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 14, 2010

USS Henry M. Jackson (Gold) CO Relieved

Comments in the post below this one have indicated something might be going on with USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730). For those wondering, here's what has been released so far; excerpt:
A medical condition has forced a change of commanding officers on the USS Henry M. Jackson gold crew. The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine is homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
On Wednesday, Cmdr. James Bilotta was relieved of action for a disqualifying medical condition... He had only been in charge of the gold crew since March 15.
That's all there is so far. As always, please don't speculate on anything operational that isn't already out in the public domain.

Update 0552 16 August: Although some of the comments could lead one to believe that HMJ is currently undergoing a RIM (Rectally-Inserted Microscope) Job from Squadron for some reason, at this point we really don't know what's going on -- nothing's been put out officially in the public domain. However, as one of the commenters points out, I'm guessing there are few boats that could survive such a close inspection unscathed. This has been one of my complaints about the Submarine Force's response to problems for quite some time. Everyone wants to know what the "root cause" of the problem is, and the easiest way to "find" that is to figure out everything the boat's been doing wrong. Ever since I've been able to comment about since things (starting with the San Francisco grounding), I've pointed out that this tends to focus attention on the individual boat to the exclusion of a possible systemic problem (such as, "There are too many requirements for any submarine crew to meet them all, but in trying to meet all of them, submarine crews tend to spend less effort on those requirements that are really important"). Big Sub Force sees a problem on a boat, finds they weren't following all the requirements, and says to themselves "Well, there's the problem; this particular boat wasn't following the requirements". They delude themselves into thinking that other boats are following all the requirements because various inspections say they are -- the problem is that everyone knows what the inspection teams (TRE, ORSE) are looking for, so those requirements are met. It's only during a post-incident witchhunt that the other "problems" are found. If the Submarine Force wants to find out the true state of procedural compliance, I recommend they go down to their best boat, without warning, and give them the same kind of "help" they give to a boat that just had a problem. I suspect they'll find that there are certain things that all the boats aren't doing -- not just the "problem" boats -- and maybe they can use that to get rid of some of the administrative requirements that offer nothing but time-suck to boats and their crews who are just trying to do their job and keep the surface/dive ratio equal to 1. [/rant]

Update 0938 19 Aug: From the sounds of it, any RIM-jobbing of HMJ that may or may not be going on would be completely appropriate. That is all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heard this boat's name mentioned a few times in the last few days in the "They did WHAT?!" context.

8/14/2010 11:25 PM

Anonymous CommentGuy said...

just why the hell did a guy even put himself up as CO with pressing health issues looming.............there has to be something very wrong with that

8/14/2010 11:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey CommentGuy,

More like StupidCommentGuy.

Who said anything about pressing health issues looming? You make it sound like he knew he had some medical issue prior to command- not substantiated in any way. For all you know, he just found out.

And so begins the stupid rumor-mongering...

PS- you're a moron.

8/15/2010 12:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, it took over twelve days to get this blog going, I guess the information age is slowing down...

8/15/2010 12:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Health issues, my ass.

8/15/2010 12:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Health issue = your ass is on fire.

8/15/2010 1:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word from the pier is he has short eyes for the little guy...

8/15/2010 5:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The USN has no problem applying the blanket "do to loss of confidence" label when relieving COs who have messed up.

Since they didn't say that here, I would guess that a medical condition is the real reason for his relief.

Maybe he did mess up a little, but not enough to get relieved for it.

8/15/2010 7:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly missing from this story is the fact his engineer was recently canned as well. Find out why that happened and you'll figure out the source of his medical issues.

8/15/2010 8:09 AM

Anonymous PortTackStart said...

Heard this boat's name mentioned a few times in the last few days in the "They did WHAT?!" context.

Concur with that...though I don't recall hearing if those issues were with the blue or gold crew. Should make for an entertaining lessons learned message. Entertaining as in "damn, I'm sure glad I wasn't involved in that."

8/15/2010 8:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "medical" problem is probably an easy way to pocket this guy and bring him back later. He is reportedly a good guy and deserves his chance.

After all, the problems the crew have didn't develop overnight during the off-crew. This CO has approx. 1 day of underway time as CO.

