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.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

SSBN CO Relieved For Cause

The Commanding Officer of the Gold Crew of USS West Virginia (SSBN 736), CDR Charles "Tony" Hill, was relieved for a "lack of confidence" in his ability to command, according to this report from the Florida Times-Union. Excerpts:
Officials at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, where the West Virginia is ported, said there was no specific incident that led to the removal of Cmdr. Charles “Tony” Hill. The decision was made by Capt. Daniel Mack, commander of Submarine Squadron Sixteen/Twenty.
Hill completed his first deployment as commanding officer aboard the West Virginia in November. He was commanding officer of one of the two crews that alternate patrols aboard the Trident submarine.
Hill has been temporarily assigned to Commander, Submarine Group Twenty, Navy officials said. He will be replaced by Capt. Stephen Gillespie, a former commanding officer of the USS Rhode Island. Gillespie is the deputy for training at Submarine Squadron Sixteen/Twenty...
...No commanding officer has been relieved of duties the past five years at Kings Bay, but Rebarich said she couldn’t check beyond that time period because much of her staff is on vacation for the holidays.
I didn't find any more information on any of the official Navy websites, and I haven't heard any word on the street yet about what might have happened. I'll let you know if I read anything useful.

Staying at PD...

Update 1100 30 Dec: Here's the Navy Times update on the story; it has some of CDR Hill's biographical information, but not much new data. Here's the first official Navy announcement, which has even less new info.

Update 1010 01 Jan 2009: Based on the comments here, and the "word on the street", it appears to me that Big Sub Force did the right thing with respect to CDR Hill and the 736G crew. Based on what I'm hearing, the Sub Force leadership noticed problems with the boat, conducted a fair and thorough investigation, and took appropriate action. I'm thinking that by getting ahead of the story, the Sub Force will avoid some of the negative publicity they had from the USS Florida / CDR Alfonso story back in the 90s. (Some of my thoughts on previous stories of domineering submarine COs can be found here, including some links to the Alfonso DFC.)


Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Hopefully there's a non-HAMPTON type of reason!

Happy New Year Joel! Hope things are going well for you!

12/29/2008 9:59 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I, too, hope there's a non-operational and non-moral type of reason, but unfortunately that doesn't normally seem to be the case.

Happy New Year to you, too! I'm doing well, thanks. I finish up my (hopefully) last round of chemo tomorrow, and finish up with radiation on Wednesday morning. Then just wait for surgery 4-8 weeks from now.

I am in a good mood right at this moment, because I just found out I got nominated for a 2008 Weblog Award.

12/29/2008 10:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with the upcoming surgery, and congrats on the nomination. As for the relief of command (did I just invent a term?) One can only hope that this was a case of someone actually having the spine to pull the plug on a commander that somehow "slipped through the cracks" in the screening process. Unfortunately, it's more than likely some sordid tale of... take your pick.

12/29/2008 11:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another rumor that needs fleshing out: one of the NEBRASKA CO's in Bangor is getting relieved or has gotten relieved. I can only imagine it's the guy who was CO when the A-ganger was killed.

12/30/2008 6:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony Hill is a VERY competent CO (tactically)! But I've heard he has quite a temper. Hopefully that wasn't his downfall.

Anyone know who the NEB CO's are?

12/30/2008 6:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CO Gold: CDR Carl A. Lahti


12/30/2008 6:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both NEB CO's have been there awhile so not sure why they would get relieved now. I would put money on Colburn though.

12/30/2008 9:36 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I don't know about CDR Colburn, but I would be very, very surprised if anything bad happens with CDR Lahti. I saw him when I went to Seattle last month and everything was going great.

12/30/2008 10:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous says...

The guys was a little over the top, same as when he was the XO on the Rhode Island, but there he had a CO to reel him in. I rode that boat as a temp relief for a broke sailor, and even as a rider he hurt my feelings a couple of times. The morale was low, and much like the Hampton a while back, you were going to get your tail handed to you no matter what the scenario, so most guys started to just keep secrets and make things happen as best they could. let the command find out later, and then take but butt chewing like a man. he did continuously humiliate senior enlisted and divos, in front of the troops, and thinking back to when i was junior, the thought had to have been 'if he tore cheif a new one, then what will he do to me..

12/30/2008 12:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when does being a screamer become a disqualifier or cause for relief?

Must have been combined with poor performance in inspection(s) or something else.

