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.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

USS Hawaii Submariner Death Ruled A Suicide

The death of a Submariner assigned to USS Hawaii (SSN 776) last Friday has been ruled a suicide. Excerpts from this article in The New London Day:
Machinist's Mate Third Class John Carlos Rodriguez, who was assigned to the USS Hawaii, died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the office.
Rodriguez, of Doylestown, Pa., was working early Friday on the pier at the base, said Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group Two public affairs officer.
He was taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London around 5 a.m. Friday after the incident. He was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m., according to the hospital...
...”We grieve with the family,” Rear Adm. Bruce E. Grooms, commander of Submarine Group Two, said Tuesday, calling it an “unfortunate incident.”
”We are investigating what drove this,” Grooms added. “We looked really closely at the climate aboard the submarine, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the boat and the senior leadership are as good as it gets.”
Any loss of a shipmate like this is sad for the Submarine Force, but especially when it happens when the Sailor is at work. Back in 2006, I blogged about how the Submarine Force was studying how to reduce a spike in suicides they'd seen in the 2005-'06 timeframe; I wonder if maybe we need to revisit the lessons learned from then.

(On a Blog Admin note, posting has been light because I switched back to night shift this week, and I'm not as young as I used to be; also, we just got our new computer to replace the one that stopped working last week. Specifically related to this post, any troll should be warned that if you start posting any bizarre theories or ridiculous questions, your comments will be deleted ruthlessly. This isn't the time or place for idiocy.)


Blogger Comrade Misfit said...

I was down in Groton over the weekend and I know a few people who are Navy retirees.

The scuttlebutt was that MM3 Rodriguez was on a security watch and that he was chewed out by some senior officer, who was going to put Rodriguez on report for playing with a personal electronic device while on watch.

I don't know if that is true, but that's the rumor.

5/13/2009 12:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How terribly sad. My prayers and thoughts are with this young man, his family, and with his shipmates.

5/13/2009 2:19 PM

Anonymous Jeff Lee said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Submarine duty is extremely stressful and can bring out bizarre behavior in otherwise normal people. When people get down on themselves on a boat, there's usually no one to talk to, because chances are the person will be perceived as malingering or "trying to get out of duty". Just about everyone "sucks it up".

One of the best A-gangers on my boat went to the psych ward after he pointed his weapon at his Chief's head during gun turnover. He had seemed stressed out for a couple weeks prior, but that wasn't unusual. EVERYONE was stressed out.

5/13/2009 2:52 PM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

I had one of my young sailors commit suicide and it was a really tough thing on the entire division and the boat. The hardest part was having to deal with his grief stricken family that just couldn't understand. My heart goes out to his family and they are in my prayers.

5/13/2009 3:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Mike Gallagher's radio talk show, today, the discussion was about the slaying of 5 U.S. servicemen by the Army sargeant.

Gallagher took a call from someone claiming he had served 20 years in the navy. The guy told Gallagher he understood the stress that the homicidal sargeant must have been under due to 3 tours of combat.

The caller then cited a submariner friend who suddenly went psychotic when the hatch of his sub closed. The guy tried to "kill everyone on board".

Thank goodness no submarine type was mentioned.

It was horrifying to hear such a derogatory claim broadcast nationwide. The caller admitted that he himself had never served in combat, but had sought therapy.

Jeff Lee's comments to TSSBP ring true from my submarining experience which, fortunately, included the expected, minor bouts of depression, but none I was not matured enough to overcome uneventfully (same as the rest of my crew).

If a submariner was actually playing with a personal electronic device during his security watch, however, it would be as upsetting as the tale told to Gallagher. - Rex

5/13/2009 4:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The official word that was released to our command was that he was caught using his cell phone to talk to his girlfriend when he was caught. The officer who caught him went under to report him to the Duty Officer to have him relieved of the watch. It was the time between being caught and the Duty Officer coming topside that this sailor took his life.

For anyone to say that this sailor did this solely because of the cell phone usage being caught. How dare you. This sailor had more going on than just this.

It is a sad day in the Navy. We have lost a brother.

5/13/2009 5:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a difficult subject to discuss and unfortunately all too common. One year at a prototype, there were a bunch of sailors dropped from classes assigned to useless work. All of them, including an officer, had attempted suicide for any number of reasons before or after they were dropped. One petty officer was arrested for drunk driving and tried to kill himself afterwards. Not sure about why the officer, all I know was that he was a student and tried to kill himself days before he showed up. At least one petty officer succeeded in killing himself. And this was just one year at a prototype. Navy life is unforgiving to those who cannot deal with the stresses. Also no one in the Navy likes the weak.

5/13/2009 7:35 PM

Blogger FastAttackChief said...

My condolences to his friends and family. Does anyone know the exact statistics on submariner suicides and attempts over the last 10 years. With my 15 years of submarine service I can't recall a case in my first 10 years of any of my shipmates ever having suicidal ideations. In the recent years it seems we are asking more of our sailors time inport to maintain the ship and watchstanding proficiency than in the past. With the downsizing in the Navy and our future operational commitments I only see a downward trend occurring.

5/13/2009 8:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, this isn't the "troll" but I just wonder why the military doesn't put more time and effort towards making sure that the men and women who serve are just as mentally fit as they need to be physcially fit. It makes no sense to me. I've heard something to the effect of they do psychological exams on guys wanting to be submariners, and I don't know if that's true or not. One would think that if being physcially fit is so damn important, that being mentally fit would be just as important. And the whole "weak" thing drives me nuts. If these guys don't have anyone they can confide to, then yeah, we're going to see more suicide, and possibly even homicide rates go up. It's so terribly sad what happened to this young man, who obviously had a lot more going on than getting caught with a phone. How very, very sad for his girlfriend, family, and crew members.

