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, October 31, 2009

Another Sub Skipper Relieved For Cause

Haven't found an official Navy statement, but Navy Times and a couple of Honolulu newspapers have a story about the CO of USS La Jolla (SSN 701) being relieved for cause yesterday:
Cmdr. Doug Sampson, who had been in command of the Los Angeles-class submarine since October 2007, was relieved of command by the commodore of Submarine Squadron One, Capt. Stanley Robertson, the Navy said.
“This action was deemed necessary due to the failure of Cmdr. Sampson to meet the high Navy standards necessary to remain in command,” the Pacific Fleet submarine force said in a statement...
...Lt. Cmdr. David Benham, a spokesman for the Pearl Harbor-based Pacific Fleet submarine force, said he could not go into specifics on the submarine skipper’s removal. Those issues are under investigation, he said.
“The issues, I would say, concern some of the in-port planning, the operations and the administration, which fell short of the high Navy standards,” Benham said.
Hard to say what the cause was based on this statement, but it sounds like it was operational vice shortcomings in the CO's personal life.

90 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is a great guy and a great Captain. I feel so bad for him and his family, his ward room, and crew.

10/31/2009 11:30 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug Sampson was an outstanding officer and great man. The force got this one wrong.

10/31/2009 12:05 PM

 
Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

He was a great guy, but the situation in my opinion did definitely justify his removal. (BUT I'm just a lowly first class, and of course not in the pay grade or having the experience of making decisions like this)

I do wish him the best of luck in all future things for him and his family though. It is horribly sad to see a someone who devoted so much of their time in defense of our country ending this way.

---
MM1/SS

10/31/2009 12:25 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/31/2009 2:34 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Hey rudder, got more info?

10/31/2009 2:35 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

What little I have heard says it in some way involves nukes and integrity, I heard M-div specifically.

Not sure what the rest of the story is but I am sure someone here has it.

Strangely, once again the sub force love of zero defects comes home to roost. Of the many sub COs relieved in the past several years, very few are for what we used to call "Tier 1 events" like collision, grounding, death of crewmen. Now we have 'integrity issues in the crew', 'hazing issues', 'not sure but it was going bad', 'BA on a couple exams', etc. The Aviators don't have fewer weak guys, they just don't have as low a threshold....

10/31/2009 2:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a major QA bust. Connect the following factors:

-Involvement of M-division (srvd_ssn_co)

-Integrity (srvd_ssn_co)

-“The issues, I would say, concern some of the in-port planning, the operations and the administration, which fell short of the high Navy standards,” (Benham said.)

-The ship was in a ten month drydocking period

-"Another official said the removal relates to required documentation of inspections and testing" (Navy Times)

-A continuing investigation

Its hard to believe that a QA bust alone would get a skipper canned, but add in the nuclear and integrity factor and you can get there in a hurry. Think Hampton...

10/31/2009 2:49 PM

 
Anonymous Subdude83 said...

Looks like the former CO of LA JOLLA couldn't find a convenient "Medical" issue to avoid getting canned....

He should have asked the former "co" of ANNAPOLIS for tips on how to successfully "complete" a command tour in only 14 months with a bum shoulder for patting himself on the back too much.

As for comparisons with HAMPTON, Sampson doesn't seem to be anything like the screaming idiot that got fired for that debacle.

10/31/2009 3:34 PM

 
Anonymous LT L said...

I worked for both Sampson and the banshee from Hampton (on the same boat no less). People like Sampson gave me hope that there was a reason to stay in; the banshee is reason #2 why I got out.

/yes, the reasons are enumerated; and all are proper names.

-LT L

10/31/2009 4:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we go again with the Annapolis thing. As far as I can tell, the dude who was in command before that other rumor mill runaround is still in command now (Brunner). Unless the Subdevron 12 web page is lying.

10/31/2009 4:51 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

hmmm, subdude, pls email me about Annapolis, sounds interesting. And no, Doug was not that kind of guy.

BT BT

who was XO on hartford during the bump?

10/31/2009 4:54 PM

 
Anonymous Subdude83 said...

Anon @ 451pm:

Check this link out:

http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/top/2009/10/26-22/USS-Annapolis-visits-academy.html

Clearly shows CAPT Holland is the interium CO of the good ship ANNAPOLIS. Why would they have an "Interium CO" if the previous hadn't been fired?

Gotta face the facts! Get on with corrective actions! Hear that the permanent PCO reports shortly - good guy.

10/31/2009 5:06 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep I saw this also:

Link

So, the Subdevron 12 page is lying.

10/31/2009 5:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A better link:

better link

10/31/2009 5:11 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

So Mike Holland is the CO of Annapolis...and???

He is a great guy, but definitely just the temporary fill.

10/31/2009 5:13 PM

 
Anonymous Subdude83 said...

Srvd SSN CO and Anon:

...and CDR Brunner is not...

Nominal command tours are 32 months +/-, but at minimum 24, unless you can't hack it!

Webpages at most Navy sites are a collateral duty, and rarely are up to date.

10/31/2009 5:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news here: CDR Sampson is a "great guy" but he has low standards. He had low standards on PASADENA and obviously had low standards on LA JOLLA. Nothing shines a bright light on standards as much as shipyard periods.

Great guy or not, you have to have high standards.

10/31/2009 6:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with previous anon at 6:11. CDR Sampson is a great guy and I hate to see his tour end this way.

But you know, I've known plenty of "great guys" that didn't have the highest of standards, but someone else onboard held the line and the boat ran like clockwork. Where was the rest of the khaki leadership onboard? How did standards get so low? Don't they have a goat locker? Where was the COB? EDMC? XO? Department heads? LCPOs?

*sigh*

10/31/2009 6:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on La Jolla in 95 when she struck the torpedo retriever with her bra-34 and other masts.ouch. Skip admitted faults to commodore then went on to commodore position in washington st.

