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, November 19, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust

Sorry, but this is getting old...
The Navy has fired the commanding officer of the attack submarine Memphis as 10 members of his crew are under investigation in an alleged cheating ring involving shipboard training exams, according to a Navy release.
Capt. Charles Maher was relieved Thursday by Capt. William Merz, commander of Submarine Development Squadron 12, because of a “loss of confidence in Maher’s ability to command.”
The release noted there was no evidence Maher was involved in the cheating ring, but stated his command had “fostered an environment which failed to uphold the high standards of integrity of the submarine force.”
More information here from The New London Day. The articles go on to say that CAPT Carl Lahti, former CO of USS Nebraska (SSBN 739)(Gold) and an old friend of mine, has been assigned as the new CO (I assume temporarily, until they can get a new regular CO). CAPT CDR Maher took command of USS Memphis (SSN 691) in January 2010. He was a Notre Dame graduate (but I really don't think this is more evidence of the Navy firing NROTC-graduate COs as part of a plot to make room for women COs, as at least one commenter here has claimed previously), and was XO on USS Tucson (SSN 770), Eng on Memphis, and did his JO tour on USS Bergall (SSN 667).

Are you just getting tired of this crap? I know I am...

Update 1119 19 Nov: OK, here's my unofficial count of submarine COs fired this year: Chicago, Henry M. Jackson (G), Ohio (B), and Memphis, plus submarine-related CO firings at NWS Charleson, Norfolk Naval Shipyard and TTF Bangor. Did I miss any?

Bell-ringer 1249 19 Nov: A commenter points out that the fired CO of the Memphis is most likely a Commander vice Captain. I pulled the CAPT part from the Navy Times article I excerpted above, but note that the article in The Day says he's a CDR, which makes more sense. Therefore, I've corrected the probable error above in my text, but left the quoted portion in the Navy Times excerpt alone (until they correct it, if they do).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tired of it ... yes. But that says more about the people and the culture that lead to the issues than about the Navy being heavy handed. Accountability has to be maintained. But then the underlying causes also need to be addressed.

11/19/2010 11:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I think the question we really have to ask ourselves is: Are we as leaders really letting the standards slip to the point that all or most of these firings are warranted or is big Navy just two quick with the guillotine. As an active duty Chief I unfortunately must concede it is typically the former.
While big Navy is certainly guilty of going overboard from time to time, as they recently did with the court martial of the anphip XO (IMO), I see examples of standards slipping all over the place every day in every facet of operations. And what’s more, it's not our Sailors, it's their leadership. Our Sailors want to do well they just need the proper guidance and too often they just are not receiving it.
All that said, I think big navy has to get its head out of its butt and figure out that they are not going to fix things by continuing to fire a dozen CO's and two or three CMC's every year. They need to do a better job picking Chief's that are actually ready to be Chief's, screening CMC’s that are really looking to be CMC’s and not just make Master Chief, and they need to turn off the pump and re-insert the filter that is now in place for submarine CO/XO screenings. Well, he didn't get fired off his XO tour so we will make him a CO should not be the standard.
Just my 25 cents.

11/19/2010 11:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many more have to get fired before people figuere out that cheating on the REFTRA or ORSE exams, even the CTE portion is a no-no. You can't treat it like you do all the other required exams that are taken merely to have a check in the box.

11/19/2010 11:46 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

"Big navy." Get a grip. Your big navy is just your little navy one or two paygrades advanced and advised by staff that are your peers and contemporaries. The system continually sorts for the keepers, the ones to move forward. If they bring with them the standards and discipline that served them in the little navy, it's good for all.

This blog has had a running thread on exam cheating in the boats. For those of us who think honesty is an essential virtue in the operation of a submarine, we find even the existence of cheating scary, more so when some seem to think it a good norm.

If this particular case involves nuke exams, the system should take a vertical slice out of the boat. Fire the CO (done), the XO, the Eng, a couple engineering DHs, and an engineering chief or two. Let's knock off this happy horseshit. And the next guy who says cheating is really ok: turn in your whales, shitbird.

11/19/2010 11:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this: The name of your blog has seen its fair share of usefulness this year, Joel. The stupid are being punished.

11/19/2010 12:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nitpicking point (but hey most of us *are* nukes amirite?),the recently relieved CO of the Mephis would have the rank of CDR, not CAPT, correct?

11/19/2010 12:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on board with the DUCK, make some additional pain. But, let's do it for all of the Navy. Below are some excerpts from the LPD17 Diesel Engine JAGMAN (you can search and find on line). They are out of order because I wanted to put #268 at the top. 100 percent trainingg attendance during standown????


Training Program

268. Despite a post deployment leave period in March/April
2009, MP Division reported 100% attendance at all documented
training (typical reports stated that 25 of 25 Sailors attended
training). [Encl. (84)]

269. All MP Division training conducted since February 2009 was
documented as being conducted by the same second class petty
officer. [Encl. (84)]

270. The SAN ANTONIO Training Instruction requires that a
Subject Matter Expert conduct the training. [Encl. (84)]

271. Since February 2009, MP Division conducted training three
times on a system that did not exist on SAN ANTONIO: Diesel
Engine Brake System. [Encl. (84)]

265. An audit of FLTMPS TYCOM required courses associated with
lube oil systems was conducted and the following deficiencies
were noted:

a. One of fifty required Sailors have completed the LPD 17
Class Lube Oil System Familiarization Course (LPD-005)

b. Zero of two required Sailors have completed the
Propulsion Alarm and Indication Course (A-651-0047)

c. One of fifty required Sailors have completed the LPD 17
Class Fuel Oil System Familiarization Course (LPD-004)

d. Five of twenty-three required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class Electrical Systems Familiarization Course (LPD-006)

e. Two of sixty-five required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class Electrical Generation and Distribution Course (LPD-

f. One of twenty-three required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class AC and Refrigeration Course (LPD-014)

g. Two of fifty-eight required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class Reverse Osmosis Familiarization Course (LPD-017)

h. Six of eighty-nine required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class Compressed Air System Familiarization Course (LPD-

i. Five of eighty-eight required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class Engineering Control System (ECS) Course (LPD-032)

j. Two of forty-five required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class Shipboard Status Monitor System Course (LPD-036)

k. Three of forty-two required Sailors have completed the
LPD 17 Class Main Propulsion Diesel Engine Operation Course

11/19/2010 12:20 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Anonymous @ 1212: You're almost assuredly correct about CDR Maher's rank. I took it from the Navy Times story, but the story in The Day says he's an O-5, which makes much more sense.

11/19/2010 12:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long does it take to “foster an environment which failed to uphold the high standards of integrity of the submarine force.”?
Previous CO (relieved in Jan) just screened for major command...Smells like BUFFALO...when does the CO get to try and fix what is wrong with his boat?

11/19/2010 1:06 PM

Anonymous 5of9 said...

Different case altogether, CDR Maher is collateral damage from yet another type of human behavior problem. I'll bet if he were advised properly, the problem would have been expedited before being muscled in on. I think trigger happy leadership intervention is the consistent issue here.

11/19/2010 1:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as making room for slit tails, for the time being shuffling is being done at the JO level.