5/13/2009 8:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the past, all enlisted personnel took a psych test called Subscreen during BESS.

You can read about it here:

5/13/2009 9:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At PSNS in the late 80's we had a fellow nuke who got dumped by his girlfriend. His response was to make a druken attempt at taking his life via car crash. He wasn't successful, but did mange to screw up his leg for life and get a medical discharge.

On a related matter, I only saw one guy "flip out" while on the boat. An RO had had enough I guess and decided to smash his skull on the panels behind the RPCP. He was physically restrained, disqualified and confined to his rack. He was eventually returned to duty after some evaluations.

Finally, based on the psych eval that I received to determine whether or not I could "go subs," I always thought it was pretty lame. Something I would have come up with after taking Psych 101. In fact, the MMPI for nuke workers was way more probing than the navy eval.

And one additional thought, I've just never understood how anyone could think taking their life would be an option to even consider.

5/13/2009 9:35 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Two points:

1. The nukes don't know what he deal is until they get to the boat. There's no psych screening. And no one could tell anyone anything about how truly shitty it was moment to moment.

2. Let's look at the duty rotation. Was the kid on some NON-NJP Chief-ordered liberty restriction because of something stupid? Was the kid talking to his GF because it was the only time he had to talk to her was on the mid-watch standing topside? Why wouldn't the officer/chief call down to the duty officer, instead of leaving the kid there? Is there more ot the story between the kid and the guy who caught him?

I'm thinking this was probably a failure on many levels. I look back to the kid who died on the LA in the 90's. It's important to look at the angls to keep this from happening again.

5/13/2009 10:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If by "sub school psych test" you mean a multiple choice rag with such options as, "I seldom/often/frequently imagine I am dead and floating around people I know," or, "I seldom/often/frequently try to hurt myself or kill myself."

Even the others are pretty much obvious as to what answer will lead you into an appointment on the 5th floor at the Navy Hospital.

Make the new candidates sit in a room for six hours a couple of times, deprive them of sleep for 36 hours, then make them do it over and over until the training binder is up to snuff.

5/13/2009 11:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rule #1 (or it should be). Never stress out someone with a firearm.

5/14/2009 12:31 AM

Anonymous XO said...

To tell you the truth I am surprised that there aren't more suicides on Fast Attack Submarines. Submarines tend to suck the life out of you and if you don't have a strong mental disposition, well...that can be all she wrote folks. We have too many missions to perform and not enough boats to do them. Bodies gentlemen all we are is bodies...

5/14/2009 1:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am studying history at a university, and over the years I have gotten chances to interview submariners from WWII and submarine duty is tough today, but back then it could be just hellish, both physically and mentally, I wonder what the statistics for mental breakdowns were back then. Anyone got any ideas?

5/14/2009 1:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seem to be a lot of rumors, innuendos, and suppositions on why this happened. I don't think that we will ever have the real answer, TM3 Rodriguez is the only one who knows. What I can give are some facts:

- HAWAII was getting underway at 1000 that day for a change of homeport to Pearl Harbor
- Pier sentry was caught on the cell phone by a senior officer (who was walking into work) at around 0400
- Officer confiscated the phone and told the sailor that he was going to get him a relief
- DCPO came topside with a relief for the pier sentry at about 0415 and he had already committed suicide
- The sailor did not have a history of disciplinary problems within the command, he had qualified quickly and was onboard for over 2 years

HAWAII has been in and out of drydock 3 times in the last year or so, and there have been stressors to ensure that they make the change of homeport on time. I do not know if any of these were contributing factors, but I imagine that they could have been. Also, the final straw of knowing that he had some sort of discipline in his future for being on the phone could have pushed him over the edge, but I doubt that it was the only factor.

5/14/2009 3:13 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

The only thing that has a chance of stopping suicide is shipmates watching out and over each other. If you send a guy to counseling and he comes back, great. If he doesn't, that's fine as well.

Hopefully there are no parallels to LAX ca.1995.

It is not the job, it is not the stress. Many people suffer stress and have demanding jobs and don't kill themselves. Suicide is ultimately a very personal puzzle that only 1 is usually solving.

5/14/2009 3:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My psych interview went something like this:

"So, do you think you would mind being on a submarine?"

Me: "No."

"Well, OK then. Next"

5/14/2009 5:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


There was a statistic that I read somewhere that the suicide rate for submarine sailors was 30 out of 100,000 in 2006. This was substantially higher than the rest of the fleet. There are other studies that have indicated that suicide rates and attempts are much higher with submariners than with other communities.

Also the submarine fleet does do screening, so the leadership must be concerned about it. So I don't see why you can say it has nothing to do with the job or the stress. The alternative is that the sub fleet attracts unstable individuals.

Submarine duty is difficult. People serving do not see the sun for months at a time, they have no contact with their spouses or other confidants. They are often in very dangerous circumstances. If on top of all this they do not fit in to the culture of the boat, they are screwed.

Also, the paper discussing the psych test above indicated that it is very effective in screening people out. Stupid questions or not.

5/14/2009 5:53 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

"I am studying history at a university, and over the years I have gotten chances to interview submariners from WWII and submarine duty is tough today, but back then it could be just hellish, both physically and mentally, I wonder what the statistics for mental breakdowns were back then. Anyone got any ideas?"

Most submariners think this is a silly subject and treat it as such. Studies have been conducted at places like Medical Research Lab at the Sub base in Groton, but the topic has not been deemed worthy of serious concern either medically or operationally.

