Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

O-7 Selections Announced

Much later than usual, the FY10 Rear Admiral (Lower Half) selections were released in ALNAV 43-09. Congratulations to the Submarine community selectees: Richard Breckenridge, James Foggo III, Robert Hennegan, and Thomas Wears. We only had 4 selectees this year, down from 6 last year. (The two years before that we had 4 and 5 for FY08 and FY07, respectively.) This is by far the toughest cut for any promotion in the Navy -- selection rates are typically about 5%.

Anybody like to share any good sea stories about the new Admirals?


Blogger DDM said...

CAPT Breckenridge was the senior board member when I had RSE on the SSN 23 as the EDMC. The first night I was heading home about midnight and CAPT Breckenridge was in the parking lot with a dead battery. I gave him a jump and we survived RSE.

Later he was my boss as CSS-4 Commodore. In the beginning I did some things that he didn't like, but on the whole he was a strict but fair boss, one the finest Naval Officers I ever worked with. He changed a boat's schedule so I could attend my aunt's funeral without batting an eye. When he asked for my opinion, I felt he really wanted to hear it. He was very strict with protocol. Luckily I didn't have to worry about that much. The poor CMC, leading YN, and deputies, on the other hand...

6/16/2009 5:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the selectees, well deserved for all four. One of the benefits of Buffalo Bob Hennegan - his brother Charley owns Liberty Tobacco in San Diego (near Miramar MCAS). he's a dead ringer for Bob and has provided many a submarine with a humidor and cigars. BZ!

6/16/2009 5:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last years and the previous lists had (good deal) special cases where our 1120s had unique skills that up'd our numbers. 4 is the norm (3 1120's and 1 1120 AP).

6/16/2009 5:39 PM

Blogger Bigbill said...

If it's the same Breckenridge, he was the Navigator on the Florida when I left in 1991. The timing is about right.

6/16/2009 6:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the toughness of the Admiral selection, here's an interesting comparison: even taking into account the dramatic losses after the completion of inital obligated service, about as many Ensigns make it to Captain as Captains make it to Admiral (5%).

6/16/2009 9:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breckenridge was my Commodore at CSS 4. I remember a few things about him.

We were in the middle of an attack center (simulated submarine battle training) and he randomly announced "It doesn't get much better than this gentlemen, except for maybe a complex engineering casualties." Luckily he was on the other side of the room, or he would have seen most of the collective eyes in the room rolling.

The first time that he rode us he talked to us about retention where he told us a story about how a JO who was getting out to start a tea shop. Despite the JO telling him that he had always wanted to open a tea shop, and that he was genuinley excited, the Commodore commenced to mock him by saying that he would never again "be on the pointy end of the spear" and that he was somehow unpatriotic for volunteering for the Navy and serving his country then deciding to get out after his initial commitment. He really did not want to hear our thoughts on why JOs get out, but told us that a common complaint was that we did not like our jobs. He said that he did not know why this was so important to us, because most of the time he did not like his job. For some of us that is the exact point.

My next Navy boss (shore tour) said "Life is to short to go to work and not enjoy your job, if you don't enjoy what you are doing consider a career change". Too bad the submarine force does not allow lateral transfers.

6/16/2009 9:49 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

It doesn't get much better than this gentlemen, except for maybe a complex engineering casualties
I personally dislike any engineering casualties, simulated or otherwise, although the roll-over ones for us forward types aren't a big deal.

Attack Centers (except SCC Ops) on the other hand should be fun. Track bad guys, put warheads on foreheads, & then we can all go have a beer (& not talk about it). What's not to like? The only thing that's frustrating is when the Approach doesn't listen...and when he gets you killed in the simulation you get to say "I told you so" (tactfully) and still get to have a beer afterwards!

None of these new flag officers are memorable to me personally, though the names sound familiar. /shrug

6/17/2009 12:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buffalo Bob must have "shone" after his Command tour to make Flag. Great guy, but nothing went right during the Command tour. I was CO same time same squadron and it seems like we spent most weekly meetings with the Commodore discussing the material and personnel problems on BUFFALO and the NR questions on all his incident reports - and listening to the Commodore chew on him for "wrong" answers. He missed a lot of underway times!

6/17/2009 5:41 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

I served with CAPT Jamie Foggo on NARWHAL during his XO tour. Even then, you could sense he was destined for a flag. He was a superb XO, albeit for a very short tour. He came aboard in April 93, deployed Feb-Aug 94, and he was gone by Sept 94 to some special project in DC. The next time I saw him was just after he had taken command of OK CITY.

He was a GREAT XO. All indications are that he was a GREAT CO. I'm certain he'll be a great RADM as well.

Damn proud to have served with him.

6/17/2009 5:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Foggo's XO tour was about normal length. I went to sea with him on OK CITY. He was the best, most natural CO I have ever seen. Great to see him progress!

6/17/2009 6:27 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Buffalo Bob. There's a shocker.

6/17/2009 10:54 AM

Blogger phw said...

Didn't Hennegan win a Stockdale award back in 2000?

6/17/2009 3:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please tell me that is not the Thomas Wears who was the CO of the USS Alabama Blue crew!!!!!!

6/17/2009 4:27 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

CAPT Hennegan once asked a LANT NPEB guy when his next exam was. "6 weeks" was the answer. Buffalo Bob called me and we discussed the insanity of LANT NPEB having 3 teams when the PAC only had 2. Great for liberty, crappy use of Eng served O4s. I provided numbers to show the stupidity. Numbers always win with 1120s. LANT Flt went to 2 teams in under a year. It was sweet.