11/01/2009 12:27 AM

 
Blogger Vrolok said...

something funny is going on with that boat.

in the past few months, she had more than her fair share of Suicide attempts, insanity cases and other misc. ways for people to get off the boat.

then add what just happened last week and there is a huge flaw in something going down.


24 people went to mast over Gun-decking PMS and integrity. Not all blue-shirts either. Some were Chiefs.

M & Nav Div seem to have the biggest proportion so far, but it basically falls down so that every division lost their PMS guy.


The CO may have been a "good guy"...but something is going on. I think his relief for cause is justified.

The La Jolla is a seriously messed up boat right now




in light of the PMS gundecking though, you can be rest assured that the fleet will find themselves in the midst of another Witch Hunt.

Hope all the Bubbleheads out there have thier ducks in a row. Big Navy is coming to check your paper trail and verify your Integrity is up to date

11/01/2009 2:54 AM

 
Blogger Chap said...

Last anon comment reminded me of LA circa 1999/2000. Any parallels?

11/01/2009 4:51 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

who was XO on hartford during the bump?

Matt Phelps was (is) HAR XO. He was my Eng a while back, and as good a driver as they come.

11/01/2009 6:14 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ret Anav:

Agree completely - if he had been CDO, the collision would never have happened.

As it was, he was asleep resting for the midwatch.

11/01/2009 6:39 AM

 
Blogger Squidward said...

I dont know the folks involved, but it reminds me of a famous line from the wizard of oz. Dorothy discovers the wizard is just a guy behind a curtain and starts yelling that he's a "very bad man". The wizard replies that he is, in fact, a very good man, but a very bad wizard.

11/01/2009 7:19 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chap:

The LA in 2000 was different. Screamer CO, and there were a number of guys who left the boat early for "medical reasons". There was a point where the crew size was almost less than 100. There were also a whole lot of CO masts, but for various reasons. A messed up tagout could get you a mast. But there was also a suicide that year (on top of the one that happened in ~1995). Plus reliefs for less than major incidents was still kind of a novel thing.

11/01/2009 7:35 AM

 
Blogger Chap said...

I think it was the masts and the integrity problems that got me thinking about LA--more than 52 green table sessions in a year, which is nuts for a boat. I was on a sister ship in the squadron, and that boat was not a happy place to be. You're right about the suicide being the last straw, but the guy was on the way out when it happened according to the word on the street.

Funnily enough, the new CO and new XO were both SS guys, and they had a hard row to hoe in getting back on track.

I figure the attention given that boat and one other were partially the reason why I never saw squadron coners or leadership on our boat unless they had to be for an inspection or weapons load...and I bet that was also true for another boat, Greeneville.

By the way I did an image search for the guy mentioned in this post--he's a year or two ahead of me, so I wondered if I ran into him in the fleet. Page here. And, ouch. They couldn't have told him and taken a new photo?

11/01/2009 9:45 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on vrolok's post, it also sounds like the Alaska Blue nuc ORSE exam cheating implosion in 2006.

11/01/2009 9:58 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Anon@6:39; Ret Anav:

Agree completely - if he had been CDO, the collision would never have happened.

As it was, he was asleep resting for the midwatch.


Ya know...one thing I hammer into my students' heads; Never EVER say it can't or won't happen to you. Agree, though, that had his experience been brought to bear, it would have seriously mitigated the possibility of collision. Did a ~2-month mission with him as my OOD...he's got some mad skills. (Humming the Dukes of Hazzard theme here, in case he's reading this!)

Were CDO's on a whack-rotation? This happened on the midwatch.

Ironically, one of my students in my last class was the OOD on NOL at the time of the collision. She's going to be the Nav on one of the CG's here in Mayport. Didn't have a whole lot to say about it, only that there were a whole lot of people in the pilothouse saying "WTF???" CO appeared a few seconds later saying much the same thing.

11/01/2009 10:12 AM

 
Anonymous STSC said...

EDMC, TMC, & I believe MMC (nuc) were all DFC'd recently on La Jolla from what I was told. STSC is probably headed out too but not for the same reasons. That's a huge turnover in the Mess and indicates alot of problems.

The rumor I heard is the 701 crew were told by the JTG to stop all maintenance due to some issues. The crew blew 'em off and kept on trucking doing PMS. That's a big deal. I don't know if they owned their own systems yet or not but you can't just ignore ordered work control/maintenance stoppages while in an avail.

Then people start digging and find giant holes in maintenace admin & folks admitting they were blowing off PMS.

My last CO never had a problem with a huge percentage of partials. He wasn't happy about PMS flat out unaccomplished (without a reason) but he'd rather hear the truth than fiction even if the truth wasn't pretty. In alot of cases it isn't possible to do everything per the schedule (or even come close) but that's no reason to mark stuff off. If you sign something complete, that's your integrity on the line, each & every time.

SKED & the accompanying paperwork (or H & J test data, nuc close-out inspections, etc) HAS to reflect reality and not just be marked off to met a completion percentage number that is passing for an inspection or a pre-req to a test.

11/01/2009 10:23 AM

 
Blogger J120 Bowman said...

Need more info on Brunner and Annapolis. I served with him as a JO and would love know the real story behind his short command tour.

11/01/2009 10:23 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the straight scoop on Brunner. He was my CO on Annapolis but was realived by Holland (my interim CO)in September, and is now on limited duty. He was transfered to DEVRON 12 to have surgery on his shoulder. It started dislocating underway and he ended up in sling. His medical condition is real, he had surgery in the middle of October and I heard that his arm is immobilized for six weeks. Our new CO will be, Gearhart, but don't know anything about him.

11/01/2009 10:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA. That's anything BUT the (whole) straight story and if you're really on ANNAPOLIS you know it.