I would refer you to two books, the first describing a boat and its crew through some of the toughest submarine experience in WWII. Go through it carefully to find evidence of mental breakdowns, etc. - it ain't there. The second describes the trip by USS NAUTILUS under the arctic ice. Your concerns were of interest to the Navy on that trip, with a psychiatrist making the whole voyage in the crew to study reactions etc. Reading the crew's reaction gives a pretty good insight into how seriously these matters concern submariners (hint: they think it's hilarious).

There is a part of this not studied, to my knowledge, but offering fruitful ground for better understanding: the role of boat culture and crew culture in shaping individuals to join the society of submariners, all the while leaving much room for individuality and character essential to mental health under extended submerged conditions.

I was struck profoundly as a non-qual in an old pigboat how clear and strict were the rules in some areas of boat life but how much freedom is granted in other dimensions. On one hand, telling the truth, working hard, and doing your job well is sine qua non - you did or you left. On the other, goofy behavior is not forbidden, and if one were funny enough, encouraged. And simple politeness is essential, and treated as such in the crews.

What isn't there is any deep concern that boat conditions might push individuals over the edge. Your view of submarine conditions as 'hellish' flies in the face of the dedication submariners bring to their boats and their/our affection for life as a submariner. This is a dry hole.

The books:

5/14/2009 6:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SUBRON4 is having a rough few months. First the Hartford and now the Hawaii. i guess it is bad luck, I hope it changes for the squad. My prayers go out to the family of MM3 Rodriguez and to SUBRON4 to get back to normal. Let's not forget the good the boats do. ie: recent recognition for the Hawaii.

5/14/2009 6:31 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

srvd_ssn_co: "If on top of all this they do not fit in to the culture of the boat, they are screwed."

I think you're onto something. Maybe it's time to do a definitive review of how we treat non-quals and dinks. What is intended as 'motivation' - and serves as such for most - may be a shove over the edge for those who will later be judged unfit IF they don't shot themselves first. The trick is early identification of those who just won't make it, the tradeoff being more personnel churn and higher costs. Maybe we should just bite that bullet and up the frequency of bottom blows.

In command, I had some ISIC twit (an O6 Deputy unable to find another job) come down on me for what he thought was an excessive number of enlisted unsuitability transfers off the boat. XO and I gave him (and the ISIC) a detailed summary of every one of the transfers and asked the Deputy which one he'd have kept. Never heard another word.

To continue the sea story, there was one transfer that this guy would not back, that of a Ltjg non-qual who just was not suited to submarines (we judged that he had some rare form of operational dyslexia). We got him off the boat, but the Deputy convinced the Bureau to send him to another boat instead of transfer to duty other than submarines. Months later, he was the diving officer in GRAYBACK when they killed the five divers. He was eventually non-qualed.

5/14/2009 6:55 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Can we start a fund to buy Mike a weapon?

5/14/2009 7:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adding to anonymous 3:13

I have family aboard (aft.) He was surprised and suspects TM3 Rodriguez had other issues besides the boat's stress.

Rest your oar, TM3 Rodriguez, and God bless your family.

5/14/2009 8:00 AM

Anonymous ex SSN Eng said...

If submariners do have a suicide rate that is 30 in 100,000 as stated above, then that is 3x the rate in the general population. How that ranks versus other military services would be interesting to know.

I'd like to think that the Duck is not saying that the topic of suicide in the submarine force is considered "hilarious" by most submariners. Perhaps he's being rarely inarticulate. Then again, perhaps he's representing the bully faction within the submarine force that has a predominantly give-a-fuck or "bottom blow" attitude toward those apparent sub-humans who 'can't hack it'.

On the topic of finding evidence of mental breakdowns during WWII, look no further than a little book by the name of Silent Victory, wherein Sailfish's CO "went to pieces," in the author's words, by having himself locked in his stateroom immediately following a depth charge attack.

Submariners are necessarily good men...a hardy bunch, and with more than a few serious patriots. But it also a very reasonable question as to why they choose to do what they do in the first place. In my presence, a very senior O-6 (and later ComSubPac) once said only half-jokingly to another senior O-6 at SubLant via telephone: "The question isn't why so many junior officers choose to get's why do they choose to stay in? I think it's because they're afraid they can't find employment, and don't have the motivation or self-confidence to set out on their own. Tell the Admiral I said that."

It was meant as a one-to-one inside joke, and as the only other person privy to the conversation I'll admit that it was funny at the time. But on the flip/serious side of the coin, this is a question that can only be honestly answered by each individual unto himself.

5/14/2009 8:00 AM

Blogger phw said...

Here is the source for that stat. It says that the army had a suicide rate comparable to the general population,

I know it is not much of a reference. There are more definitive papers on storming media, but I don't want to pay money to get copies.

5/14/2009 8:09 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

"I'd like to think that the Duck is not saying that the topic of suicide in the submarine force is considered "hilarious" by most submariners. Perhaps he's being rarely inarticulate. Then again, perhaps he's representing the bully faction within the submarine force that has a predominantly give-a-fuck or "bottom blow" attitude toward those apparent sub-humans who 'can't hack it'."

C'mon, skipper, my context was clear: shrinks riding a boat (NAUTILUS, 1958) to find out how we handle such deep psychological pressure - the crew found that 'hilarious.'. One must seek to differentiate between inarticulate writers and undescerning readers

5/14/2009 8:11 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Wasn't the NAUTILUS crew ca. 1958 basically comprised of the Best Submariners? How many 1st term submariners were on that boat? Were there any 3rd Class PO's?

I've talked to old nuke submariners from the early 60's and they typically went to A-school, then the fleet, then to NPS, then to BESS, then back to the fleet. When it was time to get a new guy on the boat, and he'd already had something like a year onboard something.

I don't think the comparison to the Nautilus is germane. That and the example was based on a first-of-kind experience. I'm sure everyone was psyched.

