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.)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

JO Qual Time

Word on the street is that there's some anecdotal evidence that submarine JOs are generally taking longer than they used to in order to finish their submarine quals; in some cases, up to 2 years. Has anyone on the waferfront heard anything to confirm this? If so, do you think it could be due to COs protecting their backsides by not wanting to give fish to guys who might mess up?
Other rumors are that there's a gap in JOs getting to the fleet due to some sort of holdup at the NPTUs. Any truth to this, from people who might know?

Update 1718 08 June: From what I'm hearing, when the prototypes have long shutdowns, the powers-that-be have sometimes gotten smart and sent officers to do SOBC while they're waiting for the plant to come back up; I was happy to hear that.

As far as NNPI goes, obviously we don't want to post it because it could potentially help our adversaries. Additionally, it seems that a good side effect of not disclosing NNPI is that it keeps civilians who don't know nuclear power from overreacting to reports that they don't fully understand, with the accompanying wailing and gnashing of teeth. Bottom line, please don't post specifics about why NPTUs might shut down.


Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

What are typical tours for CO, XO, DH, and JO these days? Tks.

6/07/2009 1:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just transferred off of a SSBN in KBAY and although I myself took about 15 months to qualify (:-/), we did not really have problems with JOs taking inordinate amounts of time to qualify during my tour, with the exception of a single JO who never qualified. That was all with one extraordinary CO though, I'm not sure what the new one's pucker factor will be for qualifying.

On the other hand, we were definitely affected by a holdup at one of the NPTUs in getting JOs out to the fleet. My understanding is that it won't be until December until the normal accession rate is re-attained.

6/07/2009 1:19 PM

Blogger skonesam said...

There was a large gap about two years ago -- up to nine months for some ships -- that you might be hearing about now. (I was just asked the other day, actually, which is why I think it might be the same situation.)

That was due to some equipment problems at the prototypes, coupled with regular overhaul.

I know at least some SWOs were PCSed to Ballston... only to be PCSed back to Charleston within the month. Ugh.

6/07/2009 1:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From outside the Wardroom looking in, it certainly looks like everything you said is true.
I've seen marginally competent (although mentally brilliant - they aren't stupid ) officers have their dolphins board delayed for months, where their card is 99.5% done and they just stay that way for an inordinately long time.

While it isn't happening at my current command, I've definitely seen CO's sit on JO quals until just a few months before they roll, and had a DH or higher guy in Control whenever the JO was OOD to take over when the SNAFU's happened. I think it is a huge mistake, because those guys go to shore duty & are coming back as DH's who can't drive the boat worth a damn - which I've also seen. Thankfully, those guys are in the minority.

The JO manning cycle does seem to be at the bottom of the swing again. For a few years we had them coming out of our ears, but that's not the case right now. I have no data as to the cause (NPTU or otherwise), but the wardroom manning for my boat is at the lowest I've seen it in at least 2yrs.


6/07/2009 1:27 PM

Anonymous laughter in manslaughter said...

Part of the problem I've seen on my boat is that we have one retarded officer who showed up a good five, six months before these other two JOs. They all qualified SDO, and OOD surfaced at the same time, but now, these other two have been told that they will NOT be allowed to qualify until this other retard has since it would look bad if they qualified early and this other guy qualifies six months late. Its infuraiting, because I'm scared when this guy starts driving the boat. Glad I'll be in the back.

6/07/2009 2:34 PM

Blogger . Becca . said...

My husband was talking about a huge NPTU backup due to one of the trainers in NY being broken. We're being extended on the boat almost an extra 6 months.

Can't complain though. We'll be "stuck" in San Deigo. ;)

6/07/2009 3:01 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Wow, let me get this straight--JOs can't stand watch unless a DH is there to watch? What lameness is this?

Qualifying guys right before they leave? Nice that they are setting up the next boat.

There seems to be some idea out there that you can't stand watch until you are a seasoned DH: good thing no one ever did that with me or I would never have learned.

It is the COs JOB(!!) to lose some stomach lining in order to let people make mistakes and let other than perfect people learn on the job. If you are making people wait 2 years to get fish--you are a pussy. There, I said it.

And STSC, if your commodore lets this go Who guards the guards?

