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, March 20, 2008

Dolphins On Non-Qual Submarine Caps: Yea Or Nay?

The official Navy website has a couple of photos from a tour USS Scranton (SSN 756) gave to a Brazilian dignitary today, here and here. The 2nd one is most interesting to me; it shows the topside Force Protection Watch:

Check out the ballcap on the Scranton watchstander. I'm assuming this watchstander is qualified Submarines; the text with the picture identifies him as an STSSA(SS), and the hi-res view appears to show something over his left dungaree shirt pocket. Here's a closer view:

Back in my day (and I'm assuming for a while before that) we'd occasionally have fairly heated discussions on whether it was appropriate for a non-qual to wear the "traditional" submarine ballcap with the ship's name and hull number surrounding the appropriately-colored dolphins. Some said "No" -- a Sailor shouldn't wear any representation of dolphins (even on a belt buckle) until they'd earned them. Others (myself included) figured that if the official ship ballcap had dolphins representing the sub's Submarine Warfare mission, it was OK for any crew member to wear it. When I retired, it seems like a lot of boats were moving away from the controversy by putting the ship's crest on the ballcap and issuing the same hat to all crewmembers.

Based on this picture from last year, it appears that Scranton, at least back then, had "traditional" ballcaps with dolphins. So is this new picture evidence that the "controversy" is back and boats are taking dolphins off their hats completely? Or is it more likely that this Sailor only recently earned his dolphins and didn't get a new hat yet? Or was it something "special" for the VIP tour? And where do you stand on the "non-quals wearing hat dolphins" question?


Blogger bothenook said...

i've said it before, but just as a reminder, here's a link to the post where i got wordy. imagine that...

3/20/2008 9:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

remember the chicago for a time didnt have fish on their hats either

3/21/2008 12:17 AM

Blogger REM said...

I think if you look closely in that high-res image, you can tell that he's not in fact wearing fish - it's the "S. N" of "U.S. NAVY" that you can see there. He's probably just listed as (SS) because JO3 I'veneverbeenonashipbefore thinks that's what comes after submariners' ratings.

3/21/2008 1:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look at the photo with line handlers, the sailor standing at far right does not have dolphins on his hat.

3/21/2008 5:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been a long time since I was in subs. Heck back in 1972 on a boomer we just used .45 pistols for topside watch. We aslo had Thompson sub machine guns, and M1 Carbines in the small arms locker. It appears times have changed. I like the strap that allows the M16 to hang in a "ready" type position, but the low hanging "gun slinger" look of the pistol is just too much! Looks like if he has to do any running, at best he may just trip, or at worst get a knock in the family jewels with it.

Is this standard on all boats now? When did the M14s come off the boats?

3/21/2008 6:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Welcome aboard Sailor. Espri de Corps, and all that. Hey, don't wear our hat, NUB; wear a NUB hat."

When a sailor checks onboard, they become part of the crew of that ship. Give them something to be proud of. The hat represents the boat. A rider during a tiger cruise can buy the hat. VIP's are given them without question. I can find them online and at surplus stores all over the place.

I don't want to downplay the importance of earning dolphins, but there's nothing wrong with a sailor feeling like he belongs as he earns them. Different hats just blocks that.


3/21/2008 7:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we can't tape 'em up, we need some way to motivate the "me" generation to do something other than whine and eat ice cream. Heck, you can't even take movies away from 'em anymore.

3/21/2008 7:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

His right breast has US Navy, not dolphins. So he's a non-qual.

On all my boats it was OK for nubs to have a dolphin ball cap so long as the didn't wear them on their uniform, including buckles. Some boats did go the extra mile though to prevent a nub from wearing dolphins in any form. Some boats made non-quals put EB tape on the dolphins until qualified. My dad had questions about non-quals wearing dolphins on their hat, and was dismayed when I wore mine during visits home. "The Navy sure has changed. Tch, tch, tch." Also, the non-dolphin hats were considered too much of a hassle for the (W)Rec(ked) Committee to make two seperate hat orders.

As for the weapons "accessories", the low slung holster for the 9mm is referred to as a tactical holster for ease of quick access. The Marines have been wearing them for quite some time. The rifle sling can get in the way of reaching for the pistol when it's in a traditional hip holster.

I was disappointed when they switched to the 9mm. I loved the .45. Stll do.

3/21/2008 7:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would his left breast. Duh.

3/21/2008 7:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh cry that you can't take stuff away from them!

If ice cream, movies, and other "luxuries" are the only reason to motivate the non-quals to earn their fish them the people onboard are not doing their job. If the NUB is worthless, then kick them off... Oh, wait - the subforce is hurting for retention, guess you got to keep them. I guess your only as strong as your weakest link.

3/21/2008 7:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To respond to a couple of things:

1. I think rem is right: there is nothing above the pocket besides the U.S. Navy tape. Makes sense as on Ustafish this was usually the first coner (aside: is there an accepted spelling for coner?) watch qualified.

