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.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Submarine Book

The New York Times has a review of a new book, Unknown Waters, on the 1970 Arctic deployment of USS Queenfish (SSN 651), written by her CO during that time. Excerpts:
As the book recounts, the sub repeatedly ventured within periscope range of Soviet land. In the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, its crew examined the October Revolution and Bolshevik Islands.
The Queenfish also spotted a convoy. “I was able to see and identify all six ships as Soviet,” Dr. McLaren writes. “They consisted of an icebreaker leading a tanker and four cargo ships on an easterly course that slowly weaved back and forth through the chaotic ice pack.”
The main mission was to map the seabed and collect oceanographic data in anticipation of the Arctic’s becoming a major theater of military operations. The sub did so by finding and following depth contours, for instance, by locating the areas of the Arctic Basin where the seabed was 600 feet below the surface. A result was a navigation chart that bore the kind of squiggly lines found on topographic maps.
Looks like it might be a pretty good book.

40 Comments:

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Freddie Queenfish was an egomaniac when he had command.

Love these skippers who went to sea and did wonderful things ... with no enlisted people and no wardroom with them.

Gene Fluckey was another. His book tells a heroic tale, but gives credit to no one else aboard. He was not pleased when I said so in a book review published nationally, but it's a fair rap and I would be astonished if Freddie Q did any better.

What really matters at the end of a submariner's career is his reputation on the waterfront. Freddie Q should not be proud of his...

3/18/2008 6:47 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As the book recounts, the sub repeatedly ventured within periscope range of Soviet land"

So given this account by a cold war CO could we dispense with the comments by the more seasoned readers of this blog about the how the latest generation is the "end of the silent service" because we post our complaints about the training binder? (Pot, Kettle 2JV)

3/18/2008 7:18 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take the officers out of Star Trek and you're left with just the disposable extras and one lone chief in the transporter room, probably doing PMS. Face it, officers ARE the story at sea - they're the only one who make any decisions worth remembering. If you want in, take out a student loan, spend four years in the pedantic pursuit of useless triva, and you too will be magically better than everyone else.

3/19/2008 7:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doing PMS? It sounds like the pedantic blogger is suffering from PMS.

3/19/2008 8:06 AM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

To anon 2 postings above:

Been there, did that: 10 years as an enlisted swine and 27 as an officer/O-6. As proud of making chief as of O-6.

Dunno what navy you're from, buddy, but I prized my sailors when I was in submarine command, relied on them to be smart and make right choices.

And my officers? Well, they were great guys. But when one of them tried putting the ocean in forward trim and another resumed base course because the cruiser he was avoiding went into a fogbank ... well, I guess anon had a better class of Os aboard: mine sometimes made really boneheaded decisions at sea.

Am trying to find out who this 'anonymous' guy is. Will try googling 'idiot.' Probably will find his picture...

3/19/2008 8:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rubber ducky: . He was not pleased when I said so in a book review

How about posting a link to your book review?

3/19/2008 8:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! He could see land through his periscope. What's the big deal? I'm not sure who he is trying to impress. Commanding Officers have no less an obligation to not talk or write about their classified experiences than enlisted sailors.

3/19/2008 11:11 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great guys or not, I haven't seen anything above which disputes the statement that only the Zeros get to make book-worthy decisions. Star Trek is but one example of this. Face it - four years of school separate the noteworthy from the pack mules of life.

3/19/2008 11:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Freddie Queenfish was an egomaniac when he had command."

He was an egomaniac long after command.

3/19/2008 11:57 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah...officers can do no wrong...and the 4 year degree makes you all perfect....and enlisted men are really trying to stab you in the back.....and I believe in the Easter Beagle, too.

I joined the Navy with a four year degree in hand as an enlisted man...made it through Nuclear Power school and prototype (which was a hell of a lot harder than the four years of college), and served proudly as an enlisted man for 20 years. I didn't complain about my pay, took pride in my work....and you, sir (heavy sarcasm must be imagined, here, as I am incapable of transmitting it electronically) are one of those officer types I gladly would give just enough rope to hang yourself, and not enough to take the ship down with you.

