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.)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Spotlight On USS Pittsburgh CO

Here's an article from his hometown newspaper about the new CO of USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720), CDR Michael Savageaux, along with a video interview:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty good overall article, but I did find a few laughers:

1) "He added that being in the Navy, especially on a submarine, requires sailors to eat properly and remain in shape." What shape would that be - a donut?

2) “I teach them everything from administrative to repair skills. ..." Rigghhhhhhhhhhttttt. My COs taught me eveerything I knew about MGs, TGs, batteries, O2 generators and other assorted electrical gear. Not.

8/08/2009 9:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are their running lights on? Looks like daylight and good visibility to me.

8/09/2009 3:29 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Why are their running lights on? Looks like daylight and good visibility to me.

Because it's New London. In August. 'Nuff said.

8/09/2009 5:47 AM

Blogger Jack said...

That uniform is so not Navy.

8/09/2009 7:30 AM

Anonymous CAPT Deepdiver said...

Anon @ 8/8 9:44 pm:

The CO's comments were dead on. You are an idiot if you can't understand that the CO is responsible for ALL TRAINING on the ship. He is NOT the system expert and never claimed as such.

By your "donut" comment, I will expand the "idiot" classification to "jackass"...

Nice flick Joel...don't know where you get some of these!


8/09/2009 2:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. Nothing quite like the intelligent and mutually respectful banter of set me off in the direction of far more important things.

8/09/2009 3:45 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

The CO's comments about "I teach them everything..." is just normal accepted Sub Force Fitrep/Eval writing: Always assume that any good thing that happened on the boat wouldn't have happened without your contribution, so take full credit for it; e.g. "Directly responsible for the outstanding success of the ship's deployment". I fully support the concept.

8/09/2009 5:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an idiot if you can't understand that being "responsible for all training" and saying "I teach them everything" are two entirely different things.

Capt Deepdiver, perhaps you should support your points with logic instead of classless namecalling...befitting one who says he was what you say you were (or are).

8/09/2009 5:54 PM

Blogger Gerry said...

Wow, you guys are bringing back some memories... particularly ones revolving around the in-your-face, oppressive class-distinction (rather, barriers) between officer and enlisted back in the early/mid-80's.

The anonymous nuc has a point... and so does the good Captain. The CO is responsible, and he (directly or indirectly) CAUSES his men to be trained. That is likely what the Pitts CO meant... but it isn't what he SAID. To we who have been there/done that, we know what he meant, but outsiders (civilians) would not. I think the CO made a poor choice of words, but it isn't a big deal.

Which is why I was rather surprised, like the anonymous nuc, to see a "Captain" stoop to name-calling. This also brought back memories of COs past, some of whom could pull off amazing impersonations of spoiled first graders when the right conditions were present.

I think Joel has done an admirable job of creating a platform here where we can all be submarine brothers and treat each other with respect, regardless of prior or present rank.


I never sailed out of NL, in August or otherwise. Would you elaborate for the ignorant?

8/09/2009 6:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:54 anon here....Just to clarify, I agree with Joel's point of view for the most part...but a true leader does not publicly take credit for things that others under his command have done, whether by direction or not....give credit where credit is due. I think everyone understands that a successful organization could not be successful without a competent leader, and that can be reflected in a fitrep

What sane person reads their fitrep to the press? Maybe one who is overcompensating for other deficiencies.

8/09/2009 8:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Gerry: In a word...fog.

8/09/2009 8:45 PM

Blogger Gerry said...

re: Fog

Gotcha. Thought so, but wasn't sure. Seems like we ran lights daytime going in/out at PCan due to the excessive amount of pleasurecraft and cruise ships *shrug*


8/09/2009 9:56 PM

Blogger SJV said...

I didn't see that the CO said he was the ONLY teacher, just that he taught EVERYTHING. Plausible. I can see a CO teaching an ENS about troubleshooting. It would explain why most officers don't really get troubleshooting. Just don't think that the CO could teach the tech rates troubleshooting. The only things my XO/CO talked about when I was troubleshooting was "how long before you're done?". Better to not expose the weakness than to try to be an authority on something you have no real experience with.

8/09/2009 10:53 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...