2. I'm pretty sure that when we decommed the 683 in OCT 05 we were the last boat to turn in our M-14s, though I do remember that when we were tied up across from the USS Coronado their topside watches had M-14s, but that was in 2003 or so.

3. The "John Wayne" holsters are actually quite a bit more comfortable than the GI web-belt type. The reason it's on the front of his leg rather than the side is because the holster gets hung up in the p-ways belowdecks if it is side mounted. The new M-16 slings are definitely badass: no more "slipping off the shoulder and into the water".

4. On the topic at hand: it took extra special effort to make up the NUB hats, showing the extra effort this particular boat puts into disgracing their NUBs. While I am all for torturing NUBs, they do not deserve to wear the proverbial “Scarlet Letter” of a ballcap with no dolphins. Everyone on board knows who the NUBs are; it doesn’t have to be advertised to the whole world making them free game for public ridicule. To paraphrase Mr. Belushi “they can’t do that to our NUBs! Only we can do that to our NUBs!”


3/21/2008 8:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with attaching a reward to an accomlishment. There are far too few "perks" to getting your dophins these days. Getting your dophins no longer means you get to watch movies, it no longer means you get deserts, etc.. etc.. These were things that didn't hurt anyone and made one think "My board is on Thursday. Friday that's me getting to pick the movie." Qualify on time you get your dolphins on your uniform including your cover. There's no differance between that and football programs that remove the "freshman" stripe off of helmets for accopmlishment on the filed or not having to wear the "practice squad jersey". There's nothing wrong with establishing guidelines and sticking to them. Too many times in the Navy or "real life" the attitude is if you can't meet your goals then you need to lower your expectations. THERE IS NO BETTER FEELING THAN ACHIEVING A GOAL THAT YOU WORKED FOR AND WAS NOT GIVEN TO YOU.

3/21/2008 8:49 AM

Blogger cheezstake said...

When I was qualifying on the boomer, there was discussion about having NUBs wear hats without fish. It was never resolved.

I was anxious to get qualified so I could get one of those big-ass belt buckles with dolphins on them. The incentive was there. Movies, fish on my uniform, but most importantly was the respect of the crew. If any modern day submariner should have a reason to qualify, it should always be for the respect of his fellow shipmates.

If a boat wants to identify who is a non-qual or give extra incentive to a young sailor to qualify quickly, let them do it so long as maintains a good command atmosphere.

For all of those who had their dolphins and crows "tacked" on, we know that their initiation will not be so painful!

3/21/2008 10:25 AM

Blogger FT2(ss) said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/21/2008 2:27 PM

Blogger FT2(ss) said...

Those side holsters where horrible coming out of the weapon shipping hatch. Not to mention I always caught the damned thing going down to the torpedo room. And lets not talk about the m14 and our wonderful sail.

As for hats, I still wear my amine smelling grease stained, Bangor rain drenched boat hat. Wish I would have gotten a few more before I left.

3/21/2008 2:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, methinks what we have here is a surface puke trying to say STS instead of STG. The write-up says: "Sonar Technician (Submarine) Seaman Apprentice..."

3/21/2008 2:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CDR Guinn was one my bosses (there were many) at STRATCOM.

I think they should all have the same cap. Seems petty to take something like that away. Plus isn't that a skimmer tradition.

3/21/2008 3:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you can tell what color the dolphins on the cap are, you need to get some more time on the pond.

/or you got caught a nasty gust of wind on the bridge
//you can smell my hat when you open the closet door. Mrs. L loves it...


3/21/2008 6:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are plenty of ways to motivate nubs effectively, but insisting that they wear a different hat than the rest of crew is not one of them.
Special ballcaps for nubs is a stupid idea and whoever wastes the effort to implement it obviously has too much time on his hands. I think petty policies like this demeans the value of the only thing that means "qualified in submarines," the actual warfare badge. The only dolphins that count are the ones that go on your chest.

3/21/2008 6:38 PM

Blogger FT2(ss) said...

I wish I could get more time on the pond. I miss it for some strange reason.

3/21/2008 6:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 20 year retired Submariner Vet I was not allowed to wear anything that had Dolphins on it untill I was Qualified. I still strongly agree with this and NO NON QUAL should be wearing any type of fish untill qualified. As for the statement of writing on the left side above the breast pocket it is US NAVY which is standard on all the new style utilities.
MM1(SS) Pepe USN Ret.

3/21/2008 8:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 20 year retired Submariner Vet I was not allowed to wear anything that had Dolphins on it untill I was Qualified. I still strongly agree with this and NO NON QUAL should be wearing any type of fish untill qualified. As for the statement of writing on the left side above the breast pocket it is US NAVY which is standard on all the new style utilities.
MM1(SS) Pepe USN Ret.

3/21/2008 8:00 PM

Blogger jq5 said...

The carebears definitely have it wrong on this one. Allowing non-quals to wear dolphins waters down their meaning.

On my first boat, a non-qual could select to wear an item with dolphins on it, however, wearing these items constituted consent to be pummeled by the qualified crew members.