12/30/2008 1:24 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

First of all..Joel..good lcuk also!

Second, you take command in June 2008 and by the end of the year, you get relieved for lack of confidence. WOW, talk about a complete downfall. Like someone said, he probably slipped though the cracks.
I too have heard of his belittling superiority attitude. Treats people like crap because they are not as perfect as him. He is a tactciallly sound submarine officer (which we need more of), but I couldn't stand working for the guy if he treated you like crap! So good for the Navy in recognizing someone who doesn't care for morale.
I had a CO on a SSBN that couldn't shoot a torpedo in a video game let alone at sea and hung out in his stateroom and talked about how the crew screwed him in early selecting for O6. Fail a TRE, re-TRE and a special TRE and still remained CO! I lost all confidence int he screening process of COs.


12/30/2008 1:54 PM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

Since when does being a screamer become a disqualifier or cause for relief?

Better ask the last C.O. of the Constituiton. Of cource he didn't just yell, he got a little physical with one of the troops.

12/30/2008 2:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like Commander Hill, is getting his ass spanked for all the fear and animosity he's caused among his crew. I suspect a lot of the guys on that boat were just aching to see him relieved.

How does one become a captain of a billion dollar boat...and not understand the simple concept that if you continuously treat your subordinates like crap, then they will act like crap?

Thanks, J.

12/30/2008 2:53 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

"Since when does being a screamer become a disqualifier or cause for relief? "

The sooner the better. If an ass chewing is deserved, so be it. If the guy's running around doling them out right and left, he better be watching his. Submariners have a knack for ensuring the right people know when their CO's a kook. In most cases, you don't become a Commodore because you're blind to a bad CO.

12/30/2008 3:57 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know much about this guy but I have served with Capt Gillespie back when he was my XO. Probably one of the most competent officer's I've ever met.

12/30/2008 4:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Since when does being a screamer become a disqualifier or cause for relief?"

Ill-conceived screaming can be a sign of much deeper problems.

The first C.O. who went seriously boink in the night with USS Jacksonville (mid-'80's) was absolutely the worst screamer I'd ever known. I was thankful to only have known him via PCO training.

The average submariner can readily distinguish between a high-quality ass chewing -- which when done properly they can come to admire, even when on the receiving end -- and flat-out losin'-it hysteric screaming.

Jacksonville guy was definitely of the latter variety. My best sense is that the Navy needs to take a hard look at the guys who try to lead/manage via school-girl can be a sign of a serious misfit.

12/30/2008 5:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad for him and the ship's crew. I wish the best for all of them and their families.

12/30/2008 5:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Since when does being a screamer become a disqualifier or cause for relief?"

How the hell can being an incompetent and ineffective leader NOT be a disqualifier or cause for relief? Tactical skill and engineering competence are a must, but so are leadership and respect. An emotionally unstable, easily excited person is NOT someone who should be truted with a billion-dollar boat. Management and inter-personal skills are a must. The boats with bad morale have bad morale for a reason. In almost all cases it is driven form the top down. If the CO has no respect for his officers, chiefs, and junior enlisted, then they will have no respect for him in turn. Running your boat with a top-down Iron Fist does not in any way support the notion of the crew being a team. If a CO is unable to do something as simple as keeping himself under control then how can we trust him to be able to keep his ship under control? Take a look around. The best COs usually aren't the unstable or easilly set off kooks nor are they the ass-clowns that care only about their inspection scores and their next couple of promotions. Bad CO=Bad Morale=Loss of crew performance. Crews don't give their all when under the jackboot and iron fist. They give their all to a man they respect, not fear or avoid. If a CO creates a hostile environment where the crew has no faith in their leadership then he should be immediately removed for cause. Effective management is as much of a part of being a CO as is being an engineer or tactician. If he can't lead, then he shouldn't be a CO.

12/30/2008 6:20 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

I recall Don "Cruncher" Kniss as skipper of an SSBN I served in. His surface OOD did something singularly stupid on watch. Don caught him at the foot of the bridge ladder as he came off watch and eviscerated him in scathing language. Just tore him a new one. The OOD slunk to his stateroom ... and the skipper turned to me, winked, and said "Sometimes you just gotta do that."

The OOD? Went on to his own command years later and won a Navy Cross.