Officers make the only decisions worth remembering, huh? What a crock of crap.

And, no...I didn't get a cakewalk degree. Mechanical Engineering from the University of Akron, thank you very much.

3/19/2008 12:01 PM

 
Blogger IC2man said...

If the mission was not declassified before this book was published, I hope they court martial him and take his retirement pay and benefits. This strikes at the heart of the Silent Service. I guess the debriefing and oath he signed didn't really apply to him, because he was a CO.

3/19/2008 12:38 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Book review on Fluckey's book was long time ago. In Proceedings.

3/19/2008 1:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous: Take the officers out of Star Trek and you're left with just the disposable extras and one lone chief in the transporter room, probably doing PMS. Face it, officers ARE the story at sea - they're the only one who make any decisions worth remembering.

the Zeros get to make book-worthy decisions. Star Trek is but one example of this. Face it - four years of school separate the noteworthy from the pack mules of life.
************
What is your obsession with Star Trek. Star Trek is nothing at all like a real Navy, just as Voyage to the Bottom of the sea was nothing like a real submarine.

When was the last time you saw an officer do the wrench turning; especially the Chief Engineer? Get real! Take the officers off "any" navy ship and it could still go to sea. Take out the enlisted men and what would the officers do? I hope you have gotten out of my navy before you hurt someone with your stupidity! If you are still in, don't be surpised when your Chief lets you fall on your sword.

Chief Torpedoman

3/19/2008 2:22 PM

 
Blogger IC2man said...

Well said Chief, anyone who has been to sea (including the smart O-gangers) know the Chiefs run things. They just let the Wardroom think they are in charge.

3/19/2008 4:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good officer realizes that he is in a position to make important decisions only because the enlisted personnel have done their jobs and done them well....

3/19/2008 4:11 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"When was the last time you saw an officer do the wrench turning?"

I was raised by CPOs who taught me that the most dangerous object in the world is a tool in the hands of an officer...

3/19/2008 6:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enlisted personnel may keep the wheels greased and the beds made, but no matter how many wrenches they turn, the only thing more boring than cleaning a sub is reading about someone ELSE cleaning a sub. Stay on topic (if there is one)... namely, only officers and their exploits are generally worth reading about.

3/19/2008 7:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked "2190 Days - My Navy Adventure" By Daniel Bil. That's about enlisted men, and quite entertaining. It even wraps up with him getting screwed out of a NAM because he didn't re-up, just like the rest of us remember from those days.

3/19/2008 7:05 PM

 
Anonymous whine of sour grapes said...

I liked "2190 Days - My Navy Adventure" By Daniel Bil. That's about enlisted men, and quite entertaining. It even wraps up with him getting screwed out of a NAM because he didn't re-up, just like the rest of us remember from those days.

Like...cosmic. Is a movie in the works? Does he get screwed out of a NCM in the sequel? I'm spellbound.

3/19/2008 7:26 PM

 
Blogger Jay said...

Why do these discussions invariably turn into an Officer vs. Enlisted battle?

I realize some Officers are arrogant SOB's and some enlisted are running around with chips on their shoulders because the O's get all the credit. If you fall into either of those categories, try a little humility and a little less anger.

The fact is, especially on a submarine, there really are no roles that are irrelevant. All the enlisted members have a job to do that contributes to the mission, and all the officers do, too. Whether you like it or not, generally the Navy has invested a heck of a lot more time and money in the officers' training, because they are expected, like management in any company to, to make decisions that have wide ranging impact, and could even be life or death decisions.