11/19/2010 2:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon above: good point. Women on SSBNs/SSGN's only means higher % of mail JOs on SSNs.

Now back to the topic: what happened on MEMPHIS?

11/19/2010 2:19 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I am beginning to wonder if the current crop of COs and XOs have missed the lesson that "it is better to fall on your own sword than have someone else impail you with it because you will miss the vital parts." "Back in the day" we would disqualify, retrain, examn and reexamn, and requalify individuals when a problem was discovered. The pain was immediate, short lived, and quickly filed in the "lessons learned" file. Has it gotten so hard that this simple internal command fix is no longer a viable way to handle the foibles of human nature? That is why, in most inspections, "a few deficiencies were noted." If you are able to take care of the small stuff, the big stuff took care of its self.

11/19/2010 2:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Back in the day" we would disqualify, retrain, examn and reexamn, and requalify individuals when a problem was discovered. The pain was immediate, short lived, and quickly filed in the "lessons learned" file. Has it gotten so hard that this simple internal command fix is no longer a viable way to handle the foibles of human nature?

In most cases the answer is yes nowadays. We get a great officer who makes some mistake that can be remedied and fixed, but instead he then dies a painful death, career wise. That's the primary reason that I'm afraid to go CWO, LDO or apply for OCS.

11/19/2010 3:27 PM

Anonymous BTDT said...

Nothing new here. For those who say fix it, that's easier said than done.

As a ET3 training PO back in 1985, I "took" the job. Only 3 years in the Navy so I started doing everything 4.0: exams, matrix, assessments, goals, blah, blah blah.

I got hammered by the Nav and XO for unacceptable grades, ineffective training, blah, blah. Same stuff the guys hear today. Anyway, talked to some guys in the know and they showed me the right way to keep the "O" gangers off my back.

Did it effect our mission? Probably not. We were the Battle "E" three years in a row, TRE's outstanding, deployments, spec ops, etc., etc.

Was integrity lost? You bet. Did it make life better and allow us to do less admin so we could get on with rea work? You bet. Has it been that way ever since? You bet. Did it start in 1984? Nope. Was it going on 20 years before? probably. Does every officer know this happens to this day? You bet. If they don't then we have bigger problems.

If everything is important then nothing is important.

It's not pretty, it's not right, but it is what it is. Fire the entire force, start over and lets see what we get.

Even during the ALSAKA Blue cheating scandal of 2006 which took officers and enlisted down. The word was fix it, make it better but don't let it get in the way of work.

Ok, back to the holier than thou speeches.

11/19/2010 3:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


ALASKA BLUE cheating scandal, NORTH CAROLINA integrity scandal and both COs survived. Don't understand.


11/19/2010 3:51 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

It's the ISIC's call....

11/19/2010 3:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


11/19/2010 4:02 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Molten Eagle's 2009 prediction: Non USNA (e.g. Notre Dame) graduates will be systematically culled from the submarine hierarchy in advance of the women's liberation movement into "one of the last bastions of of gender segregation".

Rationale: We can expect more non-academy COs to be relieved as only USNA-minted males can properly assure female underlings are accomodated in the desired PC naval environment.

For any slow learners still needing to be beaten on their heads about what makes the desired environment here it is again.

How many times this year since my prediction on March 2009, has the Navy been proving me theory?

Could I have be right? (rhetorical question). Hmmm!

11/19/2010 4:21 PM

Blogger FastAttackChief said...

Just imagine how our operational readiness would be if all personnel who cheated on a CTE or qual exam came forward today and were removed from the boat. For crying out loud if my former Commanding Officer's were fired for some of things that went on that they didn't know we would be out a few really good Admiral's right now.

11/19/2010 4:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RMOW w/ LAN admin rights hacked into an exam file (protected from general access) & gave data to his f'ing aft guy buddies. They got caught. See blog title for results.

ENG had nothing to do with it & deserves to keep his job.

CO held ultimately responsible so he lost his job. All integrity violators are being de-nuc'd or removed from PRP & off the boat. Retribution was swift & merciless.

SSN 777:
Major integrity issues in TM land. Collusion to lie to the CO w/ recommendations to 'get their story straight' from an agent of their ISIC after they made some embarassing (but recoverable) mistakes. Retribution here was equally swift & once again the stupid were punished.

The round turn on lack of subforce integrity is been taken w/ visible results. The old school ideas of wink-wink-nod-nod to requirements & standards are being driven out of the force wherever they are found.

Many may still practice the old way, but they are playing with fire.

11/19/2010 6:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Anon 6:02 PM

"Many may still practice the old way, but they are playing with fire."

What you call "the old way" is not at all. To believe what you have written, however, it may certainly be much of the modern way.


11/19/2010 6:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the major problem is we go too far one way or another. Find the right balance. In no way am I saying we need to cheat, but maybe the expectations are a little off. There is no way we can complete all of the maintenance required and still get enough study time to adequately prepare for most exams. You get hammered for maintenance, and you get hammered for training. Of course you can lay the blame on any level because it happens on every level. I wouldn't say it's about integrity because most sailors want to do a good job, but realize it is impossible to do everything 100% 100% of the time. The root cause of most problems is manning. We can't increase the number of sailors because our standards would have to drop (even more). I say we lower the number of submarines and increase manning per boat, or internally set a reasonable standard and stick by it.

Obviously, major cheating like this and blazing maintenance is just plain wrong. If we make certain maintenance items a longer periodicity and other such changes, we will have more time to work on training. By training I am talking about teaching sailors to learn, not teaching sailors to memorize information for an exam and then forget a good portion of the material. Sure, it will eventually become programmed into their memory, but do you want robots, or do you want a sailor who can analyze and solve a problem based on knowledge? This isn't the 1700s anymore so I don't think you have to worry about the "thinking" sailor.

11/19/2010 6:45 PM

Anonymous Xenocles said...

I was going to write a thoughtful response to Vigilis, but all his lunatic rants rate anymore is an annoyed STFU. So shut the fuck up, Vigils.

11/19/2010 7:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Brownfield can chalk up another example to prove his thesis about shipboard exam programs.

11/19/2010 7:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Xenocles
"I was going to write a thoughtful response to Vigilis,.."

If you could have, you would have.


11/19/2010 7:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless things have changed drastically since I did my six years as a nuke, pretty much most of the written/lecture training was worthless other than that it prepared one to pass a written ORSE exam. As far as creating better plant operators, that training was pointless. IMHO, the only training necessary is hands on - the rest is just fluff for the NR types. When the fit hits the shan I want someone who can actually operate rather than the guy w/ the 3.95 avg on Divisional and/or Dept. exams.

11/19/2010 7:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite how ludicrous it might seem, there is something to the Naval Academy link. For whatever reason the USNA CO's are surviving similar problems to those non-USNA guys who are being fired.


The devil is, of course, in the details but one could conclude that some guys get BOD and others do not.

11/19/2010 7:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why did the MEMPHIS CO get fired? Did he not take swift action against the RMOW and nucs?

11/19/2010 8:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Brownfield can chalk up another example to prove his thesis about shipboard exam programs.

