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.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Submarine Training -- The Good And The Bad

I've always been a big believer in the importance of training and drills for submariners. While I wasn't a big fan of the types of drills you had to run to prepare for ORSE (for various reasons that can't be discussed in a public forum), I figured that any chance to practice or discuss pretty much any aspect of submarining was time well spent. And while I publicly parroted the official Submarine Force line that "if it wasn't monitored, it didn't happen", I figured small group walkthroughs of some evolution were one of the best ways to hone our proficiency.

That being said, check out this video of a "firefighting drill" shot on USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708):

On the Ustafish, we'd go through cycles when we were out when we'd randomly announce on the 1MC for something like the AOW and ETOW to rig a firehose somewhere, and we'd have the off-going supervisors monitor the evolution. I was a big fan of little walkthroughs like that, but after watching this video now I'm not so sure. Does it really look like there's much useful training or exercising of damage control equipment going on? Was the fire in the supposed to be in the laptop computer of the guy who kept working right through the training going on two feet from him? (I'm not picking on the MSP here -- I'm sure every boat does essentially the same thing.)

The bigger question is: Is there such a thing as "bad" training? (Assume the information being put out isn't faulty.) What percentage of the lectures, drills, and walkthroughs you did on the boats completely lacked any training value for anyone? Are the administrative demands of the training program taking away from doing actual useful practice? The comments are open...


Blogger Lewis said...

I used to absolutely HATE 'spectator drilling'. I always felt this demoralized the new guys and really made them hate submarine life. When you get a ton of guys standing around laughing and joking it's hard for a NUB to take anything serious, he's either trying to show his butt to be cool or too nervous to remember anything. Absolutely negative training.

In this video you can see the hoseman has dolphins and could care less about any of this and the Chief standing over by the Galley entrance is just chewing his gum and standing there 'Gonna put an EAB on 'Fluentes'' amazing. I got vietnam flashback chills from this video. I don't want to get too negative but if I could only give one reason about what is wrong with our beloved Submarine Force today it's this right here.

Thanks for sharing.

1/10/2008 9:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I haven't had a chance to view the video yet, I've been to lots of bad training, both in and out of the USN.

One key to bad training is to make sure the participants are completey passive, possibly even asleep.

Another is to rehash the same bad training over and over again, to ensure the message is tuned out.

A third is to ensure that everyone gives their fair share of training. Some people just aren't good at giving training. Making them give training over and over does not make them better--it just makes them proficient at giving bad training, with the added bonus of wasting everyone else's time.


1/10/2008 2:15 PM

Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Just about any training that involved getting me out of the rack was wasted on me. A) I was more interested in going back to bed than in the training, and/or B) I was having too much trouble staying awake to pay attention. (I chipped a tooth once falling asleep during a pre-dry dock brief by the XO.)

1/10/2008 5:19 PM

Anonymous quotecritter said...

Training on subs was a good to fair mixed bag with me, but when I was sent on a needs of navy xfer to a bird farm for two years that needed my nec it was a culture shock to see how poor they trained and how low their standards were for watchstation quals compared to what I was used to.

I started hauling in the process in my division and started getting major flack from the O gangers.

Well I took it to the Eng and requested permission to do it my way if only with just the volunteers out of my division who wanted it my way and their rules for the balance.

In less than a month the whole division signed on to my way on their own and had much more pride and credibility in themselves.

1/10/2008 10:01 PM

Anonymous Former SSN JO said...

This video is simply embarrassing. At least the sh*tter cleaning video posted several months ago was done with the goal of being funny.

1/11/2008 7:48 PM

Anonymous Dirtyblueshirt said...

Absolutely there is such a thing as negative training. Training should be focused on establishing muscle memory so that the body does what it's supposed to do while the brain in still catching up with reality that things have just gone terribly wrong.

I think this falls into the bad training category, but it didn't have to.

The guy on the laptop wasn't a big deal, in a real casualty he wouldn't have been there.

The nozzle hand-off was simply terrible, there's a good chance they could have lost control of the hose if there were a real fire.

The second guy (who ended up as the nozzleman) scared the crap out of me. Starting to put an EAB on without rolling down the sleeves? If there had been a real fire he'd have a pretty nice burn on his left forearm. Plus where he plugged in meant that his air hose was totally extended so the team couldn't advance on the fire.

Whoever made the crack about Fuentes not donning an EAB needs to be smacked. Fuentes was doing precisely what he was supposed to: putting agent on the fire. It's the jackass behind him taking his sweet time that put Fuentes' life in danger.

At least I think Fuentes was putting agent on the fire, from the looks of things I can't tell if he knows he actually has to do something with the hose or if it'll just scare the fire away by it's presence.

EAB bags left on the deck. Those things are damn slick, you step on one wrong and you're probably going to collide with something essentially immovable.

At least they used a pressurized fire-hose.

I think exercises like this are valuable, they just need some planning and attention to detail on the part of the monitors.

1/11/2008 8:58 PM

Blogger Lewis said...

I made the Fuentes comment and it wasn't pointed AT Fuentes but the Chief who made the comment in a smart @ss way. If you listen to the video it looks like he's at least making an effort (as you have noted) but than this peckerwood comes along with his comment and demoralizes the whole situation. I saw this a lot and it bothered me everytime.

Just to clarify - the comment was NOT directed AT Fuentes.


1/11/2008 10:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dog and Pony show at it's finest. Much like 75% of training onboard submarines.

1/11/2008 10:51 PM

Anonymous Studmuffin said...

I remember drill critiques as always being negative...every chlorides drill ran, we never had enough water, we couldn't blow down fast enough, etc. One day we had a real chlorides event when the 8k dump valve was still latched shut druing startup and we recovered from the casualty rather easily. This was a full blown cascading alarms, positive turbidities everywhere world is coming to an end chlorides casualty no less. Another comment on fire drills was we never had enough fire extinguishers at the first fire resulted in too many fire extinguishers at the scene to the point we were tripping over them.

Drills were a necessary evil and I will admit there was some productivity in them but the criticism was more of a dog and pony show.

1/17/2008 12:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was obviously a "code red." If it had been a real fire drill, there would have been more than three or four people participating, they would have been taking it a lot more seriously, and the fire wouldn't have been in a table on crew's mess.

1/20/2008 2:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

..."because code reds shouldn't be taken as seriously as a REAL drill? funny excuse.

1/21/2008 8:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served on the MSP, Fuentes was in my division and was my roommate. I would just like to say that he is hard working and highly intelligent. I have no doubt that he knew what he was doing. If he did not take it seriously, it would be because the command was not taking it seriously.

4/02/2008 12:03 PM


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