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.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

British MoD Reveals Number Of Royal Navy Submarine Fires And Collisions

In response to a question submitted in Parliament following the recent collision between British and French SSBNs, the British Ministry of Defence (sic) announced that British nuclear-powered submarines have had 230 fires and 14 collisions in the last 21 years. Excerpts from a BBC article:
The other incidents consisted of groundings, collisions with fishing vessels and HMS Tireless's coming together with an iceberg while on arctic patrol in 2003.
Mr Ainsworth said: "The Royal Navy has no records of collisions between nuclear powered submarines and other submarines and naval vessels other than the recent incident involving HMS Vanguard and French submarine Le Triomphant."...
...The MoD described the 213 "small-scale" fires as "localised" incidents, such as a minor electrical fault, "dealt with quickly and effectively using minimal onboard resources".
In contrast, the 21 "medium-scale" fires were caused by the failure of mechanical equipment, "requiring use of significant onboard resources". Three further fires broke out while vessels were docked at a naval base.
A press release by the anti-nuclear SNP detailed the 14 collisions:
HMS Superb grounding in the Red Sea in May 2008.
HMS Tireless struck an iceberg while on Arctic Patrol in May 2003.
HMS Trafalgar grounded on Fladda-chuain in November 2002.
HMS Triumph grounded in November 2000.
HMS Victorious grounded, while surfaced, on Skelmorlie Bank in November 2000.
HMS Trenchant grounded off the coast of Australia in July 1997.
HMS Repulse grounded in the North Channel in July 1996.
HMS Trafalgar grounded off the Isle of Sky in July 1996.
HMS Valliant grounded in the North Norwegian Sea in March 1991.
HMS Trenchant snagged the fishing vessel Antares in the Arran Trench in November 1990.
HMS Spartan grounded west of Scotland in October 1989.
HMS Sceptre snagged the fishing vessel Scotia in November 1989.
HMS Conqueror collided with the yacht Dalriada off the Northern Irish coast in July 1988.

All the vessels, apart from HMS Superb, which was decommissioned in October 2008, were repaired and returned to service.
This works out to one collision/snagging/grounding about every 18 months; this seems to be about half as often as the U.S. Navy has problems with its submarines. On the other hand, since we have significantly more that twice as many submarines, and have correspondingly more subamarine-days of operation per year, I'd say that the rate of accidents in the U.S. Submarine Force is significantly less than it is for the Brits. Will this finally put to rest the old canard that we Americans should adopt the British model of only allowing non-nuclear trained officers to command submarines because they're supposedly better and more experienced mariners?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote: "that we Americans should adopt the British model of only allowing non-nuclear trained officers to command submarines because they're supposedly better and more experienced mariners?"

I gotta ask, what's their logic behind their stance that non-nuclear trained officers make better boat drivers? How do the Brits figure that one.

Isn't nice that we won the Revolution so we don't have to pay any attention to the Brits? Since they've had twice as many problems than we have, perhaps the Brits should switch from Earl Grey tea to Folgers coffee. Maybe they'ed stay awake so they quit running into stationary objects all the time.

4/03/2009 10:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old canard or not, it is important to note that there is significantly more attention to seamanship/warfighting deficiences of USN submarine officers today. Been a lot written in NIP on these deficiences due to focus on Nuc Plant at expense of above.

I believe the RN model has more to do with their traditional clear split between engineering and deck duties and responsibilites than anything else.

I'm not convinced that the data presented tells you much of anything other than driving submarines is inherently dangerous.

My two cents, and keep a zero bubble...........


4/03/2009 12:00 PM

Blogger Lou said...

...The MoD described the 213 "small-scale" fires as "localised" incidents, such as a minor electrical fault, "dealt with quickly and effectively using minimal onboard resources".

How many of those were in the clothes dryers? :)

4/03/2009 12:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After 20 years on subs (granted, i was enlisted, but you still get a good feel for the skill levels of the OODs), I have seen this swing both ways. I have seen super nukes that couldn't drive the boat to save their lives, and I have seen terrific drivers that couldn't operate the nuclear plant on their best day.

I was also lucky enough to work for several officers that could not only do nuclear, but drove with the best of them. These men were the reason I stayed in as long as I was a real pleasure to watch them work.

I really think it has more to do with the training the officer gets as a JO. If he gets a CO, XO combination that are weak on tactics, but thrilled about propulsion, that's where his emphasis will fall. If he gets a tactical wizard to learn from, he will excel at that.

I don't know how to cure the problem. The only way I can see around it is to ensure that these JOs get some time with a tactician. They already get enough power plant time, and a reasonably good EWS can keep anyone out of trouble back aft.

4/03/2009 1:19 PM

Anonymous Douches said...

"dealt with quickly and effectively"
both relative to originator's opinion

" using minimal onboard resources".

that's like, "it'll be in the last place you look"

4/03/2009 2:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


"This works out to one collision/snagging/grounding about every 18 months; this seems to be about half as often as the U.S. Navy has problems with its submarines."

Well, there are about half dozen more not listed - that I know about since 2001. Depends on what you classify a problem.

Here is our list as I know it (minus 2 not listed):

Greeneville - Feb 2001
Greeneville - Aug 2001
Greeneville - Jan 2002
Dolphin - May 2002
OKC - Nov 2002
Hartford - Oct 2003
San Francisco - Jan 2005
Philadelphia - Sep 2005
MSP- Nov 2006
SFE -Ju1 2006
Newport News - Jan 2007
Hartford - Mar 2009

"Will this finally put to rest the old canard that we Americans should adopt the British model of only allowing non-nuclear trained officers to command submarines because they're supposedly better and more experienced mariners?"

I certainly hope so.