I, and some other guys said, that despite his douchebaggery, for every boat that's gotten busted for this in the last few years, there's probably 10 crews doing basically the same thing that haven't gotten caught, and another 10 that are just a step or two down in intensity, but still technically cheating.

I've informally polled about 5 or so post-JO guys all from different boats about cheating, and only one of us said that he could honestly say that he saw no evidence of cheating or never cheated on an exam himself.

The big problem, as mentioned previously, is that we're trying to cram 10 lbs of shit into a 5 lb bag, and no crew of humans can keep up with doing 100% of the work correctly 100% of the time, so corners get cut.

We need to fix our admin requirements, and take some of the burden off of sailors. For that reason, I still think the standardized training idea is a good.

11/19/2010 11:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the same guy who, as XO, mailed out the ship's schedule so all the wives would know exactly when and where to expect us throughout WestPac.

On the return-trip ORSE, our exam was emailed to "ALL" and he convinced NR that the admins deleted all the copies before anyone else saw them (about two hours after they were sent out).

11/20/2010 6:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why they would want or even need to cheat. It's their job to know everything about the propulsion plant, and it's all written down in the RPMs. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

11/20/2010 8:28 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Not sure we should be counting the guy relieved for medical reasons. From what I hear that one was valid. He was not DFC'd.

And while it is the ISICs call to fire someone, sometimes it would be nice if the CO was told to fix it instead of just handing the problem to someone else.

11/20/2010 10:31 AM

Blogger John said...

Anon @ 2303 wrote:
"... for every boat that's gotten busted for this in the last few years, there's probably 10 crews doing basically the same thing that haven't gotten caught, and another 10 that are just a step or two down in intensity, but still technically cheating."

I agree with this. There's always more just beneath the surface. It's the same thing as the saying "For every 1 person that 'complains' about something there are 10 more that, for whatever reason, do not 'complain'".

There's no doubt the system is broken and that changes must be made. I'm not sure what the answers are; I'm not a nuc. I've always disliked 'creeping nucism'. While I understand the need for safe operations of a nuclear reactor, we miss the point by forgetting that it's actually just a big tea kettle whose purpose is to support the weapons systems. The whole ship (and force) suffers by these, apparently, unreasonable and unobtainable training requirements.

We don't often hear of these types of incidents happening in the nuclear weapons area. Why is that? Is it strictly because security requirements requirements keep a lid on any possible weapons training issues?

Perhaps the engineers could take some lessons from the weaponeers?

Also, why the hell is it still not OK to take pictures in the engineering spaces when the rest of the boat is fair game? Perhaps more public exposure is what's needed for the navy to start taking care of itself more effectively?

11/20/2010 12:06 PM

Blogger John said...

I'd like to put my dick out on the line and relate a personal/professional incident that I feel supports Srvd_SSN_CO's comment @ 1031.

On one of our patrols, I was fucking up my division. I realized it, and so did the navigator, and via him, the CO, I assume.

I walked by the wardroom one day and the captain called out to me and said "Chief, grab the navigator and meet me in my stateroom in 10 minutes." “Aye, aye sir.”

Once there he proceeded to chew my ass out for a good 15 minutes, laying down the law, and telling me to get my shit squared away. The navigator sat there, observing the lesson. It was a well deserved ass-chewing; the first and only one I ever got in the navy.

I will never lose my respect Captain E.O. Warren and the leadership he provided. He could have thrown me to the wolves but decided he could handle the problem more effectively himself. I believe he did. I will forever be thankful for the lesson in leadership he provided me. I believe it was also a good lesson on the importance of teamwork.

Did I get better with my division? I think so. Will I ever forget a lesson like that? Nope; it is one that I will carry with me forever and I still recall it whenever I feel myself starting to slip.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Have our leaders changed so much in the intervening 25 years that they are losing their ability to be a good leader? Are the requirements becoming so onerous that we set ourselves up for failure?

Those that make the rules are those that were once juniors. What happens to them on their way up to the top? What is the process that leads them to support and enforce requirements that surely they must know are untenable?

Why, indeed, do they throw their CO’s away instead of handling things at the lowest level possible? They capitulate their leadership (poor grammar… sorry). If these were single incidences, I'd support firing the CO. I understand poor leadership in isolated instances. However, this continuing series of incidents is indicative of systematic faults and a loss of leadership at the highest levels. It is not only the CO they indict, but the entire chain-of-command, up to, and including the CNO.


11/20/2010 1:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'What you call "the old way" is not at all.'

My definition of old is relative to my own career. Comparing my first (637) boat's training program from the early 90's all the way up to the boat I left last year, where we had a training program overhaul in 2009 after someone else messed up.

If you are an old DB Sailor, my perspective on old may still be termed 'new' by you. My apologies for not being more specific.

But prior to the recent training reset, the wink & nod to training was commonplace on every boat I served on or heard about via shipmates all through the 90's up to about 24 months ago.

11/20/2010 1:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, more people were caught cheating than signed his going-away plaque from tucson

11/20/2010 2:59 PM

Anonymous 5of9 said...

dad retired in '66 - blamed it on the New Navy. I retired in '88, blamed it on the New Navy. Policies are changing - it's the New Navy!

11/20/2010 4:15 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

The Submarine Force runs the Submarine Force. A submariner runs NR. The ORSE team is a bunch of submariners. Submarine staffs at all levels are staffed by submariners. Submariners run submarine training centers.

Maybe it's time submariners got their shit together and sorted out all this stuff about training versus integrity and what's silly, what's essential in the nuke training world. It's not DB sailors against the nukes, it's the nukes against themselves. Get a grip, girls.

11/20/2010 4:59 PM

Anonymous submarines once ... said...

Rubber Ducky's last comment hits the mark except for one thing-it's bigger than nuc's against nuc's, it's the continual piling on of "unfunded/staffed regulations" by the whole Big Navy to include nucs. By unfunded I mean more and more rules, training requirements, security checks, cross-checks of some things of much less importance than rig for dive or in the nuc world the "pre-crit". We designate more things to focus on with no increase in staffing (with a nod to women as if that will change the numbers dealing with the requirements) and no elimination of tired rules and regs. From the staff view-"We never met a requirement we didn't like." And it only gets worse absent the latest "Big Red Menace". Good luck to those of you still serving-I retired several years ago.

11/20/2010 5:30 PM

Blogger SJV said...

Well....maybe there are more requirements than time, but if you lie about doing them, or about how you do them, you deserve the title of "Stupid" and should be punished. If you can't get it done, don't lie about it.

11/20/2010 6:15 PM

Blogger Atomic Dad said...

I agree with sjv. If you can't meet the requirement, admit it and move on. Also, before I get a comment about it, yes, I am aware about how things are done sometimes in the fleet and why (I filled in as EDTA for a bit). I just don't agree with the "we don't have enough time, so let it slide for now" mentality.

Of the suggestions pointed out here.. less boats, means more optempo and more time fixing boats that are at sea longer. This doesn't solve the admin issue.

Really, I sometimes think that those that make the admin requirements that are so burdensome have been removed from the operational side (by seniority and position) that they honestly don't realize the burden it creates on the boats. I could be wrong though.

