long time ago. Anyone who has spent five seconds topside in shitty weather trying to get the TRE team on or the broke guy off will tell you that topsiders blow nuts for staying topside. Those deck shoes are for toooling around the Harbor in your yacht, not really for working on wet, round, slick steel. Non-skid doesn't help much either. Rubber soled boots not only hold the deck better but keep you from frostbite when ya pull into the greatest submarine base on earth.

More on subject. Whites is a ass kissin call. The decision could have come from anywhere but it is the COB's bag for not makin the correct call for his crew.

9/12/2007 10:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my last boat out of Pearl, the Squadron Commander's orders were for the topside personnel to be in whites. It was not left up to the CO. Ours tried to NOT do this, but when the Sq CO came out to meet us, he ordered the crew into whites, everyone, event those in the engine room.
Something seems to happen to offcers after they leave real sea duty. I think someone removes thier spine and inserts in it's place.

9/15/2007 4:11 AM

 
Blogger Jon said...

There was a comment above about boondockers being even better...

Let me say this... boondockers messed my knees up while I was in the fleet. For whatever reason, my ship (CGN-41) had some ladders on her that were different from the rest of the fleet. These ladders were apparently the cause of a number of knee problems among sailors aboard her.

When I went to medical about the problem, they were the ones that told me about this. Their suggestion? Wear boots that had better ankle support... boondockers have virtually none.

I went out and bought a pair of black boots that are worn by seabees, and never looked back. You couldn't really tell the difference unless you had me roll up my pants to see underneath, and I recovered from my knee problems within about a week.

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This is an example of people who have no concept running things. It is no different than big business. Once you get to the top, you lose all concept of common sense.

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