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.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

WWII Subvet Tells His Story

I really enjoyed reading this story about WWII Submarine Veteran Edgar Martin. Although he didn't make a war patrol, he did serve under legendary CO Slade Cutter on USS Requin (SS 481) after Cutter's history-making patrols as Captain of USS Seahorse (SS 304). My favorite part of Martin's story:
There were, Martin soon found out, other benefits to being part of a submarine crew: benefits such as 80 percent higher pay, access to the best food in the Navy and relaxed regulations.
But for someone who'd grown up accepting racial segregation as a part of life, perhaps one of the most unexpected benefits of serving as part of a Navy submarine crew was the absence of overt racism.
"You work in such close quarters on a submarine, it was difficult for anyone to focus on things like that," Martin said. "For the most part, everyone was friendly and there were no vestiges of segregation. Everyone worked together; everyone was glad to help you.
In my experience, this lack of overt racism aboard submarines has continued to the present day. As long as you can do your job and not cause problems, Submariners are very accepting. When it comes to dealing with those who can't hack it, however, we tend to be ruthless.

32 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel I have to agree. Out of 3 submarines and 19 patrols I only had 1 individual that I served with that was overtly racist. I will be PC here. He was an african american with green eyes and red hair and called everyone that did not believe that he and his family had been oppressed by the white man was a racist. He was really put off when he called another sailor "Brother" and the quick reply he got was "Just because I am Black doesn't make me your brother" That sailor was now considered a racist. The crew was glad to see when he got a transfer after the 2nd run because another boat needed an ET1.

10/23/2009 1:04 PM

 
Anonymous SubIcon said...

Only room for two social groups on submarines: those who are qualified, and those who aren't. The process is fairly egalitarian as well, with everyone entering as a nonqual and then earning their acceptance through hard work and performance.

The level playing field is one of the things I cherish most about our community.

10/23/2009 2:01 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

Have to agree with Subclon. There was simply no room for racism on subs. Respect and qualification were synonymous. Beyond that, high expectations of performance made race as trivial as the daily phonecalls we got at sea.

10/23/2009 3:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the future, only room for two social groups on submarines: those who have tits, and those who don't. The process is fairly egalitarian as well, with everyone entering as tittied or titless and then earning their acceptance through hard work, performance, and how much they're willing to expose.

The level playing field is one of the things I cherish most about our community. We're not racist and we're not sexist either.

10/23/2009 3:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reinforces my belief that those who display racist sentiments are generally the other end of the bell curve from our "best and brightest".

The Cutter link led me to the TIME article "Full Speed Astern". He was correct about USS Nautilus not firing shots in anger, but not for the reasons stated.

-3383

10/23/2009 3:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point in the previous 3:12 comment is simple: So many of you are downright hypocrites. You are patting yourself on the back for being so socially accepting of mixed race crews after postiing almost 300 comments slamming the idea of mixed gender crews just two weeks ago.

Shame on you.

10/23/2009 3:27 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And give it up about submarines not being designed to accommodate mixed gender crews. If the Soviets can build a boat with a swimming pool, we can solve the mixed gender accommodations issues. And once those issues are resolved, what remains to disagree over is purly sexist. And in my book racist and sexist are exactly the same. They're both about hate and/or disrespect for an equally capable human.

10/23/2009 3:40 PM

 
Blogger Squidward said...

{In the future, only room for two social groups on submarines: those who have tits, and those who don't. }

In the future? I've met some chiefs with tits. Male chiefs. It was not pleasing and I did not want to see them.

10/23/2009 6:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's nice to hear someone who agrees that our submarine Sailors are more than professional enough to adapt to women on subs.

I'm tired of hearing neanderthals and their wives speak for all of us.

10/23/2009 6:22 PM

 
Anonymous SubIcon said...

Anon @ 3:27: You might want to review the comments in that thread one more time without the lens of preconceived conclusions. What outright opposition I've seen generally comes from outsiders or those no longer in the fight, while those of us who stand ready to execute our orders tend to focus on approaching any major policy change with planning and foresight.

You're talking about a topic complicated by numerous dissimilar factors, intangibles, and uncertainty. I don't think anyone credible (including SECNAV and CNO) has invested in researching whether such a shift would improve either our performance or our cost efficiency.

For a group that values performance above all else, general opposition to a major policy change absent compelling mission justification is consistent with our community values.

No need to cast stones at submariners over an issue to be decided by politicians and admirals. Enough of us work at mixed-gender shore commands to provide a fair measure of our professionalism in that environment... and I would need to see supporting evidence to believe we have proven any more hateful the rest of the Navy when it comes to sexism or any on any other score.