I have heard that CAPT Breckenridge is a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as in the TV show). But you didn't hear it from me...or maybe you did.

6/17/2009 4:57 PM

Blogger Patty Wayne said...

I served with two JOs that are both now Captains. I'm hoping one day to see both of them with stars. What tickets have to be punched in order to be considered for flag rank? Is there a time requirement at O6 before being considered? How many times can one be passed over?


6/17/2009 6:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was onboard OKC with CAPT Foggo during a road trip. The boat flick seemed to be "Office Space." The entire boat was doing lines from that flick and a memorable one from CAPT Foggo was "Yeaaaah. I need someone to go back and fix the R-114 generator, that'd be greeeaattt..."

Good trip tho....

6/17/2009 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Please tell me that is not the Thomas Wears who was the CO of the USS Alabama Blue crew!!!!!!"

Yep...there is hope for everyone now!

Now his wife, Capt Millie Wears is great, a real down to earth person.

6/17/2009 8:46 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Patty Wayne: " What tickets have to be punched in order to be considered for flag rank?"

I'll take that on...

Don't screw up. Meet all the screening gates. Serve well as a CO and in major command. Be seen as a company man who will always do what the Navy needs done. Have high-profile jobs - flag aide, EA, SSG, etc. DC time. Bonus points: joint ticket punched. Advanced degrees and PG school are a wash - good to have but bad to pay the time/opportunity cost to get them. Senior service college is helpful. Submarine force routes its internal picks through key jobs like TYCOM COS, but pull of platforms is less than it was years ago. Some individuals are uniquely qualified for a specific flag job that is going empty and board precept might steer the board towards that skill. Don't screw up. And don't screw up.

srvd_ssn_co: anything to add?

6/18/2009 6:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: I understand from what I have been told that the % is Around 5% selected..... So, is it also a function of who you know/ who you worked for in DC that helps with the ticket punch? I get the don't screw up part, but I must think that there are penty of 0-6's that have served without "screwing up" that do not get selected? Thoughts??? On a side note, I had the chance to meet CAPT Breckenridge at his CoC at SUBRON4. He seems to be a class act. I wish him welll.

6/18/2009 7:16 AM

Blogger phw said...

Congress limits by law the number of flag billets. Wikipedia states that there can be only 216 flag officers in the Navy, with 16% of that having more than 2 stars (there are exceptions on joint commands). The formula for becoming an admiral is that you must be uniquely qualified to become so, and the unique qualification needs to be appreciated by senior people. The "uniquely" part says that there can be no formula.

6/18/2009 7:33 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Promotion is not a reward, it's a judgment by the leadership that an individual is best suited to take on increased duties and perform more challenging jobs.

Who you know, who's your buddy, how likable you are, how social your wife, etc. - these may have meant in the '20s and '30s, but now they pale against the twin essentials of competence for higher rank and assured loyalty to Navy goals.

It seems that some jobs make their holders into flags, but a strong case can be made that the individuals would not have gotten into those jobs were they not already on the fast track. And the great-ticket jobs are a bit of a two-edged sword: screw up in one of these king-maker billets (some have) and you're on your way to a twilight tour in your terminal paygrade.

In studying flag selections, always keep in mind that these represent the selfish judgment of an organization solely concerned with successful execution of its mission in future time. The Navy always tries to pick the flags who can do the most for the Navy, all considered. If you want gratitude, buy a dog.

6/18/2009 7:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Duck. that clears things up. Did you retire an 0-6? Just curious...

6/18/2009 7:51 AM

Anonymous SJV said...

Duck, hopefully this is the reality and not just the picture that ya'll want to paint for the public. I think the part about not screwing up is telling, though. Being in a tough job and not making any mistakes should be the requirement, and those who elect to stay in easier "safe" billets shouldn't even be considered. To me, this means that a guy who made a mistake in a tough job is more qualified than the guy who made no mistakes in jobs that were easy.

6/18/2009 8:05 AM

Blogger Chap said...

I have yet to meet a flag with really good hobbies, unless you count Stavridis' outreach efforts and degree. I have met enough flag officer's children to form an opinion of what the job does to the family. Flag is not necessarily a bonus: they take your command pin, take your extra pays, and turn you into a glorified ensign upper half. It looks great from underneath, but when you're there it might not be what you want. So don't go hatin' on the Duck for being smart enough to retire at O6--there are lots of other things to fight with the Duck about.

(That BS is consistent, by the way. I remember hearing of a four star, long ago, rejecting advice by three stars because "they retired at three--what do they know?" Oh My Goodness.)

One other need in the board is to have certain skill sets or personalities. Let's say we need a guy who is savvy with the press in a job who can handle the daily beating from the three star the guy will work for. (That's one reason Napoleon lost Waterloo; his detail-oriented COS committed suicide before the battle because he couldn't take it any more.) Or maybe you need someone with such a good skill set navigating the beltway that you don't care that his command tour was successful but not all that; doesn't matter, if that guy's going to be your beltway dude. (RADM Sestak had a *great* command tour and got results and was smart, but he wasn't compatible with the CNO who didn't like his treatment of staff and therefore left that track.)

About failure: DOPMA prevents any interesting lives. You can't fail and come back from it. It's become part of our culture and has been for a long time. It's just the way it is.