While I am not suggesting a return to these practices, non-quals in those days had no doubt that dolphins were an item that were worth earning and demanded respect.

As far as RM1/SS' comment, I'm sorry if offends anyone, but checking on board doesn't make you a member of the crew, you have to earn that. Submariners are, or used to be an elite group.

Yes, a baby submariner is technically a member of the crew the second he checks on board, but the real crew knows he is just an oxygen breathing, potable water using, sanitary filling slug until the day he earns his fish.

I'm sorry if that is somehow hurtful, but the fact remains, a non-qual should simply stop complaining and study an SSM. It is a non-quals responsibility to conform to the submarining way of life, not to conform it to himself. We have gone way too far to appease them and essentially thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

I guess the new generation just can't understand actually having to earn respect. They expect that the crew should respect them just for being who they are even if they couldn't find the way to their own rack.

Allowing non-quals to wear caps with dolphins is just about as stupid as allowing everyone in the Army to wear a beret... Oh, yeah, I guess we did that, didn't we.

3/21/2008 9:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I checked onboard the USTAFISH in early '74 as a lowly NUB I was not permitted to have anything that had dolphins on it. Including the piping and electrical tabs. The insignia were blacked out in felt tip markers.
Whoa be the non-qual who was caught with anything that had dolphin insignia on it. It was either confiscated or float tested.
In the later years after the boat ballcaps became prevalent what was done was a ships ballcap would be issued with the dolphins blacked out. After the NUB was qualified he would be given a new ballcap to replace the one with the dolphins blacked out.

3/21/2008 10:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the 20 year submarine vet,

Your a fool to think fish of any form is not allowed on submariner, both qualified and non-qualified. You probably were a lousy leader with this mentality and I feel sorry for you. I'm happy your retired!

3/21/2008 11:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geeze! This is certainly not the same submarine service that I served in during the late 70's early 80's. Wearing dolphins while being a non-qual? No one was allowed to wear dolphins until they were qualified, at least on my boat (677). Did they water everything down? What happened to tradition?


3/22/2008 10:00 AM

Blogger Jarrod said...

When I checked in to Gold crew, the CO gave me a cap with dolphins on it. It turned out that the Blue crew did the whole different cap thing. When we combined crews it was one of the easier wrinkles to iron out.

3/22/2008 10:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bottom line is; if the skipper hasn't pinned dolphins to your chest. Then you are not authorized to wear them...ANYWHERE! End of story. Period.

3/22/2008 12:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't care if you have dolphins on your hat or not as long as you don't wear them on your chest until you've earned them.

Earn the pin. Not the ball cap.

3/22/2008 3:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow... you'd think getting your fish qualified you to do something other than watch movies. In my experience, the only people who gave a crap about fish were the ones who didn't have anything more difficult to qualify. (Dare I whisper the word "coner"?)

3/22/2008 8:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you trying to open up a whole new
"can of worms?"

3/22/2008 9:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's up to the boat. I figure there is enough incentive for a non-qual to get qualified that what is on your ball cap doesn't matter.

But what do I know, I'm still dink on command quals.

3/22/2008 11:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who posted at 8:54 PM...

You are an asshat, and a typical whiney pukey nuke. Some forward guys had as many quals, if not more than a nuke. And don't forget that the only reason for the zoomy maker was to push the sphere, pull the towed array, and make things go boom. Contrary to what all nukes believe, we're not there for them. They're there for us.

As a "coner", I had to qualify:
- Phone Talker/IC Communications
- Small Arms
- Topside Sentry
- Topside Petty Officer
- Below Decks
- Helmsman/Planesman
- Lookout
- Battery Charging Electrician Forward
- Conventional Weapons Handling Team Member
- Conventional Weapons Handling Team Leader
- Conventional Weapons Handling Team Supervisor
- Nuclear Weapons Security Guard
- Nuclear Weapons Security Supervisor
- Inport Duty Chief
- Chief of the Watch

There was a mess cook qual card, too, but that was really a gimme. I never saw it.

Now for my In-Rate Qualifications:
- Basic Sonar Operator
- Repair Parts Petty Officer
- Broadband Operator
- Narrowband Operator
- Auxillary Sonar Operator
- Sonar Watchstander
- Sonar Supervisor (a CO qual)
- Towed Array Handling System Operator
- Towed Array Handling Supervisor
- AN/BQR-23 Operator
- AN/BQR-29 Operator
- and I'm sure I forgot one or two.

Don't think those are difficult, eh? If they were so easy you should've been able to do it no problem, right?

In your experience, the way you saw Dolphins (I hate it when they're called "fish") was because you didn't give a shit about anything but yourself.

You didn't care that those dolphins meant being part of a small elite community with an astounding heritage of taking the fight to the enemy when no one else could, and utterly obliterating them, despite everything being against you, including your own weapons.

All you cared about was that when your were freakin' dink you couldn't go to the bunky when you wanted, and you'd get thrown out of the mess decks for watching a movie.