Squadron goes in, cleans house, gives the command to someone else. Meanwhile, Bilotta is "cured" and given another boat. Hey, it's a theory!

I feel for the crew who now has to endure the cavity search that is ongoing. No boat can survive that unaffected.

8/15/2010 9:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a pretty damn good theory; nice post.

8/15/2010 11:08 AM

Blogger ping jockey said...

I'm sure they'll live since they only work 6 months out of the year.

8/15/2010 11:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard to believe that a medical condition is the reason, unless it is the other crew that really screwed up. It was more like a they did what? followed by a double take with a and then a and then they did that?

8/15/2010 4:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly missing from this story is the fact his engineer was recently canned as well. Find out why that happened and you'll figure out the source of his medical issues.

It is "oddly missing" because it is not true. ENG is still there. You guys are amazing with your urges to spread false information and unsubstantiated rumors, as long as it sounds juicy.

And to "ping jockey"- most boomer nukes still works twice as hard as most fast-attack STs. Your time in the shower applying hair conditioner doesn't count.

8/15/2010 4:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't aware that fast attack STs did any work in the first place. I mean, other than breaking vital equipment and sweeping the decks. I know it's hard to get 12 down when the off-going guy has to relieve the on-watch guy for a shower break.

8/15/2010 4:11 PM

Blogger Old Salt said...

Yup, too early to tell what really happened. Like any other event in the Navy, rumors abound. The only thing squids like better than liberty, is a good rumor.

8/15/2010 4:27 PM

Blogger ping jockey said...

I know it's hard to get 12 down when the off-going guy has to relieve the on-watch guy for a shower break.

Finally someone understands our fight.

I apoligize if I offended any of our nation's part-time Sailors,...I was just kidding around.

8/15/2010 5:36 PM

Anonymous T said...

Damn, that sucks. CDR Billotta is a good guy, I worked for him a few years ago. Not looking so good for Pennsylvania Blue XO's lately though, eh?

8/15/2010 6:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, some good conversation around here! The only thing as slack as a fast boat ST is a Trident ST. I speak from experience!

On a serious note.... I agree with the guy that said that the Navy has no problem saying "Loss of confidence". I have never before heard of this type of situation turning out the way that some of you speculate. That's not to say that it is impossible, but it is not likely.

8/15/2010 6:48 PM

Blogger ping jockey said...

I think this health issue is a way to "can" a guy without having to report that they fired someone. I've seen this before and there are alot of politics involved with the firing of CO's. From listening to you guys it sounds like there is going to be a whole bunch of second rate COs getting axed or perhaps the sub UMO will lose confidence in their health.

A lot of this shit comes from officers with not enough seatime, too much shipyard time or too much T-Haul time. Think about it (forget if they are "good guys") they have 7-8 years of "sea time" prior to getting their command. Most COBs have 10 or more years at sea prior to becoming a COB. Subtract all the bullshit that qualifies as seatime but clearly is not is effecting these guys. Fastboats tend to (and rightfully so) get the most experienced and capable CO's with a lot real sea time. The T-hauls are getting, shipyard guys and well T-haul guys (T-hauls are important [unless you are a STS or FT then you are afraid of the hard jobs] but their missions are very specfic and not operatonally diverse enough) so the experience level is low. Our officers need more operational experience to get them ready to command a submarine and its crew effectively no matter the type of submarine or the type of mission.

8/15/2010 7:18 PM

Anonymous t said...

If he had been there for 18 months and they were trying to short-cycle him, I could see that as the "hey this guy is kind of weak". But, after 6 months? Also, it's not exactly like the submarine force has the pick of the litter for every boat anyway. Guys rotating to CO now come from particularly small year groups. It's not like it's a super competitive deep pool once a guy screens for XO. Especially for mid to late nineties year groups. There's probably a lot of guys who might not be in there in better times. That said, CDR Bilotta is a great guy. I probably would have stayed in if I could be guaranteed I could work with him. I don't know any of the specific events that have occurred on the HMJ, but the guy has only been CO for what... 3 months? Have they even been to sea yet with him in command? It's hard to tell how a guy without giving him a chance to stretch his legs.

I think this is a true medical thing.

8/15/2010 7:40 PM

Anonymous T said...