The interesting thing to look at in this--it's a fantasy football game inside the beltway, I'm telling you--is not necessarily who gets one star but where they go and why. It's like figuring out which major command billet the 1120 captains go to--sometimes this is a signal, sometimes this is accidental.

Finally, one thing that can hurt us as a Navy is that ducks pick ducks. Generally, people have picked those like themselves--and if the selected fit a diverse demographic you'll see the sameness in the history of assignments, skill sets, or personality. This is fascinating stuff, since one of the most important things leaders do is pick people to do jobs--and being human, are susceptible to flaws like picking who they recognize or who fit their own experience. Ducks pick ducks.

So, to answer your question: You have to be good, you have to be lucky both in the past and at the board, and you have to be able to deny everything else of life while you're wearing the fifty-five dollar shoulderboards.

6/18/2009 8:46 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

1. Chap - quit picking on ducks. We have feelings too (and the part about tasting good with l'Orange sauce, well, that's just a canard...).

2. RD retired as an O-6. Flag never an option - commissioned at age 28 and not much potential for post-O-6 work as an aged diesel submariner.

3. The breakout from 'ducks pick ducks' lies in the precept. If the ducks are directed to pick chickens, they do. This implies perception on part of SecNav on what the Navy needs and what it's missing. Lehman saw need for professionalism in the acquisition/program-management field and so invented Materiel Professionals (now APs). He then 'precepted' that new field forward into flag rank, with direction that opportunity for MPs/APs match that of their parent community. It worked. Same approach to female flags, minority flags, etc. - figure out what you need besides ducks and say it in the precept.

4. The picture I paint is what I saw from fairly close up. Key word in the discussion: selfish. The Navy acts in the Navy's perceived best interests.

5. On screw-ups. Some (OK ... maybe a few) are survivable, but most take one out of the running. Risk vs courage is not a valid dimension; have had many flags selected who had done some really ballsy things in getting to selection. Fortune favors the brave.

6/18/2009 10:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubby Ducky,

Just an OBTW, recently retired VADM John Morgan JR was I believe the last Diesel Submarine Qualified flag officer on AcDu. He qualified on SS-580 in late 74.

At most recent B-Girl Reunion heard great story regarding his welcome aboard Barbel in WesPac. Very funny, unfortunately to long to repeat here.

Keep a zero bubble...........


6/18/2009 11:19 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Morgan surfaced early in his career and should be regarded as a surface guy with one diesel tour. Dudley Carlson is the last future flag I can think of who surfaced after a diesel command tour. Chancey Hoffman in same category a bit earlier.

There was a career path for successful diesel COs into the surface navy, but it got shut down in the mid/late-seventies. Biggest push against it was - naturally - from the skimmers themselves, who thought this to be a too-easy back door into their command queue. Some diesel guys did surface in the '80s (Bart Bacon to CLEVELAND, Bernie Patton to WHITE PLAINS, John Hagis to JASON), but though these guys did very well, it was never a path to flag and events bore that out.

6/18/2009 11:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wasn't ADM Sullivan a diesel guy?

6/18/2009 12:13 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Paul F. Sullivan served in CAIMAN in his first sea tour.

6/18/2009 12:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel as though the submarine community will grow in the flag ranks based on the role submarines are playing in the war on Terror etc... THoughts?

6/18/2009 1:49 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Thoughts: War On Terror is a wildly overwrought and highly inaccurate Bush-era phrase that is no longer used. 'Overseas Contingency Operation' is current label (and much more accurate: 'terror' is a tactic, not an enemy - GWOT makes no more sense than Global War On Infantry or Global War On People Who Don't Like Us; good call by Gates et al ... but I digress...).

If anything, submarine role/non-role in current combat operations would reduce 1120 flags. What we're doing is really neat ... and really not a whole lot - our IAs may have a bigger role. One can shoot Tomahawk from anything and one can monitor comms much easier from a ground or air platform. Yes the boats are working. No it doesn't amount to much. Submarines are not real useful in mountain terrain...

6/18/2009 2:25 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

In the last few months I have heard a lot of flag officers (3* and 4*) and above talk about the future, and all have stated the need for subs and that the COCOMs can't get enough. That said, it is disappointing we cannot get more flag officers.

Duck, nice to ask me but I will have to let you know IF and when I ever screen. That requires a crystal ball with foresight to kill for at this point.

In my brief time (20+) I have been amazed at the spread in quality, personality and experience amongst flag officers. Some have many tours in DC, some have 1. Some are incredibly smart, while one called the facility at Gitmo, in a public forum, "the pens." A complete idiot. Some are down to earth, some are flaming assholes. The hardest decision for me is to stick in a business where I never get to go to sea again as a crew member.

The problem is life after command is a whole new career, and all comers can and will do it.

Best quote ever from a 2*, a long time ago. When asked, "How did you get to be an Admiral?" the answer was a shrug and "I honestly don't know." If I make it, that will be my answer. That and, do well and don't screw up.

6/18/2009 4:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had the opportunity to serve and work with many sub officers who are now flag rank. VADM John Bird (XO 682), RADM McAneny (Eng 682), RADM VanBuskirk (Nav 682), RADM Haney (CO 718), RADM Kenny (CO 695), RADM Leidig (CO 684), RDML(SEL) Hennigan (CO 715) and RDML(SEL) Wears (CO 731Blue). I would have thought all had a great chance of making flag rank, except the last two!
Their leadership style was one of making great strides in crew acheivement and treated their people half decently (except Haney, Hennegan and Wears).