11/01/2009 11:13 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, the interim CO on LA JOLLA is Erik Burian, commanded LOS ANGELES. A good guy who will start them back on the path to being a good boat again.

11/01/2009 11:14 AM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

CO relief for cause in the shipyard generally means that the double checking and attention to detail necessary in the SY environment was not taking place. I remember in the sixties when the CO of the HALIBUT received the Legion of Merit and the ship a PUC for its work then was relieved for cause due to some serious incidents in Overhaul at Mare Island. Some great operators don't do well in the tedium of the shipyard. Gundecking PMS and failing to stop a procedure when things are going wrong are definite NO NOs.
On a related topic - Judging from ADM Donald's comments at the Submarine League symbosium, things were not up to standards at the prototypes either. Corrective action in progress. In my day, we had a saying that "IT was better to fall on your own sword than have someone else impail you with it since you would miss the vital parts" In WESPAC it was called the "Open Kimono" philosophy.That philosophy has served me well in retirement as well.

11/01/2009 11:18 AM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Anon@10:39: Our new CO will be, Gearhart, but don't know anything about him.

I'm assuming John Gearhart? Knew him when he was CSS-6 Ops for a while, then came back to do his PXO SCC course on my last boat (He's Steed-Trained, of sorts) Did his XO tour on Cheyenne (I think). Nav on NOF for his DH tour. Great people and another great driver...I'd happily go to sea with him.

11/01/2009 11:50 AM

 
Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

@Srvd_SSN_CO,

I apologize for the late response. What STSC detailed was a pretty good start to the problems on the boat.

A lot of people are blaming the M-div on this one. Really, I think it was just the M-div that got caught first. The thread got pulled, and voila, it turns out the problems were boat wide.

Considering the medium here, I don't want to say a lot more. (as I'm not sure what is officially released)

---
MM1/SS

11/01/2009 12:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although few would not like to know the facts and circumstances, most would not doubt Pac Fleet's wisdom in the La Jolla firing.

Too, the number of sub CO firings since 2005, does not seem historically high during a time of war.

Considering recent claims of shorthandedness in the sub nuc officer training pipeline, one has to wonder if something else isn't afoot.

How will the first female sub CO, who should be sharper for that reason alone, measure up to some of these fired guys? Perhaps only Annapolis grads will be considered for these commands in the future (again). Mr. Hoyle

11/01/2009 12:19 PM

 
Blogger fourfastboats said...

This is a shame any way you look at it.

The process by which officers are screened for command is not perfect - it relies on past performance, which while a good indicator of potential for continued success in positions of increased responsibility, but just like the mutual fund disclaimer it is not a guarantee of future success.

The Commanding Officer of every organization (ship, squadron, shore command) in the Navy is the individual that is soley responsible and accountable for its performance. As such, the CO is responsible for setting and maintaining the standards. "The CO sets the tone" - he or she alone is responsible and accountable for the performance of his crew.

The process of screening and assigning individuals to command involves some amount of risk on the part of the Navy. When it does not work out, as it appears to be the case in this instance, changes have to be made.

It may be tough for some to understand or accept, but that's the way it is.

11/01/2009 2:46 PM

 
Blogger T.J. said...

I don't know anyone involved, but it is no surprise at all the see they were in some sort of availability when this happened.

I'm a little scared I'll cause a Mulligan here, but any one who has been through time in the yards recently (and maybe forever) can attest to the fact that there is too much to do, too little time and personnel to do it and the schedules are made with an eye to money and time, but not the human costs of the crew and wardroom.

In short - I'm guessing there were impossible demands placed on too few resources. Like I said, no experience with the former CO at all, just doing trend analysis.

11/01/2009 3:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding this current problem on LAJ, where was the MPA on that one, huh?

11/01/2009 4:12 PM

 
Blogger Ret ANAV said...

In short - I'm guessing there were impossible demands placed on too few resources.

Yet in the rush to get the crew ready to go to sea, the shipyard will send a ship back out with a fathometer with no transducer and an EM Log that is not even connected to the pit sword. And not even remove scaffolding from the fwd superstructure until 45 minutes prior to U/W. Always amazes me the tradeoffs we choose to accept.

11/01/2009 5:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The demands are never impossible - Just highly improbable. Like surviving a 100 foot fall.

11/01/2009 5:11 PM

 
Anonymous ex SSN Eng said...

"...anyone who has been through time in the yards recently (and maybe forever) can attest to the fact that there is too much to do, too little time and personnel to do it and the schedules are made with an eye to money and time, but not the human costs of the crew and wardroom."

All true, perhaps...but a large percentage of boats (probably well over 80-90%) still get through newcon and overhauls without getting the CO fired for "admin" issues.

Like many, I did successfully complete both newcon and overhaul as well as operational deployments on SSNs. My Eng time involved taking over for a DFC Eng in overhaul, so, yes I 'get it.' The shipyard does indeed suck for too many reasons to mention, but it really does just come down to adequate leadership and good judgment when it comes to getting it right.

That's not to say that yard time doesn't play hell on people's lives, as I and any number of others could personally attest, each for our own reasons.

But sometimes in life you just have to be where you're at...including hell. It's that simple. Trying to be overly accommodating and easy on the guys all too often backfires. It's obviously not an impossible. Witness the many 'survivor' stories.

Shipyard does command your full attention, and perhaps a life sacrifice or two in the process. But actual loss of life is uncommon. We'd all do well to remember that, Dante's Inferno-like, there are degrees of hell, and at least we're not getting shot at when trying to get 'er done and back out to sea.

Some guys in uniform don't have that same sort of luxury, God bless 'em every one.

11/01/2009 7:16 PM

 
Blogger T.J. said...