As for Memphis, unless there are some more damning details about the CO doing something else that we don't know about, it seems to be a little harsh. I would really have expected something like this to be dealt with in house with appropriate concurrence from ISIC.

Just my humble opinion here.


11/20/2010 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just going to suggest that in these cases, perhaps the exam cheating is a pretense and the goal here was the removal of the CO.

When can we find out who else is going down?

Methinks THEY will be the actual collateral damage, not the CO.

11/20/2010 7:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served with Maher on the USS Bergall. He was a good division officer I thought. I wish we knew what the truth is with all of this.

11/20/2010 8:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shortly after qualifying EOOW, I got so fed up with the necessity to cheat (guess how many qual exams I was given that didn't include the key?!) that I went to complete "f*ck it" mode and copied the key on the exam nearly word for word. Obviously, CDR Maher recognized it and called me into his stateroom. I was hoping he'd get the hint and make an example of me but he swept it under the rug. It didn't even come up again until an interview with the CO and all he had to say was, essentially, "don't be stupid." Hell, the only thing that made me feel bad was the chop's and a prior-enlisted JO (probably the only senior JO I really, really respected at the time) reaction and stern talking-to.

I spent the rest of my tour trying to take the exams honestly but the bar was so goddamn high with the rest of the WR I pussed out and got sick of spending all my off-time in remedial training just because I wanted to 'do the right thing'. At my end-of-tour speech I told everyone else not to compromise their integrity, it was harder but they'd be able to sleep at night. Always wondered if anyone ever took it to heart...

11/20/2010 8:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the early '90's on the Bergall we were involved in an ORSE where we snatched an excellent out of the hands of the examiners (one of the reasons was I caused the ship to lose propulsion during a flooding casualty but that is another story). The biggest issue they had is that we did not have answer keys to the tests that we administered.

I was M-div training PO and I would basically make up a test of essay questions. The completed tests were looked over by qualified guys and we would determine if the answers were good enough. The ORSE guys had a real problem with this method of doing things.

It seems to me that if people are cheating by using the answer key the big issue is the fact that an answer key exists. I can see if the tests are multiple choice, but if it is an essay why is there an answer key.

On another note I am licensed by the state of Florida as a Water and Wastewater Plant Operator. In the course of my career I have taken 5 certification exams administered by the state of Florida. They are multiple choice and as I have gotten higher levels of certification I have studied less and less for each successive one. After the first 2 I learned how to game the system. It is impossible to learn everything they can ask on the test. They give you a formula sheet. Based on that you can get away with knowing about 20% of the info and still pass the test.

Testing in general is a difficult thing. Even more difficult is to use it to determine if people really know the material. Better than the written tests are oral boards in my opinion. Have different senior guys administer the board so you get a good cross section of knowledge. Maybe do it every quarter for everyone on board.

11/20/2010 8:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 610....... really? Not true and if you were on the boat you know it. If you don't like the guy, no worries but no need to slander.

11/20/2010 9:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm all for doing away with a full on answer key. I never liked that guy who would grade by the key for key words and tricky phrases. They never wanted to read through the material and see that I wrote factual info, just not worded "the way we train."

I also don't see why cheating on the exam while taking it is that bad, considering they usually don't grade it fairly in the first place. You know what I mean. I don't cheat, but just throwing out some more info.

11/21/2010 3:43 AM

Anonymous Bill said...

Training hurts so people take drastic measures to avoid the pain. Monitoring training and proctoring exams hurts so people don't do it. Make training and exam-taking sailor-proof. Make it computer-based. Issue devices and discs. Download/upload from/to the Internet when available. How much worse can that be than not attending training and cheating on exams?

11/21/2010 5:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think of you make it computer based you would have to make it into a joke, otherwise everyone will fail. The purpose of testing is to make sure the person understands the material. I would think that in the nuke program it is more important to understand the basics and then be able to do the critical thinking to fill in the rest.

11/21/2010 6:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does civilian nuclear power train and test? Do they have integrity problems? I'm not saying we should train like they do, but maybe there's some good ideas out there.

11/21/2010 6:55 AM

Anonymous served xo said...

"How does civilian nuclear power train and test? Do they have integrity problems? I'm not saying we should train like they do, but maybe there's some good ideas out there."

Civilian nuclear power trains/examines folks in initial qualification one way, and folks in continuing training another way. In initial qualification, there is heavy emphasis on memorizing copious quantities of information. You have to be able to think critically to answer many of the questions, but the thinking part isn't hard--it's remembering all the facts you need to consider that is hard. In continuing training, the emphasis is on knowing where to find the information you need along with the ability to recognize indications, evaluate, and think critically. The exams are open book once you are qualified. Virtually all exams are multiple-choice, with the right answer and the "distractors" carefully crafted to look plausible.

There are some positive aspects to the civilian way compared to the Navy Nuclear way (speaking as a served Eng/XO from 1988-1996), and some negative aspects as well. Overall, I'd say I prefer essay questions as a better way of assessing understanding, but the open-book aspect opens the door for making the exams more like what a watchstander would really do during a casualty--use all available references to respond to indications.

11/21/2010 8:28 AM

Blogger Mike said...

To look at cheating on a boat there are two possible options as to the root cause:(1) We miraculously promoted a bunch of people to the level of CO who have no integrity, and then they promote their lack of integrity downward on the crew, or (2), the system drives, motivates, and then rewards people for cheating.

The current (as of 2003 when I got out) system promotes a standard that is impossible to maintain.

For instance, there is an insistence that a PO2 be able to write a test that his division takes for divisional training, and then the division must grade out at a 3.0 average GPA with a normal distribution. And oh, that same PO2 must take that same test and NOT get a 4.0 on it.

That's upholding a standard that is not only impractical, but damn near statistically impossible.
I've seen 1000+ person tests in college written by professors who do this for a living not live up to expected GPA/Distribution standards. And those tests require forward thinking (vice straight memorization). Forward thinking type questions are more likely to fit a normal distribution as compared to memorization types.

The probability that an 8 person divisional test can fit essentially pre-set GPA/distribution criteria is damn near zero, yet look through every training binder of every nuc division on every submarine and what do you see?

By promoting a statistically improbale goal as a definate standard you plant the seeds for cheating - which will only grow with time among ANY collection of humans.

11/21/2010 2:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We were supposed to draw a picture; anything we wanted. I drew a picture of a hockey stick. Everyone got upset. They had a meeting. "Mom" started yelling. I don't draw like that anymore. I draw bell curves. They don't have meetings about bell curves." (paraphrased from "Sixth Sense")

11/21/2010 3:19 PM

Anonymous BTDT said...

"The probability that an 8 person divisional test can fit essentially pre-set GPA/distribution criteria is damn near zero, yet look through every training binder of every nuc division on every submarine and what do you see?"

Lets cut to the chase here. This is not just a engineering issue this happens forward also. Been that way a long time and most of those guys chosen for major command and DH's in the previous post know it.

How it is done is not a secret. Using the EXCEL spreadsheet for tracking exam grades makes it a lot easier. The TPO picks a failure or two depending on the size of the division. It can't be the same person all the time. He then fills in grades to make it look real. Matches the grades to the actual exam when grading it. Grading is time intensive so it is better to have the scores first.