6/07/2009 3:27 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

ducky, typical tour lengths:
CO 30-32 months (down to 24)
XO 20-25 (18-29)
DH 30-32 (sometimes>34)
JO 30-32

6/07/2009 3:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My last 4 guys did 2-3 months to finish eoow and 10 months from checking onboard to finishing ood. (fish a month or 2 after that) The current crop of JO's is smart enough and very cabable.

It helps being at or a little below manning, better product for the next guy.

6/07/2009 3:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish some CO's would put more emphasis on a JO's PNEO quals then they do on OOD/SDO Quals. All of the JO's I have seen qualified on time. For the most part every one of the JO's was a better OOD then the returning Department Head's for the reason's stated above. The JO's have had more time on mission than the department heads and are more likely to take recommendations and constructive criticism when they goof up.

6/07/2009 4:46 PM

Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

My thinking...

Our JO OOD's with the most experience with lots of contacts, tough PD trips, and the like - the SSN JO's are almost 100% going to SSBNs as DH's (Pers-42 policy).

Our least experienced JO OODs - boomer fellas are going to 'teach/train' on SSNs.

In my view, SOAC does not develop the skills for a SSBN JO to become a SSN DH OOD.


6/07/2009 5:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Mixed bag, I was a Boomer JO and had 4 Dh's off of fast boats, all with significant mission time...just ask 'em... Of those four only one was a good OOD, our best OOD was a former Boomer JO, Rock solid in nav/tatics/contacts.

There is an overlap here, guys that get "it" as JOs, always will no matter their situation (Boomer/FA). I will grant you that fact that weaker OODs probably will be made stronger in fast boats, just due to the number of contact scenarios they see.

From the qual perspective I qualed when the force was fat with JO's, sucked...we had guys linger for 20-24 months before getting their fish. I was fortunate and fast tracked past a couple of guys and got mine a the year mark. The leaner wardrooms I think make better officers, and better chiefs.

To the served SSN CO, great perspective. If they need a DH in control they should be there to relieve the watch. Also nice comment on the CO losing some gut. I may not have agreed with his leadership but my CO gave me more than enough "OOD rope" to hang him and me, as often as I could handle, and it made me better at almost all aspects of ship driving. People learn from mistakes.

6/07/2009 5:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The JOs in our wardroom would be routinely held up by the mandatory JO schools. 99.5% done with a qual card, but the boat wouldn't spare guys for a week to go do the JO-3 course at SubScol.

6/07/2009 6:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

but my CO gave me more than enough "OOD rope" to hang him and me, as often as I could handle
I do enjoy it when I'm talking w/ the CO and the OOD buzzer goes off & the Captain purposely ignores it while watching the screen to see what his OOD will do. It is also great fun to watch when he slips into the shack & purposely stifles the Sonar Sup's PD recommendations...

While my Captain is a marathon runner, he is also an amazingly fast sprinter from the Wardroom or his stateroom when he needs to be!

Our worst DH OOD right now was a boomer JO, & our best was FA raised w/ an extended first tour. YMMV.

More time w/ the Conn is what officers need to become good boat drivers. The ones who end up getting trapped aft for too long (it happens) get short changed on critical development experience that can't be duplicated by time in an attack center a few times a month.


6/07/2009 6:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mixed bag, I was a Boomer JO and had 4 Dh's off of fast boats, all with significant mission time...just ask 'em... Of those four only one was a good OOD, our best OOD was a former Boomer JO, Rock solid in nav/tactics/contacts.

No offense intended, but how in the world would you know -- on a boomer -- if you have a good OOD? If he hides with pride well?

Just sayin'.

6/07/2009 7:13 PM

Blogger Oz said...

The JO tour length is going up. I will rotate around 38 months, as will my counterpart from the other crew.

As for the classic boomer v. ssn debate, I really have to question the idea that a new DH will benefit all that much from his past experience. There will be two to three years of relative idleness between sea tours (plus 6 months at SOAC). I'm thinking that has to put a dent in ones proficiency. On the other hand, boomer guys also do a lot of training on ssn missions. You may talk down about trainers, not completely without justification, but at least we maintain familiarization. What do ssn guys know about the strategic mission?

Agree with svrd re taking risks on your officers. There are ways to mitigate it (perhaps the greenest OOD's don't stand the midwatch), but standing the watch on your own is where you actually learn it. I have yet to see an exception to this at any level.

6/07/2009 7:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, ya kinda asked for this by way of the original question, but I'm not comfortable with the NNPI details that are emerging here, and I rather doubt that folks inside the beltway are.