I hear ya on that one. It may seem like hell, but you are right, there isn't usually many people firing at you in a shipyard. My point was that as a force we are always asked to fit 10 pounds in the 5 pound sack, and as a general rule pull it off all the time. When asked to place 15 pounds in the 5 pound sack and some spills out the people who were trying to figure out a way to do the impossible take the fall, not the ones who dreamed up the scheme to start with. Not trying to make excuses for La Jolla, just trying to point out that like everything else we do, when the root causes get looked at they will stop short of looking outside the boat. It is a tough business and there will people who lose at the game.

11/01/2009 7:31 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

What ex_SSN_eng said--yup.

I could go on a rant here but it is possible to get through a yard period without selling your soul or having it yanked out of your body.

One thing about this bugs me though...STSC, TMC, EDMC, MMC, maybe EMC...there is NEVER, NEVER justification for that number of firings. I refuse to believe that mass firings solve crap. You are dealt some cards, play them. I refuse to believe that the entire goat locker was somehow involved in some conspiracy to not do their jobs.

The lack of insider info on this issue is worthy of thought. Read over some past events and draw your own conclusions about what that indicates about the ship.

11/02/2009 3:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That's not to say that yard time doesn't play hell on people's lives, as I and any number of others could personally attest, each for our own reasons."


"Shipyard does command your full attention, and perhaps a life sacrifice or two in the process."

Perfectly said. And in the end, everyone needs to step back and look at the big picture...this little submarine is just a hunk of metal in a big world. In a 100 or 200 years getting out of the yards "on-time" will be an insignificant accomplishment.


"...and at least we're not getting shot at when trying to get 'er done and back out to sea. Some guys in uniform don't have that same sort of luxury, God bless 'em every one."

At least they get to shoot back!!

11/02/2009 5:23 AM

 
Blogger John Rudolph said...

Maybe he tried giving out an award to his crew for having the least amount of DUI's in one period?

11/02/2009 11:09 AM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Why don’t some of you sub guys get out of your fantasy land that you get shot at when you go to sea. It is like putting on a ribbon that is not justified or falsely. You are minimizing the sacrifice for those who really have heard bullets whizzing past them. Some of you really need to grow up.

11/02/2009 12:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YO Douche Mulligan, I thought you WERE one of those sub guys....
Mike's Credentials
Asshat: Check
Douche: check
non sensical opinions: check
Submarine guy: uhm, hmm, NO flippin way

11/02/2009 1:06 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And mulligan strikes again!!!

Mulligan, do you really think that we are so focused on our own community that we couldn't possibly discuss other branches of military service? Or for that matter, how many of us know, or are related to, someone who is, or has been, deployed to the sandbox.

So, now that I've reminded you of your own ability to stick your foot in your mouth, I will kindly ask you to SHUT THE F*&K UP!

Ok, done with the rant...

WRT the SY, I totally agree that sacrifices will be made, and the demands are way to high on ship's force. Now that I work on the other side of the equation, I can see the delicate balancing act of politics and budget concerns that cause a great deal of ship's force's heartache.
I missed my first wedding anniversary to support one of those key events, and that moment (along with a few others) were instrumental in my decision to leave the Navy.
At some point, someone has to remove the blinders and realize that the extraordinary demands placed onto our nations military are going to cause irreperable harm to our nation. The warning signs are staring us in the face, i.e. La Jolla, Los Angeles, the BDW from the Seawolf (if i remember correctly), and the San Fran.

Ok, enough of my soapbox.

Mulligan, nobody asked you to speak, mind your business (in case you forgot what i said earlier).

11/02/2009 1:21 PM

 
Blogger DDM said...

I think one of the things that gets people in trouble is how the shipyards and navy have gotten into this "teamwork" thing at upper levels of management. Rickover wrote many articles about our responsibility to hold the shipyard accountable for the quality of their product. As soon as the chain of command starts promoting a lets work together mentality, it's generally the sign of trouble ahead. Woe be it to the navy guy who says we're not ready to support that yet. It chaps my ass just thinking about some of the meetings I sat through where the shipyard delayed work for days due to other priorities and then show up to an upper level status meeting saying, "We're waiting for ship's force."

One of the keys to surviving the shipyard is making sure the guys know at what level we can accept something less than perfect or deviate from a requirement.

I base my rantings on taking SSN 23 through new conn and watching the Squadron Four boats make it through post-sea trials construction, PSA, and DMPs at EB and PNS.

11/02/2009 4:08 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Word has it that as recently as Friday entire divisions were hauled in and read their rights one at a time. If something is this big, ain't there a better way to search for the truth? The troops now feel it is the leadership getting a bye while they pay the piper.

11/02/2009 4:56 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I don’t know, are the shipyard’s management so dysfunctional that it places a excessive burdens on the crew. Maybe they need more crew memeber while in the shipyards.

What is going on, you got to temporarily buck up to the horrendously difficult task of being in a shipyard. Then you got to buck up the terribly difficult condition of beign out to sea and on a mission.

So what is the deal, you only need to endure the year or so in the shipyard with superhuman afford...do you go through a series of duty stations where super human afford is needed?

Are you just asking for human failure?

11/02/2009 5:00 PM

 
Anonymous STSC said...

Yes, we ask our guys to work crazy hours to get the boat ready for sea and then they work crazy hours underway. That's our life. We volunteered for it, even if we didn't know what we were getting into when we signed on the P13 line.

We have an important job and not many can do it. The career of a submarine Sailor is a crucible, with ever increasing pressure applied - you either get stronger or you crack under the strain and are discarded.


Nobody said it was fair or even right. This is the military and not a canoe club (despite feelings to the contrary at times). We'd rather the quality of life was better for our men but frequently the work demands require sacrifices. How much of a sacrifice is demanded is (in small part) determined by the leadership.

I think EVERY boat gets 20lbs of crap they HAVE to put in a 10lb sack, pretty much year round w/ our current manning levels and OPTEMPO. We overcome and we adapt as best we can. Sometimes we draw the line and delays or a FTS is the result.

