What Makes A Good COB?
After the great response I got from the readers here about what advice to give a new submarine JO, a Submarine Wife wrote and asked if I could do the same kind of post for what advice we'd give a new Chief of the Boat. This is, to me, a tougher question, since once a submariner is selected to be the COB, I figured his attitudes are probably already pretty much set in HY-80. Then I realized, "Hey, that's not necessarily the case. Just because the COBs you've seen all radiated self-confidence, that doesn't mean that maybe they still are just as scared that they won't do the right thing as you were when you got your orders for XO."
I've had the pleasure of serving with many successful COBs, and a couple who weren't as "good" from the crew's standpoint. That being said, the position of COB is so unique -- there really isn't an equivalent in the rest of the Navy, where the senior enlisted man onboard not only is responsible for the standard Command Master Chief-type duties, but also (normally) stands 3-section watch underway. It could be that the most effective COBs aren't liked by the crew -- you need to see how the boat does overall. I don't think that's the case, but I'm eager to hear other input.
The best COBs I knew were those who stood up for the crew when talking to the CO, and stood up for the CO when talking to the crew. They didn't need to be the CO's hatchet man -- that's what the XO is for -- but they didn't do the boat any favors when they sat around bitching about what the CO and XO were going to do next. The successful COBs worked just as hard as any other Chief, and took it on themselves to be "the man" when it came to standing DOOW. They recognized they were the COB for the whole crew, and not just a coner counterweight to the EDMC (Engineering Dept Master Chief; used to be called the EDEA, or Eng Dept Enlisted Advisor) -- they wouldn't announce "liberty for the crew" on return to homeport while shore power cables were still being attached. They knew their job was to represent the crew, but still took the time to give much needed advice to the officers -- including JOs trying to qualify DOOW. Most importantly, if they saw an Engineer tending to go straight to his Chiefs for expediency instead of going through the Division Officers routinely, he'd sit him down and remind him that this wasn't a good idea. (That was me, in case you were wondering.)
So what do you think? What makes a good COB, and what makes a bad one? Please provide your opinions and anecdotes in the comments.