Like someone said above, With Wears' choice anyone has a chance..OMG Does that mean one day we might here RDML Melvin Lee???? Thankgoodness I retired!


6/18/2009 8:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubber Ducky,

Met a former USS Darter SS-576 Officer, (qualed in late 80's before she decommed) in CPO Club Sasebo in late 07. We used to talk DBF stories re: people we knew. didn't know it at the time, he was Dep Com/ExpStkGp Seven. Captain Brian T. Smith USN. I think he is in Norfolk as Amphib Sq Cdr. He told me a lot of the late year diesel guys wound up in the gator Navy. Good guy and done well.

Re: VADM Morgon, had contact with him in last year or two. He's still got his smoke boat genes...

Keep a zero bubble..........


6/18/2009 10:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add one more to your list, Howard Eldredge. Co SS-580 72-74, CO tour LaSalle, Amphib SQ CC, not picked up for flag. outside of Al Whittle Jr. on SSBN 619B, he was the best CO I ever served with

Keep a zero bubble........


6/18/2009 10:14 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Anon at 4:14:

Bad Snark, bad. Down boy.

6/19/2009 5:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any thoughts on who the next batch of 0-7 selectee's will be? Senior 0-6's in the sub community who would be a good flag? thoughts? Or for that matter, who would not?

6/19/2009 5:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Served CO:
I heard Vice Adm Konetzni call GITMO "the pens" and he is the smartest man I ever worked for.

His point was that you can't treat people like dogs and expect it to turn out well. It will impact you.

I have worked around dozens of Flags including half a dozen 4 stars - none hold a candle to him.

He just had the courage to be honest, tell the truth, and lead by high standards without giving up his high regard for people.

I hope you weren't talking about Vice Admiral Konetzni. Fighting words :-)

6/19/2009 5:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Does anyone have any thoughts on who the next batch of 0-7 selectee's will be?

Look there about ten guys actually in the game in each year -- there are another twenty-five who think they are in but they don't stand a chance.

Then, someone might get unexpectedly by the precepts because Navy is looking for a specific skill set.

Not going to speak to AP because I have no knowledge of that.

So next year, here are a few off the top my head that are in the game (not an inclusive list).


6/19/2009 6:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh, and Jaenichen

6/19/2009 6:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is the progression with respect to where the 0-6 is in his evolution? Is it post major command? What year group screens for FY10? Is it YG84?

6/19/2009 7:10 AM

Blogger tennvol said...

@srvd_ssn_co: What year group are you?

6/19/2009 7:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

FY11 that is

6/19/2009 7:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next year's pick's: Perry, Sawyer, Tofalo. Ingals is retiring.

6/19/2009 8:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Richard has pissed off too many people. And is really socially awkward.

6/19/2009 9:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't go by year group exactly:

Next year 0-6 between 82-84 will probably get selected.

If they reach deep to 85, then my guess is Captain Kaiser will among the first selected.

6/19/2009 1:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If YG84 is in, Clark might get picked.

6/19/2009 1:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1:10,

Smokin some wacky weed lately

Bob Clark - not a chance

He was 2nd look MC and only got a squadron because he was VCNO EA (silly move by SubFor)

His squadron has HARTFORD in it.

Forget about it. Pete Clarke is 85 - better chance

6/19/2009 1:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


6/19/2009 1:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone care to post on an outstanding CO that should have made Admiral but didn't? I have one in particular in mind from the 661.

6/19/2009 2:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don Hahnfeldt
John Schwanz
David Marquet
John Brandis

6/19/2009 3:41 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Many jobs are seen as "king makers", but there are always exceptions. There is also enough history to show that the Commodore is not typically held to task for something one of the boats does. If not, then Jaenichen had Helena and Columbus. But that is not the way it works.
Casciano would be great, but he might be a little late after holding out for CSS2. Sawyer is CSL CoS, and Perry was CSDS12--two 'king maker' jobs. Those two would be very good choices. But then again, you never know...

6/19/2009 4:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon @ 3:31: EXCELLENT list. All studs.

TENNESSEE under the Armitage-Hahnfeldt era was nothing but EXCELLENCE.

Marquet on Sante Fe: best CO in the PAC, best crew in the PAC, best ship in the PAC.

6/19/2009 5:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CO's that should have but didn't...if Whitey Mack hadn't gone into the soap business; Bill Bohannon (Sturgeon), Jack Maurer (Parche) and Charlie McVean (Seawolf).

6/19/2009 7:12 PM

Blogger Patty Wayne said...

Any thoughts to Tom Bailey and Chris Ratliff?

6/19/2009 7:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:43,

Not too many people who remember Armitage and know of Marquet on Santa Fe .... hmmm!!!

6/19/2009 8:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Never rogered up to whom you calling "an idiot."

My guess is you are currently perched on the NPEB.

6/19/2009 8:04 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

I really like Captain Kaiser, & I'd love to see him make get a star early.

I also agree Richard has ticked off alot of people, but I don't know how much that has to do w/ the price of tea in China or how that would affect his chances.

David Marquet I never served with, but my boat was under him for a period of time when he had CSS3. I don't know him well enough to hazard an opinion on his star-worthiness one way or another.