Your call, but IMHO this isn't appropriate information to make public.

But do let us know if NR doesn't throw a fit over that last post. If not, I have an interesting but very non-public story of my own to tell about a NY prototype on the very same evening as TMI...and this one's a no-shitter.

6/07/2009 8:14 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleted a comment. Please don't mention any specifics that could be considered NNPI.

6/07/2009 8:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only NNPI problems with any above posts are that they discuss publicly the reality the the Naval Nuclear Power Program is not perfect. We wouldn't want anyone to realize that, now would we?
Does anyone really think that minor knowledge of check valves and cold water interlocks is all that keeping the Russians or Chinese from nuclear ship parity with us? Come on?
We could give the Chinese the entire S6G RPM, and things wouldn't change a bit. Hell, they've probably already got it.

6/07/2009 9:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With respect to the post on NPTU delays, doesn't it illustrate that NR as an independent oversight authority works exactly as it was designed? Heck, it shows that NR and - in the case if the MTS shutdown - are so careful and strict about safety that manning considerations come second ... that's a pretty impressive tour de force if you ask me.

6/07/2009 9:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really have to question the idea that a new DH will benefit all that much from his past experience.
I disagree completely. It isn't a matter of proficiency (both will have rust to knock off initially), it is a skill & confidence level issue.

Think of it in terms of riding a bike. One kid learned to ride in the big city in heavy traffic. He rode his bicycle extensively every day for almost two years there, then put it in the garage for 3 unused until getting back on the bike. First day or two he'll be rusty, but he'll be riding & confident in his abilities in very little time.

The second kid learned to ride using training wheels, and rode for a year and a half or so primarily on deserted country rodes except for the occasional trip into town. Then he gives up riding for 3 years. When he gets back on the bike, he knows how to ride but he isn't going to be truly comfortable riding in city traffic for years.

That's the difference between learning to be an OOD on a fast attack vice boomer. Both can ride, but who would you want on your team in a big city race?

Practicing special evolutions & high contact density environments in the trainer is good training, but doesn't match up against real deployment experience or the gaining of confidence from getting through them. Putting more stars in the boomer pin for a JO doesn't add anywhere near as much experience as a major deployment.


6/07/2009 11:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm coming up on a year at NPTU Ballston Spa and will be the first JO of my section to qualify. Self-regulation is great and definitely has long term benefits, but let me say it certainly stymies any forward progress. I'm sure the the lil shutdown in NY will have long reaching effects.

6/08/2009 2:16 AM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

srvd_ssn_co: on tour lengths, muito obrigado. Baseline seems reasonable and manageable.

On the pipeline being fouled: this should not be a secret - too many plans of all types tied to managed PRDs and rotations. PERS-42 and the TYCOMs owe the fleet a heads-up if the pipeline has a many-month problem.

On qual times: folks, the standard is set and the requirements well established in regulation, procedures, and the culture. Officer qualification time should be governed by the officer and the traditional standards, not any of this other horse hockey being described here. And if a CO can't get the bulk of his JOs qualified in the standard timeframe, it reflects on him. Gee, what about yard periods and intensive ops? Yes, they bear on the time, but they also call for innovative approaches to working around these delays.

Finally, the report of requiring a senior in the AC if the OOD is regarded as a shaky-jake: scary ground, this. Only the XO has authority to relieve in extremis in regulations. CO can extend this to the Navigator in standing orders (and most do). Anyone else grabbing the watch is without authority unless documented and the whole chain of command would be in dire straits if this were revealed to be a boat practice in a court of inquiry.

6/08/2009 4:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would always recommend that a JO to an SSN before going to a boomer. I don't think the shipdriving is even comparable.

To served SSN CO, the tour lengths were much longer, in my experience. 36+ months for JOs and 42-48 months for DHs

6/08/2009 6:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only NNPI problems with any above posts are that they discuss publicly the reality the the Naval Nuclear Power Program is not perfect. We wouldn't want anyone to realize that, now would we?
Does anyone really think that minor knowledge of check valves and cold water interlocks is all that keeping the Russians or Chinese from nuclear ship parity with us? Come on?
We could give the Chinese the entire S6G RPM, and things wouldn't change a bit. Hell, they've probably already got it.