Your accusations of hypocrisy and hate ring hollow.



BT BT BT

It might also be noteworthy to consider that announcements on the subject came from "on high," rather than first appearing in the press as a commander's request to improve his capability. So for those who would like to see this policy change come to fruition, the first concern should be that leadership has already mangled the strategic communication battle so vital to establishing favorable conditions for victory. The second concern might be to consider that Commander, Fleet Forces Command fired an immediate (but subtle) counter-salvo in his blog: asking why sexual assault remains such a high problem in the Navy in the same week that SECNAV, CJCS, and CNO boasted that the surface Navy has already solved its gender integration problems. The third (and most worrying in my mind) concern is that nobody seems to have done a formal assessment before making proclamations about 'what we are going to do.' Inadequate planning rarely precedes successful performance.

For anyone curious as to what direction the Submarine Force will take on this issue, better to watch DC than Norfolk. That is where the outcome will be determined.

10/23/2009 6:37 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

"So many of you are downright hypocrites."

Right, anonymous, so many of us identifiable bloggers whom you call "hypocrites", while remaining an anonymous lot (who could be non-submariners, females, metrosexuals, unfriendly foreign nationals, or poseurs of a clamorous particular political bent) claim with certitude to be otherwise.

At least we are not blind, my friend, and our objections to female assignments on nuclear submarines are based not merely on historical precedent, but physiological concerns (documented risks to human fetuses, which I have referenced in several of my own postings). Let me refer you to additional, early evidence (circa 1993):

"Jean Zimmerman (author of Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook -1995) notes that there is a perception in the Navy that women sailors use pregnancy to escape deployed ship duty. “In an example cited by Zimmerman, in 1993 as the USS Cape Cod prepared to depart on a deployment cruise, 25 female sailors, out of a crew of 1,500, reported being pregnant shortly before the scheduled departure and were reassigned to shore duty. Although Zimmerman felt that the number of pregnancies was small and should not be regarded as significant, the senior enlisted person on the ship, Command Master Chief Alice Smith commented, “Just about every division has been decimated by the number of pregnancies. Now tell me that’s not going to hurt a ship.”[1]"

Please, in whatever attempted response you make, strive to use facts versus uninformed (non-submariners) popular opinion.

That's it, my anonymous, little friends.

10/23/2009 6:43 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:12, 3:27 & 3:40:

1) Race does not equal gender

2) You either have a really tiny penis and a serious case of penis envy

-OR-

3) You're a dyke with a serious case of penis envy

10/23/2009 8:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it is true that I have never seen racism on board, it is also true that submarine crews are probably the most homogenous units in the US military. They are, to be blunt, a bunch of white guys in their twenties. Maybe 10-20% of the entire submarine force is non-caucasian, and most of them are either officers or non-technical ratings. We shouldn't pat ourselves on the back for being serious about equal opportunity whilst we ban and ridicule the gays and women and only have "tokens" of other races on board.

This is a blind spot. We don't deal with these EEO issues because we aren't forced to.

10/23/2009 9:18 PM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

Several years ago, I would have agreed that my time on the subs validated that racism has no place on board and we're colorblind on board.

What changed, at least the latter assumption, was having an African-American employee to discuss some of these issues with. I hired him about five years ago. It's been eye opening. My biggest change of mind was my own perception that racism is generally on the wane (even here in the bible belt ... I seem to live at the buckle of the bible belt where the "War of Northern Aggression" has not been lost, there's just a temporary cease fire).

Based on my employees experiences I no longer see things through glasses that are as rose tinted as before. The racism is there but its out of site of us WASPs. A quick for instance ... he bought a nice Cadillac XLR. He's a young, single kid who makes good money and he's choosing to throw his cash away. His choice and that's just fine. However, when he was visiting home, he was pulled over three times for obvious BS reasons and reasons I was never, ever pulled over for. There were no tickets issued. I have to say it was a clear case of profiling.

The moral of the story for me and the relation to my time on the boats is that being a WASP, I don't see the covert racism. I don't experience it. So it does make me question what I encountered or saw on the boat. For me to draw the conclusion that racism was very rate on the boat is likely based on insufficient data. I didn't walk in my brothers' shoes, as it were, and so I'll hold back judgment until such time as an African American submariner says, "Yeah, it's much different on the boat. It's all good." (or something like that).

Carl

10/23/2009 9:23 PM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

Oh, and we had at least one African American in the wardroom (we weren't best buds or anything and I was too young and naive to have a good conversation about race with him). And we had a number of African American enlisted. Can't recall any in the Goat Locker. The boat's racial profile wasn't the same as the U.S. as a whole but there were many minorities represented in more than just a token way.