6/19/2009 8:11 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Anon, wasn't referring to Konetzni, though I have no love for the man. In the case you mention, 'pens' was a bad thing. This dolt, who used that term in a speech at a Sub Ball, used it like, "well, it's the right term for the right people."

We cannot become the people we hate in our pursuit of freedom and liberty or we deserve neither.

(PS, I am not perched on the NPEB)

6/20/2009 6:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for responding.

There are only two types of people on Konetzni for the most part. Those who love him or those who like him not so much.

Never understood the latter except that maybe some don't REALLY know him and just don't like and can't get past his exterior persona OR worked for the enemy.


6/20/2009 7:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hankins for next year's list?

He's in line for CSP COS.

6/20/2009 9:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very LONG shot.

Old, a bit tainted, and no CSP COS has made it in over a decade but you never know.

6/20/2009 9:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ratliff - God help us

I think he's been found out

6/20/2009 9:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that Captain Hankins stood the watch an an Engine Room Supervisor back in his prior-enlisted days on Dace.

We could use some of that kind of down-to-earth sensibility in the flag ranks of the Submarine Force. Ditto the rest of the fleet.

6/20/2009 9:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How did you get to be an Admiral?" the answer was a shrug and "I honestly don't know." If I make it, that will be my answer.

One of the silliest things I ever heard. Flag doesn't happen by accident - it's a game and you have to play.

False humility is just that. In the words of a recent select, "you have to be good, work very hard, build the right relationships and then be a little lucky."

You need a sponsor -- more stars is better. Cross community support can put you over the line. If someone big falls in love with you, it is a difference maker. Now that love is usually based on what you have to offer, your talent, and prospects for the future. Kingmakers are people, not just jobs.

There are also loose, unacknowledged camps inside the submarine force (the good guys and the dark side for instance) -- loyalties sometimes fall along certain lines or directly to certain Flags. Some these alliances stick tightly together, lookout for, and work for one another. Debts are owed and gladly paid.

Only ten or so are in the game and they know who they are -- everyone is working for their guys.

Those who don't know if they are in the game, aren't.

6/20/2009 10:09 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Deleted a comment. Unsubstantiated allegations of infidelity shouldn't be posted here, please.

6/20/2009 10:14 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said... a good choice to have a Flag that has an honest to god collision in his repertoire. What a curious message to send.

If flag selection is only about what you know then the system can shove it. Everyone still in the running had a good CO tour, has a good service reputation, and has some challenging major command/post major command jobs. "Sponsors", if they exist, had best be senior people you have served with, and as such they form your service rep. Not the same as just 'who you know.'

6/20/2009 10:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be naive. It is never JUST who you know, but like everything in life relationships matter and your service reputation is held by individuals who come from certain perspectives.

Relationships and sponsorship is based on a myriad of factors. Some people even play all sides effectively.

It can also be an evil game at that top and can make you cynical. Cross the wrong person and the "dark side" will use the IG as a weapon -- and it is horrible what can happen to individuals and families. Many of the darker flags have moved on and many of the new Flags give me hope.

Don't kid yourself -- it's hard ball unless your a somewhat of a yes man.

6/20/2009 10:55 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Anon, you speaking from experience or out of your neck?

For my $.02, of course it takes luck and good performance--the numbers game is just to tight and pretty much everyone left is a contender. Screw the IG threat. If you have to worry then you shouldn't have done it in the first place. They ain't investigating the 2 skilcraft pens in the house.

By this time in your career nearly everyone knows everyone else. So the idea that you have to know someone is bogus. People have made flag without being some ADMs gofer.

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog gon'it, people like me. If it ain't in the cards, I'll be happy to go teach geometry.

6/20/2009 6:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am sure there are plenty of detractors who would say I am speaking out my neck.

I am speaking from my own observations and what I have learned from 2, 3, and two 4 star bosses on three separate tours.

Saw the IG mess up close and personal -- although my bosses always came out of it. One great Flag went down for what could be perceived as an error -- the real motive behind the investigation was his defense of sub force during brac, Believe it.

Some guys even have their wives call the IG.

But the gopher comment is misplaced -- it is much more than that. Talent counts most I think. Bottom line is you have to get the votes.

Good luck with Flag or teaching. See you in the Fleet or a future SUBFOC.


6/20/2009 9:04 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Two closing comments, both passed on from a skipper I worked for as XO in a diesel (Carmine Tortora).

Carmine put fitreps and reputation in proper context with his comment that the submarine force was small and what really counted was what he called 'the silent fitrep,' the knowledge subforce leaders developed about an individual without reliance on the (then) fiction written in fitreps.

And one late late night underway after a hard day at sea, sitting alone in wardroom with Carmine, I asked him what his goal was. Hardworking, diligent to a fault, high-minded, Carmine was in every respect an admirable person and a splendid CO. I expected him to say 'O-6' perhaps, or 'shot at flag.' What he did say is best reply in my experience to issues of career progression and higher rewards: 'service with honor.' This is how the finest see the Navy. The rest of this folderol is background noise.

6/21/2009 6:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Regarding the Hankins message, maybe it would be that real leadership actually counts?

The Submarine Force has had flags before with a collision or grounding in their past, and not just the WWII guys. So, to the extent your dismissive comment can be called analysis, it's woefully inadequate.