Easing work controls or PMS standards to increase quality of life is not an acceptable route to help out our guys though, nor is it a proper way to roger up to meeting a deadline that simply cannot be met.

11/02/2009 5:31 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Mulligan,

"...you sub guys get out of your fantasy land that you get shot at when you go to sea..."

Truth be told, even in the Cold War, subs guys were shot at, but that was rare, undisclosed and not the primary hazard at all.

Sub guys, once qualified know hundreds of ways to keep their boats from sinking. Such knowledge, skill and practice are no guarantees against incredible odds to be overcome by constant vigilance, however (to wit: Thresher, Scorpion, etc.).

Perhaps when (more likely if) you qualified, you were blinded with euphoria and had little appreciation of what tasks others were doing with extreme care.

You dishonor those on Thresher and Scorpion with your pedestrian prattle. My sincere advice to you, Mike, is either grow a brain or consult a professional.

11/02/2009 5:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My sincere advice to you, Mike, is either grow a brain or consult a professional."

Whatever. You guys can't handle the truth.

This will be my last post on this blog, unless you ask me back.

M. Mulligan

11/02/2009 6:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Marv Albert used to say.....

YESSSSSSS!

11/02/2009 6:37 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

“We'd all do well to remember that, Dante's Inferno-like, there are degrees of hell, and at least we're not getting shot at when trying to get 'er done and back out to sea.

Some guys in uniform don't have that same sort of luxury, God bless 'em every one.”

Yea, but your putting a lot of peoples lives at risk with stupid accidents and laying up a tremendous amount national security resources.

That whole statement was disrespectful to the soldiers getting shot...and those sailors who are over-burdened in the sub fleet. It is stupid.

It is close to saying who cares?

11/02/2009 6:39 PM

 
Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Certainly, with out a doubt, you and the submarine force aren’t honoring the deaths of the sailors serving about the Thresher and the Scorpion today...cause all the factor of those accidents are in the sub fleet and rest of the Navy today.

11/02/2009 6:44 PM

 
Blogger SJV said...

If these are indeed integrity issues, it's a sad but vital part of keeping the high standards that have resulted in the zero defects performance of the Navy Nuclear Program to date. I don't think any nuclear operator has a misunderstanding about what the expectations are. If your signature is on it and it's not true, then it's an integrity issue.

From the earliest days in the program, we are trained to question when we don't agree, and that we don't sign something that we didn't do. Simple really, maintain a questioning attitude and don't lie. It's sad when officers and senior enlisted drag good PO's down with them, but it's not like they weren't aware of the expectations.

11/02/2009 7:19 PM

 
Blogger Squidward said...

yes, yes, high standards are terribly important. But if you seriously think an MM3 can take the heat when his chain of command is telling him to blaze something off, you are deluded. Its one thing for a chief or DH, or an LPO, but JOs and junior POs must be cut some slack when they are thrown into these sorts of screwed up command environments - they have neither the background, the maturity, nor the contacts to deal with the situation properly.

11/02/2009 8:47 PM

 
Blogger Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em said...

For several reasons, I have been keeping my eyes and ears open on the details emerging from this situation. Ever since I began my submarine officer career a few short years ago, I always catch myself asking "how in the world could someone do something like that?" Now, I am wondering if I have been in the shoes of the LA JOLLA men before.

My first assignment was an SSGN conversion for my entire JO tour, followed with that difficult walk know as MTS Shift Engineer. And the icing on the cake is I could easily be showing up to LA JOLLA in a few months. My wife keeps reminding me that "a job working at TVA doesn't look so bad right about now." With all that being said, I still signed the contract, and I am still willing to do this job the best I can. But before I take one more step, I want to know the "how" and "why" on this story.

I have seen the same perfect storm that many here have seen before, in particular: zero defect mentality, shipyard madness, low manning, low morale, too many damn students to qualify! Yet, I have been able to keep some of my sanity and not get any of my men fried in the process. Many have told me I've been lucky, and others laugh and say I don't feel pain anymore (yeap, this bum knee is telling me winter is coming still).

But what are "we" as a Force getting ourselves into? Have we pushed our men to the point that failure is NOT an option? Don't get me wrong...I know there are parts of this job that we CANNOT screw up. But I am starting to wonder if we aren't two steps away from masting guys for taking a crap using a workaround on a Tuesday afternoon! We are "volunteering" officers into the volunteer force (BTW, does that mean we can't fail anyone at prototype anymore?), and we are possibly going to further shock the system by introducing women onboard. I hope someone has EOD on speed dial...this thing is about to blow up.

As for this situation, I hope the truth comes out and quickly. I pray the leadership didn't put their men into an impossible situation. At the end of the day, a line has to be drawn when there is simply too much to get done. I ask that everyone following this situation keeps the crew and their families in their prayers, as well as the rest of the Force. It's those prayers that have gotten myself and my men through alot as it is.

11/02/2009 9:11 PM

 
Anonymous H8&Discontent said...

As a wise chief on my last boat told me "Credit is negotiable, but blame isn't. Be sure to shift it to someone else."
I have to ask myself how much of this is really the fault of the deckplates and how much of this was directed from the senior leadership. I hate to say this, but when a crew is tasked with the impossible in the shipyard, and somehow they pull it off, you unthinkably the SY work. The sad thing is, often the crew will feel trapped. It's the whole "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" mentality. If you do everything by the book, then you get dumped on for taking too long or holding up work, or being called a fault-finding nitpicker when you call out the shipyard for doing bogus work. Or you can gaff off paperwork, let the PMS slide, and keep up with the yard birds and then get dumped on for letting things go and blazing stuff off. You're screwed either way. Big Navy needs to get real when it comes to what we can, and can't, do with so few people in such a short time. Otherwise, we will continue to set up more ships and more crews for failure. The La Jolla is all too typical of the fleet in the yards. Tight schedules and flying by the seat of their pants. They take on too much work for the crew to do, and end up setting them up to fail. The La Jolla was just unlucky and got caught.