As a Perisher grad myself, I am absolutely convinced that our way is best for us and I worry that while the Brits are damned good forward (on par at times but certainly not better than us), they will have problems aft that hurt us all because the standards aft are not even close.

4/03/2009 7:45 PM

Anonymous malsh said...

Enlisted nukes suck. Bunch of WoW fanatics. Most nuc officers suck too. So IMHO all nukes suck. Cones rule! Come on...its a hot rock for crying out loud. Get over yourselves!!!

FTN I'm out in 2 years!

4/04/2009 12:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the Nukes can't suck too badly since they're the only ones receiving SRBs from 75K to 90K...or is more than that nowadays?

What's the matter? Are you jealous of the fact that Nukes take home a serious SRB and can make 1st class within 4 years? Plus most of them can gain a line commission almost by snapping their fingers.

Just shut up about Nukes. You don't like 'em then don't talk about 'em.

4/04/2009 2:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just wait. Now that they took away all of the SRB's from the Cones coupled with the new Post 9-11 GI bill you're going to see a mass exodus of cones headed off to college. I've been in 8 years, made first class at six, got two years left in the Navy and then it's out and off to college. George Mason here I come, albeit 10 years later than I expected. But that's how the cookie crumbles.

BTW, most of the 4 or 5 yr first class nukes I've come across seem to be a bit immature for the rank. We had one guy that re-enlisted for 90k and was compacting trash...because he is a dirt bag and can't be trusted back in the engine room.

To be a nuke on a submarine is just plain shitty. Plain and simple, the juice is not worth the squeeze. That's why they have such high SRB's. Their lives suck and only get suckier on a daily basis. The only times their lives don't suck are when they get out of the Navy and get a cushy job at a plant. So NO, I am not jealous, you are probably just trying to reassure yourself that you life doesn't suck as bad as it does. ORSE ring a bell???

However I have come across one or two that are stand up guys. But those are few and far between.

4/04/2009 4:09 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Back in Jan2007 the sub force was doing a lot of soul searching (R-1, every 2 years) after MSP and NNS. When mentioning the brits, all ANYONE says is 'wow, they are so good, our accident rate is way higher than theirs.' I have heard this stance from at least three flag officers.

I wonder, if the numbers are really more even, are we doing the right thing to praise all the "Perisher" fleets? Bah. They didn't win WWII in the Pacific, we did.

4/04/2009 6:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ORSE? UMM…Yeah. It rings a big bell. That inspection and exam is like a woman enduring a couple of days of serious cramps and heavy red flow. She doesn't want it, she doesn't like it, but it is absolutely fucking necessary to get through the process. That is exactly what MTs, ETs, MMs, and EMs and Eng/Reactor Officers experience for two days while undergoing an ORSE exam. No sleep, a lot of stress and high blood pressure from hell. Ever try getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep while the NPEB team is aboard the boat? You may as well stock up on Redbull and Gatorade because you'll not have a moment's piece till the inspection is completed.
Trust me, the CO and XO are doing the same thing.

Orse isn't so bad as long as we maintain proper daily safety checks in the areas of you know where and details of you know what. We know what the ORSE team is checking for, so I'll not spell it out on a public forum.

ORSE doesn't have a whole lot to do with you trashing Nukes. Regardless of a sailor's rate, it's up to him as to how he wishes to proceed. If he wants to slip and slide and not do his job accordingly and not study for the next exam along with putting a half-assed effort in upcoming C schools, then yeah, it will catch up to him. Eventually his active duty time will turn in to a miserable life while looking for an escape in to CIVLANT.

You get out in two years, that's great if that's what you want. But be careful, the grass ain't always greener on the other side of the fence. I hope you realize that.

4/04/2009 3:26 PM

Blogger Henson said...

Someone posted about the "mass exodus of cones headed off to college" that we're about to see, and I think this is a much more important comment than a bunch of nucs and coners pissing on trees marking territory.

We have certain forward ratings that are charged with things like, well, keeping the boat off the land and away from other ships, and the new personnel policies seem tailored to rip the most experienced and useful people out of those ratings. This will leave the driving of the ship to the guys who are either too timid to leave a Navy that is obviously trying to get rid of them in a bad economy (read up on the new "Force Stabilization Policy" if you doubt that, it's an eye-opener) or just aren't marketable on the outside to begin with. Between the incredible new GI Bill, the expansion of Perform To Serve to include the whole freakin' Navy and the poke in the eye SRBs just got, the best boat operators among the forward enlisted ratings are being encouraged to leave the force. Is this making us safer, or is it just saving us money?

We did the same thing with training a few years ago. A certain hard drinking Captain (now Admiral) decided that we need to recapitalize our training sites and focus exclusively on computer based training, core competencies such as, oh, a functional understanding of electronics, navigation or TMA be damned. 4 years later we've seen 1.5 major incidents per year since the change, and that doesn't count certain low profile major SSBN incidents that have recently gathered attention in the force. What are we doing to ourselves? Are we making ourselves so efficient at management that we're no longer effective at warfighting and shipdriving? It seems that way to this Sailor - which is why I'm on the way out. I joined the Submarine force to be among the best, not to be managed to death like any other corporate drone. The Navy will never turn a profit, and some of the MBA's leading the fleet need to figure that out.

4/04/2009 7:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

J- Well said. The Navy is shooting its self in the foot by taking away SRB's. Ask most people why they joined the Navy and the most common answer is for the college money. This new GI bill is incredible and a whole lot of sailors will be getting out to take advantage of it. Besides getting "girls to give up them guts" its a hot topic on crews mess!