5/14/2009 8:58 AM

Blogger Henson said...

The speculation about boat culture is counterproductive for all but those who are operationally attached - the crew and the squadron.

Someone posted possible stressors above. I only ask - was the girlfriend local? A move ump-teen thousand miles away from young love is a hell of a lot more stressful than getting caught with a cell phone on watch. The fact that a cell phone was being used on watch is a larger indicator that the conversation was not a normal one. Maybe the officer is lucky that HE didn't take a round.

This is close to me, since a friend of mine attempted suicide last month. It was over a girl. Perhaps I'm projecting my own experience here, but young emotions are volatile.

5/14/2009 9:11 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

a_former_elt_2jv: valid comments, but offset by first-ever under-ice transit, NAUTILUS's 'curious' design, and the overall newness of nuclear power. These were good guys, but I'd stipulate that every crew is made up of good guys and equivalent quality, diesel or nuke, old or new.

5/14/2009 9:13 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleted two comments.

5/14/2009 9:54 AM

Blogger phw said...

Mental stability is a tenuous thing. There are many people who are misfits early in life who screen out in training. Each of you probably remembers one or more people who were removed from training and no one really knows why—or perhaps the reason was all too obvious.
Other people finish training, qualify, make it to command and lose it later in their career. Someone earlier referred to the commander of the Sailfish. I don’t like naming people in this context, but everyone knows of and remembers Mike Boorda. If he could lose it, then under the right circumstances anyone could lose it.

So what can be done about this? I don’t know what could have been done to prevent Mike Boorda’s death. On a boat or a ship sailors need to know their shipmates. I think this is part of the answer. Early and perhaps ongoing screening needs to occur. I think strong family support is important. A good command environment can foster all of these things that I mentioned above.

I should point out that this is NOT a criticism of the Hawaii’s command or crew. The CO may have the best environment to ensure that the each member of the crew is well supported. It still is going to happen because the work is tough and creates deep stresses in one’s life outside of the Navy.

5/14/2009 10:18 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

"In the recent years it seems we are asking more of our sailors time inport to maintain the ship and watchstanding proficiency than in the past."

Had you been a boomer chief this would have been inapplicable:

During the forgotten Cold War, at a time of (surprise) tightened Navy budgets, we spent significant inport time scraping our drydocked SSN hull for priming (we did that, too, of course). Yep, not the shipyard, the crew. Our nuclear shipmates were already on port and starboard duty and fully preoccupied, as well.

Incidentally, here are some sub psych' statistics:



Additionally, here is a 3-part series on psych factors Washington has kept from public discussion.

5/14/2009 11:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now what?

The damned troll is back again.

Joel, lock on target and fire at will. Destroy the trolligan!!

5/14/2009 11:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky. Why are you baiting the troll? In general I respect the content of your comments. But after your "buy Mike a weapon" comment, you've lost my respect as a person and as a once upon a time skipper. Your attempt to be cute will only egg him on and cause Joel angst in deleting the troll's babble. Shame on you. You're henceforth confined to your stateroom....

5/14/2009 11:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Duck,

That has to be the trolligan talking. Ignore the little fucker and Joel will deal with him decisively.

5/14/2009 11:57 AM

Blogger said...

My Son John Rodriguez was helping to get his boat ready to move to it's new home port in Pearl Harbor. He was exhausted, was working extremely long hours and was leaving behind his family and his niece who should be born any day now. My Son was excellent at his job, and I doubt that he was ever told that until after he died. He was the kindest person I ever knew and I believe that was considered a weakness by some. He came from a very happy family and was loved by many. He broke because of the extra responsibility, pressure, lack of sleep and stress of it all.

Please do not speculate since it only disturbs our family and muddies his memory.

sent from:

5/14/2009 12:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Fav-or-it posting:

Sir, I cannot imagine the pain that you and your family are suffering, and I wish to offer an apology for the comments that have upset you. Many of us have been in the situation that your son was experiencing, and should understand. I believe that most comments were well-meaning, to express concerns that we have for our active duty brothers, but we should have thought of your son and his family first.Please be aware that you and your family are in my prayers.


5/14/2009 1:01 PM

Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

One of our junior shipmates took our ribbing about his girlfriend meeting "Jody" while we were really got to him and he ended up trying to hang himself in the head one evening on an overhead HP air pipe using two web uniform belts. Of course, the hissing sound got everyone's attention after the pipe ruptured, and of course he ended up getting a medical discharge.

5/14/2009 1:24 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Roger. In hack. Again.

5/14/2009 1:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will have to take an odd step out and agree that the "Start a fund to buy Mike a weapon fund" is very inappropriate for this post, as it is a post in regards to a young man who took his own life. I do not know if the person, favorit, is really this young man's family, but you ought to assume they read or have read this blog, and refrain from anymore jokes about suicide, as it is never something that should be made lightly. No, I am not one for being PC, but I have had too many people in my life choose this way to end things, and it's NOTHING to be made lightly. My sincere condolences to this young man's family. I hope that they, and he, will find some peace in this tragedy.

I don't care how old you are, you should never ever joke to someone about them ending their own life. You have no clue what's going on inside of their mind. YOU might be the person who puts them over that fine edge.

5/14/2009 2:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How in the world would you know Mulligan?

You wouldn't know the difference between being shot, fucked, powder-burned or snake bit.
The only ratty thing here is YOU Mulligan.

Note to Joel: I realize you've switched to the Mid watch, but as soon as you rise and shine for morning quarters, please delete all of the Trolligan's posts. He's making a mockery of this post and proceedings with his rediculous antics. Joel, I'll have no problem with you deleting my post here as well once you've read it. Just kill Mulligan while you still can.