Like one of the other posters said earning Dolphins isn't just about getting some piddly privileges. It's about earning the trust and respect of your shipmates. That's why we hassled dink pukes like yourself to do your job. We've gone too soft with all the PC crap, allowing the young shitferbrains coming on board thinking they should get respect the moment their foot hits the hull.

Obviously, you never had any for yourself, so how could you have any for a symbol. So, if you don't feel any respect for the Dolphins, and what they mean, at least fake it for the benefit of those of us who get it.

3/22/2008 11:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of opinions, I guess I'll bare my butt as well.

Dolphins are earned. Once you earn them, and really EARN them, the PRIVALEGE of wearing them on your covers, belts, and unifrom is rightfully yours. Untill then I don't beleive any NUB should have Phins of any kind on his body.

As far as a boat pride thing to have Phins on the belt buckle or cover, it should be EARNED. Would you like to see a sailor one day who couldn't hack it, got booted, and come to find he's wearing the cover and telling folks he's a Submariner? I sure as hell wouldn't. Problem is I've seen that happen more than once. Thats more than it should be.

Nuff Said!

3/23/2008 3:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow... phonetalker... lookout... forward BCE... and RPPO. I guess if those were challenging (and not a 60-second throwaway) I'd remember them with pride as well. How many years of school does it take before you can qualify lookout or phonetalker? About the same as a deck div'ver?

'nuff said.

3/23/2008 7:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that these descisions have (and always should) remain with the COB. He decides the best way to teach the non-quals. I have seen some good and some bad. Doesnt matter if they cant watch movies or wear dolphins on their hat, just as long as they understand what getting qualified means. The trick is to motivate without ruining the Sailor. Some in the past have gone too far, and some do not go far enough. Wearing a different hat, is not too far. It makes the non-quals want the badge of honor that dolphins are. If they want it, they will study harder, they will work harder and they will end up better Submariners. The hat thing is not the only way, it is just one way that the COB uses to motivate his Sailors.

Personally, I like that Scranton (and many Norfolk boats) has non-qual hats. Talking to these kids on a daily basis, I can say that most understand what it means to be qualified and a small thing like not having dolphins on their hats really does motivate them.

For all of you feel good, Dr Phil wannabe's keep in mind that the constitution establishes the Navy for the defense of the country. Our mission is to maintain a readiness to KILL PEOPLE, and do it when called upon. Our nation does not dedicate such a huge portion of its budget so that 300,000 Sailors can feel good about themselves. It does it to protect the United States and its intrests. That takes WARRIORS, not WHINERS.

3/23/2008 8:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the real problem. Enlisted nukes tend to be the nerdy, weird, "magic" playing out-casts in High School. That for whatever reason due to life circumstances couldn't go to college. So they join the Navy and spend a really long time in school and they show up to a boat and suddenly think that they are cool. Well, it just doesn't happen that way and I am sorry if i hurt your feelings but most of you(enlisted nukes) are still the same nerdy, weird, sometimes very weird, people that you were in High School. So what...You guys boil water and have to do a ton of qualls. Your nerds, thats what you do best! The boat dynamic is still a bit like High School. The nukes are the nerds and the conners are the jocks. Nothing is going to change. Just look at how the people seat themselves on the mess decks. That is just the way it is. Nukes, now is you opportunity to be cool, quit bitching about how much you have to "work" You are qualified now, you have dolphins on your chest wear them with pride and quit bitching. If it wasn't for the Navy you would still be sitting in your mom's basement doing whatever it is you people do.

3/23/2008 8:46 AM

Blogger Mike said...

Ah, the 'ol nuke vs. coner arguement never dies does it? As for the hat issue - I feel the COMMAND ballcap should be able to be worn, in its entirity, by anyone in the command.

In addition,

Whenever we read an arguement about tradition vs. new wave defenders of tradition always use the "this is the way it was when I was..." arguement. This style of arguement is, in and of itself, meaningless. Continueing to use it only ensures true progress, or even identifying the issues in the way of progress, is never made.

If we have some boats that use the special NUB hats, and some boats that don't, and there is no notable difference between NUB hat and non-NUB hat boats then having a special non-qual hat is useless. It's only a waste of time and money to maintain the extra style of hat.

3/23/2008 2:31 PM

Blogger sub6280 said...

I am a 28 year submarine veteran, still active duty, still riding boats. (Must be out of my mind)Although my views have changed over the years, I still believe that "Non-Quals" should not wear dolphins, hats or belt buckles. I certainly did not have an issue with this when I was the Non-Qual, it was simply more incentive for me to get the quals done. It could be worse, the Navy could not pay sub pay until qualified.

3/23/2008 3:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you learn best what you learn first. No dolphins for non-quals was the rule of the day during my NQP time.
As another poster stated, the COB should be the decision maker on this issue. He knows what's best for his boat, the rest of us are just giving opinions with no responsibility.