4/04/2009 7:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I read a lot of negative stuff about RN Submariners and Perisher here. I'm no Anglophile, however I would hope that we might learn something out of "benchmarking" how they learn to drive submarines other than a general statement that they're crap. My read of an article in NIP addressing the Submarine Officer "problems" related to too much focus aft and not enough focus on seamanship and fighting the ship lead me to believe that it was a worthwhile effort. I don't believe for a minute that we need to model our training after RN. Their shipboard organizational model is totally different than ours. It looks a lot more like a merchant marine model with once deck always deck, once engine always engine. It seems to work well enough for them and after sailing with a CGMMD on MSC T-AE's for five years it works very well with Civilian Manned Service force Ships, now 41 by my count. I digress.....

Re: Pacific Submarine War, a careful reading of the literature as well as my own personal submarine experience in 60's and 70's with a shrinking number of WWII submariners still serving seems to indicate that the start of the war Sub Skippers were all relieved quickly as non productive. Clay Blair reported the opinion of the Senior WWII Submariners that there seemed to be no magic combination of personality, education, and combat exposure for picking star skippers, that it seemed to be pretty much of a crap shoot so to speak. One thing is for certain though, submarine Officer focus from day one in WWII was fighting the ship, submarine quals, seamanship.

Ain't no going back. The KOG's cultural and engineering legacy is too strongly embedded to undo. I'm hoping that recent changes in place for PCO school and more seamanship/warfighting training for JO's helps.

My only caution comes from the report that senior submariner ranks opposed Vern Clarks idea to lease HMS Gotland for two years to see what the AIP Submarine could really do. Their claim was we could just put a noise maker on one of our nukes to simulate an AIP. He over rode their objections and went ahead with the project. I can tell you stories about how badly the Gotland crew was treated by our submariners in San Diego as many of us old hands perceived as "payback." It's a good thing he didn't listen to them because we discovered they are a hell of a problem in skilled hands. Are our senior submariners open minded enough today to really listen and learn? I hope so......

My two cents and keep a zero bubble...........


4/04/2009 9:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god--please leave that sorry ass canard of "perisher makes us better" in the trash where it belongs. Only one Navy has a tradition of successful submarine warfare...the U.S. Navy. You can give the Nazi's a nod in that their submariners were incredibly brave--but not particularly successful if you examine just how many ships they lost (~751).

The British have a respectable Navy and fine submarine crews, but really, should we follow their training programs? What conflict can they point to that indicates they know how to do something better than we do? Please!

It was pretty clear to me as an RC-Diver that my job was to keep my Div-O out of trouble so he could learn how to drive the boat. The enlisted Nuc's in the U.S. Navy would be nuclear officers in the Royal Navy. I can recall some Brit's asking us for a "can of phosphate" when they were in Pearl. Our leading ELT and I went over there to see what they wanted--turned out they shot chemicals into their Steam Generators in a pre-measured/pre-canned quantity and that their DOC (OMG!) was the guy who did it...WTF, Oscar...

Since it was a Rolls-Royce S5W copy our MM1(SS) did a sample and got their chemistry straightened out...

ETC(SS), ret

4/04/2009 9:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, lets get one thing right here in regards to the new Post 9-11 GI Bill and the elimination of the cones SRB's.

1st off, Congress is responsible for the new GI bill, not big Navy.

2nd off, the SRB elimination is the result of big Navy crunching numbers due to widespread budget cuts and the GWOT.

I would give it until FY 10 or 11 when we start seeing the SRB's for the Cones coming back. Big Navy isn't going to have a choice. This new GI bill is too lucrative to pass up.

4/05/2009 1:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the different approach to the officer corps (RN vs US), I doubt for a minute that either model is significantly better than the other.

For example, I witnessed a submarine exercise betwen one of our Groton 688's against the Dutch Walrus. While the US crew was quite arrogant in how they were going to "hand them their ass", quite the opposite happened! Why? Was the platform better? No. The WALRUS systems were not nearly as complex. Was the crew any better? Over those two weeks they were!

I am very cautious to ever catagorically say one model is better than the other. There are elements in the way they do business that has merit.

For instance....why can't we establish the engineering officer path? Let them get really smart on the propulsion plant and provide wise counsel to the CO. The CO is still responsible for the operation of the propulsion plant, but this would allow more time devoted through his upbringing to get more experience in the ship driving trade.

When a new JO shows up to the submarine, he has already endured one year of technical training for the propulsion plant. He also received a short phase at SUB School where he learned the basics of submarining. When he goes to his boat, he shifts his training focus back to the propulsion plant and will spend about a year focussed on qualifying aft and aft watch-standing. Eventually, he will shift his efforts forward of the water tight door and qualify as a forward watch stander. Once this is done, he will still stand the majority of his watch aft, until his gains sufficient experience and rolls up on the seniority for OOD. Now fully qualified and standing watch forward, we shift his attention once again to the propulsion plant when we send him off to PNEO! Once successfully qualified as ENGR Officer, he negotiates for orders and leaves his first submarine assignment; or he is totally frustrated at the way the submarine force is managed and decides to leave the service. Regardless, we have that JO for 30 months to train him and give him sufficient experience to become a competent DH. Out of the (nominal) 30 months, he spends 24 months (maybe less if his PNEO dates are waived to < 24 months) in training and quals and only 6 months as a fully qualified officer standing watch and gaining the full experience of watchstanding and leading his watch team.

Now consider, removing all but basic propulsion training from his path. Look at how much more seamanship and tactical experience he would gain.

While we bash the other navies for their bifucated approach at manning the officer ranks, I think we have to be honest and admit that our approach doesn't make sense.

This blog has already gone long, so I won't even mention the poor decision to keep combining FWD ratings to save money!

It's time that the senior submarine leaders quit trying to run the Sub force as a busines and operate it as a military force for which it was designed.