5/14/2009 2:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty awful deal, sad to hear. I served with the HAWAII CO when we were DHs - very squared away, very fair guy.

I'm over in Iraq right now. I went through training at Ft. Jackson with CDR Chris Springle, one of the victims of the clinic shooting. He was a soft-spoken, cheerful guy with a good sense of humor. Now he won't be able to help anyone else.

Some days the world just completely sucks.

5/14/2009 2:37 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleting more comments.

5/14/2009 2:49 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/14/2009 4:02 PM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Joel just can't delete them fast enough.

5/14/2009 4:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a good chance I attended the same C school as Rodriguez about this time last year. Out of the 3 courses I've finished, one of them was in Groton when we flew in from Sea-Tac for a school on tube conversion/maintenance. If I'm thinking of the right man, I think he was there.

Nevertheless, it's always hard on all of us when one of us is lost, regardless of the cause of death.
My thoughts are with his family and Rodriguez's shipmates.

I'm just sorry to see this happen.
MT2 WidgetHead

Joel, look at;

It would cost more, but you could turn your blog into a site with features consisting of tracking IPs and being able to ban trolls and such from your site. You could definitely rid your site of the Mulligan character.


5/14/2009 4:13 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

It's actually a point of pride for me that I haven't spent a dime on this blog (other than the computer and internet access that I would have anyway). Eventually, he'll get tired and go away; at least that's what's happened to trolls in the past. I've offered to let him post links to his own blog where he holds forth on topics I blog about, but he either won't or isn't capable of that.

5/14/2009 4:32 PM

Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

On Memorial Day 2003, one of the officers on my crew at prototype did not show to shift. We all joked that he was taking the day off.

Well, he never showed, and later that evening we learned he had committed suicide.

Even though he was on my crew, we never found out what the motivators were.

I think that was a missed chance to teach young officers and enlisted about how stress can affect co-workers.

Sadly, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

5/14/2009 4:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Steve Harkonnen said...
overhead HP air pipe using two web uniform belts. Of course, the hissing sound got everyone's “

First of all, my name IS Jody and I was an Aganger for a loooong time and if one person, hanging from an HP air pipe caused it to hiss, the boat had bigger problems than the hanging. Doesn’t sound right to me.

I saw two suicides in my career. One was a personal friend of mine and I always wished that I could have talked him out of it. It was a sad loss.

As for the lack of sleep and stress, man, Agangers know all about that but those alone do not cause it to happen. If so, you’d have half the fleet dead. There is that person who just feels that they have no other recourse. In my DSM classes we found that almost everybody thinks about doing suicide but few (even though that is too many) do so.

My prayers to the family and the command. This is hard on everybody.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

5/14/2009 6:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do people in these situations kill themselves? because they have depression and, when enough stress (of the right sort) is added on top, thats simply what you do, unless someone catches it and stops you.

5/14/2009 6:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the article, idiot. They had a memorial service Monday.

5/14/2009 8:00 PM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Tear your hair Mulligan. Rend your garments and put ashes on your head. Stand still and serve no purpose. Men of war have business to attend. We will honor our fallen comrade. We will share out his duties among us and he will be one of us until we are all gone. We are all brothers who have worn the Dolphins. Some of us have physically departed the submarine service through discharge or retirement, but you see some of us keep interested as evidenced by our attendance here. Start being part of the solution Mulligan, instead of the problem.

We all have our own way of mourning. Including the men of the Submarine Service.

Sorry for the rant folks; it needed saying.

5/14/2009 8:11 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I apologize for my mistake. Hmm, it happened Friday and they notified the day on Tues, for Wednesday paper knowing they were leaving today.

5/14/2009 8:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mulligan, you're trampling on the service and rememberance of a fallen shipmate. What you're doing is sad and disrespectful. In fact it really fucking pisses me off Mulligan. I had to do some research in past, but I know this guy. I went to C school with Rodriguez.

Mulligan you stupid blind motherfucker. Why do you do this?
You're oblivious to what you do. You have to be. We're mourning the loss of a shipmate. There is just no fucking way you served in any area of any boat. He was only two years younger than me.

Your nothing more than an inconsiderate blind & stupid little bitch Mulligan!! I had to go back and re-read this whole thing. Why did you repost the same shit that Joel deleted more than once. I can't help but wonder why.

I lost a friend and fellow SUBMARINER. What the fuck don't you understand about that you gay little bitch???

Yeah I know I'm young, but guys, I swear I've never seen anything like this. Seriously WTFO??


5/14/2009 10:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lot of thoughts about MM3 (SS) Rodriguez (I added his SS qualification based on posting here) suicide.

14 years sea duty on three boats, two diesel, one SSBN 1961-1975. Only experienced one threatened suicide by a CPO after finding out his wife wanted a divorce. Talked out, no gesture. Went on to full career and retired. Now deceased due to asbestosis incurred during Navy career as an engineman.

My contacts with WWII Submariners while on AcDu, and later collecting Oral Histories from them leads me to believe the WWII guys had a lot of other things on their minds than taking their own lives. Given the # patrols they made, the fact their submarine duty was literally a "crap shoot" about coming home after patrol, and the whole mind set about the war against Japan, I doubt there was much thought about suicide with our WWII submariners.

My experience as a submariner from 1961 through 1977, the transition from smoke boats to diesels, with the exception mentioned above, I never heard of a potential suicide. Granted 13 years of my submarine service career was spent in Hawaii. Granted, many if not most of our submarine force leaders during that era were diesel trained, and until 1972 CSP still had a war patrol pin from WWII. todays submarine service has different pressures I have no direct knowledge of. However, sailing with a USCG MMD on MSC ammo ships in WasPac from 2004 through 2008 I can tell you, based on my discussions with USN first termers in WesPac they are treated like shit. It's as bad if not worse than the "chicken regs" Zumwalt abolished in 1971. Article written in the NIP in late 07 early 08 described these degrading practices and advocated there abolishment.