Errr, noticed I said he'd been CO for 6 mos and then 3 mos. Not really sure of the exact amount of time, but it's somewhere in between those two.

8/15/2010 7:41 PM

Blogger Old Salt said...

According to the GR-9 page, Change of Command was March 23rd, so about 5 months in command. I have no data on sea time while in command, but on a T-hull, I think 5 months might be one patrol worth?

8/16/2010 1:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

from what i heard the boat had nuke problems...

sure it went something like this - Commodore calls CO into his office and says are you sure you don't have any medical conditions before I give you this DFC letter...

8/16/2010 4:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, the observation you make in your update is spot-on. If everything is important, nothing is important.


8/16/2010 6:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard getting the hot rock started improperly 3x in a row (& then not telling anyone about the mistakes) was the reason. That's just scuttlebutt though but I heard about it last week.

The other story going around was the EDMC & ENG were also canned, though one of the replies here seems to say that is bogus info.

If the CO was soft-landed for medical reasons he'll get a 2nd chance in the future once the medical issue is fixed.

8/16/2010 7:17 AM

Blogger Curt said...

The "Other Crew" just had a Change of Command... Probably not a coincidence???


8/16/2010 9:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

T said,

"Damn, that sucks. CDR Billotta is a good guy, I worked for him a few years ago. Not looking so good for Pennsylvania Blue XO's lately though, eh?"

Where is his navy bio?

8/16/2010 9:32 AM

Blogger Lou said...

The "Other Crew" just had a Change of Command... Probably not a coincidence???


Do you have a source, or do you mean this(fb)?

8/16/2010 12:00 PM

Blogger Lou said...

According to the official site, the Gold Crew C of C is "under construction"...

In other news, the Skimmer Navy has an opening for a Gator Freighter CO for being "unduly familiar" with some crew members (HT Lex).

8/16/2010 12:58 PM

Anonymous SubIconoclast said...

Nice rant, Joel. Would be nice indeed if inspection schedules, methods, and focus areas were essentially unpredictable to the entire operational and administrative chain of command. Just schedule a handful of "be available" blocks a year for every boat and let it be anyone's guess who gets major or minor inspections of whatever flavor.

8/16/2010 2:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When decommissioned, USS Jack (SSN-605) technically had one more surface than dive. That "math error" arose in late 1988/early 1989, shortly before her 1,000th dive.

8/16/2010 6:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Too many requirements"...damn right! Through 5 XO tours in the submarine force, I figure my most important job was deciding which requirements to ignore, then convincing the skipper to ignore them.

8/16/2010 7:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

one day....he had taken the sub out one day. And the EDMC did get relieved, but not the ENG. This is facts as of now...

8/16/2010 7:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I figure my most important job was deciding which requirements to ignore, then convincing the skipper to ignore them."

I concur that prioritization is the most important job as XO. I did it daily..., no hourly.

8/16/2010 8:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I figure my most important job was deciding which requirements to ignore, then convincing the skipper to ignore them."

Yes. And every DivO does the same, every Dept LCPO, every LCPO, LPO...right on down the line.

Everyone knows this and yet chooses to ignore it. Boat guys go to Squadrons and they majically forget how it was, yet they know where all the bodies are buried.

We have a peacetime, admin force, that has lost it's way.

Bottom line" CYA and don't be the next HMJ (or ALASKA, or SAN FRAN, or KENTUCKY....the list goes on and on).

8/16/2010 9:49 PM

Anonymous Tsar Bomba FTMFW said...

Anon @ 8/16/2010 7:55 PM how do you do 5 submarine force XO tours? Serious question, not meant to be smart-ass.

XO on my one and only boat (SSN-680, yeah, way-back in the mid-90s) was worthless and got a bad eval from CO. That was it for the XO, off to civworld. I always assumed that you had one shot at sub XO and if you farked it up, your sub/Navy days were over?

8/17/2010 12:21 AM

Anonymous Tsar Bomba FTMFW said...

Hot damn I suck at HTML. Should have been Anon @ 8/16/2010 7:40 PM

8/17/2010 12:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really curious to see what the true story is here. Jim is a great guy and it was a pleasure to serve with him on Big Red . . I would have dropped everything I was doing to serve with him again. Good Luck to you Jim in your future . . hopefully you get another shot once you are medically cleared.