Am guessing you're the original poster of what was deleted. All I can say is that your earlier and most-recent comments provide ample & convincing evidence of a dangerously out-of-control ego.

Having a reasonable public discussion on the resulting effects of the NPTU backup is one thing, but it's not your dumbass call as to what very clear NNPI details should be made public, particularly without appropriate context, education and corrective actions.

And as to your making bullshit scare-tactic comments like "didn't melt down the reactor": dude, if I was your CO, you'd find your ass in a very serious sling, and you'd be finding out just how slowly skin grows back.

Good luck with that NCIS interview. And be sure to send us a postcard from your new, likely non-Navy, destination.

6/08/2009 7:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is The only NNPI problems with any above posts are that they discuss publicly the reality the the Naval Nuclear Power Program is not perfect. We wouldn't want anyone to realize that, now would we?
Does anyone really think that minor knowledge of check valves and cold water interlocks is all that keeping the Russians or Chinese from nuclear ship parity with us? Come on?
We could give the Chinese the entire S6G RPM, and things wouldn't change a bit. Hell, they've probably already got it.
I am not the same as the other poster.

I'm just someone who from the time I started NPS and saw calculus labeled as NOFORN, has taken everything about our oh so important national security with a grain of salt. I had a fantastic and very knowledgeable XO who used to make the point that the Russians and the Chinese probably have many of our documents. Despite my accepting the fact that the phrase cold water interlocks exists outside of the NNPI world, I have not ever disclosed any NNPI unless you consider my discussions of first derivatives with my foreign national friends.

6/08/2009 7:38 AM

Blogger Jack said...

The way the 07:01 Anonymous (of course) poster uses the term "us" in his comments is Big Brotherish, and borderline creepy...

6/08/2009 9:05 AM

Anonymous Ross Kline said...

Just an ex-enlisted nuke take what I say with a grain 9or a truckload) of salt.

Having served on both SSN and SSBN, I can say that I really didn't see the huge degree of difference between JOs in the boomer world and JOs in the fast boat world. You had your very capable drivers, your guys that could follow the procedures and knew when to call for help, and you had the group that always managed to make you wonder how they got into the US Navy...

I think the big difference was in the senior leadership on board. I had a couple of COs on the boomer who were big time capable ship drivers - and it showed in the level of training the junior guys got.

And before you fast attack guys start - no. One of the two had never done anything else.

6/08/2009 9:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 713,

Okay you got me, I wasn't a FA JO so I have no idea what a good boat driver looks like (because no boomer guys can drive/or understand torpedoes right?), but I can tell you what three bad ones look like... Unable to manage the contact scenario involved in getting in and outta Bangor, surfaced or submerged, unable to adapt their skills to a new type of ship driving (slow PD, handling tugs, driving a giant slow boat, continuous comms), and unable to transition their skill sets to a new working environment (strat war, old sonar/fcs). In reality a JO tour is supposed to build a foundation for your career, the three I speak of didn't manage to do that, and likely would not have independent of ship class. Just a personal anecdote, but my point is that typically guys get it or don't. If a guy gets it, then FA life might make him a rockstar, but the Boomer guy that gets it will be fine on a FA.

The FA/boomer argument is tired...different skill sets, different missions, same force. FA guys can sit around and deride boomer guys as ship handlers, and boomer guys can talk about how FA guys know nothing about strat war. Then we can all argue about which mission provides more benefit to the tax payer and national defense. Or we can realize that the ability of an officer to drive the boat is a force problem, and the main detractor to the abilities of JOs is a working environment where minor mistakes simply are not tolerated. Being a submariner is a difficult, skills based business, and for JOs the art of being a competent officer needs to involve time operating the ship, with minor mistakes (gasp!) being used as learning points rather than clubs to beat the life and motivation out of an individual.

6/08/2009 9:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before everyone gets all worked up over the NNPI issue, just take a deep breath and imagine a 45-yr old O-5 in the line locker pounding on a keyboard, red-faced with steam coming out of his ears. That's gotta make you smile.

I'll start worrying about NNPI on the internet when that ironworks in Japan starts building a reactor vessel that we don't know about. Most of the security concerns here come more from blind compliance than any grasp of reality.

I've never heard a fast attack guy insist that he would make a great boomer JO. Wonder why the reverse tends to happen so much? Hmmm...