I have no first hand knowledge of riding the boats since late 1977 when I made my last underway on SSBN 602 as a CSP rider getting my hours for a week.

As a regular reader and poster on this blog I'm struck by the # of negative comments about service on submarines. All have to do with duties and responsibilities of the Nuc Engineers. Granted some come under the heading of "a bitching sailor is a happy sailor" however many if not most have to do with the hours of duty and expectations of what and how you are supposed perform as a Nuc Engineer.

I don't find these kind of comments from the "front-enders", coners as you'all call them today, who post on this blog.

You'all know it as do I that the Nuc Submarine Navy while trying to be self correcting re: taking care of the troops tends to want to eat it's young. While I don't think MM3(SS) Rodriguez is a result of this tendency, and is probably an anomaly, I hope and pray the Submarine bosses will look hard at how Nuc Engineer submariners are "ridden hard and put away wet" and that there needs to be adjustments in the entire management of the nuclear power program.

Ain't no going back to the days of the "smoke boat navy" Everythings a lot more complex today. However I do believe the Nav can do something about how we treat our sailors today. NucPwr ain't no different, or maybe it is. Maybe it's time for a "new broom--clean sweep!

To the family of MM3(SS) Rodirguez, my sincere condolences. Sailor rest your oar.

My two cents.................


5/14/2009 10:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The nuc program appears to me to be suffering from an ORSE creep similar to eval creep- passing should be the standard, but the more perfection becomes the expected standard, the more that unnecessary pressure will affect sailors needlessly- cheating on tests, UA, covering up for others because the slightest ding can have career effects, even though ops/ equipment is unaffected; and, yes harming oneself in many ways.

The consequences if neglecting nuclear power are dire, that is why we control it so tightly. But we can change the culture without compromising the safe and effective operation of the plant.


5/15/2009 12:08 AM

Anonymous Retired O-6 said...

For mental/stress issues in WWII, read "War in the Boats: My WWII Submarine Battles (Memories of War)" by William J. Ruhe. I thought this was an interesting book primarily because the guy with the issues was the CO. One story related about camouflaging the sub while at sea tells me that sub sailors have not changed much over the years.

5/15/2009 5:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mulligan, simply put. You sir are a douche.

5/15/2009 5:42 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

retired O6: will do - just ordered book from Amazon.

I knew Bill Ruhe when he was a frequent visitor with Frank Kelso, my boss at the time. On one occasion I took the opportunity to test with Bill a view of pre-WWII submarine COs that had been passed to me in a phone call from the Kindly Old Gentleman. Rickover called to discuss an article I'd written in Proceedings (he liked it) and in the course of the call asked: 'do you know why I left submarines?' (as he did in the late '30s after his XO tour). 'No.' 'Because the skippers were all drunks!'

I asked Bill if that were true. He paused for a long time, and then said... 'no, not ALL of them.'

Bill Ruhe was a great guy and served many years as the first editor of Submarine Review for the Naval Submarine League.

If the topic is COs who've gone squirrelly, we should also recall the NATHANIEL GREENE on patrol in the Med, when the XO had to relieve the CO because of manifest mental breakdown. The XO completed the patrol in command and was backed by the chain of command afterward. Went on to make O6.

5/15/2009 6:53 AM

Blogger Submaster said...

The Duck was onto something. It is almost impossible to kick a guy off the boat because of personnality issues. Squadron buries you in wanting a paperwork trail for here to the the time you get it its to late.

As a LCPO and later a Dept Chief, I was always keenly aware of the mood of my young sailors. I could tell if they were having a rough patch and took the time to pull them off to the side. Unfortunatly, boat tempo makes this difficult...I made it a priority, damn the training binder review or whatever other BS thing might be due.
CPO and Officer leadership need to tuned into the moods of their sailors and be willing to sacrifice their time, sometimes at their own detriment. Intrusive leadership is more than just a phrase.

5/15/2009 7:14 AM

Blogger phw said...

I think starting with inclusive leadership is better... Understand your sailors. Make sure that individuals do not get isolated. When a sailor is becoming isolated, that should be a warning. It doesn't mean that you need to be everyone's friend (and you should not be). It means that you need to ensure that everyone has a friend, that you recognize their efforts and difficulties, and you are in tune with the scuttlebutt. This last bit helps you recognize when you need to invoke "intrusive leadership" and how best to do it.

DBFTMC(SS)USNRET@1041 had a good story on that CPO. The key thing is the realization that, as bad things may be at a given moment, things can and will get better.

5/15/2009 7:50 AM

Blogger phw said...

Oh, I forgot-- very important. Make sure each sailor knows his importance in the mission of the boat. Obviously you need to understand it yourself and it has to be more meaningful than a platitude.

5/15/2009 7:55 AM

Blogger phw said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/15/2009 8:22 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleting more comments.

5/15/2009 8:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you are going to reenter your posts despite everyone else, can you at least apply corrections?

I draw your attention to another anonymous post--

Read the article, idiot. They had a memorial service Monday.

5/15/2009 10:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Submaster's quote:

As a LCPO and later a Dept Chief, I was always keenly aware of the mood of my young sailors. I could tell if they were having a rough patch and took the time to pull them off to the side. Unfortunatly, boat tempo makes this difficult...I made it a priority, damn the training binder review or whatever other BS thing might be due.
CPO and Officer leadership need to tuned into the moods of their sailors and be willing to sacrifice their time, sometimes at their own detriment. Intrusive leadership is more than just a phrase."