Prior to the incident of which you so eloquently wrote, Captain Hankins enjoyed a stellar career. As a sailor, he advanced to MM1(SS) and stood the watch as an Engine Room Supervisor on Dace. At the NROTC Unit at USC, he served as the highest-ranking midshipman, graduated with honors in Chemical Engineering, and even lead the peloton as a cyclist in the movie "American Flyers". At SOAC, he graduated with distinction and won the David Lloyd Leadership Award. As Engineer, his boat won the Battle Efficiency "E", Engineering "E", an Damage Control "DC". He also won the Submarine League's Warder Award. He then served as Aide and Flag LT for CINCPACFLT. After his XO tour, he worked on the SECDEF staff.

Captain Hankins was handpicked to be CO of Greeneville, at the time a troubled command whose previous two COs had been relieved for cause within seven months of each other. Taking command in the middle of a WestPac deployment and only two days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Captain Hankins assumed a task significantly more difficult than that of the typical CO.

After the incident--which occurred about four months into his command tour--Captain Hankins returned Greeneville to its former status as a top boat in the Submarine Force. Greeneville also had a retention rate of about 80% (unlike some other boats, however, sailors weren't reenlisting to get off of his command).

Captain Hankins also won the Pacific Fleet Stockdale Award as CO of Greeneville (and his XO won the John Paul Jones Award); served in the SUBPAC Intel and Special Ops job; served as Senior Member of the Pacific Fleet ORSE Board; is currently serving as Commander, Submarine Squadron One; and is slated to be the CSP Chief of Staff. He has the depth and breadth of experience required to lead the Submarine Force and would be an exceptional Force Commander.

The bottom line is that Captain Hankins is a great leader. The flag ranks of the Submarine Force need more real leaders--like him--and fewer of the coattail-riding, cocktail-party-circuit variety.

6/21/2009 11:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - nice response, Lee!

6/21/2009 2:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what anon 11:07 will think once he meets good old Lee. Clearly a total stranger to the man, unless of course Lee H. really did write it, Hmm..

6/21/2009 5:05 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Real leadership counts, no sh*t. Hmmm. My last boat turned in a good run as well, easily beating the 80% retention stat you pin so much on. I did not have a collision while in command. While I am quite happy GRV did well after that collision, the fact remains that the rest of us mere mortals would not have been fortunate enough to remain in command after a collision had the previous COs not been so jacked up.

Most people who know Mooney say he is a great guy. Chaz Marquez is a great guy. Bill Schwalm is a great guy. Need I go on? Being a great guy is not the only factor.

In the infamous case of the Sam Houston, the third or fourth CO in a year was allowed to stay in command after the grounding the ship at Carr Inlet. He subsequently drove the crew into the dirt and was eventually fired. While CAPT Hankins did a great job on GRV, I still wonder: what was it like on the sail that day?

The Ogden is >1000yds away, the lookout points to a guy and says, with his arm level to the ocean, "check out that skimmer!"
30 minutes or so later, he points to the the same guy, his arm at a 45 degree angle, and says, "check out that skimmer! Is he getting closer?"

So, how is it, pray tell, that the Ogden just sneaks up on you? And how is it you get to keep your job? Again, mere mortals cannot comprehend.

6/21/2009 7:31 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Oh, and lest I relinquish the soap box to quickly....

Having had the pleasure of a Hankins training session, I find it curious that the whole Ogden adventure does not even warrant a footnote. I am always worried when people only mention their successes and none of their failures. SO WHAT if you told CSP the boat was headed for trouble. Couldn't you see the amphib getting closer?

6/21/2009 7:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee Hankins talked extensively about Odgen in my PCO training him.

But the point about "mere mortals" is nonetheless valid. Rich Voter was a truly terrific officer.

That said, it wasn't a given that he would stay in command, just because he was third CO in a year. He had written a letter home stating that he wanted to bring the boat home and that it was not ready to deploy -- that played a huge part.

It also helps to have worked for a future Flag as a JO, DH, and XO. All powerful guys that weighted in to save Lee and pushed the Stockdale award to try and salvage his career.

6/21/2009 8:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Lee Hankins talked extensively about Odgen in my PCO training with him.

6/21/2009 8:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 2:00 and 5:05 (the same person?): I'm not Lee, but I've known him for 20+ years. Have you?

As far as working for future flags goes, it always helps to have mentors. To the extent that any of the previous posts deny that fact, they're simply wrong. Hank McKinney's wardroom on Seahorse many years ago is just one example. And that's not limited to the Submarine Force, the Navy, or the military.

It also helps to have luck. There isn't anyone that's driven a boat who hasn't relied at least in part on the "big ocean, small submarine" theory at one point or another. As is well known, it's a theory that doesn't always prove valid--particularly in the confined waters and tricky thermoclines of the Med.

You have to be good, too, but not great. Powerful mentors, a lot of luck, and the right jobs can make a flag officer out of a guy who's merely good. That's a problem searching for a solution.

Srvd_SSN_CO, since your screen name isn't Stckdl_Wnnr, Snr_Mmbr_NPEB, Srvd_Sqdn_Cdr, or Srvd_COS, I'll assume for the sake of argument that you have none of those unique qualifications. I didn't think my case relied so heavily on the retention stat of which you boast, but unless my radcon math is bad, I'm not sure how your retention stat "easily beat" 80% (actually almost 83%).

Lee was lucky to keep command of Greeneville (I think he'd be the first to admit that), but he made the most of it. So did his crew. And that's a big part of leadership.