8/17/2010 6:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim is probably goin for one of dem there anotomical changes so he/she can come back as da first Female Co... Somethin you might want to chew on after Jim has it taken off...

8/17/2010 11:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this was the on crew CO then yes they have had at least one major if not more "they did what?" issues in the last week. Anyone with access to NUS message traffic will be able to figure it out.

8/17/2010 6:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does the EDMC get relieved and not the ENG?......just asking.
Was the EDMC directly involved in some incident without ENG knowledge?

8/17/2010 6:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


8/17/2010 6:51 PM

Anonymous LT L said...

How does the EDMC get relieved and not the ENG?

Been there, seen that. With me it came down to an incompetent ENG was replaced by a good one and the Bull Nuc didn't get the message.

/Threadjack: what is the correct spelling for the name of us who hang out aft of frame 57 (it was 57, right?), nuke, nuc, f'n nerd?

8/17/2010 8:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are specific frame references allowed on this blog? Don't remember seeing that no-no before.

8/17/2010 8:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's generational:

My dad was a Navy Nuc, I'm a Navy Nuke.

8/17/2010 8:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ anon 8/17/2010 6:31 PM:

If you have issues, and then "forget" to log them, you get burned. I know it's easy to get caught up in the moment, but that's the reality of it.

8/17/2010 8:52 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

In general, "Aft of frame xx" has pretty much entered the public domain, so that's allowed.

8/18/2010 2:06 AM

Anonymous STSC said...

F'ing Aft Guy was the terminology we used for nucs on my last boat.
Of course they called us Forward Area Guys...

"Nuc" for those nuclear trained is the generally accepted spelling. The "effing" in front of it is also in common usage & should be employed without a hyphen.

"Nuke" is the term & spelling for what we dropped at Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

Pronouncing either in conversation as "nucular" deserves a swift smack.

8/18/2010 7:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heck,I was on my second enlistment before I found out that effingnuke was not all one word!

8/18/2010 2:26 PM

Blogger Susan Katz Keating said...

President Carter used to say "nucular," and it drove me nuts. What can I say. It was Carter.

8/18/2010 8:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, so did President Bush (son, not father).

8/19/2010 12:56 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

There is always the chance it was really a medical issue...such as something that just came up, like cancer.

At this point the lack of hard data seems to indicate there was nothing that got the CO fired.

No way you let a DFC turn into a 'soft landing'. The process is too fast. If he's gone, he's gone. Eventually someone will say why...if there is a why.

8/19/2010 4:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


After Forward Area Guys caught on, and got attention, the next acronym for them was Men Up Forward, or C-1R. Also, NUB is no longer preferred back aft, The Effin Nucs say, Currently Unqualified Nuclear Trainee. Hope this helps.

An Effin- Nuc

8/19/2010 4:53 PM

Anonymous Former Squadron Rider said...

Re: your update. Oh yeah, it's completely warranted. If you have access to the IR (all 14 pages of it!!) you won't be able to make it through the timeline without several "WTF?!?!"s. Way, Way, WAAYYYYY out of the box on this one.

8/19/2010 7:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, for HMJ there are only two things on the dinner menu...and they ran out of cake!

8/19/2010 8:05 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

@ Former Squadron Rider:

Anything to do with the Unit SITREP they flew a couple of weeks ago?

8/20/2010 5:27 AM

Anonymous Former Squadron Rider said...

@ ret anav:
As far as I can tell, no. The SITREP issue was a completely separate, isolated incident.

8/20/2010 2:02 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

@ ret anav:
As far as I can tell, no. The SITREP issue was a completely separate, isolated incident.

Figuratively AND literally, I guess :)

8/20/2010 2:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Help me with my SS quals - -

How does a submarine submerge at sea and how do we prevent it in port?

8/20/2010 6:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon @ 6:05 - you gotta be friggin' kidding me. Are you seriously on a boat - please tell me you at least know the answer to the first part. You either slept through sub school or you're an incredibly clueless nuc. Look it up on google...