4/05/2009 1:59 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Anon said: "a shrinking number of WWII submariners still serving seems to indicate that the start of the war Sub Skippers were all relieved quickly as non productive.." Absolutely true. Product of peacetime selection. My suspicion now is that we do much more in peace time now to be ready for war. I have to leave it there.

New GI bill=disaster. Read Freakonomics. We have emplaced a system (due to a man with no integrity, Jim Webb, leading the charge) that gives benefits far out of whack with the amount paid in. We provide great motivation to leave the military instead of to stay. Very bad business.

As to Perisher Navies, they are very good. Absolutely. If we had four of five subs and our limited officer corps could only go ship to ship to ship then we would be better ship drivers. But we are not in that world. I, for one, am very glad to count the Perisher Navies as allies.

On the topic of the Gotland, well, there is much more that has not been said. I won't even bother going into it except to say that it was never the intent for the sub force to get something out of it. Or, if it was, we boogered it up; because I can tell you we did not do anything to 'study it'. And yes, AIP is cool, but it still uses fuel, and it still can't run around at high speed for very long. Physics is a bitch.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Perisher Navies are almost always Port and Starboard underway. How's that for a 67 day op?

4/05/2009 5:55 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Tactics has been mentioned here, including some words on how recent changes to the PCO pipeline are improving it.

Not to burst anyone's bubble, but the Submarine Command Course, nay, the entire submarine officer career path, includes precisely ZERO formal tactical training. We dissect (!) tactical moves during peacetime mission debriefs, but I have never had a 'tactical expert' dissect an attack center session move by move to improve tactics.

SCC was conceived as a 'crucible' event, like Perisher (thanks to the anglophiles) and it lost all tactical instruction. To illustrate, the tactical phase was all about shooting 20+ torpedoes in <24hrs in extremely limited scenarios (start SSNs in 2x2 box..go). The goal was to shoot ordnance, not tactics.

If I sound pissy it is because I always wished I was better at that side of the job. After all, the CO is the only one who ever teaches tactics. Well, other than saying, "What does the manual say."

4/05/2009 6:05 AM

Blogger jq5 said...

Directly comparing the number of incidents vs. the number of operational submarines in each fleet is a gross oversimplification and is not a valid comparison. There are many more factors to consider. Even a nuke should be able to understand that.

The ratio of time spent in challenging operating environments vs. open ocean, national commitment to the submarine fleet in providing funding for maintenance and training, tactical proficiency, among other factors, would have to be compared as well.

It is expected that a product of the institution would be the first to defend it, but seriously. Your entire argument presupposes that the single most important metric for selecting between the two philosophies is avoiding incidents.

That's pathetic, and I would say even more evidence that the nuclear mindset is contrary to good submarining. Strict formality and procedural compliance are no substitute for tactical innovation and decisive action based on an intimate knowledge of the environment, the ship and the enemy.

4/05/2009 8:07 AM

Blogger Henson said...

My earlier comment was not a complaint about the loss of SRB, nor was it attempting to lay blame for this incredible (in more ways than one) new GI Bill. It was more a warning note about the brain drain that the combination of these two policies is going to cause over the next few years.

When you pair the incredible new benefit of leaving the Navy (in some states you actually make more money in college than you would in the Navy when you factor in tuition) with the new initiatives from BUPERS that are designed to encourage people to leave, ask yourselves who is going to be left in a couple years? Are we going to be left with the ambitious go-getters and strong thinkers, or will the force be left with the unambitious, the unmarketable, and the bitter guys who are stuck because their wives make 'em?

Consider this: Perform to Serve is now being extended come October to everyone in the Navy with less than 20 years. With all of the forward ratings currently overmanned at E-6, you cannot be assured of a retirement any more. It is a realistic scenario for a Sailor to spend 16 years in the Navy and be denied re-enlistment as a Chief or First Class. That hypothetical Sailor, who probably made a career decision at zone B to remain in until retirement, is now out on the street with nothing but his savings, which given his expectation of a pension are probably less than they should be, and social security once he's old enough. Do you expect the smart guys to take that risk, or the less smart ones? Let's be real here.

It will be the law of unintended consequences perfectly illustrated in the force. The GI Bill is a laudable benefit for servicemembers. The Navy is making a positive effort to control manning better than it has in the past. Both of these are good ideas, but together they present a big potential for headaches down the road.

4/05/2009 8:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"With all of the forward ratings currently overmanned at E-6, you cannot be assured of a retirement any more. It is a realistic scenario for a Sailor to spend 16 years in the Navy and be denied re-enlistment as a Chief or First Class."

If this should come to pass, it won't very long or else no-one will stay in the Navy. They'll do their 4 to 6 years and get out. If you take the safety net of retirement possibilities away, we'll have almost no experienced leadership left.

It is getting harder and more competitive to stay in and make rate nowadays. The one good thing is that this process weeds out the morons and lazy asses. The rates holding at CREO 3 at the 1st class level is going to be a major stumbling block for some who want to stay in. The guys who want to stay in better have not just 5 but 10 years of straight EPs. Plus they are going to have to score in the top 10% of their rating exam. Then hopefully pass their Chief's board too.

This sort of trend happens about every 10 to 12 years if you notice. We get cut to the bone in manning and budgets Navy-wide. Then once some one hollars loud enough, congress reverses the process and we end up spending twice as much to recruit, train, rebuild, and create a new Navy from after getting everything taken away do a budget restraint during peace time.

4/05/2009 11:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I'd like to see is for us to get rid of the CWO ranks. E-7s thru E-9s pretty much do the same jobs as CWOs, or at least they can. Plus you can always expand the LDO program where the CWO program left off. That way, a few more guys who would like to retire as an 04-05 LDO has a better chance to do so. That is assuming they have the aptitude and qualities to ascend to such levels.