6/08/2009 11:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To STSC at 1819

Ask yourself this, is that DH from the boomer good at all the other aspects of his job, but only poor at ship handling? Or is he subpar in all areas? This will likely tell you if is ship driving problem is JO tour based, or a function of who he is.

Awesome on your CO for taking away the crutch of his judgement and forcing JOs to make their own way, he likely is making a good group of guys.

6/08/2009 11:19 AM

Blogger Bill Howell said...

My two cents on all this:

In the late 80's, the standard for JO quals (as enshrined in the CSP/CSL instruction) was a minimum of 1 year on-board (6 months of which the boat had to be operational) and no more than 2 (or the CO had to write a letter to the TYCOM explaining why the JO was such a rock). This fit well with the 36 month nominal tour length and PNEO at the 24-30 month point. There were no "required JO schools"; everything was on-board.

By the early 90s, during my DH tour, the drastic down-sizing of the SSBN fleet meant the large existing shore training establishment needed to justify their continued existence and the JO qual school concept was born. The goal at that time was for all JOs to have their fish at the 1 year point (which was too soon IMHO), since all the Quality of Life surveys indicated that JOs were happier once they had their fish and that happy JOs might stay in for DH tours.

I've been out of the fleet since 98 and it sounds like the pendulum may have swung back a bit, toward longer qual times.

Regarding the FA vs Boomer debate, I'll say this: the best trainer in the world is the ship itself. The more time you spend onboard, operating it, both at sea and in-port, the better a submariner you will be. It is simply not realistic to expect the same level of proficiency from boomer guys in certain areas of shiphandling (underways/landings, coming to PD in a high contact environment, tracking submerged contacts, etc, etc) than it is to expect FA guys to be good at EAMs. Real-world practice breeds real-world proficiency.

Finally, I agree with the folks who have pointed their finger at the issue of COs who are so risk-averse that they don't give their subordinates (both DHs and JOs) the opportunities to develop their skills for fear that they might screw up and make the CO look bad. In my career I was blessed with working for some wonderful COs (Jim Suhr, Rich Virgilio, Greg Billy), some marginal ones (Jerry Talbot, Fred Byus), and one who was relieved for cause (Mike Alfonso). The one thing all the good ones shared was the intestinal fortitude to let their people try to work things out, coupled with the good sense to know when to intervene to prevent anything really dangerous from happening.

It may have cost them some grey hairs, but those guys grew some damn fine sub-drivers, several of whom are COs today.

6/08/2009 12:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My experience was 21 months for my fish. My boat was deep in a PHNSY ERO when I got there, and I kept getting held on board (vice sent out for qual rides). There were others in similar situations as mine, and I had classmates that had to wait a long time on fully operational boats because their CO's were very shy about qualifying people. I was CO sig limited at the 16 month point, immediately after returning from my second 2 week qual ride.

A second issue I didn't notice anyone talking about right now is that the money for PCS moves was siphoned away some time in Feb/March '09 (budget Obamification), and it's affecting the training pipelines. I'm not sure to what level, but in Groton there are concerns with housing the students that are inbound but unable to be outbound. The accessions classes might not be *as* affected (so maybe the Nuke pipelines aren't bad), but I know that sea to shore and shore to sea rotations are affected, and C school classes are having to just sit around after graduation for months as there's no' mo' money until October 1. My own orders are on hold for my lateral transfer to a different community until October.

There's been scheduling issues for a while at the prototypes, going back to 2004 when I went through for the second time in NY. The crunch was hidden by the sheer numbers of JO's getting pumped through, but with the drop in JO recruiting the admin problems are showing up. My .02


6/08/2009 1:06 PM

Anonymous SJV said...

I think that until we start to weed out the egomanaics that think a single OOD or CO can singlehandedly control the performance of an entire watchteam we'll have CO's who hold back guys on quals for no good reason. Take the proactive steps to build a solid, open, honest crew and let the watchstanders make decisions. Support them (even if they screw up) and then go over what they should have done. If the crew is working together like they should be, the JO as OOD will be questioned by the QMOW, Sonar Sup, or DOOW and there won't be a mistake to deal with, it will just be a lesson learned to discuss.

6/08/2009 2:04 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Good ship driver or bad is not, repeat not, related to previous ship type. It IS, however, absolutely related to previous tour. If the CO trains ship drivers and there is some aptitude, you get good ones. Sometimes there is little you can do. You just can't fix stupid. On all ships I have seen SSBN/SSN served officers and I'll be damned if you could call it right based solely on watching them drive. That said, I always counsel officers to go to SSNs for DH because they will get the most driving time under demanding conditions.