Of course next comes the remedial training, re-exam and passing grade to close out the exam period. Make the training binder look nice, ensure the proper colors are used and then route through the chain of command. Get it back with comments and re-work, fix it and go on to the next training week. Of course there are goals, assesments, department exams, qual exams, etc.

Oh yea, don't forget about silly stuff such as maintenance, duty, watch, quals and other nuisance requirements.

I have been retired for fours years now and could easily drive the 8 miles down to the pier, pick a boat, and find evidence of cheating. It's that easy. The trick is to make look good and as long as a hread doesn't get pulled the mission continues.

As someone said above, "if everything is important then nothing is important".

11/21/2010 3:55 PM

Blogger Old Salt said...

A couple of comments in response to postings:
We can't go to an ambiguous essay without a key. A totally subjective grading scale makes it impossible to come up with any kind of analysis. WE can't devote a group of people to a training division like the carriers can, and there needs to be some method of objectively grading exams. We cover the subjective aspect in oral interviews and checkouts.
For those who have been out/retired for more than a couple of years, Divisions don't do training anymore, at least not most of the admin. All short/long ranges, assessments, and exams are tracked on the dept. level. Monthly exams will contain some div questions, (usually 5-7), and divisions still conduct training, but most of the admin burden is shifted to the EDTA and EDMC.
Finally, Exam security. I agree that in the past, the process of exams was different. The emphasis was on super hard and long exams that needed to be taken with references available. That said, there has been a STRONG push to revamp that process. NRRO is looking in lockers for exams. Admirals are sending out messages on exam integrity, and people are loosing their jobs over it. If you are still active, and haven't seen the writing on this one, you are living under a big rock.

11/21/2010 4:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We still are not addressing the fundamental issue, why did the CO get fired? He did not have a collision, run aground, have a zipper problem, or get anyone killed. Are we to assume that COs are no longer going to be able to fix problems that they discover on their boats? This is going to continue to take more power away from the CO (which has been in progress for years with Commodores who still want to do the CO's job for them) and it will even drive some to cover things up. We are not headed in the right direction and this is just another example (much like BUFFALO) of why. Why would anyone want to be a CO in this environment?

11/21/2010 4:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @4:48 - if they didn't allow the CO to fix it, then the only logical conclusion is that CDR Maher was part of the problem. Either he had direct knowledge of it as it happened, or he found out about it afterwards and did not take aggressive action against the guilty. Or, he just created a command climate that allowed this to go on. Some of the comments above indicate that he was definitely part of the problem.

11/21/2010 5:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @5:13 PM

Bingo! You got the politically correct answer. Why was CDR Maher fired when a command Putz like Holly Graf was not?

Suppose CDR Maher slipped on an occasion when one female political 'assasin' was present.

Suppose he expressed a common, red-blooded, traditional male attitude like the US Marines we count upon to save oiur a$$es toward women. Let's cut the crap! Women are not the equivalent of males (thank goodness).

Women sailors serve with honor and pride, but they serve in minor numbers that fulfill social objectives and monitor biological clocks or absolute temperature in the case of frigidity.

- The good-looking A-ganger from Omaha

11/21/2010 5:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time we read through one of these threads a beleaguered former training petty officer notes how he had to monkey with the training binder so it would look good for ORSE or the Donald-letter.
This should be a bell-ringer for everyone on the NPEB - all those boats who have hard tests and good training binders are just blowing smoke up your ass. The fact is that you find it easier to grade the details of the training binder than to evaluate level of knowledge. The result, and root cause of this whole mess, is that you, the NPEB, create an atmosphere where cheating helps - a lot. I doubt you actually give a crap about a normal distribution, but I do think that if no one in a division failed an exam you would knock their training program. I also think that if qual exams aren't near the PNEO standard, you would also leave them a comment - and why not, all the "good" boats have BEQ exam questions about the implications of casualty X on chemistry sample Y.
Suppose instead the folks at PERS-42 assigned a couple extra smart folks to write and grade exams for the NPBE, and just held boats accountable for LOK. Yeah, it’s hard to evaluate LOK, but how's needle-dicking the training binder working out for ya?

11/21/2010 6:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer to fix this age old problem is obvious: Put women onboard. After that everyone will become more concerned with training. After all, when you are trying to get some of that money-maker, who wants to fail a boat exam and look bad.

Seriously though, I have seen Eng/EDMC's working on the training binders right before ORSE to ensure the numbers were right.

I was in the CPO quarters one day and the EDMC looks at my training binder and laughs. "ANAV, you don't have any test failures. Here let me show you how to make it look right". Nuclear integrity, yea right.

My guess is that DH's either a) know there is "cheating" going on; or b) they are ignorant that "cheating" is going on.

Either way, nothing has changed much in the last 30 years.

11/21/2010 7:09 PM

Anonymous Shore JO said...

Anon @4:48 is exactly right. I may have a limited perspective from only one boat as a JO but I always saw my CO jump when the Commodore spoke.

On one underway, PD trips completely changed for about a week. This was after the Commodore observed one, pulled the CO aside, and then the CO returned to control to yell at the watch team for how we were trained to do things.

Other than a few precious weeks of true independence while on deployment, my CO was told what to do at all times. Yes, it is the military but the bright/shiny prize that is held up to JOs is the idea of command.

No thanks.

11/21/2010 7:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously - no one has any information on why the CO got relieved? This is one of the most frustrating things about CO firings - the best you can do for information is to troll the interwebz - Big Navy just hides behind a "loss of confidence."

If we were really smart about these things, there'd be an e-mail or a message after an event like this, especially for cases where there's no collision, grounding, or zipper casualties.

Instead, we throw out theories, and send more folks to be CO without giving them the benefit of knowing what gets you fired these days.

11/21/2010 8:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoohoo! Damn it was good being an a'gangr. Can anybody explain the we don't have enuf EDMC's in the fleet now saga??? Hmmm.......


11/21/2010 9:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@shore JO @ 742 pm...

sounds like a story I remember from 737...had the exact same thing happen

11/21/2010 11:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell you there is a LOT more that went on prior to this single event of 10 cheating crew members that would lead to a CO being fired. I feel obligated to speak up for my many Memphis buddies here who have given me the full stories on several serious issues that they personally observed. I've been amazed at how nothing seemed to stick to this guy and why this guy hadn't been fired before!

11/22/2010 8:28 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

"11/22/2010 8:28 AM"

So cough it up: what happened?

(While the Navy might like to keep the circumstances private, the effect of disclosure on good-order-and-discipline and on constraint by future COs in similar circumstances would seem to outweigh the official desire to hide dirty laundry.)

11/22/2010 8:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know him and he is a good officer. He wasnt fired before because he had done nothing that would warrant it. It is so much easier to critize the CO than get to the root of the issues. Read the recent Big Navy message traffic, you would know there is zero tolerance for any integrity issues because of all the muck ups in the fleet recently. Every one is expendable, especially the CO's

11/22/2010 9:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is so much pressure to have a "perfect" divisional training program. Must have notebook filled out perfect, with perfect distributions, no one is perfect, and someone has to fail.