Last thing, Create an E-10 rate too. All CMCs and FMCs and the MCPON can be E-10s.

4/05/2009 11:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "What I'd like to see is us get rid of the CWO ranks."

Let me see---Seems I heard that as the rational for the creation of the "Super Chief" pay grades of E-8 and E-9 in the late 50's. But that didn't last long for a variety reasons. The only service that held true to the rational was the USAF which has no CWO's.

My two cents and keep a zero bubble.........


4/05/2009 12:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


On the topic of Gotland. Based on my "informal" submarine contacts in San Diego plus a tour of the boat provided by the Swedish CHENG, I think the current Submarine Big Guys got their heads in their a** if they never intended to learn anything from Gotland.

We all recognize the limitations of straight conventional or AIP submarines. I don't know of any Navies buying or building AIP boats that are into power projection and need to go somewhere fast--do you? My point--if we intend to put our SSN's into waters where we have to deal with these types of threats why aren't we learning how to deal with them? Sounds to me, based on another comment regarding SSN Vs HMNS Walrus, we arn't really interested in learning anything because we believe we don't need to. The mind set seems to me to be we have the best boats and we are superb operators plus technology will be the fix--read CBASS MK 48. I recall reading a post on this blog a while back about operating against HMNS Walrus and the MK 48 "killed" the firing ship rather than the target.

Those conventional/AIP guys focus all the time on how to get the max advantage out of their boats against an SSN adversary, well a lot of time anyway. We spend zero on learning how to defeat them, just put that ol'MK 48 in the water and it'll do the rest. Pretty sad......

My two cents and keep a zero bubble..............


4/05/2009 12:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...but I have never had a 'tactical expert' dissect an attack center session move by move to improve tactics."
I'm not sure what class you were in, but during the last 4 SCC classes I've had to support (just since 2005), we spent quite alot of time in 'replay' or 'hot-wash' (whether in an AC or at sea) going over mistakes made.

As to the PTS for everyone, the only ones that really have to worry in the submarine force are the persistently overweight & the gross underperformers. Everyone else shouldn't have any problems staying in to 20 if that's what they desire. CPO's at 20+ will need to be doing something useful instead of just banking years for retirement pay while filling some fluff job or taking up a PO1 billet. The drawdown #'s aren't harsh at all compared to the ones from the early to mid 90's, and this will let us get rid of some of the chaff.

PO1's & up will definitely be able to see 20 as long as they are doing their job & meeting the (relatively lowball) physical standards.

My experience in PCO/PXO ops is the Brits & Aussies did just fine tactically, and that almost HALF of our own officers in the last few classes had to have clues handed to them. The rest did just fine, and the disparity in tactical skill levels from one student to the next was pretty obvious.

As to the # of accidents, "there are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are statistics". The number of OUR mishaps is grossly under-reported.


4/05/2009 2:45 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

We can and should learn to operate against SSK/SSG with our allies. We take every opportunity to do so. To find those quiet bastards takes good equipment and good operators. The 48 does a great job...but only if you shoot at the right place--and first. (but I would still like to ditch stop watches)

This quote will sum up the ship driving argument, and I agree with it. A Perisher PCOI said to a US PCOI "Your best is better than my best, but my average is better than your average." They do spend more time on ship driving, and it shows. As an officer, it is to your advantage to be on an SSN as a JO and DH so you can get maximum ship driving practice. Because the next time you drive it's as a CO.

4/05/2009 2:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Israeli armor commander, Israel Tal, when asked which of the world's tanks were the best (choosing between the US, Soviet, Israeli, and British tanks), responded that the best tank was the one with the best crew.

This is analogous when comparing GOTLAND, WALRUS, LOS ANGELES, or VIRGINIA. The best submarine is the one with the best crew. The question we must ask ourselves is what comprises the best crew? The best engineering performance? Yes. The propulsion plant operators must understand their role and how it fits in to the overall ship's mission. The best navigational performance? Yes. The navigation team must understand their role and get the ship to the fight safely? The best tactical performance? Yes. The tactical watchstanders must know their weapons and must know tactics.

A submarine (or any ship) is thought of by the fleet commander as a single weapons system. It is up to the crew (the CO, really) to ensure that his crew is ready to deliver the goods that the navy expects.

All of the comparisons between perisher, SCC, and the ROW training pipelines are all well and good, but the submarine that will be able to fight, sustain combat damage, and to be able to keep fighting is the one that has trained the entire crew to fight.

4/05/2009 7:25 PM

Anonymous MM1/SS (Nuc Type) said...

It's funny seeing the disparity between senior people's "view" of the Navy...and the reality.

I'm gonna discuss the nukes. Sorry, but I try not to get involved with the Fwd end of the boat ratings. Got more than enough issues back aft.

Right now, the Submarine force is in dire straights. things have gotten bad...way beyond any acceptable limits...and yet it appears it will get even worse.

In Pearl Harbor alone, you can visit any single 688 and find barely enough personnel for ships to get to sea...and now they take the bonus away.

I'll be upfront. The only reason 9/10 nukes re-enlist is the bonus. The extra crow is nice, but it's all about the $$$.
- when you get down to it, any competant idiot can make rate to E-4/5 in the Navy...and E-6 in 99% of the Sub rates. blaming locked rates for you inability to advance is crap.
- I feel for A-gang, and that is it. They have a ton of super-tards who do 20yrs and have fully blocked the advancement system.

FWD guys always bitch and moan about nukes, but why? Do you really think a $60,000 (or bigger) bonus is fair compensation?