Additionally, your comment about "great guy[s]" is interesting, because I never said he was a great GUY--I said he was a great LEADER. The Navy doesn't have enough of those in the flag ranks and you can't ever have too many.

During the Sam Houston's Carr Inlet fiasco, the boat drove WAY aground while heading perpendicular to the centerline of a relatively narrow range. The CO may have kept his job because the damage was minimal, with almost the entire cost resulting from the necessary drydocking. At the time, the crew also had serious issues with training and morale. However, when the tide receded, the newspaper pictures made you wonder how anyone could even end up in that situation, much less keep his job.

Finally, the Jack accidentally submerged back in the day and the CO kept his job. Surfacing and diving is like day 2 of basic sub school. How was the CO held blameless and how did he keep his job? Now that's a question that mere mortals can't comprehend.

6/21/2009 10:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing all that UNIQUE about Hankins record other than:

1. survived a collision
2. Stockdale

There are a dozen guys with equal or better resumes. Everyone knows everyone, so don't play the "I have known him for 20+" card.

He receives mixed receives from his POs and JOs -- expected I guess.

As CoS, he will inherently be in the game for Flag although in weak position since it has been a decade since anyone was selected from that desk.

Of course, the submarine force MIGHT be looking to change that. Pers-42 is in a similar boat.

I would bet my nuke bonus that he doesn't make it but I have been wrong many times before.

6/22/2009 5:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To earlier ANON. With all I have read: Clark.... Good CO tour, Great Post CO Billet as EA to VCNO, although CSS4 was second look, still a good seat. Follows Breckenridge. Not sure I understand the whole wackey weed comment. Seems to me, he is in the running. Oh and one other thing, I agree with Svd SSN on his point of CSS4 being responsible for the HARTFORD thing.

6/22/2009 6:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

or NOT being responsible rather.

6/22/2009 7:32 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Dammit, aren't ISICs and squadron commanders responsible for SOMETHING?!

Squadron One (and Al K) got a bye on the original GREENEVILLE incident. Then - the squadron having found major discrepancies in the pre-deployment navigation inspection - the Pearl Harbor navy turned the boat loose to WestPac. Where - guess what - the unresolved, unreinspected nav deficiencies bit 'em in the ass and they pounded up on the bricks entering Saipan. And again, the home squadron skated.

Do these squadron cats actually have a function (ORSEs aside)?

6/22/2009 9:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

not sure Squadron could of prevented the Hartford. No inspection could have prevented that oopsie.

6/22/2009 9:30 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

"not sure Squadron could of prevented the Hartford."

How do we know? If the role of higher authority - its policies and practices, its oversight and certification function, its knowledge of and connection to its units - is never examined, how do we know? These dudes don't have any skin in the game. Combining advanced skills in artful dodging with assurance of no review breaks the accountability equation - though imbued with authority, the squadrons skate on responsibility. Lilies of the field, I'd say...

6/22/2009 10:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Duck. AS alway's good info. I was just stating the point, because of ANON's statement concerning Clark and his flag potential. He stated that one reasons was because of being Squadron Commander with the Hartford in it... His statement is above a ways. in addition to being a second look Major command.... In any event thanks for your thoughts.

6/22/2009 10:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

See Below:
Anon 1:10,

Smokin some wacky weed lately

Bob Clark - not a chance

He was 2nd look MC and only got a squadron because he was VCNO EA (silly move by SubFor)

His squadron has HARTFORD in it.

6/22/2009 10:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, any commodore who doesn’t realize that Portland (Hartford CO) was a complete and total dirtbag after 30 minutes does not have the required situational awareness to put on flag. And any dirtbag who puts a LoM on Portland (Richard) is equally clueless to reality.

6/22/2009 10:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure what being a Dirtbag has to do with Command. By its nature,you are not going to be everyones pal in command. So are you telling me, the CSS4 should be like, " I don't like him, therefore, he is not going to command.? Dirtbag DOES NOT equal no command...

6/22/2009 11:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Portland had HAMPTON, not HARTFORD.

6/22/2009 11:59 AM

Blogger phw said...


Looks like the Navy does not agree with you. Isn't that CAPT (RDML select) Hennegan in between Portland and Burke.

6/22/2009 1:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any data on which boats the most admirals came from? I know the RB Russel (SSN 687) had 4, Giambastiani, Munns, Stanley, and Eccles. How'd PARCHE do?

6/22/2009 4:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dirtbag does not equal "disagreeable" or "do not like him". Dirtbag equals "abusive".

6/22/2009 4:55 PM

Blogger DDM said...

WRT who monitors the Squadron, TYCOM monitors POMCERTs. CSS-4 had three classes of Subs assigned to it during CAPT B's tour. CSS-4 also gets all the boats coming out of New-Conn. If you don't think that's a challenge, then you obviously never did it. WRT to CAPT C's potential to be flag, I don't know, but I enjoyed working for him. He was very tough, but fair. He loved to just show up on the boats and walk through them at all hours of the day or night.

CAPT Marquet was my XO on Hawkbill. He and the CO could be tough to work for, but I stayed under his good graces most of the time. He qualified me as Chief of the Watch.

CAPT Bob Perry would have been a great flag officer, in my opinion. A great leader who looked out for his people.