As for the M14 question, last one I saw was in 1986, on the Kam. When I went SSN the next year, we had 16's.

3/23/2008 5:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fish on ustafish were important to coners...nukes typically protected their own and did their own thing to their nubs.

to the STS-As far as the comments about the nukes being there for the coners...figure out where you would be on a 640 class (or 637) when the nukes got pissed off enough to take the welder, weld the tunnel door shut. Nukes would control it all...water, air conditioning, electricity, steering and diving...everything. We were limited by food which would have easily been fixed by a storing food and some necessities back aft.

Bottom line, get qualified and support the freaking watchbill. Ships quals took much less time than to qualify BEQ and in rate watch stations. By the way, phone talker, helmsman/planesman and lookout...those took about a day.

Respect from the crew...never had a problem. I earned my fish just like every other nuke-in fact, it was my first qual after three months of immersion on the boat.

3/23/2008 8:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the high school analogy, I'm not quite sure the coners would be the "jocks", that is unless you went to a school where you could letter in Chess.

After all, if your main activity at sea is widely described as "shower then sleep" (STS), how jock-like can you be? Not to mention the fact that Team Coner also includes lunch lady Doris and the school nurse.

The real dividing line on the boat was the lifer-diggits versus everyone else; it's probably just a coincidence that most of the people who thought the Navy was a good deal also happened to work up forward.

And, wouldn't you know it? The lifers are the only ones who seem to care about who's wearing fish. And they wonder why no one sits with them in crew's mess...

3/23/2008 10:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this - it's like being back on the boat only better!

All these anonymouseseses. Hard to tell who's who in the zoo. All you nukes look alike anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter. Dirty, scowly, and whiney. How about some originality? Or is that too hard?

Welding the ER door shut to spite the coners... that is about the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Shows you where nuke mentality is at.

STS: Shower Then Sleep. Clever, never heard that one before. I'm sure you've heard this one, though: Choose your rate, choose your fate. And I'd rather take showers than be thought of as a stinky, dirty nuke.

Now I can see why some of you have such a dismal view of the qual system if you think there are "throw-away" quals. My boat took them all seriously, yes even RPPO (the SKLPO was a ballbuster - and he stood COW, too). True, it may have only taken a day or two for some of them, but you still had to go ask for and sit through the checkouts, know something, and find my lookups on top of it. Every qual card is important. And since you couldn't come up with a list of quals longer than a coner's, your only rebuttal was to say that some of them were "throwaway". Libs use that same tactic, you know.

And lookout is probably one of the most important jobs when the boat is on the surface. Just because it was easy doesn't make it unimportant. Sometimes the lookout finds something everyone else (radar, sonar) has missed.

And it's not just the "lifers" who cared about dolphins. There were plenty of guys on my first boat who were pretty tough on me. They did their tour aboard and got out. These days, we can't motivate a nonqual to do his job because it's "hazing", and we'll hurt his "feelings". Those of you who think that way have never gotten it. You may have earned your dolphins by getting the signatures and passing the board, but maybe there's a reason your so disgruntled about the whole process. I'll tell you why - because you're a whaa-ambulance rider, and you never earned the respect of the crew because it's all about you.

And how did you qualify submarines without first qualifying an inport and at-sea watchstation?

If you got treated crappy when you were doing your quals, then I'm sorry. Welcome to the club - we all got the same thing. But that's the way the program works. No one likes it, but it's a "necessay evil" so that everyone else knows you can be trusted when everything hits the fan. The "lifers" who've been around for a while, understand this thoroughly. It's about self preservation. That's what earning your Dolphins is all about - operating the submarine without getting anyone killed.

If you decide that submarine life wasn't for you, then get out. No one's going to think less of you if you do. However, some, like myself, enjoyed the challenge of submarine life, and stuck around. Because I did, I have the thanks of a grateful nation in my bank account every month covering my mortgage.

3/24/2008 7:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nubs haven't earned em, so they don't get to wear em. That's it.

And as a nuke, all I'm going to say is that cones suck, nukes suck, but the khaki's suck worse of all.

3/24/2008 8:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one's posted a list of nuc quals because (a) IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING nuc quals are harder than cone quals, even accounting for the differences between the two groups, and (b) it's probably U-NNPI (i.e., "noforn") and thus illegal to post, anyhow.

Earning your fish is the one time where you actually have to suck up to the cones, and gawd do they lord it over you. There are more a-gang sigs on the thing then there are nuc sigs, and nuc gear is roughly half of the boat! And while some lifer cone will drone on and on about how you need to know how the whole boat works, ask him anything back aft and the usual reply is "that's nuc stuff".

At the end of the day, fish are a quaint tradition that don't qualify you to actually do anything. The main incentive to get them, for nucs anyhow, is to keep the whiny cone lifers off your back.