11/02/2009 11:36 PM

 
Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

I agree with the evaluation of shipyard environments. I went through the SSGN conversion with find em chase em sink em, and I will say that they just ask too much of the crews.

Even when there are plans for adjusted manning for the yards, half the time it doesn't happen. Impossible workloads run rampant, and the shipyard blames ship's force. The problem is that shipyard gets away with it and noone holds them accountable.

I was lucky that in my experience, the impossible workload was somehow overcome without violating our integrity.... I still cannot figure out how we got through that mess.

What I can say is that the temptation was there the whole time because, honestly, what sailor wants to not go home for a week because he decided to stay later every night of the week to the point that it wasn't worth driving home, just to get his workload done. Eventually it becomes the "I can't stand it anymore, I'll do whatever to get off this damn boat." That is probably what happened here, and the command climate didn't take the appropriate actions to recognize it or curb the problem.

Am I saying that it isn't their fault because the yards are hard? No, they knew the right answer...they all did. I just can see where they were coming from.

---
MM1/SS

11/03/2009 1:10 AM

 
Blogger DDM said...

Two examples of how the command climate affects the crew.

We didn't own the boat and the shipyard wasn't keeping it clean. We had no OPTAR for cleaning supplies, but we agreed to help the shipyard maintain the boat clean. Sounds great because we'll get what we want - a cleaner boat. But to the deckplates - we're now cleaning up after the shipyard and the shipyard guys think we're stealing their work so their give a shit about working with us goes downhill.

Same boat, 2nd underway ever, out to sea for 20 days +/-. On the tugs on the way in the shipyard test director drops off the proposed schedule - steam overnight to support some troubleshooting and then stay in underway watches to support more setting of plant conditions. Chain of command response was basically the middle finger and we're giving our guys a break, present me with a new plan tomorrow. Most of the crew never saw this, but it meant a lot to me and made other shit sandwiches easier to eat.

11/03/2009 2:37 AM

 
Anonymous STSC said...

"If you do everything by the book, then you get dumped on for taking too long or holding up work, or being called a fault-finding nitpicker when you call out the shipyard for doing bogus work. Or you can gaff off paperwork, let the PMS slide, and keep up with the yard birds and then get dumped on for letting things go and blazing stuff off. You're screwed either way.
That's where leadership comes to the fore. Having a climate where being nitpicky about SY work is praised and not ridiculed. Where the CO throws the last minute changes to the plan back at the SY and says, NO, then tells his boss that the schedule has slipped but crew training is proceeding on track.

11/03/2009 6:43 AM

 
Blogger SJV said...

I was trained (even as an EM3) to not sign things that weren't right. I never had the reason to do so, but would not have batted an eye in taking to the captain an issue where a chief or officer asked me to forge a signoff or log. I'd have just refused to sign and then let them write me up. Don't forget that in SY for the most part you can request a GCM. No captain would let it go there, and you just might change the "climate" on the spot.

11/03/2009 8:33 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the shipyard and start the downward death spiral. I have been on both sides, from SF and from maintenance activity perspective.

A lot of boats are unprepared for the yards because they do not prepare. They are provided the SRA/DMP/ERO package a year in advance. Unfortunately boats (ENG/3MC) take the book and pooka it away until a couple of months out when the POTS/PATS team arrives to do testing. Very rarely do I see a boat come prepared with all their ducks in a row to discuss work at the final planning meetings. Most of the time, they just react to what the yard says and are forced to do what they say because they weren't prepared. This is the start of hell.

On the flip side, the rare boat that has come prepared to the final planning meeting sets the stage for how the dynamics will be during the yard period. If the CO, Dept Heads and Chiefs are up to speed on their CSMPs and what is scheduled in the work package, they are showing the yard that they are engaged and ready to work. The key is divisions taking ownership of their jobs and driving the schedule. They need to tell the project when they can or cannot support. The upper echelon needs to remind the project that they only have a finite amount of saliors and can support only if the project gives them time to plan for having guys on the 2nd shift or to support what evolutions they require.

It is a lot easier said than done, but it is possible. Overcommunication is the key and people thinking outside of just their division on a ship level (big picture) is required.

The Chiefs Quarters must be on the same page as the CO and must set the standard. The heavier loaded divisions need to ask for help if they need it and the lightly loaded ones need to offer their help. Ownership of the boat is paramount because the yard will not be going to sea on the boat after sea trials. If the crew understands this, then they can hold the yard accountable.

Not impossible, but extremely difficult to accomplish.

-One Big Flip

11/03/2009 12:37 PM

 
Blogger WGP said...

China's Dongfeng-21 missile is the world's first that can take out a large moving target at sea
http://china-arsenal.blogspot.com/2009/11/dongfeng-21-anti-ship-missile.html

11/03/2009 3:15 PM

 
Anonymous China's Dongfeng-21 missile is the world's first that can take out a large moving target at sea said...

China's Dongfeng-21 missile is the world's first that can take out a large moving target at sea
http://china-arsenal.blogspot.com/2009/11/dongfeng-21-anti-ship-missile.html

11/03/2009 3:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many reasons why the shipyard tends to drive the schedule of a yard period. As One Big Flip said, it comes down to planning. A shipyard begins planning for an availability as much as 4 years in advance. The ship, most likely, around 6-9 months in advance. Also, the shipyard has significantly more resources to plan. Having been a sailor going through a DMP, I can attest to the grueling demands applied to the ship. The key to success however is to never back down from your ideals and morals. If something isn't right, you can't be afraid to say so. And don't be afraid to agree with the shipyard either.
I remember being told on the way to the shipyard that the yardbirds couldn't be trusted, and all they care about is the schedule. They'll try to screw you at every opportunity. All of these phrases were used. What I came to learn, after working with, and working for the shipyard, is that they preach the same mentality of distrust to the yardbirds. In all reality, everyone wants to reach the same goal.
By the end of an availability, the SY is ready to be rid of the ship, and vice versa. Just work together, and understand the pressure being applied is more than likely coming from much higher than anyone within the yard.