Keep the qual times down, get them on watch, and MAKE them learn. We have to train decision makers, and that requires a lot of CO self-sacrifice that appears to be waning. I won't say I was perfect, but you couldn't find two guys off my last boat to agree that quals took to long.

Love to engage on Pers-4 and BigNavy muckups over PCS, but its way to off-topic.

6/08/2009 2:53 PM

Blogger Dani said...

I think a lot of it depends on the boat/CO in how long it takes the JOs to qual. On my husband's boat, currently all but two JOs are fully qual'd up to dolphins and the two that aren't have only been there at most eight months and have spent the majority of the time in port or in the yards (and have their EOOW/EDO).

I know that pretty much all of the JOs will be there for about 36 months partly due to the back ups in the pipeline.

6/08/2009 3:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I asked about the NPTU thing. Charleston was down due to scheduled maintenance. New York was down for unscheduled reasons (which I won't discuss here even if others do), causing a 3 month gap in the ability to train students.

We've crossed the gap now, and the training commands are pumping (remember they are a pump not a filter anymore - different discussion) out nucs per business as usual.

As to the funding constraints on transfers, it is definitely true for sea to shore. I'm one of the thousands held onboard until the new FY, unexpectedly getting an eight month extension past my PRD. Not fun but not the end of the world either. There are worse places to have your family stuck than Hawaii!

Shore to sea xfers are still being funded as far as I'm aware, because we keep checking new guys in at what seems like the normal pace.


6/08/2009 4:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

NPTU Ballston Spa is back to pumping, but the backlog of JOs do to not qualifying students for almost 6 months is having a lagging affect. JOs are making 0-2 before they are leaving and orders were cut and then subsequently canceled several times. I'm sure the boats are eagerly awaiting relief, but just like anything else, it's a big waiting game.

6/08/2009 4:41 PM

Blogger Port Tack Start said...

Lots of FA/SSBN rhetoric, what's the general opinion on the SSGNs WRT all of that?

6/08/2009 7:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The SSGNs have two crews. 'Nuff said.

6/08/2009 7:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

New political approach for speeding up the FY funding for PCS transfers: write an e-mail to the TOTUS.

6/08/2009 8:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of FA/SSBN rhetoric, what's the general opinion on the SSGNs WRT all of that?
I haven't been there or done that on a GN so I have no direct experience & wouldn't want to compare based on others' experience.

Two crew concept w/ fast boat style ops ought to be the best of both worlds...but I've never done it. I was begging for a spot on one years ago & the timing just wasn't right sadly - I was lucky I didn't end up in Guam.


6/08/2009 8:43 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

pump not filter....

The mission of prototype is to train new operators, not weed them out. As a nub at S1W years ago the staff did not believe it was their job to train as much as it was your job to qualify. The right answer is equal parts.

Glad to hear some good qual times out there, but one GN guy tells me that 2yrs is not unheard of. Hmmm.

6/09/2009 5:51 AM

Anonymous SJV said...

For the most part, at prototype the guys who bust butt get qualified vice dropped. They are not always the fastest or smartest, so it may take some work in the fleet before they are capable of being solid contributors. I'd rather have a hard working guy than a lazy smart one. Follows through in just about all walks of life. The smart ones are the ones that don't work together well enough, and end up screwing up with nobody to cover 'em. Believe me, I know. I was a SPU in the smart category, and I wasn't the worst, but it took a long time for me to learn how to work together effectively.

6/09/2009 6:18 AM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

A minor phenomenon not commented on: JOs reluctant to qualify to preserve better watch rotation back aft. Ditto: reluctance to leave the comfy world of water-boiling. Ditto: reluctance to do that scary stuff on the connl.

Have seen JOs fearful of qualification and just plain scared of higher responsibilities, unwilling to push themselves to gold dolphins for the added weight they carry. Some of the answer is to let this Darwinian self-deselection play out, but better that COs, XOs (always the ship's training officer), and DHs exercise awareness and then leadership to help these timid toads over their fears.