Kniss was a great skipper.You always knew where you stood with him. The dimension being discussed in this thread is improper: it's not the screamers per se that are the problem, it's the people-eaters, the worthless twits who raise themselves by tearing down their troops. They are the ones who should be hunted down and thrown to small carnivorous mammals.

12/30/2008 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, the stars have aligned and Rubber Ducky and I agree - AGAIN! A deserved a$$ chewin' isn't something to be feared, however, it should be done with the intent to correct the shortcoming and ultimately elevate the "victim." Screaming for the sake of screaming (usually a sign of one's own Napolean complex), like micro-managing, just breeds contempt.

12/30/2008 7:33 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Bullshit. Reamings, ass chewings, the like are NOT done in public. They are necessary and often beneficial, but not in public. All that happens is a demeaning of the individual for the entertainment of others.

I will always follow the adage "Pan in private, praise in public." It's always worked for me, and I've never been fired from anything.

12/30/2008 8:32 PM

Blogger Bigbill said...

In my 23 years so far, I have experienced poor leadership from my first boat in 1987 as an E-4 to my present duty station as an O-4. I have never seen a positive come from "screamers". I had one CO on the 728 who would yell at JO's on the 1MC. He retired after that tour. The only result of this type of leadership is a fear of getting yelled at so the chain of command fails to function. BB

12/30/2008 8:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

COLBURN? If he is the same person as the ENG on the Florida (gold), he has the leadership skills of a 3 year old. God help any crew that he is the CO of.

12/31/2008 1:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

“"The first C.O. who went seriously boink in the night with USS Jacksonville (mid-'80's) was absolutely the worst screamer I'd ever known."

I totally agree that he was the worst screamer ever. I know because I was his COB for 26 months. That man told me once early in my tour with him "COB this is a 360 foot piece of metal that takes people to make it operate. You bring them in the front hatch and if the survive they can depart through the aft hatch." He was the absolute worst person I ever served with when it came to dealing with people, however he was the best CO I ever served with IRT to being tactically competent. He did climb the ladder all the way to FLAG eventually.”

12/31/2008 5:55 AM

Blogger Submaster said...

Maybe this CO is related to Captain Queeg and had his wardroom looking for his strawberries!!

12/31/2008 6:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's be clear. FACT: West Virginia CO was relieved. Opinion: It sounds like command climate was the driver.

RUMOUR: A Nebraska CO is/will be relieved early.

12/31/2008 6:38 AM

Blogger rick said...

Well it made the Navy Times today:

“There were no specific incidents, just a number of indications related to command climate,” said Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for Submarine Group 10.

12/31/2008 7:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lessons learned. It's all about leadership. Whatever the truth behind the CO's being relieved for cause, it is always about leadership. True leadership is the abilitiy to inspire your troops to be leaders themselves. That comes through both praise and sometimes an occasional butt chewing, judiciously meted out at appropriate times. Always true. Want to raise yourself? Raise your troops.
Anyway Joel my prayers are with you and your recovery.

12/31/2008 7:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Screamers can be successful leaders as long as the screaming is consistent, serves and achieves a purpose (other than simply demeaning a person). I am surprised no one has mentioned Admirals Rickover and King who were both famous for humiliating everyone around them...

Another leader who was notorious for screaming was Admiral Bligh whose poor leadership lost him his ship (the Bounty), but also showed brilliant leadership in the Bounty's launch. He was able to sail his open boat some 3600 miles with the loss of only one crewmember.

The short of it is that "screaming" leadership is just a style and there are good practicers as well as bad ones.

12/31/2008 8:29 AM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

First off good luck and our prayers are with you.

Sometimes butt chewings are necessary and need to be public because the team broke down. Sure one guy catches the heat, but the support team that failed sees what they failed to do and the consequences. This does not need to be a scream feast, but some times it is heated.

As for poor command climate, there is a lot of stuff that can result in a CO losing his job and there are times when the stars align the Navy does the right thing to a poor leader.

It isn't an easy thing to take a guy down at the top of his career and it isn't done lightly. So there is a lot more to this story then is being told at the moment and we will all have to wait and see.

The screamers are blowhards that people hated, but still tried to do their jobs, which resulted in beaten to an average vice inspired to excellence.

12/31/2008 8:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My condolences to all involved. I'm sure it's tough on CDR Hill, his family and friends, and his whole crew, especially the leadership team.

Best of luck.