11/03/2009 3:37 PM

 
Blogger Squidward said...

{Don't forget that in SY for the most part you can request a GCM.}

That you are even having to bring that up just shows how insane the situation is.

11/03/2009 5:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Don't forget that in SY for the most part you can request a GCM.}

{That you are even having to bring that up just shows how insane the situation is.}

First, a sea lawyer's opinion based on his experience in SY has nothing to do with La Jolla's PIRA.

Second, he's wrong. As long as you're attached to a ship, you don't have the right to refuse NJP. One huge bennie of being CO afloat.

11/03/2009 9:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Second, he's wrong. As long as you're attached to a ship, you don't have the right to refuse NJP. One huge bennie of being CO afloat.

First an XO lies to his JOs about VRADs leading to IAs, now an officer is describing CO NJP power as a "bennie."

Slash and burn baby...there's a lot more fat to be cut from the force.

11/03/2009 11:42 PM

 
Blogger SJV said...

I stand corrected, then. In this circumstance, not really important since all you're looking to do is reveal the abuse of power to higher levels. No CO would bring someone to NJP for refusing to sign a legal record.

I'll spell out my two points for you, since you're obsessing on trivia:

1. Nukes are trained to question authority, even that of senior enlisted and officers, so they have no grounds to say that "command climate" caused them to violate their integrity.

2. The best way to address the reality of having an officer or chief ask you to violate your integrity is just to refuse to sign.

I suspect this will ruffle "anons" feathers also, but just remember that salt thrown on a clear conscience doesn't hurt.

11/04/2009 6:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think you've read this before, I've posted this previously in other related topics.

While we were on a spec op we couldn't shift pumps and couldn't maintain primary chemistry. The LELT identified this and said it was going to be a problem to allow chemistry to go out of spec.

Once we were off station and the ELTs were allowed to do adds to bring chem back in spec, the RL Div O slinked in and basically told the LELT that he needed to fabricate some logs showing that chemistry never went out of spec. (How anyone would expect to pull this off is beyond me considering that all pump shifts, etc were logged for anyone curious enough to pull the string.) Anyway, the LELT told the Div O where to stick it. A day or so later the Div O reappears and tells the LELT that he has been ordered by the CO to fabricate the logs. (At least the CO was smart enough not to come tell the LELT himself.) The LELT told him that he would create whatever he wanted, but when we got back to San Diego, he'd head straight to squadron and spill the beans to whoever had to hear it. Nothing else was said. Both the CO and XO went on to flag rank and the XO is now COMSUBPAC. (Not saying he had anything to do with it, but he was there.)

11/04/2009 9:06 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaaaahhhh....The good old days....BB Englehart and Big Mac on the old 677....

11/04/2009 11:07 PM

 
Blogger Bill Howell said...

Having been Engineer on a ship that was unable to maintain chemistry in spec a couple of times due to "tactical considerations", I find the idea that a CO would try to have the logs falsified to cover that up rather far-fetched. If memory serves, all we did was annotate the logs to say that we were unable to perform the required actions until later due to special mission requirements. What mission requirements? Sorry, NPEB, you don't have the need to know.

I could believe some CO (or ENG\CRA\LELT) trying to cover up letting chemistry go out of spec by accident, but not if it happened because of tactical considerations.

Makes a good story to bash the O-gangers with, though.

11/05/2009 2:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a story Billy boy, I was there and, to this day, know the LELT very well. And like you, we were incredulous that something so ridiculous would be suggested - but it was.

If I wanted to simply bash an O-ganger, I would say something like, "Go back to your job at Kenai Vo Tech and keep your opinions to yourself," but I digress.

Whether you believe the chem issues or not, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

11/05/2009 6:53 PM

 
Blogger Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em said...

For all those that think the O-gang is incapable of anything, just look at what one O-4 just did at Fort Hood. As an officer, I would like to think my peers wouldn't do anything shady. I have known several that I would personally like to take behind a woodshed.

And as for that particular Army Major, I hope his firing squad is all officers. Let me know when they call for volunteers.

11/05/2009 7:44 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I stand corrected, then. In this circumstance, not really important since all you're looking to do is reveal the abuse of power to higher levels. No CO would bring someone to NJP for refusing to sign a legal record.

I'll spell out my two points for you, since you're obsessing on trivia:

1. Nukes are trained to question authority, even that of senior enlisted and officers, so they have no grounds to say that "command climate" caused them to violate their integrity.

2. The best way to address the reality of having an officer or chief ask you to violate your integrity is just to refuse to sign.

I suspect this will ruffle "anons" feathers also, but just remember that salt thrown on a clear conscience doesn't hurt."

I'm the anon you mention - no ruffled feathers here - one of the things I love about submariners of all stripes is their willingness to hoist the bullshit flag. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree concerning the relative merits of NJP, but I absolutely agree with you that no one should 1) Be pressured to violate their integrity or 2) Give in to such pressure.

In the end, I'm the guy I have to face in the mirror...

11/06/2009 12:48 AM

 
Blogger Bill Howell said...

And if I wanted to bash Blueshirts, I'd say...

Wait, I can't say anything nasty about you, Petty Officer Anon, because you don't have balls enough to attach your name or any personal info to your posts.

Oh dear, oh dear whatever shall I do, now that you've insulted me by casting aspersions on my post-Navy employment and I can't return the favor?