That is absolutely true, even in the most trying of times. Excellent thoughts here. Submaster, did you stay in long enough to make COB?

MT2 WidgetHead

5/15/2009 2:21 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

To set the record straight:
If you think the CO cannot remove someone from the ship for a clear personality problem--you are wrong. The process may not be the easiest, but it is not as hard as some here seem to think. There is pressure to reduce attrition--duh--but that does not mean you have to keep those that cannot handle things.

The Doc and the COB are critical for reducing attrition by identifying those that need to go and those that need help. If all you do is let the system eat its young, you are not doing your job. Yes, submarines poke people all the time, but the command climate CANNOT allow it to be mean spirited as a habit.

Oh, and Duck, I agree with you on what does and does not fly on board ship. If someone was good at his job I let him get away with a lot...and I was a key offender when it came to making jokes at all the wrong times. (Here's my $5)

5/16/2009 5:09 AM

Anonymous SJV said...

First, to the memory and family of MM3 Rodriquez:

My deepest sympathy goes out to you. Your son was all the things you believed of him, and more. As you can see here, submarine service is a harsh life, and sometimes the cruel reality of it catches individuals in its snare.

My heart also goes out to the officer who found the MM3 on watch. He for certain had no idea that what he did would trigger the death of his shipmate.

God Bless and Keep all of you in this difficult time.

5/16/2009 6:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A suggestion for Joel. You have one of the best blogs around for open discussion and opposing points of view. I remember about your hesitation to censor comments from another troll: The Double Standard guy.

Why not move all of the off-topic and stupid comments of trolls like mulligan and just post a link to them so that anyone who wants to read them still can. Those who don't want to read them will not feel compelled to comment on them.

I believe the threads will be much cleaner and on topic if you do that, but it is your blog; just offering a suggestion that seems to make sense.

5/16/2009 9:37 AM

Blogger kwicslvr said...

I wonder if this "senior" officer that busted him ever talks on his cell phone when he is driving. Someone should scold him then because that is a hell of a lot more dangerous then what this poor kid was doing. Heck, at least it was kepping him awake.

Another reason I am happy I got out. To many people in leadership on power trips that do not understand the human side of being a leader.

5/16/2009 3:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wonder if this "senior" officer that busted him ever talks on his cell phone when he is driving. Someone should scold him then because that is a hell of a lot more dangerous then what this poor kid was doing. Heck, at least it was kepping him awake."

You've got to be kidding me?!?! I don't know specifically what words the officer and TM3 had that morning, but I can't imagine that there is anyone who thinks that it is appropriate to talk on the cell phone while on any watch. I hope that there is not a similar cavalier attitude on other boats. On ours, the topside watches and pier sentries understand that there is no reason to have their cell phone on watch.

5/16/2009 4:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not move all of the off-topic and stupid comments of trolls like mulligan and just post a link to them so that anyone who wants to read them still can.Just a note of support for Joel not giving more than 3 seconds of consideration to this unwarranted addition to his "to-do list."

Some trolls go beyond troll-dom and into the world of vandalism via multiple postings on completely off-topic threads. Neither troll nor vandal deserves being mentioned by name, much less having their rudeness preserved for posterity.

Would strongly suggest that Joel simply 'shoot first and ask no questions later' when it comes to trolls/vandals.

5/17/2009 7:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We knew John personally and are saddened by his death. John was a bright and endearing young man who had a lot to offer the world. John had planned on medical school. He was a wiz with computers, extremely bright and a truly nice guy. Those who knew John knew what he dealt with; the military was probably not the best choice for John to rebuild his self worth. Our hearts are aching for his dispair and decision to end his life.

5/17/2009 4:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone remember Groton in 1983-84? We had 3 suicides and more than a few episodes of people walking off boats refusing to return. George Washington being the boat from hell at the time.

It was so bad the Squadron Commodores told the COs to have a talk with the JOs about not committing suicide. This "talk" generated one of the highlights of my career...the CO telling us maybe he shouldn't be screwing with us JOs so badly that he should wait until we were second tour DHs to REALLY put the screws to us because then we had made the decision to stay. This talk was held in his living room and as he was saying this we all looked at each other with a WTF?" look.

5/18/2009 7:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 9:37

Blogger doesn't have the tools to make re-arranging comments easy. It would be quite a chore to set up a separate web site just to put trollish and off-topic posts.

The normal response (delete them) is generally enough to keep the trolls and vandals away. The smarter trolls figure out where the line is and sidle up to it without crossing over.

There may be 3rd-party tools for comment management, but I don't think Bubblehead wants to turn this blog into a second job :-/ On the other hand, he might accept a genuine offer of assistance from someone familiar with a high traffic blog...

5/18/2009 1:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

2009 YTD Suicides: 16*
April Suicides: 3*
*includes pending

Historic Suicide Statistics
(Rate per 100,000)
CY 01 Suicides 40: Rate 10.0
CY 02 Suicides 45: Rate 10.9
CY 03 Suicides 44: Rate 10.8
CY 04 Suicides 40: Rate 10.0
CY 05 Suicides 37: Rate 9.5
CY 06 Suicides 38: Rate 10.1
CY 07 Suicides 40: Rate 11.1
CY 08 Suicides 41: Rate 11.6

What I was told...
Getting caught talking on his cell phone was not the reason, though it did happen. Things that were stored ON the cell phone (which was confiscated) was the reason he saw no other way out.

A sad ending to a submariner all the same.

All the other factors (upcoming homeport shift, day-of-underway stress, relationship issues, etc) that have been mentioned were additional stressors. In the end he was probably feeling helpless/hopeless and trapped.