I don't. My job flat out sucks. 100+ hours a week in Port...and roughly 90 hours a week at Sea...if nothing is broken...which is a huge qualifier.

And now Big Navy says I have to conduct PTS...but my bonuse got dropped as well...and the horizon has scary implications that the 20 yrs I'm working for won't materialize...where is the motivation to Stay Navy

The Navy Times about 2-weeks back said the Navy is short about 960 odd Enlisted Nukes. That is just sad. At the current rate, I give it 2 yrs.

yep, 2yrs before the proverbial s**t hits the fan and Subs/Carriers are unable to go underway. Something huge has to change.

Fool me once...shame on you
-offer me tons of $$$ and I'll re-enlist for more punishment. where do I sign?

Fool me twice...shame on me.
-where is my money?...oh, none...what? You expect me to voluntarily be your whipping boy?
-hardly...I'll get out and go to college using those awesome GI Bill benefits.

Wake up Navy. You are driving away the best/brightest. All so you can become a carbon copy of the Army. We don't need idiot automatons, we need experienced trained operators.

luckily my delusion has worn off. 9 yrs, E-6, EP sailor, E-7 eligible. I can and will walk away. There is more to life than being beaten down and worn to a nub.....for nothing more than quotas

dissect my post as you will. it isn't the ranting of a pissed off dirtbag. I would say it's more of a realization by a senior guy who has just had enough.

The glamour wore off years ago. The drudgery is tiresome...and frankly, other than Patriotism, I can find no good reason to stay Navy. I regret the last re-enlistment on a daily basis...and will do so until said enlistment ends

4/06/2009 4:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

MM1/SS (Nuc Type),

Good post. However, the words haven't changed much since I joined the submarine force in 1983. Same stuff was being said back then, right or wrong.

Personally, I wouldn't do what you do back aft and definately wouldn't pimp myself out for money. But it sounds like you have put a dollar amount on yourself, and if that is what you want, go for it.

Just by your post, it sounds like you will stay in. We make friendly wagers in the CPO Quarters on guys like you. Even if you don't stay, four others behind you will. Anyway, keep up the great work, good luck to you and thanks for doing it back there!

4/06/2009 7:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some random thoughts....

The thing that never ceases to amaze me is how things stay the same. I've been out since 1992, and the current active duty nukes still sound exactly like they did back then.

My first year and a half on my 637-class boat in PH was spent port/stbd at sea on the throttles because we kept losing people to drug busts. In port we were 3-section at best. You could count on a 24-hour duty day, with day after duty release after quarters (unless you were dink on something), and then your third day was usually till 4 or 5 pm. This was standard stuff, all bets were off if we were in port getting ready for some kind of workup. That kind of schedule probably didn't amount to a 90-hour week, but it was close.

How can you complain about how long your "work week" is at sea on an SSN? If I got 6 in the rack out of every 18, I was a happy camper (When I was P/S, it was 6 our of every 24.) It didn't always happen, but I don't think I ever sat down back then and did something so ridiculous as calculate my "work week".

You owe it to yourself, and to those who work with you (or perhaps look up to you) to take a long hard look at what you have done with your Navy time. Do you spend it walking around bitching, or spouting off about how short you are? As a senior guy, you have an immense amount of influence on the people below you. What always bothered me was how some people did their best to turn others against the command and the Navy. Why do they need your help with this? Let them decide for themselves if they like it or not, or if they want to re-enlist.

My first year sucked. Then, we got a new engineer and our EDEA (or whatever you call it now, EDMC?) got replaced because he was a pinhead. Those two guys turned it all around, and provided the best leadership I experienced in the Navy.

When I left the boat, I was ready to stay in till retirement. My mistake was leaving PH and going to the East Coast, where sweating the small shit was suddenly a priority, and I had the life sucked out of me.

If I had to do it all over again, I'm not sure I would have ended up staying in...but maybe I would have made some different choices, and hoped for the maturity to recognize that no matter how bad my current command sucked, it could all be over (via transfer) in as little as 3 years, which now seems like the blink of an eye...but it sure seemed like forever then.

4/06/2009 7:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the job market the way it is, the Navy probably doesn't need to offer bonuses anymore. I haven't heard of any recruiting shortfalls in a really long time.

4/06/2009 12:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"With the job market the way it is, the Navy probably doesn't need to offer bonuses anymore. I haven't heard of any recruiting shortfalls in a really long time."

Keep thinking that way. My utility (and not the only one doing so) is AGGRESSIVELY hiring recently EAOSed guys with RO, EWS or EOOW quals for instant SRO positions. Starting pay is about $90k/year for the two years of training required. Then, IF you actually get your NRC license, pay will be a minimum of $130k/year, not counting OT, performance bonuses, and retention bonuses (which are currently being paid). Us six and outs are doing fine, thanks. And BTW, the guys who did 20 plus in the Nav start exactly where we do.

4/06/2009 3:54 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

While I agree that the words stay the same, some things have definitely changed in the fleet and people are getting out. Allow me to illustrate.

Most ships now have not more than 1 E-6 nuke per division. Some do not even have that, or SPUs are being counted as sea-returnees. In the mid 90's there were at least 2 and in some cases three sea-returnees per division.

How fast did this change?
From 2002-2005 the average number of years experience in RC division went from 8 to 3. Think about that. An average of 1 sea tour per person in that division just disappeared. When I left my last ship there was 1 E-6 EM, and no sea-returnees in RC or M divisions. No issues getting underway, but when things break, well, it can be interesting looking for the smart guy.
(I may have those numbers wrong, but it WAS a five year decrease)

The question was 'how do we compensate for it?' There were quite a few shrugs in a room of heavy hitters.