Oh wait, I know what I'll do. I'll go have a beer in 10 minutes with my non-ex-Navy co-workers here at Kenai Vo-Tech and laugh about this.

FYI, I learned a long time ago to separate my sense of self-worth from how I earn a living.

It's called growing up. You should try it sometime.

11/06/2009 5:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled onto this blog. I've been out for 15 odd years and can't tell you how fascinating this blog is to me. [I was an MM2/SS -- ELT].

I am more than a little surprised to read people bitching and complaining about the same issues as when I was in -- nothing ever changes I guess.

I can't offer much in the way of comments as I am too far removed from the community to offer anything more than casual observations. One thing that I have been able to learn with time and perspective is that the "issues" in the submarine community [and the nuclear community as a whole] are more likely cultural vs. systemic. What I mean by this is that good boats are good boats -- effective leadership, whatever. If the system was fatally flawed -- you'd see more breakdowns.

Bottom line is that effective management finds a way to make this stuff work. Logs get radio'd everywhere, PMS gets radio'd everywhere, who ever took swipes everywhere you indicated you did on the logs? The difference is how commands deal with these issues -- some simply do it better than others. On the "bad boats" -- you usually have sort of revolt or mass investigation or something. My view is that the command doesn't deal with these issues effectively.

In sum -- its the CO dummy.

Boise Dave

11/10/2009 12:48 PM

 
Anonymous not missing the Navy said...

I agree with Anon 10/31 6:11pm. I served with Sampson on USS Pasadena during his entire XO tour.

He was well liked because of his "man's man" personality and 40 yo frat boy behavior, but the ship never got better than an "average" on any inspection during his tour.

He was respected, and I viewed him as the personification of what the Navy wants its officers to be. The problem is that this doesn't say much. I found the Navy to be extremely pretentious and unprofessional. Sampson was respected because he was cordial and didn't go around screaming at people. That sets you apart from many other people who wear oak leafs on their collars. In the civilian world, that's usually just a minimum standard for not getting fired.

Sampson didn't deliver. If the submarine force ever goes to war (not launching missiles at countries with no ability to defend or counter), I suspect many more COs and XOs will not pass the reality check and get fired--or killed in action.

12/04/2009 7:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew Sampson when he was a lowly Third Class ET. Went to Nuke School and prototype with him. He was a sharp dude and wouldn't have gotten where is was if he wasn't. Sorry for him and his family.

1/26/2010 6:01 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He was respected, and I viewed him as the personification of what the Navy wants its officers to be."

What?

I was on the Pasadena and I viewed him the oppisite. He was not your regular Navy oficer. He was a regular guy, he didnt have to yell to get you to do something..he got your respect and you listened to what he said. He was the best XO or officer at that that I ever had. He was always thinking the crew...not just telling the Chiefs and Officers good job. No one will ever be able to think that Doug Sampson was a bad officer.
FT2/SS

3/06/2010 4:26 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the best part about this is that no one on this blog was on the LAJ when it happened. Our issues have been righted and we're out of the shipyard. I find it hard to believe that fellow bubbleheads who didn't even serve under Doug Sampson can say he's completely at fault and a bad officer. He's one of the best CO's I've ever had. He cared about his men more than anyone I can remember. Yes, as the CO he's ultimately responsible and it sucks that the other khaki leadership and the first class mess allowed this tragedy to happen. But Doug Sampson didn't get himself fired, his crew got him fired. And the day he was relieved was the saddest day for most of us on board La Jolla. La Jolla was a great boat with Doug Sampson in command and she's a great ship now. It sucks that a man who has given over 25 years of his life to the force is so easily bashed by those who can only guess what type of situations he had to deal with. If you could have only known how much he shoved back at the shipyard and how many times he stood up for the crew to them and his bosses you would know what a phenomenal leader and role model he was. It sucks he got relieved, but it was not 100% his fault, his crew holds most of the blame and its something we have to deal with.

-701

3/25/2010 8:44 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served with CMDR Sampson when he was a JO and later as my xo great guy. the only advice i had was he needed to yell more. but thats what made the best. he got your respect,attention and gratitude and gave you the same. i dont know why people say he was a great man or co. he will always be those things to me. when he came aboard as xo i told everyone they were going to meet one of the best and from day one he did not disappoint. as a jo he was part a of a wardroom that made me decide to stay navy and that there was hope out there. as for the LJ I had the misfortune of serving onboard 02 then onto squadron were everyone felt sorry for me. because they all knew were i had come from. it was there i found the boats real name. STRESS INDUCED FAILURE. the chain of command was the worst i had seen and i was on a couple that rankded the worst in the navy. by my second week onboard the cob had lied to me. i was told to get over it thats what he does.

4/09/2010 7:06 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me be the first La Jolla guy that was there post something. CDR Sampson is the best officer I ever served under. What happened there was his fault in the sense that everything that happens on his ship is his responsibility, and that is a paraphrase of what he said to my face the morning he was relieved. Each Division that had problems was handling them a different way, ranging from not doing PMS at all, to blazing some of it, to the LPO's and LCPO's getting false reports of maintenance completion.
There was nothing especially difficult about La Jolla's PIRA, the difference was that the junior sailors, forward and aft, didn't even go to their leadership with questions of what to do when the workload was greater than the schedule could support, even when asked. I belive that for theost part, the junior guys thought that they were helping the leadership focus on the big picture by not having them sweat the small picture. You ask why there isn't any crew posting here, it's because we support captain Sampson's honor and integrity. Half the crew was crying when the Commodore announced his removal. That's the story. We, the crew, fucked up.... Not CDR Sampson.

5/13/2010 6:20 PM

 
Anonymous sex shop fleshlight said...

This cannot have effect in actual fact, that is what I think.

10/10/2011 1:59 AM

 

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