Former West-by-God-Virginia Sailor

12/31/2008 3:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, Rubber Ducky, I'll bite - who's the officer you served with that was awarded the Navy Cross? (By the way, medals are "earned" or "awarded", not "won")

12/31/2008 4:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two second tour Master Chief's want off your command, and one lost communication device on alert patrol will tend to cause removal for lack of confidence.

12/31/2008 4:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do tell more! Did the Group 10 CMC exert his author-ih-tie?

Someone has the whole story. Do tell!

12/31/2008 5:10 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I updated the original post with some "word on the street" info. With respect to CDR Colburn, word on the street is that he's getting a band and a cake, so he's not being DFC'd. Any further conjecture about the Nebraska situation is probably inappropriate in this thread.

1/01/2009 10:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to ask the JAX COB...the first CO to hit something never made it past 05...that was a long time ago...'83...right?

1/01/2009 10:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to ask the JAX COB...the first CO to hit something never made it past 05...that was a long time ago...'83...right?

Correction...'82...sorry...long time ago...

1/01/2009 12:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My memory agrees with the prior anon.

Over time, JAX has had several collisions with other vessels, with the '96 bounce being at least #3.

The first one in March '82, with a Turkish ship, was the one that I believe I was referring to. There was another boink in '84 with a barge. My faded recollection is that in both of these cases the C.O.s were removed.

1/01/2009 12:13 PM

Blogger Chap said...

TINS: I was sitting CDO on my JO shore tour when a new LT shows up. New guy knows one of the older JOs on the watch, and they get to talking about their boat the JAX.

Next day, I see my buddy the older JO, and he looks like death warmed over. "What happened, man?"

"Remember I was talking with [FNG]? The nightmares came back."

1/01/2009 6:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Two second tour Master Chief's want off your command...."

Unless it was the COB and the EDMC, sounds like the Boomer F#G, King's Bay "Bunnies" don't really want to be the "Backbone of the Navy!" Lead, Follow, or Get the F*&K out of the way!!

Probably why they weren't COB material and regulated to being a second tour E6 with 2 stars over his anchor.

Just my two cents worth.

1/02/2009 12:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of CDR Alphonso, he had the worst Napoleon Complex of any midget submarine officer I've ever met. He even drove a BMW in an effort to make himself look more impressive. I was greatly relieved to find out that he had been quickly relieved of command.

1/02/2009 4:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another guy that should have been relieved of command was the 688 CO in Pearl Harbor that was having an affair with the wife of one of his JOs on nights when the JO had duty.

The story is made worse by the fact that the commodore and admiral knew about it. Instead of firing the CO, they arranged for an unheard of mid-tour transfer by the JO.

1/02/2009 4:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would somebody here please go talk to the folks posting craziness about this subject on the thread below? Thanks from a concerned citizen!

1/02/2009 6:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, here's the full link. Thanks again.

1/02/2009 6:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why in the world would an intelligent person waste their time at a blog with the subtitles "UFOs, Conspiracy theories, Lunatic fringe"...???

Get a grip.

1/02/2009 7:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Over time, JAX has had several collisions with other vessels, with the '96 bounce being at least #3.
The first one in March '82, with a Turkish ship, was the one that I believe I was referring to. There was another boink in '84 with a barge. My faded recollection is that in both of these cases the C.O.s were removed."

That is correct that both of the CO's from the 82 and 94 boinks were relieved. The CO I spoke of is the one that signed the letter (in 85) you have the link to. I reported in late 86 when the boat returned from a 7 month around the world deployment. I got to do 2 Northern Runs and a Med deployment with the screamer. There was a 3rd bump that was after 699 came out of the yards in the early 90's
(EX-COB of Jville)

1/02/2009 8:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Another guy that should have been relieved of command was the 688 CO in Pearl Harbor that was having an affair with the wife of one of his JOs on nights when the JO had duty.

The story is made worse by the fact that the commodore and admiral knew about it. Instead of firing the CO, they arranged for an unheard of mid-tour transfer by the JO.

Wow! What kept the JO from killing this guy?

I wish I could say that the story seems unbelievable, but it seems very plausible.

The Navy willingly cashiers people for the stupidest reasons (particularly when they are junior or inexperienced), but they let the SOB described above abuse his authority with no apparent consequences to his career. He shouldn't be just fired-- he should have gone to jail.


1/02/2009 3:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yyyyup...just when you think you've seen it all...ya realize you really, really haven't.