So, on this thread (hijacked), I agree with a couple of things at least:
1. No officer should turn a wrench, as that's not his role, and he would just f it up.
2. Chiefs run the boat, and no intelligent officer would deny that fact. But, they run the boat so that the officers can concentrate on fighting the ship (or, passing an ORSE).
3. There can be no doubt that many of the submarine force's enlisted (especially the nukes) are intelligent and could easily have been officers, had their own (usually) personal circumstances been different. But, each took different paths, and, rather than a conspiracy perpetrated by nefarious means, that's what is known as life.

3/19/2008 11:29 PM

 
Anonymous BUBBLEHEAD BOB said...

Hello all:

When the 651 boat left for ALPHA trials out of Newport News, VA, with Rickover on board, she was
not able to dive. She just would not sink......

Rickover got on the horn to EB in Groton and ordered them to refigure the ballasting ASAP. When she arrived in the shipyard, I was ordered to write a work-permit to install lead pigs in the line lockers and weld steel flat-bar to keep them from shifting around. EB was the lead shipyard and was
responsible for its design. Newport News just followed the plans. Needless to say, Rickover was
really pissed off.......

During her high-speed runs, the foul shorts in the sail area made her the noisiest fast attack in the fleet. Snorkle piping rattled as pipe hangers fouled
other components.

The 651 boat did the "first-of-the-class" steam
plant tests and the deep dive hull testing and all
outboard sea valves testing.

Some of her crew called her "The Rattletrap".........


BUBBLEHEAD BOB

3/20/2008 12:23 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Jay re: "Why do these discussions invariably turn into an Officer vs. Enlisted battle?"

Why do O-gangers have to have a wardroom with food served on china and silver?

Until the armed services removes some of their 18th century traditions and policies based on those traditions you will always have this argument.

Show me in the corporate world a business that has succeeded because they installed a leader solely based on their education level vice experience & other credentials.

Rubber Ducky..is your first name Larry, Jim, or Leo?

3/20/2008 6:37 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A four year degree (even if it's in philosophy) automatically makes them better people. Just accept it, grovel before them, and eat the turd sandwich you happily agreed to oh so many years ago.

3/20/2008 7:43 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Jay: The fact is, especially on a submarine, there really are no roles that are irrelevant. All the enlisted members have a job to do that contributes to the mission, and all the officers do, too ...

Well said. BZ

To Anonymous who said:
Why do O-gangers have to have a wardroom with food served on china and silver?
Until the armed services removes some of their 18th century traditions and policies based on those traditions you will always have this argument.
Show me in the corporate world a business that has succeeded because they installed a leader solely based on their education ...

It does not bother me at all that they eat from china and silver. I don't believe the officers are put in their positions based "sole on their education", they are placed there becasue of what training the navy has invested in them. Any perks are both from tradition and from attempts to retain the time and money the navy has invested in this training.

I don't think the point here is any additional perks and priviliges that the officers have. I believe the resentment is based at least partly upon attitudes of some, repeat, some of the officers. I have served with some officers (both sub and surface) that have a good attitude about enlisted men, but still don't know squat and should resign. I have served with some that are very skilled and knowledgle, but come across as "holier-than-thou" towards enlisted men.

I believe it was a former CNO who said of the Ensign - Chief relationship, that the Cheif must say: "He may be a dumbass Ensign, but he is my dumbass Ensign and I've got to live with him and train him." You can substitute smartass, chicken shit, or whatever else you want to in that sentance.

I belvieve the point of the oringal post by Rubber Ducky was his view about the book not being a true picture because the Captain came across as not giving credit for a good crew and wardroom.

Chief Torpedoman

3/20/2008 8:29 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The six most important individuals on a boat seem to be the CO; the COB; the leading YN/PN, SK, and MS; and the HM.

The first two set the standards and tone for the boat. The last four take care of critical items that allow everyone else onboard to do their jobs without worrying about getting paid, having repair parts, getting fed, and staying healthy (or what passes for such on a sub).

Weaknesses elsewhere can be overcome or worked around.

It's even possible to deal effectively--at least in part--with a bad leading YN/PN, SK, MS, or HM. But it takes an enormous devotion of time and effort that could be used elsewhere.