3/24/2008 10:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ jq5...In your zeal to bash on "non-quals" I think you forgot some of things they did do...Who makes up your rapid response team for fires? Well, the Messenger is one of those guys...and a non-qual. Who cleans up the Mess Decks for you? Yup, most likely non-quals. Do I need to go on?
Let's face it folks...all of us (I'm assuming there are not a lot of non-submariners reading this blog) were non-quals at one point in our life...and if you served on more than one boat, make that many times in our lives. Those junior sailors are as important as anybody else on the ship...these are the guys who for the most part are going to bust their ass to get qualified, ships or a watchstation, so you can go home, or the ship can go 4 section inport, or whatever. For those of you who say the non-qual is not important, I don't want you in my submarine force.
Now, on the issue of dolphins anywhere on the uniform...let's get a life folks...each command is going to make a decision based on what it feels best...

3/24/2008 2:57 PM

Blogger RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Oly (717) had dolphins on all ball caps back in the '80s. Some of the SS types objected to having non-quals wear them, but then some of us non-quals objected to having some damn' civilian buying and wearing a belt buckle that said "717 plankowner"....

When I rode Jax (699) in '83 I was given a cap that, IIRC, just said "699" - not even "SSN 699" - and had no fish. When I was stationed on board, in the '90s, all ship's caps had fish.

All ship's caps on Prov (719) had dolphins when I was on board, around the turn of the century. (Don't get to use that last phrase often....)

I never saw a watchstander armed with both rifle and pistol - when did they start that? We always carried only one weapon, be it pistol (.45 or 9mm), rifle or shotgun, on all three of my boats and the tender.

And I think the last time I saw an M-14 was in my high-school JROTC class, back in '71. All three boats and the tender carried M-16s.

3/24/2008 6:48 PM

Blogger Jarrod said...

Anyone who is proud of his phone talker quals is a dumbass. In my experience, half the cone still can't comply with the IC manual so the qual really isn't worth a damn, is it? For nukes, on the other hand, phone talking is considered so basic that they don't even have checkouts for it at prototype - you're just expected to have read the book and follow it.

Anyway, as anyone who knows anything about submarining should know, if your comment isn't backed up with a reference it isn't worth anything. So if you think it's so wrong to give dolphin hats to nubs, cough up a book and show me.

3/24/2008 7:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing about warfare devices on ballcaps.

3/24/2008 9:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

3/25/2008 4:11 AM

Blogger Glenn A. Primm said...

The ragging that goes on between foward pukes and nukes is silly; everybody on board a sub almost without exception always has a qual card of some sort stuck in his pocket. After I qualified QMOW and had been to every nav school and submarine warfare class that the Navy had, I got sent to Prospective Commanding Officer classes, and even got halfway through Officer of the Deck quals before NAvBuPers pulled the plug on qualifying enlisted personnel as OODs. (QMs and BMs are the only enlisted rates in the chain of command allowed to captain a naval ship of the line). The lesson here is that if you're qualified in everything you think you should be qualified in, they'll still find something new to qualify you in.

Nukes, dirty and smelly as they are, have a tough slog: they go deaf from the whine of the turbines, have shockingly dirty fingernails, and have ugly dispositions from the lack of sleep. Conners get some paint splashed on them occasionally. Oh, well.

When I rode the Nathan Hale (623)('75-'79) the ballcaps were those ugly grey rags we were issued in boot camp. But Hale had a tradition of allowing crew to wear non-issue ballcaps - and sneakers - but only on board and while at sea. My at-sea hat collection included my favorite CAT hat, which was stolen by a surface puke when I dumbly wore it on shore.

That said, the only authorized wearers of dolphins (embroidered, metal badge or stencil) are those personnel who are "qualified in submarines," per NavBuPers, a process that takes up to 9 months (as I recall) on fast attacks and 18 months on boomers.

No qual, no dolphins on any piece of gear.

3/25/2008 5:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally don't care what they wear on their head or on their belt. What is on the chest that counts. The concern I have listening to all of this is, it sounds like the purpose of qualification is what is lost here. I have been through real s*#t your pants casualties. Being qualified helped us (the crew) save ourselves and the boat. Remember, when there is fire or water or anything else in the "people tank". You have to react and deal with it by instinct. That is why qualification should be hard on everyone. period. If its not anymore, heaven help those guys going to sea, they are not being prepared correctly to survive in that environment.


3/25/2008 10:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am offended by the description of nukes as "dirty and smelly." As an ET Nuke I never had any dirt or grease under my nails. Ever. (Polish on top of them... but that's another story.) MM's were quick to point out that we twidgets had heard of "bilges" but had never actually seen one, and that dirt was an indication of an honest day's work, so we were not expected to get any closer to it than the end of a foxtail.

As for the ballcap flap, I personally would rather not put 'Phins on NUBs ("new underway buddies," Shipwreck) but agree that the COB/command should make the call. If the hazing (oh c'mon, have the stones to call it by its name) is done in a good natured way, it shouldn't drive a wedge between crew members.