On one of my boats I got lectured by the EDEA, (I was the Div LCPO) because my distributions weren't good enough. We actually did make exams and took them and graded them, but he said my scores were too high. I had him take out last test, he got a 40% on it, My division's grade was a 90 average. I pointed out that of 7 RO's 5 were qualified RO, 3 qualified EWS/EDPO.

Fast forward to ORSE, my guys spanked the written exam but were graded down because of needed distribution, oral interviews were flawless, the board members told me during an evolution that I had the brightest group of guys he had ever seen, and he wanted us to be on his next boat.

Sometimes people are just smart.

11/22/2010 9:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone in the chain of command better get a handle on this issue pretty damn soon because from reading here, and on other blogs, it's appears that cheating is endemic in the Navy's nuclear power community.
The debate over sourcing our Country's energy needs is going to intensify and the Navy's long history with nuclear power will become more relevant and subject to scrutiny from all sides of the issue.
The media will respond accordingly and the Navy's indifference or long standing inability to correct the issue will be described as a 'major scandal compromising nuclear safety.'
The Navy's submarine force will be heavily impacted, heads will roll, and God help the poor PRO that has to stand at the podium and use nuanced and 'everybody does it' explanations to excuse the cheating.

11/22/2010 11:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to someone's comment "This is the same guy who, as XO, mailed out the ship's schedule so all the wives would know exactly when and where to expect us throughout WestPac", I worked with him before and I highly doubt that. He was a wonderful leader and would never do something like that. Do you hold that much of a grudge against the guy? Could you not stand that he was an actual leader and told you what to do? Perhaps you were one of the men who cheated?

Anon, were you on the boat? Do you know first hand what happened? Maher was a good leader.

Who wrote this? "I can tell you there is a LOT more that went on prior to this single event of 10 cheating crew members that would lead to a CO being fired. I feel obligated to speak up for my many Memphis buddies here who have given me the full stories on several serious issues that they personally observed. I've been amazed at how nothing seemed to stick to this guy and why this guy hadn't been fired before!" Were you on the boat or did you just hear this from your "buddies"? Perhaps it's your "buddies" that have the issues! Unless everyone knows exactly what went down on the sub, perhaps you should keep your mouths shut and keep your comments to yourselves. Maybe his fleet sucked?

11/22/2010 12:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maher took over only in January so what about the previous Capt.? Anyone know anything about him and if he had any issues with the men on the sub? Was the cheating a one time thing or was it going on for long?

11/22/2010 12:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to note that when Chris Brownfield claimed that cheating on nuke exams was widespread, the peanut gallery here rose to the challenge to defend the honor of the submarine force.

Now that someone is being relieved for it however, they sing a decidedly different tune.

(Note: I am not Chris Brownfield nor have I read or purchased his book)

11/22/2010 12:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The previous CO, CAPT Glen Pendrick just screened for Major Command. As far as those that defend CDR Maher, I wonder if those posts are not being written by CDR Maher himself trying to make it seem like he has a lot of allies?

As Rubber Ducky would say, it is the ISICs call...and we all know ISICs are perfect.

11/22/2010 2:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

During the Cold War only 25% of my sub COs were smokers; not very many.

Still, since the Cold War ended the number of sub COs with the smoking habit must be closer to zero, right?

So, was CDR Maher a smoker or non-smoker?


11/22/2010 2:53 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I just got done talking to nuke off the USS Enterprise. He has been out of the Navy a few short months. He said the operation of the reactors was in disarray…with operational and breakdown on this aging equipment. He wouldn’t reup because didn’t trust the management of all this gear.

He told me, you would believe all the injuries that has occurred on this ship in my four year stay.

11/22/2010 3:43 PM

Anonymous Matt said...

As Rubber Ducky would say, it is the ISICs call...and we all know ISICs are perfect.

And in this case, the ISIC is CAPT Merz, himself a former CO of Memphis. He took command of DEVRON 12 at the end of September. I believe that his tour as captain overlapped Maher's tour as ENG on 691.

To briefly comment further on CAPT Pendrick, he was a reserved and laid-back CO, but not so much as to permit a culture of disregard for integrity to flourish.

(I served on 691 from Sep 2005 to Apr 2009, under both Merz and Pendrick, but not under Maher as ENG or as CO.)

11/22/2010 3:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seems to be and easy solution to the exam problem. If we use the PNEO model and let NR set and maintain "the standard" this would allow an accurate review of the distribution AND ensure the fleet is meeting the requisite standard of knowledge. They could distribute quarterly exams, and by the way grade them, for each rate and provide more detailed tranee guides to let US know what THEY want us to know. If assuming that responsibility is unaccetable then the COs need to be given the lattitude to decide what the crew needs to know and how to evaluate it. Otherwise, the balance of effort between training and mission will never align.

11/22/2010 4:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of these comments assume this incident was a nuke issue. Any facts behind that?

11/22/2010 6:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PNEO model? You mean leaving the exams out the night before?

11/22/2010 6:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about essay questions but other boats grade them? Or at least ISIC?

11/22/2010 6:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic (not a nuke): IP address traced back to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. NCIS busts St. Mary's dude. here.

11/22/2010 7:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CDR Maher might have been a good leader, but his wardroom was not a fan...possibly related.

11/23/2010 7:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the training PO for our division and department for a time. (Sonar/WEPS) It was a bunch of crap, prescribed failure rates to gauge effectiveness-our WEPS wouldn't think the training was effective unless a few people failed it. You have to be a stupid mofo to fail a test on the BQH-1 and WLR-9.

11/23/2010 11:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a certain body of knowledge that everyone just needs to know--casualty procedure immediate actions, for example. Expected grade for exams on those subjects--pretty high.

On the other hand, there is always more to be learned, and a good training program should encourage trainees to expand their knowledge and their ability to apply their knowledge. (Thinking more experienced guys here, who are past the BEQ/basic sub qual level.) Exams on these subjects should require more than regurgitation, and the expected score will be somewhat lower.

Seems like this should be a consideration when exam results are being evaluated--and when exams are being written.

11/23/2010 12:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 12:49 PM,
that’s all true, but trying to evaluate that via ORSE is the root causes of the integrity problem. The NPEB doesn't observe how people train, they observe how its written up in the training binder. Then they reward "good" boats who have training binders which look like the board's expectations. Boats who have idiosyncratic good or bad performance are given comments to the effect of - no one failed exam on such and such, exam was too easy, standards on the boat are too low. Anticipating this, boats cheat the system and for the most part win.

Is there anyone out there to defend the current way of doing business? If so please provide a credible alternative root cause for the submarine force's integrity problem.

The best part is that we don't have to lower our standards to fix this. The problems isn't the that the submarine force's standards for knowledge are too high, the problem is we have a standard on how the training should look instead of how effective it should be. How about we delegate all training to boats, stop checking how training is conducted and just check how much people know.

This would:
a) reduce the incentive to cheat - cheating hurts LOK, what people would now really be evaluated on.
b) reduce a huge administrative burden on the ship.