6/22/2009 5:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 6/21/2009 10:10 PM: I'm anon at 2:00 but not 5:05. And yes, I have known Lee for 20+ years. I probably know you too. Did you ever work for Lee? Or did he work for you? Or are you his peer? If only the peer, then you don't really know what kind of a leader he is. You only know what he said when you went through SOAC, or PXO, or PCO with him. Or at the Sub Ball. Or at Lockwood Lanai. And don't put too much faith in his results in command - we all know how stocked GREENVILLE was after the earlier mishaps. Anyone can lead when you get the cream of the crop from SOBC, SOAC, NFAS, and BESS. What happened after he left? Did he put lasting improvements in place or did it fall apart? Lee is a good guy (I also don't know what kind of a leader he is) and I genuinely like him. But as someone has already said, mere mortals scratch their heads and wonder why him but not the other good guys who didn't have the benefit of the big ocean theory on their side one particular day (by the way, I never thought that applied when two vessels were in sight of one another). I can understand not firing him. But the things that have been done for him beyond that are quite curious, to say the least. Oh well. Objectively, we could do (and have done) much worse for a flag pick than Lee. Just an interesting signal to send.

6/22/2009 5:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what happens to an officer that transfers to the Acquisition Corps. My 2nd XO on the usta fish put on his first star a year or two ago but is in the Acq Cor. Will he be denied 2 or 3 stars in the future??? He didn't have a Commodore tour either.....

6/23/2009 12:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Acquisition Corps officers (formerly Acquisition Professional Community officers, formerly Material Professionals before that) serve a tour as a Major Program Manager instead of a Major Commander. The rest of their career they serve in Acquisition-related jobs, and can rise as high as 3 stars. By law they have to promote at least at the same rate as their non-AC peers (they are still 1120s). They also retain sub pay to 26 years and the bonus to 30 years as long as they served as a Major Program Manager. It's a pretty good option if you want to homestead and do something with your business degree.

6/23/2009 3:59 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

And thank John Lehman for the AP/MP program. He watched good program managers boogie to their next at-sea/community job with no regard for the chaos left behind in the program's management. The MP program was his answer to this need to professionalize acquisitions of major systems.

Long the bastion of ED officers, the Trident Program (DIRSSP) is now headed by an AP.

6/23/2009 4:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1235am - you're probably talking about Burroughs or Brady (Elnitsky retired). Probably one of the two will make 2 star, but not both.

6/23/2009 5:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly... Brady was my XO on Drum and went onto have a good tour as CO on Portsmouth... Big intimidating type and could scream... Wasn't afriad to rip into his JO's while in control or even the DOOW...A year after we decommed he was on the PAC TRE Team and recognized me on the nav plot on the 701 and spoke with me for ten minutes during some down time about my plans when i got out in a couuple of weeks...Good guy...

6/23/2009 12:14 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

AP is a great thing. The US submarine force is the ONLY navy construction program in the world that is producing ships anywhere close to on budget. And everyone wants to know how. Without it I suspect VA class would have died by now.

6/24/2009 1:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's telling that the flag selection post has the most comments of any thread in months. I noticed the same thing in the wardroom as a JO - upper level officers (who would often visit our boat as we sat in the yard) seemed more interested in talking about personnel moves than issues facing the future of the submarine force.

Of course personnel moves greatly influence future policy, but it seemed obvious to me that everyone was trying to keep tabs on the position and heading of the most promising coattails, rather than trying to predict what major directions the force as a whole would be taking.

In this respect the submarine force is not much different from the civilian world (where I am currently), and that is one of the greatest reasons why I left the force. After all, if it's all about you - as opposed to "service with honor" - you might as well get paid well for it and get to sleep in a bed every night!

(I also thought that SSNs would be replaced by robots within 15-20 years, but that's another story.)

6/25/2009 9:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the CO of the USS Buffalo Hennigan was a terrible CO but an amazing ass kisser. He was blessed with a great crew and chiefs. He covered up problems where he could. Every action was based on what would enhance his career regardless of the mission or welfare of the crew.

5/14/2010 9:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of chatter about these 4 new admirals. Jamie Foggo is no surprise to me.

5/15/2010 6:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buffalo Bob was my CO and the worst with whom I have EVER served! His tactical abilities were none and the only reason he won the Golden Anchor was because of people re-enlisting to get off the boat!!

He took a Great crew and Chief's Quarters and crushed any morale we had. To be fair he help from an Idiot of a COB who would not step in when stupidity ruled the day.

But he's an Admiral now and I'm not

5/20/2010 1:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While on SPECOP, after losing the COI which was regained afer Buffalo Bob walked out of Control in a daze and the DOOW recomended a commong search plan.

Cdr Hennegan: "Chief, I would got to war with you in a heartbeat!"

Chief: "Sorry sir, the feeling's not mutual."

5/20/2010 1:45 PM

Blogger Chap said...

Amazing what Google Alerts pops up--a nasty little googlebomb from an anonymous commenter, focusing on the messenger rather than the message. Gosh, I wonder who that might be.

8/22/2010 7:19 AM

Blogger Freedomreign said...

Having served on the USS Buffalo under Hennegan I am dismayed but not surprised he became an admiral. He went to great lengths to cover up any problems, worked his crew practically to death, but got away with it do exceptional crew and chef leadership.

10/04/2011 8:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall LT. Foggo reporting onboard the USS Sea Devil (SSN 664) in the mid eighties as the Sonar Div O. Fair guy, came up to speed fast.

3/23/2012 3:54 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home