Provided that it's even a true story (and let's agree that stranger things have happened), there's just no telling why the JO didn't rain hell down on the CO. Maybe he'd been stepping out on wifey and this was a payback. Maybe he married her, Elvis style, because he likes 'em a little slutty. Maybe he was just plain embarrassed enough and didn't care to see the mess dragged out. Maybe he loved her, forgave her, and afforded her the same wish for privacy. You very truly never know.

Sometimes I think that life as we know it is just one big exercise in teaching us the importance of forgiveness, or, more to the point, acceptance.

Not that I agree with him on this point, as the non-linear and non-deterministic nature of quantum mechanics are not in his favor, but Einstein believed that the universe is deterministic...that everything, large and small, is playing out like billiards on a pool table, with the future as certain as the past...that everything has to happen exactly the way it happens.

So again...who truly knows?

All I can say is that I believe that some One knows, and that all we can do is be thankful for the lives we have had and shared together...flaws, hurrahs, and all.

1/02/2009 4:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read most of the comments left on here and he was my XO when I was stationed on the USS RHODE ISLAND. He was not a nice guy at all and hated by most of the crew. It was a relief to see him go, even now, 3 years after his transfer, shipmates are still afraid to talk to the CO/XO because of him. I spoke to many crewmembers of the WV(G) before he got there and they were skeptical of him, but after him being onboard, I did not hear a single good thing of him. It's his way or the highway. That may have led to his downfall. I guess he should have taken comments and suggestions more instead of playing the I know it all game.

1/02/2009 6:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curtis says,

Thanks all for the insight into the world of submarine command and leadership. I remember once joining a ship overseas and finding a log book that my predecessor had been keeping. It was titled, "Reamers and Screamers" and listed dozens of remarkable stories of outright stupidity and toadyism and made for enjoyable reading. I wish now that I'd kept it rather than tossing it. I only worked for one screamer and we reached a meeting of the minds the first and only time he pulled it on me. It happened after 8 O'clocks and was in his cabin so it was private. I've never really understood people who tolerate that sort of nonsense as routine and expected behavior from a leader.

Joel, best wishes for a successful outcome and a grand new year!

1/03/2009 9:46 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

I have been hearing that story of the CO that was having an affair with a JOs wife. Plus he gave the JO extra duty nights so the CO could be with the JOs wife. It was a San Diego boat in the late 80s. I have heard it was a few different boats. Pogy, Guardfish and Drum are the ones I have heard.

Personally, I think it's a submarine (urban) legend.


1/03/2009 3:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


It wasn't urban legend on the 688 in Pearl, nor was the JO's mid-tour transfer.

Surprisingly, the JO's marriage survived that tour. Unsurprisingly, the CO's didn't. After the CO's wife found out, she even slapped him in the face on the pier in front of his crew.

None of that, however, stopped him from making O-6. It should have gotten him thrown out of the Navy.

1/03/2009 8:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can confirm the CO in Pearl story. CO was quietly relieved early but not for cause. He was assigned a follow on shore tour at Pearl while the JO was transferred out of Pearl. We submarine JO's who were there on the COMSUBPAC staff thought it was BS but it absolutely happened.

1/03/2009 9:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a current CO I can tell you that although the number of screamers in the world is small...they can and do still go on. My recent experiences indicate that you can hide a lot if your boss likes you.

During my tour, 6 COs have been fired. 4 were for command climate issues (HAM, CBS, WVG, HEL) 2 of those four were screamers, but not the other two.

1/03/2009 10:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a 688 CO in Pearl Harbor that got relieved for cause in around 2000 for command climate. They had like 45 captain's masts in 7 months, and then a crewmember committed suicide.

1/04/2009 8:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky,
Tell us, who was that OOD that was awarded the Navy Cross? Someone already asked this question and you haven't responded.

1/04/2009 5:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky probably meant "Navy Comm" since both mean the same to him.....What a Boob!

1/05/2009 8:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served with CDR Hill on a shore tour prior to his at sea command tour, he was my immediate superior. I know CDR Hill has nothing but the best intentions in mind. Unfortunately the manner in which he executes those intentions is of a bygone era that fails to promote team/consensus building. Shortly after his arrival the already shaky moral completely collapsed taking the trust and initiative of the staff as well. I know CDR Hill possessed the capacities, in their individual state, to command a submarine, but lacked the binding agent to bring them all together. In the two years I served with CDR Hill much was reinforced in the principles of leadership: praise in public, punish in private, loyalty up the chain of command is equally important to loyalty down the chain of command and the secret to leading a crew is the individual sailor-because sometime we are all that sailor. The tragedy here is not one man's career but the crew that lost a Captain and the others churned in the wake.