4/06/2009 5:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most ships now have not more than 1 E-6 nuke per division.
Wow, I must be on the boat w/ the smartest nucs and best CCC in Pearl.

We have multiple PO1's in every division in Eng Dep (including A-gang). We have so many nucs 4 section underway it gives the berthing bill coordinator fits (hot-racking the junior guy out of the 4 section folks is a PITA). If your boat is so severely undermaned, your COB, EDMC, & CCC need to get on the phone to Millington to recover from attrites in a timely manner & talking to Squadron & friends for some loaners in the meantime.

I wholeheartedly agree that the low seniority levels aft of the WT door is pretty scary. Multiple PO1's on their very first sea tour. Boot nuc Chief's who roll off their first boat immediately onto another hull #. The depth of experience aft is severely lacking. The # of folks wearing gold stripes back aft I can count on one hand...

SO don't fret about the SRB's going away. They will be back for nucs - probably every year and yes, probably for only a short period each year (until the #'s are met). Forward rates accustomed to them in the past will probably be disappointed for quite awhile.

The PTS for everyone is only going to affect the dirtbags & overweight on submarines. Same as it did when it was just for first-termers. If you are doing your job you will make it to retirement. If you are at 20+, you need to be doing something worthwhile or you might have to retire earlier than desired.


4/06/2009 8:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the forward electronics ratings that should be affected by PTS, I might expect STS to be hardest hit. How manned are you guys at E-6???

Even FTs, a rating with ludicrous advancement opportunity at E-7, is now overmanned by 20% at E-6. You're telling me that 20% of the FTs in the fleet are dirtbags?

All we're doing is reading messages from Millington and crunching the same numbers they are, Chief. It is not as rosy as you say.

"The clothes are so fine that only the most discerning eyes can see them" Perhaps not.

4/06/2009 10:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the forward electronics ratings that should be affected by PTS, I might expect STS to be hardest hit. How manned are you guys at E-6???
My division is at manning at all levels. I know many other boats aren't. We have 2 STS1's onboard (& we just xferred one in Feb). It didn't start that way though. I took over the division under-manned by 5 w/ 2 more leaving in 6 months. I lost a PO1 way before his PRD that first year due to PFA rules. The squeaky wheel really does get the grease though, and by aggressively & proactively communicating with the detailer (multiple times) I was able to get the reliefs I needed in time to man the 3 sec.underway watchbill.

Several times during extended inport periods I CHOSE to run way, way under-manned (farming guys out to other boats, schools & leave, etc) to build up favors & credits - as a result I've never had to put anyone Port & Starboard for more than a few watches (though I definitely use Yeonarman & SK's), and that was normally because we put someone on the beach to get married or have a baby or whatever, & the guys manned up for their buddy.

Going back many years, I was P&S for half of a 5 month deployment because of manning issues as a junior STS2, and I've been both the LPO & only PO1 in the division before - & yes, both cases meant alot more work & alot less sleep. Nobody ever said this job was easy, and as an ST I think I have it easier than most. Pick your rate, pick your fate, & all that.

You're telling me that 20% of the FTs in the fleet are dirtbags? Overmanned by 20% doesn't mean that 20% of those filling out PTS forms wanting to re-up are going to be rejected. The #'s will get trimmed automatically by NOT giving those guys the SRB's (FT's w/ the right NEC's were pulling in almost as much as nucs) - more will get out at EAOS and fewer will stay in. So we'll be able to cull some (but not all) of the garbage. Unfortunately at the same time we're probably also losing some of our best & brigthest w/o the big $$$. If you can figure out a perfect solution that doesn't break the bank, I'm all ears...

I'm not saying it is rosy. Manning on many of the boats IS awful. This is another place where MORE experienced Chiefs can sometimes make a real difference. The difference between an 8yr TIS Chief vice 18yrs... It is definitely harder for nucs in certain spots (rank/rate/NEC dependent), which is again why those huge bonuses are going to be back (especially for nucs) & they'll be targetted based on those #'s in Millington.


4/07/2009 12:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last post above pretty much sums it up. We have people dropping like flies back to CIVLANT like crazy, both forward and aft.

Everyone is pissed off and frightened that they won't make rate since the SRBs flew out the nearest port hole.

In the world of Missile Techs, our CREO is presently at 1/2/2 and holding. Everyone is jumping ship after 4 to 6 years. Right now we are spending a ton of money to send guys off to C school for 60 to 90 days because our manning is so low. Most of our newbies show up with atleast the NEC 3348 completed after A school.

Keep the ones who want to stay, Like Me!! and send the others home. I firmly beleive you should have to earn your way in to C school before it's simply handed to you.

The Navy would save a little money that way.

Tell me I'm wrong

the widgethead who should be heading aft right about now.

4/07/2009 1:04 AM

Anonymous MM1/SS (Nuc Type) said...

Some very good points guys. But I'd like to address this one specifically.

"You owe it to yourself, and to those who work with you (or perhaps look up to you) to take a long hard look at what you have done with your Navy time. Do you spend it walking around bitching, or spouting off about how short you are? As a senior guy, you have an immense amount of influence on the people below you. What always bothered me was how some people did their best to turn others against the command and the Navy. Why do they need your help with this? Let them decide for themselves if they like it or not, or if they want to re-enlist."

I am actually one of the biggest Re-enlistment proponents shipboard and now at my Shore Duty. I tell the guys the good and the bad, and then I point out the monetary and rank benefits of re-enlistment via the Star program.

To me, the Star program is the best thing ever offered by the Navy. Free rank, a pretty hefty chunk of change...and all for 2 more yrs of your life.

On the flip side, I don't put a rosy glow over things. Sub life sucks big time. Those who don't believe so...well I want your job.