COs and COBs are a different story. Many a boat has had to simply survive a bad CO or COB.

3/20/2008 8:53 AM

 
Anonymous rubber duck shredding machine said...

Chief Torpedoman: Rubber Ducky hasn't even read the damn book. He's just another run-of-the-mill jackass who highjacked this thread by making it _yet another_ enlisted vs. officer bullshit session.

Any ex CO who publicly bashes any of his crew - including his officers - as Rubber Ducky has done is just a complete frigging "egomaniac" (to use his original language) idiot.

Projection...what a concept.

Rubber Ducky: **blow** **off**, blowhard...you are stench.

3/20/2008 10:37 AM

 
Anonymous l-t said...

You know, I don't think it's really the Ensign that causes resentment. Sure, they're the most offensive at the "my 4 year degree taught me how to be better than you," but any enlisted guy worth his salt can stump an Ensign and put him in his place. The trouble comes when you get O-3s and O-4s that know enough to understand what's going on and STILL give ridiculous orders or set unachievable goals. My favorite quote exemplifying this, from a Bangor Navigator: "I'm one rank away from Commanding Officer, THAT'S why you should do it my way, ANAV!"

HAH! Good job, dude.

3/20/2008 10:37 AM

 
Blogger Mike said...

"Show me in the corporate world a business that has succeeded because they installed a leader solely based on their education level vice experience & other credentials"

The corporate world (or at least the Fortune 500 corporate world) follows a remarkably similar leadership structure to the Navy. Four year degrees will land you into positions of "artificial leadership" very similar to the Ensign role. After being enlisted for 7 years I got my degree and am now serving in a very "Ensign" role for the most profitable company that has ever existed, despite not knowing a damn thing about refining before coming here.

3/20/2008 12:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm having a difficult time believing what I'm reading. One would think that all Officers are dumb, and lower than whale shit.

You guys need to get your act togeather. Hey, If you see something that needs to be corrected bring it to the attention of the person responcible.

Most CO's use the I did this and I did that. Occasionaly a CO will pass the accolades around. When A CO speaks about his mission it's usually I did, it's assumed that the rest of the crew did the work. That is why unit awards exist. PUC, NUC, MUC. I think you get the point. Just like any award now days the unit awards are handed out like candy. Maybe to keep the bitching sailor happy.

Unlike any other ship in the Navy, submarines are unique. All personnel must qualify on all equipment and in some cases know how to do the other guys job. When I rode my first Nuke I had not qualified on Nukes only Diesel Boats. Because I was a rider I wasn't expected to qualify. I did it anyway. Why, for the same reason you did it. Safety of the boat and crew.

I can't believe some of the bitching. If you don't like it get out, leave the submarine service we sure as hell don't want you on our boat

3/20/2008 1:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting thread.

Growing up I have done a chiefs job and then a department heads job as a division officer (not all chiefs and department heads are competent), have worked very hard as an ssn engineer, and have done fine in command due to both a good crew, and chiefs and division officers who are willing to learn and work together.

For those who have not experienced the responsibility and accountability of command, shame on you for disrespecting those who have. You are arm chair couch potatoes at best. Like every officer tour on a submarine it pushes you to your limit so that you can get to the next level or get left behind.

My observation is that on good submarines, the chiefs and officers don't do the easy thing and blame each other for the boats struggles. Instead they push both sides of the house for improvement.

It's always easy to lash out or blame. Its much harder to move forward.

The man in the ring.

3/20/2008 1:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But it's easier to move forward with someone else carrying your bags for you.

3/20/2008 2:27 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geeze, these are the men that my Dad served with? Whining about who gets the credit?
Let me tell you how a bloody civilian thinks about it....if the job gets done....who cares who did what? Everyone on a boat has a job, everyone is a cut above. You are the best, act that way, not like snot nosed children.
I doubt he would be happy, maybe good thing he passed before you all got spoiled.