1/05/2009 7:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said... There was a 688 CO in Pearl Harbor that got relieved for cause in around 2000 for command climate. They had like 45 captain's masts in 7 months, and then a crewmember committed suicide."

I remember that incident when I was stationed in Pearl. It was a long time ago, so please forgive me.

I actually knew the chief who had to accompany the Navy official to the kids' parents house to inform them of what happened.

From what I recall, a young sailor had recently qualified and was being hounded by the command because he had marks on his chest from his dolphins (read: tacked on). The command wanted him turn over the names of the people who were involved and threatened him with Captains Mast.

The sailor involved was standing top-side watch, locked and loaded his weapon and committed suicide.

Was a damn shame because the kid was well-liked.

1/06/2009 12:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said... There was a 688 CO in Pearl Harbor that got relieved for cause in around 2000 for command climate. They had like 45 captain's masts in 7 months, and then a crewmember committed suicide."

That was 1996, and in fairness, the CO was a great guy. But, after seeing the bruising from having the fish tacked on, he made the decision to keep the crew onboard until the victim told who did it. The worst part of the decision was to put this guy on watch with a weapon who was in a mentally agitated state. There was an unrelated suicide of a topside watch on a 637 in Pearl only a few months later.

1/07/2009 3:03 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Anonymous said:
"That was 1996, and in fairness, the CO was a great guy. But, after seeing the bruising from having the fish tacked on, he made the decision to keep the crew onboard until the victim told who did it. The worst part of the decision was to put this guy on watch with a weapon who was in a mentally agitated state. There was an unrelated suicide of a topside watch on a 637 in Pearl only a few months later."
Your information is factually inaccurate regarding the tacking on incident. After the tacking on, the ship was unable to determine who had done it. The investigation was ultimately taken over by SUBPAC and CSS1 couldn't figure it out either. The CO was off island during the latter stages of this. The CSP CoS directed the ship locked down until someone came forward. The victim of the hazing could no longer take the pressure of being leaned on to cough up the names, and he shot himself while standing topside watch. That was in late 1994 or early 1995, because LA was outboard another vessel at the time, and that was where I reported to a short time later.
The great part of the story is the CSP CoS went on to flag (another known screamer/ass), and the CO was relieved for cause.

1/07/2009 1:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...The victim of the hazing."

In all fairness, was the kid a "victim?"

When I qualified, I got mine tacked on too and had no problem with it and saw it as a right of passage. In my case, people were respectful and did not get carried away, and followed the tack on with a hearty hand-shake and a "congratulations."

In my observations on my boat, the small minority of people who were disliked by the crew were never touched after they received their fish and people generally ignored them after the CO pinning ceremony.

IMHO, the reason the Navy has a stance on hazing is because people got stupid and abused it, consequently causing injuries.

Using anything other than you hand/fist (i.e., a pipe or other large, blunt object) to tack on fish is a complete disrespect to the individual who receives said fish.

1/07/2009 1:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before "tacking-on-dolphins" came into vogue, we used to "drink-our-dolphins" at the crews local "watering hole". It involved a mixing glass size load of booze with the bar rag wrung out on top of it. Drop in the dolphins, then down-the-hatch catching the dolphins in your teeth. I threw-up that mess about 10 minutes after drinking mine in the Starlight in Yokosuka in 1962. Years later a couple of guys died of alcohol poisoning after drinking their dolphins, and that was the end of that "ceremony".

Of course, there were a lot more single sailors in the Navy back then as well as a lot more alcohol consumption. Most of us had a favorite "submarine watering hole" ashore and much off-duty time was spent there.

Being promoted back then also required being thrown over the side. I know a skipper on a fleet snorkel boat in the 60's when promoted to CDR, managed to take four guys with him as they "wrassled" him over the side.

We used to have swim call also.. My last time for that was on SSBN 619B in 1963 off the west coast of Mexico on the way to the Panama canal. I was the shark-watch with an M1 on the missile deck.