Carl

10/23/2009 9:26 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4yrs on 2 subs and never saw once ounce of racism. You either get the job done or you are labeled a s*** bag. If anything is true, I saw the MS's treated differently by some of the crew. On another note,the A-gang and TM's I sevred with can't wait to get their meathooks on the women that will come aboard soon. I feel sorry for you women that have to deal with those hounds. To you people that have never done 60 plus days on station, cruised at test depth, done a patrol,experienced a collision or fire in a steel tube at sea,or witnessed the old man on the conn in his underwear for a holy s*** moment. You keep thinking your opinion on sub matters is right on and should be taken seriously. Smell it, taste it, live it and get back to us.

10/23/2009 9:50 PM

 
Blogger reddog said...

You couldn't say there was no disciminatory behavior toward blacks when I was in the Zumwalt era navy. Race riots and shankings were common on bird farms during that time. That said, it was much less pronounced in the Submarine force. A Black sailor willing to put in the extra effort required to "fit in", could do OK. Many did.

Advancement to positions of authority was slower than for a White sailor and social isolation was a constant but it was a hell of a lot better than anyplace else in the Navy, if you didn't want to be a cook or garbage collector. For that time, Submarines were an exceptionally tolerant environment. I'm sure they still are.

10/23/2009 10:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we quit talking about Typhoons with "swimming pools" when building unisex boats?

I wouldn't have cross-decked to one of their boats for love or money. Something about hair falling out, fires, implosions, explosions... etc. We had a few problems (Thresher & Scorpion (God, rest their souls)) but nothing to even compete with their safety record/lack-of-same.

So, please stow that bilge in your patrol sock and quit your whining. An outhouse with a big screen t.v. is still an outhouse.

10/24/2009 12:04 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't help but wonder what my shipmates in the early to mid 90's on the usta fish would think about some of these skimmer and non bubblehaed comments...Qm2 was on Houston flood and my first CO was on Darter as JO.(Induction mast problems that you skimmers and non bubbleheads wouldn't appreciate even if I described what happend.Numerous shipmates that did time on Parche. Never mind the recent stuff. How the hell San Fran made her back to Guam is a mystery. Love this site but sickning to see some of the comments.

10/24/2009 12:58 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Racism is there, but it is usually kept under raps because everyone counts on everyone else. If it pokes its ugly head out in any form it is met with a pretty severe beat down. You will always have those that come from backgrounds where such crap is deemed acceptable, but the crew could usually keep it in check or better yet make the person pay dearly for such beliefs. Same goes for the homophobic or the "Francis" types. The crew would work its magic on just about anything and anyone that didn't fit quite right until the edges were rounded off and the peg fit.

Always remember your misery is our entertainment, but don't mess with our buddy because we are the only ones allowed to do that.

As for women and gays on subs, it is irrelevant what we say or think. The politicians will make that decision for us as they always do and we will figure it out as we always do. Will there be problems, yeah. Will we deal with them, yeah. Will we do our job and suck it up as we always do, yeah.

10/24/2009 5:09 AM

 
Blogger Chap said...

1. On race I defer to this description from Cobb, who's thought about it a lot more than I have:
I don’t even much pay attention to race outside of the basic notion that people are fundamentally tribal and that it takes skill and incentive to overcome that.

2. USS Kamehameha's "thermal rewarmer" in Tube 15 was swimmable. Not very, but made a fine hot tub for the kiddies while tied up on the family cruise to Lahaina.

3. True on the hack vs nonhack. Saw a guy who was a good officer get cancer and was subtly but instantly changed to lower caste status despite the situation. He is, like I said, a good officer, and continued on after that, but never forgot the slights. I've seen others, too.

10/24/2009 5:45 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only heard about one boat having race problems and it was the Houston during the mid 80's. It was so bad, that they broke up part of the crew. We had an M Div'er come over. He said it was really bad and that it started with the skipper. Anyone hear anything about it?

MM1/SS

10/24/2009 7:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on the Houston early 90s lots of old timers on the boat when i got there i never heard anything about that not even whispered comments or ISL entries

713/725/713/725

10/24/2009 9:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generational change has a lot to do with perceptions re: racism in submarine force.

On my first boat, a fleet snorkeler in 1960, our skipper would not have a black sailor onboard. He sent a black submarine qualified YN2 back to the squadron rather than accept him as a relief. On second boat a new construction SSBN had only 2 black sailors onboard. We went to SQ 16 with off-crew in Charleston SC. I doubt many of you have any idea what it was like in Charleston in 1963-67 re: segregation and impact on black sailors living in Navy housing and having to send their kids to segregated schools. USN wouldn't touch any of this stuff as too many flags at that time had ties to racial policies pre-1948. Disgusting!!!