There's no substitute for the ship's senior leaders knowing their JOs and working with them, just as the COB, the chiefs, and the Division Officers have to work with their sailors. And BTW, a solid ship's qualification program is the best antidote to the real parts of this perennial wrangle about SSN vs SSBN officer quality: if you're well qualified and a good submariner, boat type washes out.

6/09/2009 6:54 AM

Anonymous Ross Kline said...

Amen, Ducky!

Well said.

6/09/2009 1:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband got his fish in 2008 - took him 11 months to get them. He got them at the same day with several other JOs that took 18 months to get theirs.

We have been extended on our current sea tour - we will be here for 40 months when it's all said and done. We were here for 6 months before another JO was sent to the boat - and then there was another 6 month gap after that guy.

6/09/2009 5:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest thorn in my side as an instructor at the prototype is the EDVR. Example: Dirtbag nuke finishes his first sea tour and because he STARRED its time for shore duty before he gets out of the navy.. He calls dirtbag detailer and gets promised A-school if he will just submit an instructor screening package. A week later orders show up for one of the prototypes. Disgruntled dirtbag reports to the prototype with jacked up attitude. His attitude leads to him doing something bone-headed enough to get de-nuked(inegrity, sad, pick). Dirtbag gets to go drive a van or make ID's at PSD for a year before he gets out of the NAVY and stays on the EDVR because dirtbad detailers buddies can't update the EDVR. Now simple things go undone on the backshift or all weekend long because we can't man a watchbill and have someone off for maintenance. Then squared away nuke calls the detailer and ACTUALLY wants to come to the protoype and do good things so he can make chief and go back out to the fleet, but detailer informs him that the prototype is 125% manned right now becasue thats what the EDVR says. Sad but true.

6/09/2009 5:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add some perspective from the SSGN world. I'm a PO2 midway thru my first tour, but from what I have seen so far, I have to agree with the end of rubber ducky's post. All of our current DHs were FA JOs. The level of competence as OOD ranges from quite competent to quite scary. And our JO qual time seems to vary just like what I've heard from everyone else. Ditto how often we get new JOs, it seems like every so often we get a new batch of 2-3 JOs. Although PRDs for our entire boat are kinda messed up right now, with people transferring en masse, so we lose all of our experienced guys all at once, in between deployments. Gotta love it.

6/09/2009 5:40 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...


The detailer is not to blame when a nuc instructor gets de-nuked and retained at NPTU, TAD to PSD or driving the duty van. The responsibility falls to the NPTU executive staff who need to get the guy PCS'd away from NPTU. Even a guy with less than a minimum activity tour can be sent back to a sea going command, or at least somewhere he isn't impacting your manning. That is the domain of the CCC, XO and CMC.

Remember, when a nuc instructor package is submitted, it's screened for ALL nuclear training billets, and as such can be assigned anywhere.
Funny thing- I never had much trouble from those types when I was an LCC. Of course, I knew exactly how to make prototype life a living hell for them if they didn't properly pull their weight.

6/09/2009 7:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regards to the EDVR & receiving less than competent instructors...

The Command Career Counselor & CMC need to get more involved to solve the EDVR issues. If they get no joy, a CO/XO call can frequently make things happen.

The detailer is filling billets, he has no idea about the quality of the Sailor most of the time...If the command screens him, he isn't required nor does he have the time to do an extra special Sailor inspection.

If you are getting dirtbags sent from the fleet to prototype, a CMC to EDMC phone call ought to be made. Two can play at that game, & a little finagling w/ the detailer can send certain "challenge" students back to the same boat that sent you a garbage instructor...

There is a reason that a screening package gets completed - I realize this is mostly just a paperwork shuffle for the majority of our nucs (competent & capable), but the bottom of the barrel guys can be used in IMA's & Shipyards to collect yellow poly or other mindless tasks that require a nuc NEC. I know on our boat we purposely do NOT send some guys to training commands because garbage in=garbage out & we have enough issues already w/ some baby nucs to make the problem any worse.


6/09/2009 8:31 PM

Anonymous SmagSW said...

@STSC 6/09/2009 8:31 PM

Assuming that you are an STSC, what background makes you the SME regarding nuclear detailing and the quality control that goes (or does not go, as applicable) into the assignment and distribution of enlisted nuclear personnel? BTW, being the CCC on your boat or on the ISIC/TYCOM staff doesn't give you any special insight.

6/10/2009 11:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree about the "paperwork shuffle" part - not all nucs qualify for instructor duty - it depends on their grades in the pipeline, last I knew.