Today I'm sure all that is cause for a CO's relief.

Keep a zero bubble......


1/07/2009 3:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you can still foster morale, esprit de corps, and motivate people without pushing the limits. And most of it won't get you fired. On my boat we had at least 5 swim calls - including one (very short) on the Equator. Also had beer day after being at sea for 65 days straight. Played carols on a kazoo in the crews mess while underway on Christmas Eve. Challenged the OOD to drive as close as he could to the intersection of the Intl Date Line and the Equator (as measured on RLGN). Then did it again, in reverse (i.e. we practiced the required skill of submerged backing). Hit golf balls off the stbd fairwater plane into tomorrow (east to west over the date line). It just takes some common sense precautions, a really good XO and COB, and a desire to have some fun. That, along with doing important things on deployment, is what makes enduring the day to day difficulties possible. Man, do I miss it.

1/07/2009 6:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sub in Pearl Harbor had two suicides. One was in like 1995, and the second was in 2000. The first CO was popular, the one in 2000 was less so. Lots of CO's masts. 8 EDMC's in one year.

1/07/2009 9:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My last boat had horrible command climate and yet im sure the CO is well on his way to making Admiral yet all the officers and crew hated the man. The command philosophy was to only recognize those were going to re-enlist. The CO's crew retention rate was dismal. The dept. heads all got a COM no matter how good(WEPS) or incompetent(old NAV) they were. No beards underway. He even issued an order that only one crew member can use the smoke pit at a time and pawned that and most of his crazy ideas off on the COB so he could run around playing the good guy. Nobody bought it yet we still had a great crew and very successful deployment. Luckily for the CO was blessed with really high quality subordinates that made his shit smell like roses.

1/10/2009 1:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! No beards underway! Retroactively DFC the man!

1/10/2009 6:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony and I were Jo's together. Alright guy to have have a beer with, but he was very talented and driven professionally and didn't seem able to understand that not everyone could meet his standards. He had a temper, and more than one officer called him on it. I had assumed he would have learned better after all those years...I guess not.

1/10/2009 5:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember being on the Cheyenne with CDR (then LT) Hill as weps. He was a good guy outside of work. I actually got along quite well with him. I remember getting my arse chewed on two separate occasions by him, because I was taking too long to start an air charge (It was one of those newer HPADS, He didn't want to hear my reasoning for slow tower bleeds and my personal desire not to simultaneously blow out 7 O-rings by going faster). I remember him being very harsh on certain members of the crew, some to the point of breaking. It was what I saw towards those members of the crew that I have I have to say, I'm not surprised of his DFC.

1/12/2009 12:35 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

The young man on the LA may not have been a victim before the investigation started, but he was certainly referred to as the victim after the fact. He may very well have been a willing participant.

It is possible to have fun. On three ships I have had 'old school' crossing the line ceremonies, but on one we just had dinner and a movie. Had two swim calls on my second ship, plenty on a boomer, and did two while in command. Oh, and beards were okay if we were out for a while.

1/16/2009 1:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting article concerning the firing of VADM Naughton of the USNA. According to the article Naughton had a history of abusing subordinates.


1/19/2009 1:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, right, right. I get all of the "command climate" stuff. But we'll start down a slippery slope when all it takes for a CO to get fired is being a hard-a&* and/or a screamer. Sometimes an organization it so screwed up due to poor training, bad apples, etc... that it takes the CO to fix. And sometimes the fix is painful.

Sure, it'd be great if we could all be Gene Fluckey, but sometime it takes a Patton kick in the *(S to get things going in the right direction. God forbid if the bad apples are able to prevent positive change just by complaining about the CO being a screamer.

I'm not saying that's what happened on WV. Just something to consider.

1/19/2009 3:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know CDR Hill personally, but know his Brother-in-law (another turd Navy Officer) LCDR Mike Biery. Sounds like they were cut from the same screamer mold (maybe inbred cousins). Talk about a screamer! I suppose they get together at family reunions and compare units to see who is more "Important".

3/18/2009 2:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And nobody talked about the collision the 736 had with the sunshine express... Ripped our bouy off while alert... Loss of comms and a shitty coverup story... There is always more to the story

5/25/2012 11:17 AM

Anonymous Marion said...

This can't work in fact, that is exactly what I consider.

8/24/2012 9:14 PM

Anonymous Jada said...

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9/04/2012 1:43 AM


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