I guess you can say I'm sucker for a bone job. I actually like being underway for some weird reason. It's the times downtimes and the pure stupidity of my job that is driving me away.

But hey, there is that old adage. "Choose your rate, choose your fate"...or..."Suck it nuke, you get pro-pay" (btw, I actually had my last COB, a Nav ET, say that to me...go figure)

btw, it's very boring when you've been underway for months on end...and never hit a port. Where do you think that saying "Nothing is more dangerous than a bored Nuke"? You can only look at the same bulkhead and instruments so many times before things get a little bit strange out there.

4/07/2009 1:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The STSC is making several good points about how the sky is NOT falling, the Navy has seen this before, and it is doubtful that there will be a mass exodus of the truly skilled. It is based on a premise, however, that truly raises my hackles as a leader:

The #'s will get trimmed automatically by NOT giving those guys the SRB's (FT's w/ the right NEC's were pulling in almost as much as nucs) - more will get out at EAOS and fewer will stay in. So we'll be able to cull some (but not all) of the garbage.

So all of the people who choose not to reenlist are "garbage" now? That is the attitude that forces some of our best people away with the worst of attitudes, rather than pride in their good accomplishments and a good feeling about their time in. There are a lot of different reasons to make the choice to find a different career after the honorable service of the 5-6 year (NOT 20 year) obligation. We lifers at times feel that anyone who doesn't make the same choice we do somehow "couldn't hack it" or didn't deserve to be there in the first place - and that could not be more wrong.

How many of us have seen people ill-treated by the command and the Chief's mess after announcing that they intend not to re-enlist. And now the new PTS rules REQUIRE that public anouncement a year in advance. It is not just the FTN guys that have bad attitudes at times.

I am not saying that STSC is one of these guys, but the statement quoted above fits the culture that I have seen, where some of us resent it when others make a different choice. Are Sailors who get out after 6-10 years garbage, or are they some of the most highly trained, highly skilled, well rounded and most experienced potential employees among their age group?

Transitioning Sailors deserve our help, not our disdain. They have earned it every bit as much as we have.

4/07/2009 6:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The #'s will get trimmed automatically by NOT giving those guys the SRB's (FT's w/ the right NEC's were pulling in almost as much as nucs) - more will get out at EAOS and fewer will stay in. So we'll be able to cull some (but not all) of the garbage.

So all of the people who choose not to reenlist are "garbage" now?

I don't think that is what he meant. I believe he meant that some people are only shipping over for the money and they are "some" of the ones who will leave.

4/07/2009 10:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa there. STSC(SS) here. What we have here is a failure to communicate! I'll take the blame for that & try to clear it up. So this will be a long post - my apologies.

Your interpretation was 180 out from my intent.

So all of the people who choose not to reenlist are "garbage" now? Absolutely NOT what I meant, but I can see from my previous post how you could interpret it that way. Link the earlier sentence in my previous post with the one you referenced & it will make more sense.

The PTS gets rid of the garbage, NOT people choosing to get out. Most of the people CHOOSING to get out (who would easily screen for PTS to re-up if they wanted) are by and large QUALITY Sailors. Sure, a few of them might be garbage, but they are the small minority.

It will be the combination of PTS AND that of the Sailors who choose to get out that will get our draw-down #'s to where they need to be.

Those wanting to stay in are a diverse group, of varying backgrounds & skill levels. Some are decent but not stellar Sailors who are staying in for various reasons (SRB, family, job stability, health care, etc.) Those in my mind make up the biggest group staying in, & we'll be happy to keep 'em. Not everyone needs to be a superstar to accomplish the mission. A few (shrinking few imho) are thankfully some of our best.

But quite a few others are the guys (also not the majority thank goodness) we use because we're stuck with them - but if given the choice we' offer them the door. That's what PTS is supposed to help with, weeding out the weeds.

We understand already that by cutting SRB's we're going to lose alot of the grass in the yard that we'd like to keep growing (Sailors we like who choose to separate). We do what we can to try to keep 'em but we can't force 'em.

The garbage are the submarine 12-14yr PO2's who are still in & can't advance - & THEY want to stay for 20. Those are guys that we need to move out. The garbage is the 280lb (nuc or cone) on the food for freedom plan who isn't even trying to work out or eat right. The E-6 (not what I'd call a PO1) who has yet to qualify any supervisory watches AT ALL and couldn't lead his way out of a paper bag even if handed a map. The 22+ TIS Chief who hasn't seen his belt buckle in years because of his gut that spends all his time in the Quarters drinking coffee & verbally putting guys down instead of training his men & leading out on the deckplates. THOSE are the guys we need to force out using PTS.

I tell my new check-ins,
"I don't care if you want out, want to do 30 & be MCPON, or anything in between. We'll get along fine as long as you show up to work on time & do what you are told." I don't hold it against my Sailors who choose to get out (even when they make that decision 2+ years before their EAOS) nor do I favor those who spout Hooyah GO Navy. How you are treated should depend on your performance, not your career intentions.

That make more sense?

4/07/2009 3:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did 8 years as a nuke EM in the seventies, got out and went to college. After reading all these comments, it is obvious to me that the Navy STILL has the same management problems, fantastically new technology, but the very same management problems. We never learn. We just change the three letter management acronymns,BUT WE NEVER LEARN!

4/08/2009 6:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys where do you get this supposed British model of command from ? It certainly did'nt exist when I served on boats during my time in the RN {'90s}.
Do you seriously think that ANY government would allow non-nuclear trained CO's in charge of a boat ? it beggars believe !.
The vast majority of Officers within the Submarine branch are Career Men from start to finish who only transfer to General Service if they are in line for greater promotion prospects.

8/17/2009 7:22 AM

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