That being said, STSC makes some excellent points. Its not like this is a secret, like to Sekret Nuc Handshake or anything.

Dont be a snob.

6/10/2009 2:58 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...


Easy there dude! I've been a CCC on 3 different boats, and it doesn't take rocket science to be able to read the Enlisted Transfer Manual, and figure out what it takes to screen a nuc instructor. I'm quite sure a capable STSC could do a fine job of recognizing a good potential instructor.

Having said that, no, it's NOT just a paperwork shuffle. NR screens those packages, and I've fielded more than one call from the NR CMC about one of our nucs applying. There actually IS a process, and they try to ensure the best make it. Yes, some junk does slip through, but by and large if a sailor gets selected, he deserves it.

6/10/2009 5:48 PM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Always remember ... in any elite, well screened group ... 50% of those in it are below average.

6/10/2009 7:22 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Quite profound, Mr. Duck.

6/10/2009 7:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what background makes you the SME regarding nuclear detailing and the quality control that goes...
First off, I never said I was THE or even A SME on nuc detailing. That said, I have participated in the screening process for quite a number of nucs. Go review the package and you'll see where non-nuc Chiefs may get pulled in to participate in the process.

As to the rest, I'm a Chief, and some of my friends happen to be nuc Chiefs, and we happen to talk back and forth about these same kinds of issues (quality of instructors, quality of students, quality of school graduates hitting the fleet) from time to time. Plus I've been in the Quarters on several occasions when MY EDMC was talking to the detailers, NR, and school commands about specific people for screening or detailing nucs to points off-hull.

Plus I've been doing this Navy thing for awhile now, how about you?

Good enough?
Have a beer and relax a little. If you are in Pearl I'll buy.


6/10/2009 8:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good enough STSC? Well yeah Chief, I'd say that's good enough. Clearly, you know what the hell you're doing and saying. You sorta have to be since you're well able to discuss all this in a well informed and educated fashion. Especially since 99.9% of your statements ring true...loud, proud & chrystal clear.

6/10/2009 9:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta back the STSC.
As a former EDMC I always respected the input of the others in the mess. Having said that, it was always a two way street with regards for nominating sailors for special assignment.
Enlisted Nukes are not the only ones screened for challenging assisgnments (instructor, recuiting, flag, etc. ).
I once served with a former ST who screened for nuke and was a very proficient RO. Seemed he had the apptitude to stare at a panel for hours on end and was always wanting a a relief in order to go forward and take a shower.

MMCM(SS) - watcher of the 10K rotameter!

6/13/2009 6:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I' know it's been a while since anyone commented, but I just looked at the comments and wanted to give my experience.

I arrived at my boat when it was in the shipyard undergoing conversion to a SSGN. It still had about a year before it went to sea, so I went on a ride on a SSBN to qualify EOOW. That was four months after I arrived. I got back to the boat, and didn't stand EOOW for a good while, because they were undergoing initial startups in the ER, and the watchteams were already set up. I managed to become a "backup" EOOW for the startups, but ended up standing a lot of EDO during the S/Ds and studying for my forward quals.

I didn't go on another ride for my DOOW/OOD quals, so I didn't qualified until 18 months after reporting on board. Very shortly after that, I went to PNEO, and while in PNEO I volunteered to split-tour to a NEWCON. I left my first boat the day after I got back from my Engineer's interviews. I was on my second boat for 18 months, and didn't stand a lick of watch aft (being an S8G engineer-qual'd JO with his fish going to a newcon with no dolphin wearing JO's).

I'll say that while I wasn't afforded many opportunities to work on my forward quals (actual watches), it wasn't ENTIRELY the ship's fault that it took me 18 months to get my fish.

I'm on my JO shore tour now, and we are seeing a scarcity of new guys coming in, due to the backlog of the prototypes. I'm hearing that JO's on the boats are now going to be spending upwards of 40 months on their JO tour.

I was on two subs for a total of 42 months, a lot of that time spent in two shipyards. Minus the deployment experience, I would say I got a healthy dose of both ends of two different ships: one SSGN (aft), and one VIRGINIA (fwd).

7/05/2009 2:43 AM

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your post, really effective data.

12/05/2011 2:00 AM

Anonymous Helena said...

Here, I do not actually think this is likely to have success.

9/14/2012 11:16 AM


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