8/20/2010 6:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a fine Sunday morn, when the old man got on the horn, "Men today we shall go to sea, which is where a sailor can be truely free."
The ship was rigged for dive, or so it was thought, the OOD said " Manuevering, Conn, give me another knot."
The order to dive was given and soon the ship was to be driven to the sea below. "Vent safety, flood negative" the dive did say, oops forgive me that was from many a long ago day. "Venting foward, venting aft.. I think," then control started to fill with a terrible stink. The OOD did say with quite the shudder, "Skipper, I think I can still see the rudder."

Somewhere in the ship, the Chop was heard to comment, "Oh my I think I shall vomit."

They went to radio and they did text. " we don't undertand, we are quite vexed." At the pier much help did abound, 08 did send their best blood hound. They were heard to say. "Eng, what did, what happened this day?"
The crew is better we will not fail, for under CDR Bennings banner we now shall sail."

8/20/2010 7:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucy says to Ricky, "There is going to be trouble."

This is situation is becoming clearer.

8/20/2010 8:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a second paragraph to that story, but unfortunately that is NNPI.

8/21/2010 3:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do it to ourselves too though (extra requirements). 15 months as the CRA (in overhaul) I would go to the parent instructions and trim out extra info not really asked for but someone somewhere decided it it was good info. Every once and a while I would get called out on it but with the real ref in hand, sometimes, you can get away with it. Monthly reports that should have been a paragraph that were 5 or 6 pages. Whole instructions that when you look at the parent instruction it clearly states in the opening paragraph "it is not intended for commands to generate their own instruction..." A quarterly report that wasn't even required. Admittedly one quarter I failed to do it but then I realized no one was even looking for it! Needless to say I turned over to the next guy to not start it again. That's just some of the admin burden. Stop blindly taking the ORSE team's or squadron's "suggestions" and creating extra work. If it is required, they'll have a ref.
Somewhat simplified but it is a start.

8/23/2010 6:01 AM

Anonymous T said...

There's truth in that, but there's also a whole host of "requirements" that are shotgunned out via message (nuc-notes being the most obvious) that are not always entirely clear. I always found it odd that there was not just one spot you could go to find all requirements. Why are there some requirements where the guiding reference is some naval message sent out in 1997?

Part of the problem is new "requirements" are levied in knee jerk reaction to things but nobody ever bothers to take them away.

Also, as you mentioned, the ORSE team "suggestions" often become requirements as well...

8/23/2010 6:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

New posting in the Seattle Craigs List... job opening for (1) 1120 Eng.....
Interviews to be conducted on 7th deck Brem Nav Hosp.

8/24/2010 1:53 PM

Anonymous t said...

I finally saw a summary of this today. I don't know what to think. On the one hand, clearly the Engineering department was a bit inept, but you give a guy literally one day at sea to fix it? But at the same time, it's pretty tough to make a full judgement without knowing the full situation. Some of the things were honest mistakes, but probably would have been avoided if they slowed it down and thought about what was going on a bit. It's hard to say who drove that (my guess is the ENG considering there's at one thing in there that really makes me think he's a bit of a dipshit, rather than vaguely incompetent.

The biggest issue out of the several that happened that day, is one that I can really see how it could happen. Several people tried to do the right thing, but didn't take that extra step that they really should have prior to going to sea. But I bet there's not a single honest submariner who can't say they've come close to cutting a corner in the same way due to tiredness, apathy, being preoccupied, etc. Just in this case, a whole bunch of people didn't take that extra step.

8/25/2010 9:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that the COB got canned also. This was from the mother of a crewmember.

11/30/2010 1:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard this saying " The Stupid shall be punished" I thought it was referring to what the Bible taught.

2/03/2011 7:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who was there for all of it, the EDMC, ENG, were fired. The CO was in fact relieved because of a medical screw up that was caught by Medical during an external audit (prescribed sub disqualifying meds). The EDMC was fired while the boat was in port and the ENG was fired mid-way through (but forced to stay on board as a "rider"), all the nuc chiefs were given career-altering letters of reprimand. The EDMC firing was justified, he screwed up and then tried to cover it up. The only reason the XO wasn't fired was he had transfer orders to a non-nuclear billet, because he was not going to make CO. As far as the classified incident, there were several personal details not covered (and its not my place to discuss it) that lead to the issues, specifically the EDMC delegated several crew taskings to a person with known integrity problems.

5/23/2012 11:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


6/21/2012 2:54 PM


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