True intrusive leadership is more than just knowing what's going on in your Sailors' lives, it involves taking action (whether that's a private sit-down, a come-to-Jesus meeting, a pat on the back, a trip to the Chaplain, or a trip to the ER or Psych ward) as well. At the same time, we aren't going to catch everything, & tragedies do happen, as the statistics above bear out. There are prevention classes (that are generally scoffed at sadly) that can give leaders another tool in their box for determining whether someone is just upset or in need of immediate help / intervention.

The Psych test I took in BESS in 1989 was a joke. A few guys in our class had to go talk to someone for 5 minutes because they said they'd harmed animals as a kid or something similar. Nobody was removed the class. As already mentioned, the nucs don't get the psych battery at any point in their pipeline.

With regards to getting rid of those who we don't think can cut it (Definitely NOT talking about the late MM3(SS) Rodriguez here), it is a long and hard road, even for the obvious cases until they do something that trips one of the auto-boot triggers.

It has taken me months to get rid of guys who were obviously not cut out for the sub force. Detailed & lengthy records are required. The shrinks are tied to the DSM-IV and generally won't say someone is unfit unless they have enough checks in the 'crazy' column.

As to treatment of non-quals, we've come a long way as a force, even if we aren't quite where we ought to be just yet. I haven't seen any nubs tapping out lately because of how they were treated.

I have seen several guys sent to X-div for either depression, suicidal ideation or acts (cries for help). While it is aggravating to lose those guys as crew, if it keeps us from having more tragedies like this one, it is the right thing to do.


5/18/2009 10:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

STSC - Good Post! From your all your posts I've read, you clearly are the type of Chief we want in the fleet! Keep charging!

5/18/2009 11:06 PM

Blogger Submaster said...

MT2 WidgetHead,
No, I'm retiring this June after 25 years 2 months and 16 days. I thought about COB but the crap shoot of getting a Captain Queeg was to high. Plus, it would have required too much sacrifice for my family. are right on with your comments. When you place young men who are still maturing in an environment like submarines, you MUST have an ear to the ground, you must walk the deck plates.

5/19/2009 5:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worry about my command tour for getting a sh@#bag COB that thinks it's a command pin on his chest!

5/19/2009 1:14 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Anonymous @ 1:14:

If that is the attitude you carry, then you don't have to worry about your command tour. It will never happen. You might want to actually look at a COB's pin. It DOES say "Command" on it. Of course he's not equal to the CO, but no CO in his right mind would ever think of going it alone, without the benefit of a Chief of the Boat, backed by the Chief's quarters.

I worry about boats with CO's like you. That's my biggest fear.

5/19/2009 7:09 PM

Blogger phw said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/19/2009 7:24 PM

Blogger phw said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/19/2009 7:25 PM

Blogger phw said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/19/2009 7:26 PM

Blogger phw said...


I am puzzled by your assertion. The command pin just says that you are responsible for the boat. If the boat runs aground, you are responsible. If the boat wins a Battle-E, you are responsible. You get the picture.

If the COB acts as if he is wearing the command pin, he is acting as if he is responsible for the boat. That seems to me a good thing and something you should encourage-- not just for your chief, but in all your crew members.

5/19/2009 7:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worry about my command tour for getting a sh@#bag COB that thinks it's a command pin on his chest!You should worry if that's the attitude you are bringing to the table.

You Sir, ought to catch up on your PCO required reading. Buy it, read it, & put it on your shelf once you get the stateroom w/ the star on the door.
Ask the Chief By J. F. LeahySTSC

5/20/2009 12:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I thought about COB but the crap shoot of getting a Captain Queeg was to high."

"I worry about my command tour for getting a sh@#bag COB that thinks it's a command pin on his chest!"

Similar concerns but one guy used it as an excuse to retire. I know who I'd rather serve with.

5/20/2009 10:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the MM2 on the W-VA in Kings Bay who died of a drug overdose? In his barracks room? Haven't seen a word in the press about this one, much bigger deal than this HAWAII issue.

5/26/2009 4:17 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Thoughts and prayers to Petty Officer Rodriguez and his family. On my first boat (USS Buffalo) we had a guy commit suicide while on topside watch. It had been clear since very early on (he had been there a year) he was simply not cut out for submarine duty, had barely qualified helms/planes and pier sentry/topside.

He had been to mast twice, once for operating the PLO cooler WITHOUT the knowledge or permission of the ERLL watch. He barely survived the ERLL's wrath to make it to mast, but it was dismissed by the CO who said the watch (despite being in TGLO bay, all the way forward) should have stopped him.

Be that as it may, there was too much pressure on commands at that time (1990) to NOT get rid of poor performers, even at the detriment of the command and the individuals in question. Yet even so, we as a command were very upset over his loss and with a very few exceptions, tried to recognize stress factors in others that would cause possible suicidal behavior and actions. It wasn't easy, and the command climate never really changed, but the guys in the trenches pulled together and watched out for each other. Sometimes, that's all you've got.

5/28/2009 9:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

John was a awesome friend, a reliable confidant, and the best shipmate anyone could ask for.

The loss of John has left a hole in the hearts all those that loved him and knew him well.

The "senior officer" that chewed him out was the CO and the insinuation by the media that the command climate is or has been "the best", or any variation on that theme, is repugnant and disrespectful to the unnecessary loss of life it has caused.

8/19/2009 2:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the last 2 years on the USS Hawaii,

There have been 4 known suicide attempts.

5 sailors leaving the boat due to psychological reasons (not included in the 4). 2 others being pulled off the boat for extended evaluation, and later returned. (3 of these were Senior in Rate qualified)

There have been 8 Alcohol related incidents.

Retention rates are lowest in squadron. The Nukes get $90,000 waved at them for 2 extra years and don't take it.

9/23/2009 3:28 AM

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