3/20/2008 4:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, me again....
one more thing, he too started enlisted, ended O4. I just can't imagine him saying the things many of you are.
I just hope that you are the exception, and not the rule.

3/20/2008 4:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you're right. Everyone aboard ship is equal.

But some sailors are more equal than others.

3/20/2008 4:33 PM

 
Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

"Chief Torpedoman: Rubber Ducky hasn't even read the damn book. He's just another run-of-the-mill jackass who highjacked this thread by making it _yet another_ enlisted vs. officer bullshit session.

Any ex CO who publicly bashes any of his crew - including his officers - as Rubber Ducky has done is just a complete frigging "egomaniac" (to use his original language) idiot.

Projection...what a concept.

Rubber Ducky: **blow** **off**, blowhard...you are stench."

Easy Chief, you're losing the bubble...

I made CPO on 16 July 1964. When you? Boot?

3/20/2008 6:48 PM

 
Anonymous QuoteCritter said...

Hey I'm still trying to figure out who RD is and if they served with Capt. M.

I came on board as the 651 was returning from this Ice Run and from my 2 tours on here she was one of the most productive boats in the SubPac and has the awards to prove it.

We had officers like the eventual Adm Grossenbacher who has been written of here before and many other sharp ones and our share of dull ones along the way.

But the plank owner crew I joined up with was one of the sharpest bunch I ever saw except for some handpicked crews for very very special setup submarines.

We had almost as many degrees in the Engineering Dept as they had in the ward room and it was a very sharp crew. The most important part it was a fine honed team well practiced in getting their job done.

And with Chief Dietz as the COB there was no doubt we had one of the best in the fleet and SubPac said so. A Marine turned ET submarine COB can be an awesume thing to behold and he insured a great working relationship between the officers and enlisted.

3/21/2008 6:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Rubber Ducky:

Hey please read the original post on that. It wasn't from me. It was addressed to me from someone using the handle of: "rubber duck shredding machine"

I happen to agree with your statements.

"I made CPO on 16 July 1964. When you? Boot?"

I made Chief in 1988 and yes, I am a boot compared to your seniority as Chief. Congratulations.

Note to All: It appears that many of us on this thread are starting to "lose the bubble". Disagreement with others makes for a healthy discussion and I love a good debate as well as the next man, but I appeal to all to rein in the name calling.

Cheif Torpedoman

3/21/2008 7:07 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does a chief's order carry any less weight than an officer's? If not (and I assume most of us would agree that it doesn't) then why don't we make enlisted personnel salute chiefs? Is there something inherent in an officer that inspires and demands more respect? Place a newly-minted ensign next to a seasoned chief (or even just a good leading first) and it's difficult to see why a four year degree entitles the former to always be called "sir" and otherwise pandered to.

Enlisted grovel before officers for one simple reason: Tradition. But this tradition, like another that said minorities could only be cooks or stewards, is outdated and frankly an embarrasment to the modern Navy. Are there any officers out there who are so insecure they feel their authority would be undermined without this blatant separation?

Maybe it's time to change the "tradition" to reflect the new social reality: This isn't the 1700's and sailors aren't illiterate criminals pressed into service. The average enlisted sailor is just as intelligent, hard-working, responsible, and capable as the officers appointed over them.

3/21/2008 7:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most CO's use the I did this and I did that. Occasionaly a CO will pass the accolades around. When A CO speaks about his mission it's usually I did, it's assumed that the rest of the crew did the work. That is why unit awards exist. PUC, NUC, MUC"
**********************
Not to change the subject (but I digress)...At the beginning of the Gulf War subs participated in Tomahawk strikes and the CO's recieved Bronze Stars...guess what the crew got...Bub-kiss!!! There were times these strikes occured during a normal at sea watch, the CO did nothing but give permission to fire.

3/28/2008 7:54 AM

 
Anonymous Marleen said...

Quite effective info, thank you for this post.

9/14/2012 10:00 AM

 

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