I was referring to the fog that plagues the region this time of year. With regard to her running lights, Rule 20 states:
The lights prescribed by these Rules shall, if carried, also be exhibited from sunrise to sunset in restricted visibility and may be exhibited in all other circumstances when it is deemed necessary.

Coffee, shower and to work. Have a great day, y'all.

8/10/2009 2:57 AM

Anonymous CAPT Deepdiver said...

Classless namecalling? Don't think so...the only thing classless here was the original uncalled for anon comment.

I believe that in my one sentence of my original comment I fully backed up all I need to back up.

Never heard of a LTJG or CPO or PO1 fired by an external authority due to "poor training environment" or for when training shows up in an incident or JAG report. Nope ... doesn't happen.

CO's words here were just stated. He DOES train people and, if he does it right, it can be fun, interesting, and valuable. If not, it can be terrible waste of peoples' times just to check a block! Regardless of good or bad training, it is always difficult which is why training is usually a four letter word! (have thought so myself many a time during the third exhausting and wasted drill set of the afternoon!)

Anon does a discredit to all with his out of the chocks negative comment about a "CO"...obviously geared to make a negative comment no matter what or how the CO commented.

8/10/2009 6:47 AM

Blogger SJV said...

I think Anon just misunderstood the comment and took it out of context. This does do PHILLY a disservice, though, and he should reconsider and retract what he said. This article is geared toward recruiting and non-submarine folks. By its nature it glosses over the details. Give the guy a break and see it for what it is. I think the fact that a CO used the phrase "learning organization" and mentioned the concept of learning larger lessons by empowering others to make small mistakes is tremendous. PCO's should take note, and try both the micro approach and this approach. Micro leadership only produces people who react correctly to the specific circumstances for which they've been trained. Empowerment makes people who extend above and beyond.

8/10/2009 7:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Namecalling is always classless, and the only point it proves is that the namecaller is verbally impotent.

8/10/2009 7:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Capt. D. After listening to the video (once before and then again after reading the comments) Pittsburgh's CO is absolutely correct.

ANON @ 8/08 9:44 PM missed the point. The CO is the one responsible, regardless of who actually gives the training. I had a CO on the 661 who probably could have given training on anything on the boat. He was generally content to monitor with occasional "suggestions" for improvement.

8/10/2009 7:46 AM

Blogger SJV said...

Okay, I'll play referee:

Anon didn't call any names, but he did make some shortsighted comments. Deepdiver called Anon an idiot, but showed more insight in what he said. Either way, all show evidence of suffering from that common thread weakness of poor writing skills and lack of empathy. Submarine life would be tough without those things, but also unbearable without the common thread of letting the umbrages roll off our backs. Take offense; bite back; forget about it.

8/10/2009 8:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you talking about Capt. Fursman? He could have given effective training on anything fore and aft, top to bottom. He knew his &*&@. And he could teach golf!

8/10/2009 8:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 8:09 AM. No, I was referring to J.S. Baumstark.

8/10/2009 9:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old COB,


Captain J. S. Baumstark was the CO of the Gold Crew of USS Michigan during part of my tenure on that boat. We of the Blue Crew did not hold him in high regard (although we did hold him in higher regard than the man who was CO of the Blue Crew - S. M. McCrory - for most of Baumstark's tenure). W. E. Rickman and G. P. Woodworth set a high standard for CO effectiveness that neither Baumstark or McCrory (or even Baumstark's predecessor F. M. Conway) ever matched.

In any case, that is a LONG time ago. You must be pretty long in the tooth (like me) to remember back to those days (Conway and Rickman were commissioning COs of the Goldies and Blue Crew respectively). Can it really be more than 20 years ago now? Lordy, I feel old.

Dave in St. Louis

8/10/2009 2:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave in St. Louis,
I can only speak IRT Capt. Baumstark's tenure on Lapon. He was an exceptional CO and one of those rare leaders who could be mission and crew oriented at the same time.

8/10/2009 2:26 PM

Blogger Jay said...

Reminds me of a J.O. rider we had one time to qualify OOD. Standing his first EOOW watch he informed the maneuvering area watchstanders, "There's nothing you can teach me about nuclear power."

And, in fact, there was nothing taught to him about nuclear power, nor much else.