I was on last boat SS-580 during Zumwalt era. All sailors had to attend a two day racial "sensitivity" workshop ashore. In my experience a lot of latent racism surfaced in these workshops primarily from the more senior enlisted that grew up in areas of the country where hard core racist beliefs were common. Remember, at that time were only a few years out from voting rights act and the struggles over "states rights." BTW, never had more than three black sailors onboard SS-580 at any one time during my time onboard.

You also need to understand the Navy only moved away from institutional racism regarding Stewards Rate in early 70's. Up until then Filipino's who enlisted from the RP could only come in as Stewards. I saw my first white Steward in 1972. He had a college degree in culinary science. He told us later the Navy recruiter was drooling when he found out he wanted to go into "Mess Management." He was one of the first to "lighten the color" of the officer Pantry. After qualifying and diver training he applied for an aviation program, attended air cadet training, promoted to officer and became an A-6 BN.

Navy has come a long way from the "good'ol days" and thats a good thing.

There's your history lesson for today.

My two cents, and keep a zero bubble............

DBFTMC(SS)USNRET

10/24/2009 12:11 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I cannot even imagine why I should care what someone looks like; they can either do the job or they can't. That said, I have encountered two COs who were 'closet' racists. Most likely people didn't really know, but it sure as hell irked me.

10/25/2009 2:53 PM

 
Anonymous Ex ANAV/COB/CWO4 said...

Damn, here after I served 30 years in the Navy/Submarine Force, I just learned that I served with people of different races. In all the boats I served on, I thought the only race onboard were submarine Sailors. When did these other "races" start to serve? I must have been blind. How could I have not known that there was someone sitting on the planes that wasn't a submarine Sailor. When did this change occur? Oh, now I know, NUBs were the other race, my mistake. BTW, why do so many of you comment, but sign as Anonymous? No balls to stand for your convictions, to back your comments.
Fred Louese
Biddle, Spadefish, Seahorse, Florikan, Silversides, Tunny, Asheville, Nicholson, Emory S. Land

10/26/2009 4:51 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no difference between using "anonymous" and sticking some made up name on there (or your own real name, Fred..if that's really your name, that is). How can we be sure anyone is who they say they are? Welcome to the internet.

10/27/2009 10:46 AM

 
Anonymous EX ANAV/COB (FRED) said...

To all anonymous:
My comments stand. YES, my name really is Fred, why else would I put my full name and commands? Oh yea, because I ALWAYS stand behind what I write. Oh well, at least I have a pair.

FRED

10/28/2009 4:32 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I was in the Zumwalt era navy. There was actually a lot of reverse discrimination. Most blacks were in sonar, for some reason, and hung together with their colorful civilian attire. They would not even know us white folk if you saw them on the beach. One senior sonarman was so drugged out during his last patrol he was curled up with a blanket on watch in sonar, but nothing was ever said. A black radioman was so untrustworthy he couldn't even get the mail and be back in time to catch the boat before leaving port. No diciplinary action there. In an era where short hair got you ridicule and scorn in the cities the blacks would compact their afro's on duty and fluff them out when going to town. Most of the racism in those day's was reverse.

10/28/2009 7:21 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, we always had the most problems with blacks in the late 70s to mid 80s. The Filipinos and Mexicans were never a problem. They were treated well because they acted well and were generally excepted through out the Navy. It was the blacks who were always a problem. Most always acted as if they were owed something beyond that of their fellow sailor from another race. Although Zumwalt was lax on hair length and beards, our leadership on the Kittyhawk in the 70s and early 80s was not. We had a lot of blacks pissed off because they were not allowed to fluff their afros out. Every sailor had to have his head shaved with length no longer than a 3/4". Failure to do so would have you restricted to ship.

More than anyone else it was blacks who were standing in line at mast every Friday. That's why alot of them were not allowed off the ship when in port. They either ended up in jail or wouldn't come back at all. Thankfully the Navy wised up and kicked out alot of those useless bastards in the mid to late 80s.

10/28/2009 7:04 PM

 
Anonymous EX ANAV/COB (Fred) said...

Holy crap, people still talk and think like the two Anonymous comments posted above this one. Okay Bubba and Cooter, it's time to come out of your shanty (next to the Unibombers) and join the real world. I am no bunny/tree hugger, however you Anonymous...(fill in the blank)

10/29/2009 5:03 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EX ANAV/COB,

You don't have to scratch very deep in certain areas of the country to find peckerwoods. That was my experience sailing on east coast with MSC couple years ago.

Your comments are on the money.

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

DBFTMC(SS)USNRET

10/29/2009 9:40 PM

 

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