As for the nuke/coner flap, my pig was a boomer. (Twidget-nuke-boomer sailor... geez, just call me Nancy.) Everybody's job was to be ready make the birds blow up bad guys (and their civilizations). Missiles don't work well without electricity. Hooray nukes. But we still didn't know how to fire them. Hooray Empties. (Continue by filling in your rate here.) And to hell with the mission, we weren't doing anything if we were fed pork adobo. Hooray mess-types. One big happy family...that fights like my kids do.

3/25/2008 12:49 PM

Blogger jq5 said...

Anonymous at 2:57 p.m.

I have no zeal to "bash" on non-quals, and I certainly haven't forgotten what they do, I was just making a point. The relevant fact remains: THEY ARE NOT QUALIFIED IN SUBMARINES, hence the name "non-quals."

I and every one that has served on a submarine can clearly understands the importance of non-quals, what you have posted is not some great revelation to any of us, nor should it be.

The fact is every single one of us was a "nub" when we started out. Yes, we all were oxygen breathing, potable water using slugs, not even qualified phone talker. We should never forget what it was like and should always temper our conduct with that in mind.

That being said, just because we understand that non-quals do a lot of good and vital things doesn't mean that we should just give them dolphins with their check in sheet.

Dolphins are supposed to mean something, and the fact that the meaning has been watered down is evident in the many posts on this thread to that effect.

There seem to be a lot of people that think that there is some value in the "old school" way of having non-qual ballcaps. Should we just dismiss their concerns out of course simply because that is the old way of doing things, as Mike suggests?

Getting out the wrecking ball and destroying old traditions just because "they have always been that way" is just plain idiotic. It's foolish to assume the previous generations of submariners were stupid and had no reason to put the tradition in place.

Speaking for myself, I very clearly recall the day that I earned my "qualified" ball cap and remember the great pride and sense of accomplishment that it gave. Why do we deny that from our junior sailors? In any case, it certainly is not harmful to have both kinds of caps, and there is value added.

My point is the insignia in itself has absolutely no value, it's just an image of a pair of dolphins resting on bow planes. It's the value or sacredness that we assign and enforce that gives them meaning and importance. Anything that we do to lessen that value makes them less important and less useful.

3/25/2008 11:19 PM

Blogger Marty said...

In the future, you can post HTML code to take a quick poll. and some others do free polls and surveys.
And yeah, I vote for non-qual ball caps.

3/26/2008 12:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Command ballcaps are to make the crew look like a crew. Everybody is supposed to look the same and wear the same thing when the stars walk by formation. Dolphins on the caps -- OK.

Dolphins anywhere else for NUBs. - wrong.

I say again, Caps are the COBs/COs prerogative. Everything else.... when we want your frickin' NUB opinion, we'll beat it outta you.


3/27/2008 8:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coners vs. the end it sucks equally for both. There's no use lamenting the differences, or arguing who's better/smarter/cleaner, because the two halves are so different that it becomes apples and oranges.
Typical question from a coner to a nuc while waiting in line for grub: "Hey, did you guys fix whatever that thing is yet?".
Typical question from a nuc to a coner while waiting in the grub line: "Hey, where are we? I heard we're tracking an Akula in the Persian Gulf!".
Each side has their merits.

A non-related story: I remember once on a 688 as an STS1, I found my favorite M-Divver and asked him a question about a recent measurement we had conducted. I said "Hey, how many vanes are on our main seawater pumps?". I thought I knew the answer, but the data didn't match. He looked at me for several seconds, then said "What?". I repeated it with more detail, he still looked at me like I was crazy, then said "I have no idea...does it matter?".

As for the dolphins on hats, I think one command ballcap is suitable for all. Anyone who knows better should realize that the ballcap is Organizational Clothing, and the ballcap is not the place to look at in order to discern qualifications.

On my first (and last) SSBN a few years ago, we returned to Bangor from a patrol and saw that our opposite crew had ordered special ballcaps for all their nubs. These nub ballcaps had a Trident submarine sillouette in the space normally occupied by the dolphins, and looked really lame.
They had spent a ton of money getting these special "motivational ballcaps" made for their nubs, who would only use them for a few months. We teased them incessantly for those retarded ballcaps.

3/27/2008 10:40 PM

Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Yes, a baby submariner is technically a member of the crew the second he checks on board, but the real crew knows he is just an oxygen breathing, potable water using, sanitary filling slug until the day he earns his fish.

So... what does that make us scumbag contractor sea-riders?

Don't answer that.

It's enough to know that if I screwed up work I did umpty-mumble years ago, that submariners could die. And that I didn't, and they haven't.

The only submarine qualification I have is an honourary membership of the Sankt Petersberg Submariners Club, for work I did for the families of the Kursk crew. There's no insignia for that, but what matters is not the insignia, but whether you've earnt it.

OTOH There should be some badge or other to differentiate submarine crew, Nubs or not. The word "Skimmer" with a line through it?

But the Dolphins should remain sacrosanct, and I don't care which navy you're talking about.

3/27/2008 11:35 PM

Blogger Glenn A. Primm said...

zoe brain, my ballcap is off to you for your assist to the families of the Kursk.