8/10/2009 10:30 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

The interview looked fine. Sounded better than I ever did. And maybe I never taught guys how to take apart machinery, but I sure as hell spent time watching to make sure it was done right. If you ain't fighting, you're training.


Snorkel mast not bumped per SSM.

Which reminds me, a few years ago some PRC ships arrived in PH and we were directed to ensure all masts and antennas were lowered. What about all these internet vids? Idiotic orders...

8/11/2009 7:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served with this guy 10 years ago, and back then he was saying (and doing) exactly what he said in that interview. He was always crammed in the sail, or under some piece of equipment surrounded by the guts of the thing troubleshooting or fixing something. He almost always had somebody in tow too--everything was a training opportunity. Can he personally do all that as a CO?--doubt it, but he sure can get his wardroom to do it. This guy's the real deal, and I'm happy to see they can still pick good COs. Pittsburgh has a fortunate crew.

8/11/2009 8:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Original Anon here:

1) Capt Deepdiver didn't like the donut comment and called me a "jackass" because of it. That doesn't make it any less true, and by your response, might I wager . . . well never mind. (When I got out in 1990, submariner fitness was a joke. We had Lifecycles and weights on board, but they were used by less than a dozen crew members. The number of hatch hydros attested to this fact.)

2) Many of you didn't like the comment about the CO teaching "repair skills." I merely commented on the quote. There was no taking out of context - that's what he said and how he used the phrase. Did he mean, as others have posited, that he's "responsible" for all training? Let's hope so, because as I said earlier, neither of my COs taught me beans about the technical aspects of my job. One was smart enough to let those actually trained to do the job do it. The other liked to pretend to know what needed to be done, so we would "Yes sir" him and proceed to do what we actually needed to do. He was none the wiser and the job got done.

8/11/2009 9:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To "Original Anon":

1. You are surrounded by 1120's....back away slowly and make no sudden movement...they fiercly protect their own (unless his last name is Waddle).

2. 30 to 1 odds on Captdeepdiver being an internet fake. How many deep diving platforms in the DSS SOC community do you know of that use 1120s? Not SRDRS...not DSRVs...not the ADS.

8/11/2009 10:11 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Original Anon,

Ok, I get it. You're another disgruntled EM who bristles at the thought that an "O" might take the credit for what you did.

Well, how about some words from someone who DID teach EM's MG's, TG's, batteries, O2 generators and other assorted electrical gear? I genuinely appreciated a CO who showed an interest in the technical development of his sailors. The CO of PITTSBURGH sounds like my kinda guy. So his choice of words might lead you to believe he's down there showing you how to seat brushes. Big friggin' hairy ass deal. Get over yourself. You were a PART of the overall wheel, not the hub that it rotated around. The CO had exponentially more responsibility than I ever had to bear, and my responsibility was greater than yours by a factor of 10-13.

I did the training, I was held responsible for the successes (and failures) of Electricians onboard, and I have no problem with the CO taking credit. If I really wanted the credit that he is taking, I should have gone that route. I'm happy with the path I chose.

Well done, Captain!

8/11/2009 11:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capt Deepthroat

You're a mean spirited prick.


8/11/2009 11:19 AM

Anonymous CAPT Deepdiver said...

Anon @ lose. Not DSRV/etc. Just a name my wife called me on another blog and I just was too lazy to choose another one. I am an 1120 and, compared to most modern submariners, probably am a deepdiver since I was 594/637 class qualified...

Mulligan? I feel pretty bad now and will go out and shoot myself...I am only mean to those that start out that way if you would bother to read the entire blog! BTW, why am I even wasting typing time responding to you?

Have to agree with SRVD CO. I had three media interviews during my tour...only one made the airwaves - or at least about 40 seconds of it did! TYCOM PAO said the others didn't make it due to time contraints, but I think I just sucked on the interviews! I got more time on TV as a JO when I was leading a hose team repelling that was some coverage! Many years later, NR resurrected the footage when I went through PCO...was I embarrased!

8/11/2009 11:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


A bit hypersensitive aren't you? I never said I was the center of the boat - I knew my place and did my job well. I was also smart enough to know that there was little if anything that a CO could teach my about the technical aspects of my job.