What’s the argument against getting rid of ORSE review of the training binder? Is it possible some boats won’t follow up when training wasn’t effective – yeah it is. But frankly, the idea that they are doing it now is just an illusion.
If the inspection teams still bust the crew's balls on LOK does anyone really think the effectiveness of training will diminish?

11/23/2010 1:41 PM

Anonymous News reader said...

A bit off topic but related:

The captain of the HMS Astute that ran aground last month, just got sacked.

Commander Andy Coles sacked

11/23/2010 2:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the day, one innovative SSN Engineer used the boat's schedule as his long range training plan, contrary to the explicit requirements of the type commander's training instruction. Among other things, using the boat's schedule to drive training probably helped the crew buy into the importance of what was being covered.

His lack of compliance was always written down by the ORSE team members, but in view of the boat's exemplary performance on ORSE, it never showed up in the ORSE report.

It helped tremendously that both he and his CO were rising stars and the CO had his back. Still, if they hadn't done so well on ORSEs, that would have been singled out as the primary reason for the boat's lack of performance and as ammunition for firing the Engineer.

Not being so innovative, I stuck closely to the TYCOM instruction. A safer route, but not necessarily a more effective one.

11/23/2010 2:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one here knows what the issue was, nuke or otherwise. The real issue might be Capt. Quick was just too fast on the draw - he should have let the young Skipper resolve it his own way.

11/23/2010 2:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like it shouldn't be that difficult to write an exam that experienced, knowledgeable guys do well on and newer, less knowledgeable guys don't--giving you the distribution the NPEB is looking for.

What am I missing?

11/23/2010 3:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1:41...

You raise some good points. The NPEB should be looking at results--i.e., operational performance and LOK. Unless things have changed, those areas carry the most weight (Chem/RadCon is up there too). The Admin portion of the ORSE grade is not weighted very strongly. Boats that run their training programs with the primary goal of making them look good on paper are missing the mark, unless the Admin grade is worth a whole lot more than it used to be. It won't get them the overall grade they're shooting for.

I think the biggest problem with your proposal is the inspection team doesn't have enough time to do a thorough inspection if all they look at are results (written exams, drill/evolution performance). To get a representative picture of a boat's performance, they would have to give more exams and run more drills. The board has to look at a ship's processes, because a two-day snapshot is not enough to get a true picture.

11/23/2010 3:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 3:44:

Which is why you get anomalies such as boat gets an excellent one ORSE and BA the next.

Fake it until you make it!

11/23/2010 6:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can certainly sympathize, the ORSE team is constrained by time, and ultimately the grades they give mean a lot - for careers, ship moral, and the force standards. I also think the requirements on training are well intentioned. However, my impression is that the correlation between training quality and ORSE grade received for training is low – not zero, but not high enough to believe the ORSE team was actually getting much out of it. To the extent the evaluation was correct, it was mostly from board members not paying too much attention to the distributions and test questions, and instead mostly relying on the level of knowledge they observed. That being said – my sample size is admittedly pretty low.
In short, I agree that the ORSE team is constrained, but I don’t think that justifies looking at measures which are easily (and frequently) faked and don’t say much about actual performance. Just relying drills, written exams, and level of knowledge questions isn’t giving up the ship on training – it’s just focusing on outcomes rather than process.
I guess the relevant question would be, if we got rid of NPEB oversight of how training is conducted in favor of just training outcomes (i.e. level of knowledge) how much would that increase the likelihood that the NPEB gets it wrong in assigning a grade? (I’m not qualified to answer)

Would the quality of training actually diminish? (My impression is it would stay the same)

Would the integrity problem improve? (I think so, this seems like the most likely root cause)

Would we reduce the administrative burdens on our sailors? (No question here)


11/23/2010 9:21 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

A simple recommendation: the ORSE should stay completely out of shipboard training records.

Oh God The Earth Will End!

No. Calm down. Training is never an end in itself. The results of training, ah, there's the test of its efficacy. No one denies that an ORSE does an excellent job of testing the testing indirectly in its review of operating and maintenance records, operations, casualty response., and the grades on its own tests. So why isn't that enough?

Why not simply rely on the ORSE itself to grade the boat and let the ship's training program and its test and records be entirely internal to the ship?

11/24/2010 3:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were to design the "recipe" for an ORSE from scratch, I would still have the NPEB look at a ship's processes in addition to the results of drills, evolutions, and LOK. Two days does not give enough time for a thorough evaluation, otherwise. The only way I know of to look at a ship's processes is to look at records. Pain in the butt? Yep. Potential for abuse? Yep. I can't think of a better way, though, if you agree that evaluating a ship's training process needs to be part of the inspection.

One alternative might be to have the ISIC conduct the exam program for ships. I certainly wouldn't have wanted the Squadron that deep in my knickers, though, and I don't think the squadrons are adequately staffed to do it. Plus, in all likelihood the thing would evolve into the squadron putting out a schedule of topics that will be covered on the exam each week, and that's what would drive the training schedule on the boat. No more flexibility to schedule training on Shutdown/Cooldown the week before you were scheduled to actually do one--unless you put in some extra hours of training that week.

Finally, while I acknowledge the very real possibility that things may have changed since I had to do this, we never got to the point on any of my ships where training admin (exam documentation in particular) was impossible to get right. It was never fun and rewarding, but it always possible to meet the expectation without compromising the integrity of the program. Also, we were always confident that results mattered more than the admin, and that we would do just fine overall if we blew 'em away on drills/evolutions/LOK. That tempered the temptation to focus too much on the admin.

11/24/2010 5:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like it shouldn't be that difficult to write an exam that experienced, knowledgeable guys do well on and newer, less knowledgeable guys don't--giving you the distribution the NPEB is looking for.

What am I missing?

What you are missing, unless things have changed since I got out, is that the exam writers, trainers, graders, etc. all have full time jobs doing watchstanding, maintenance, and other collateral duties. There is no training dept like on a carrier.

11/24/2010 7:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is no training dept like on a carrier."

Nor would there be such a department here, either.


11/24/2010 10:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there any boats out there able to come reasonably close to meeting all expectations (training, admin, operational excellence, material condition, etc.)? Assuming the answer is still yes, shouldn't the squadrons be doing more to collect and share best practices? That was one gripe I always had.

I hear the point being made about time, five pounds in a ten-pound sack, etc., and it is a valid one. I'm just not sure the force is doing everything it can collectively to get things done that really need to be done--I include exam administration and the training process in general on the list of things that really need to be done.


11/24/2010 10:52 AM

Blogger DDM said...

The problem with publishing best practices is that what works for one command may not work for another. The biggest factor that makes training/exams an admin burden is time and manning.

I recommend that we do a study where a boat of each type on each coast do away with writing their own CTP exams. Have the exam writers in Pensacola write standardized exams based on SRTP and objectives submitted by the boats. The exams would be given just like advancement exams/ORSE exams. For qual exams, the local SLC would develop a bank of exams for each class of ship vetted through NR/NPEB. These would be essay tests administered by the boats. This is not perfect, but it's a recommendation vice just a general bitch about how hard it is/was. Oh yeah, drop the "target average". The CO/ENG sign a qual card stating a guy's ready to stand watch. They do this based on face to face interaction. Targeted averages cause graders to be inconsistent. The bean counters could figure out some other beans to count.