I could be wrong here, but I believe that the dolphins are the second oldest combat qualifications badge in any of the services, with the Infantry Rifleman being the first.

Back to the dolphin issue: Would you let just anybody wander around with a Medal of Honor hanging around his neck?

I didn't think so, even if the COB thinks it's okay to go against 100+ years of regulations and tradition. The dolphins either mean something or they don't mean spit.


3/28/2008 12:05 AM

Blogger Glenn A. Primm said...

Excuse me. I said "100+ years." It's actually 75 years for the US Navy. The pin was proposed in 1923 and issued in 1924, at the same time as the Brits issued theirs.

3/28/2008 12:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my SSN in the late 80's NO ONE wore anything with dolphins unless they were qualified. But it was a little more tricky than that, the six and out nukes refused to ever wear dolphins on anything other than a ball cap and a dress uniform. NEVER on dungarees or poopy suit. I know many of you won't like to hear that, but that's how it was back in the day at Sub Base San Diego.

3/28/2008 5:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago I was on a plane and saw a guy with a Calhoun ballcap. As we briefly compared our times on pigboats he said that after 20 years he had finally gotten his first tattoo. He pops open his shirt and there are a pretty set of 'phins on his left chest, right where they belong! Though I'm not a big tat fan I found myself envying this one. Added advantage: no need to tack these on. They aren't coming off!

3/28/2008 11:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Choose your rate, choose your fate.
Ha! Burn!
You forgot the pro-pay line.

Seriously, though, I don't think the hat thing is that big a deal - on boats that have nub hats, the nubs should wear them. If the boat doesn't want to buy two hats, whatever.

It's a courtesy thing. You don't get a super bowl ring because you might go to the super bowl. You don't get a SEAL tattoo while you're still in BUD/S. You don't wear dolphins until you earn them (Unless you have no choice because there are no nub hats)

3/30/2008 2:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i still think dolphins are the dumbest quals in the navy.(i got mine in 5 months) what is so important about them? do they let me stand watch? does it mean the NUB can't save my life? if so why don't you read the after action report for the USS San Fran. ETSA from BESS two weeks out did his job and that's why the emergency blow made it all the way up because he did what he was suppose to do. all it does is give an excuse for some prick to pick on the new guy. teach DC. know DC and know your own job

3/31/2008 6:09 PM

Blogger Glenn A. Primm said...

anonymous 3/31/2008 6:09 PM said in re the SSN San Francisco grounding:

"...ETSA from BESS two weeks out did his job and that's why the emergency blow made it all the way up because he did what he was suppose to do."

I don't know where you got that bllgewater from, but here's an extract of the report of the San Fran's DOOW from here:

The DOOW writes that the COW initiated the blow.

You really need to get your head screwed on right.

I trust that you are no longer allowed on board submarines, except as an escorted guest, if then.

3/31/2008 10:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm ok with fish on Non-qual hats or other boat related clothing items.

Nice to see the photos. LT Guinn was my NROTC instructor a long time ago.

4/13/2008 8:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of this hot air and not one single comment on how this watchstander should be wearing long sleeved utilities while on duty? Wow. Check your pressure, guys. I think you've been submerged too long.

6/06/2010 6:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a fucking hat. Grow up, most of you are 50 years old and still act like 2 year olds. its a fucking hat, grow up.

12/28/2010 4:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served on board three subs during the early 70's I EARNED my dolphins by learing that sub from the tube doors to the screw. Getting a signature on the qual card wasent easy I had to be able to draw a "one -line " drawing of every system on the sub and answer a number of questions this qualifications took place after i stood p and s watch and completed my off watch work assigements.Yes i think EARNING your Dolphins is a big deal and dolphins should NOT be worn by Non-quals. My son served on subs during the gulf war and he told me the Navy was giving our silver Dolphins to midshipman just for making a cruse on a sub You all should be pissed about that if its true

11/19/2011 1:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are still a few boats in Hawaii that have hats for non-quals and hats for qualified members of the crew.

3/20/2012 10:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was a non-qual on SSBN 631(B) in 1976, i found a cigarette lighter from the L. Mendall Rivers with dolphins on it. When my chief saw me with it, he took it from me. I didn't deserve to have it. Once I got my fish, he surprised me by giving the lighter back to me. I think that having a brand new sailor reporting aboard wearing a hat with dolphins on it kind of cheapens the whole idea of earning them. MMCM Ret

6/18/2012 8:18 PM

Anonymous Alie said...

When I checked aboard the 650 all ball caps were the same with fish on them. I don't think I remember any boat @ SBNL that had special nub caps. All though it was definitely frowened upon for any other fish on any other part of the uniform.


5/03/2013 3:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Active Duty or not you can always pick up a hat that says anything that will fit on it (with Dolphins or not.) I qualified in the early 90's and it is funny to don a "the best marine is a submarine" on a red cap like theirs lol.

10/04/2013 9:30 PM


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