BTW, get called "Chief" by the boys at TP a lot? They ain't using it as a term of endearment.

8/11/2009 12:06 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...


Uh, no I don't. I don't flaunt my career at TP, but thanks for noticing anyway.

8/11/2009 12:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off-topic (and a good segway):
Tonight on the Military Channel is Hour Three of At Sea. This episode will focus on Submarine Warfare.

Here's the write-up:

Hour three of AT SEA explores Underwater Warfare. It's a top to bottom look at the command structure, the many dangerous missions they face under the sea and the arsenal of subsurface machinery they posses to conduct military operations around the world.

8/11/2009 1:10 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

khaki pants.

8/12/2009 9:34 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

"Khaki Pants." That makes me laugh every time. My kid's a nuke on a boat, and he says they're already using that!


8/12/2009 10:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit off topic here; OK alot off topic, but looking at the pic of the Pittsburgh mooring, I notice of all the personnel standing on top of the said that only the enlisted are wearing life jacks. The officers must be better swimmers or even better bouncers if that rail gives way and they fall to the deck.

Wouldn't it set a good expample to have the offices wear safey gear as well?

Have those bars ever given way causeing someone to fall to the deck or overboard?

Am I missing something? This is not meant as a smart alec post. I have seen this alot on sub pics and I was just wondering.

8/12/2009 12:34 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

I notice of all the personnel standing on top of the said that only the enlisted are wearing life jacks.

Actually, the only guys NOT wearing harnesses are the two pilots (Didn't know Groton still used USN Pilots?). All the ship's bubbas (O's included) are sporting their PPE. Any boats out there using SOSPenders on top of the sail? I toyed with the idea of getting some for my bridge-team (Pre-MSP) but tabled it (Post-MSP).

8/12/2009 3:02 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Up until very recently, harnesses were not required for bridge personnel for underway and RTP. In many cases, ships in traditionally 'calm weather' ports like Hawaii did not use harnesses unless they were in the open ocean.

Over time, cross-pollination and general improvements in wisdom led to a requirement for all bridge personnel to wear harnesses.

Pilots, of course, are indestructible and thus do not need to wear them. I nearly lost a pilot one day in poor weather, but he proved to be indestructible. Aussies can be that way.


Sad how so few places have Navy pilots anymore.

8/12/2009 5:21 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Sad how so few places have Navy pilots anymore.

A coupla years ago, I would have agreed with you...Then I went to Rota. Enough said. From my chair, their only redeeming quality was that they spoke Spanish...but then again, so did my CC. They weren't entirely useless, but we spent a lot of time nodding politely.

8/12/2009 6:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To RettANAV: Actually, the only guys NOT wearing harnesses are ...

What are these guys wearing?

I do see harness on these guys,though.
Except for the pilot of course.

OK, so the railings have never been know to give way? If someone in a harness slips and falls under the railing, don't they end up behind over shoulders and banging their head against the sail?

8/12/2009 7:34 PM

Blogger chief torpedoman said...

OK, finally watched the video. Can't do it at work. To original Anon: I don't know what kind of shape the sailors on today's sub are in, but I have not seen too many hatch plugs in the pics at I did see a couple on the TAE (SSBN 610) way back when who needed a shoehorn to get in the shower.

As per the part of the interview about the CO teaching everything, yes it would have been better had he gave more credit to his officers and particularly his CPOs, but I think overall it was a very good interview.

I am sure that his CPO came alrady trained when he arrived as CO, but I read that he sets the standard of what is expected of the crew he certainly gets the boot when the crew demonstrates sub standard operations or training.

8/12/2009 7:44 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

To RettANAV: Actually, the only guys NOT wearing harnesses are ...

What are these guys wearing?

UM....NOTHING...And probably with their Commodore, Squadron CMC and NAVSTA CMC (Another ANAV Type) standing no more than 50 feet away. Just because I understood the *need* to wear whites on RTHP doesn't mean I ever agreed with it, and it certainly doesn't give you a special dispensation WRT PPE.

8/13/2009 4:01 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

The requirement to wear service dress upon RTHP was particularly aggravating to me. SUBRON EIGHT in Norfolk required it in the late 90's, while SUBRON SIX did not. EM's even had to wear them while bringing on Shore Power. I battled with our Suppo to get replacement uniforms for the guys who were in the trunk connecting the cables.

Oh BTW, we were wearing PPE, although harnesses weren't required up on the bridge.

8/13/2009 5:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole deal of wearing dress uniforms for line handers is a disaster waiting to happen. Way back when (yeah I am old) all shipboard personnel were "required" to wear steel toed safety shoes. If they are in dress uniform they probably are not wearing them and so should not be line handlers.

I am not sure what 630-738 means when he says harness are not required on the bridge. Do you mean they are not required when on top of the sail or when in the bridge cockpit?

I am still waiting to see someone on top of the sail get knocked off into the water when a tug loses engines or even miscalculates and rams the sub into the pier or other sub. Those rails really don't look to be that sturdy.

8/13/2009 7:44 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

I am still waiting to see someone on top of the sail get knocked off into the water when a tug loses engines or even miscalculates and rams the sub into the pier or other sub. Those rails really don't look to be that sturdy.

Yeay, me too. The whole assembly isn't likely to come apart, per se, but at the same time, they are certainly not immobile. I always anchored mine with trailer-hitch pins with the 90-degree twist-lock at the end (beats the hell out of ball-lock pins) but there was still a LOT of play in the horizontal components. Looking at one of the pics linked above, you can see the pilot with his feet slightly over the "edge" of the sail. I cringed when I saw that, thinking that he has a LOT more faith in those stanchions (and his Sperry Topsiders) than I ever did. WRT the "requirement" for harnesses on the bridge, 630-738 is correct...there isn't one, per the SSORM, other than in heavy weather. That said, methinks you'd be hard-pressed to find a set of COSO's that doesn't further restrict the "No Harness Needed" to INSIDE the cockpit..Spanish for "You Need A Harness Outside the Cockpit." Surprised that was overlooked in the Post-MSP SSORM Scrub.

8/13/2009 8:17 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

I am not sure what 630-738 means when he says harness are not required on the bridge. Do you mean they are not required when on top of the sail or when in the bridge cockpit?

I said (or at least meant to say) harnessess WERE not required on the bridge (this was in the late 90's, not today). Certainly not in the cockpit, and not on top of the sail, if you were inside what I seem to remember being called the flying bridge. Obviously, if you were outside of those parameters, harnesses were required- example- out on a sail plane, or during upkeep.

8/13/2009 9:11 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Also, don't think for a moment that I think, then or now, that no harnesses was a good idea. It was stupid then, and stupid now if still practiced. Frankly, pilots should be required to wear them too. They aren't any less dead if they fall off and bang their noggin on the hull because they're pilots.

As far as steel-toed shoes with dress uniforms, no we were not wearing them. We were wearing topsiders with the dress uniforms. That didn't matter if they were in dress or working uniforms.

8/13/2009 9:17 AM

Blogger SJV said...

I always figured the CO and the Pilot didn't wear harnesses because they WANTED to fall overboard if they screwed up and either ran aground or bashed the pier. Career over, might as well take a dip!

8/13/2009 9:32 PM

Anonymous 769 said...

As you can see from the photo above, CDR Savageaux is wearing a harness.

8/14/2009 3:54 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

And even then, as we saw on the Minneapolis-St.Paul, harnesses are a helluva way to get killed, even with flotation devices.
I don't begrude what the Captain said. He IS responsible for all on his boat, even if he's not the one doing it personally. Frankly, I'd be a bit concerned if he was--bit too micromanaging and not focusing on the big flick, if you know what I mean. I've had CO's like that as well.

8/16/2009 10:42 AM

Blogger ayura said...

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8/16/2009 11:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh God, another troll putting his own links in the blog.

8/17/2009 12:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, he's already managed to get himself relieved, read here.

8/13/2012 6:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, he's already managed to get himself relieved. Read here.

8/13/2012 6:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was onboard 720 with CDR Savageaux as the EM1/EMC. He was an amazing CO and every word he spoke was accurate. If he wasn't teaching, he was learning. The last article posted was not about him, it was about the guy who relieved him. Savageaux had to reassume command when that guy got fired a week later.

4/18/2014 9:38 AM


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