11/24/2010 11:58 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Time to shut down this thread. Two conclusions:

1. There're enough nukes who think that fundamental honesty doesn't apply to basic nuke behavior to scare those of us who see naval service and the submarine force as founded on integrity.

2. In the 56 years of submarine nuclear power the nukes still haven't figured out how to behave under the rules that they themselves made.

Time to take a round turn....

11/24/2010 4:25 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

@Rubber Duck

What you said. Buck up bitches, do your job. You can pass tests without cheating if your culture supports. What a bunch of BS to think the world needs to be otherwise.

We do not train for ORSE. You train to operate the ship. Anyone who says otherwise is a flat out idiot not worth his salt.

ORSE, NR and high standards will not go away as long as we have nuclear powered ships in the Navy. Suck it up, or get a new job.

Oh, and the idiot know as vigilis, we aren't firing non-USNA officers to make way for women, but to make way for metro-sexual men who will be more comfortable when don't ask don't tell the majority of service members and families say it should (see Gates on 30 Nov). Frakkin dumbass. Go home, the grown ups are talking.

11/24/2010 4:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're not against high standards, we're against bullshit standards. When you create an environment where people feel like they have to cheat, or where the incentive to cheat is far, far greater than not, that's bullshit. Line up 115 people and tell them "violate your integrity or I'll punch you in the testicles" then see how many are going to tell you the truth...

11/24/2010 5:08 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

"We're not against high standards, we're against bullshit standards..." ... which we (nukes) invented and we (nukes) maintain! Sounds like a nuke problem to me.

11/24/2010 5:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite right, Duck! The thing I don't get is the XO's who know it goes on become CO's who don't do anything about it then become Commodores who let it go on. For Flying Spaghetti Monster's sake, they know how to identify it, even know where to look for it, and it's still going on! Then the higher-up guilty parties are all, "Oh, it wasn't like that when *I* was on the deck plates! Let's jerk our knees on some CO's chin so I can get my star!"

11/24/2010 5:52 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...


"Oh, and the idiot know as vigilis, we aren't firing non-USNA officers to make way for women, but to make way for metro-sexual men who will be more comfortable when don't ask don't tell ends.."

I have always doubted that a spongehead like yourself could possibly ever have been be a Srvd_SSN_CO!!!!!!!

Yes, you served under submarine CO's -- so did I ----five (5), as a matter of fact!

You are a pathetic jerk. Your own commentary proves it to most: "to make way for metro-sexual men who will be more comfortable when don't ask don't tell ends.."

Please, all "metro-sexual men" who agree with the anonymous poseur, Srvd_SSN_CO, call me, Vigilis, an idiot.

Submarines are always silent and strange; Srvd_SSN_CO is merely very strange.

11/24/2010 6:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a gay O-2, Vigilis, you are an idiot! Srvd_SSN_CO was my LPO.


11/24/2010 7:15 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/24/2010 7:20 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I don't remember any "cheating" back in the pre computer days but I do remember insuring that folks understood what questions might be asked on an exam, whether it was a BEQ exam, a Watchstation exam, or an exam after a special training session to test knowledge. IT was left to the test taker to make sure they knew enough of the answer to pass the test. Often, the same question would have a different answer from ship to ship or from year to year. I had the same question on my PNEO exam at NR as I did when I took the same exam as a PCO but the answer was entirely different because new information had been promulgated and the standards changed in the insuing ten years. Back in the day, officers returning from their Engineer exam would write down as many questions as they could remember so the future PNEOs could learn how to answer those questions. That is preparation, not cheating. When I was a CO and XO the Eng had a bank of questions that he drew from for his various exams but since each exam was custom made, the watchstander did not know what questions they would get on their specific qual exam. Lecture tests were the responsibility of the person giving the lecture so they varied in scope and quality depending on the skill of the presenter. I do not remember trying to get everyone under a bell shaped curve. My concern as an XO and CO (I was a NAVOPS not an ENG for DH Tour) was to insure that the basic knowledge required was imparted to crew. Since we generally got Above Average or Outstanding on Level of Knowledge I think the system worked. Iam sure with computers and networks, the approach is very different today and that may be part of the "integrity" problem. I agree with servd SSN CO that the real purpose of the whole program is to operate the plants in a safe manner at all times. We sometimes fail at that but that is because we are human. But checking, double checking and triple checking prevent or minimize the errors that are made. Training should reinforce knowledge to permit the operator to exercise good judgement and remember the immediate actions on the most important casualties. Get the plant, ship or piece of equipment in a safe condition and break out the books to continue the recovery. I hope that that philosophy has not been lost in the past twenty five years.

11/24/2010 7:55 PM

Anonymous T said...


I don't think anybody disagrees that the point of training is to actually impart knowledge and learn the systems on the boat, but the reality is it seldom works that way. On most boats there is the training you do to learn and run the boat, and then there is the training you do to fill out your ORSE training plan. There obviously is some overlap, but not always as much as you might think.

It seems like you are attacking people with essentially the criticism of find some more time in the day and work harder. Perhaps you have forgotten how hard the average JO/nuke petty officer actually works. For the vast majority, it's not really possible to just "study harder". The real driver for these problems are the ISIC's and NPEB, who fail to be realistic about how difficult tests should be. In my experience, the tests were so hard that no amount of studying would get most people to pass them. They were just keyed impossibly hard, so even if you "knew" the answers, it's unlikely you'd write all of the information "required" in the answer.

As long as NPEB/ISIC's push for "hard" exams, people will continue to cheat and blaze training to "make the numbers work". It's just too much work to do it 100% right. When the ISIC's and NPEB start having realistic expectations for test difficulty then the amount of cheating will likely go down.

11/24/2010 8:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our best chances for fixing Eng Dept training/exams (and day-to-day submarine priorities in general):

A. A reactor accident caused or aggravated by the actions of poorly trained operators on a boat with flawless training binders

B. Unrestricted warfare

11/25/2010 3:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent last point!
When the Sh~% hits the fan we will figure out our priorities. I remember being at battlestations for a few weeks on and off during strike ops. No officers monitored training, I couldn't even tell you if anyone showed up, but I do know that nobody ever commented on it, neither squadron nor the NPEB. I also do not remeber ever having a real casualty that wasn't immediately taken care of. I guess the training was sufficient. Now we just need to define "sufficient".

11/25/2010 6:25 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I am absolutely not saying find more time in an otherwise full day. Its all about priorities and I am not saying it is easy.

vigilis, you really cannot detect sarcasm can you? There will be gay men serving openly on submarines far sooner than there will be women on SSNs. So why fire non-USNA men on the basis they will be better suited to managing women when there is a much more pressing concern?

And my choice to remain pseudo anonymous is mine alone. Bubblehead has my bonafides. My moniker stays.

But back to the point. When I was a JO and a DH people didn't get fired nearly as often for 'command climate' issues. I don't know if that is good or bad, but I do know I don't like the constantly rising bar. Based on the last four years of data, I bet most COs have had close calls even if they didn't think so. I know I did.

I do find it interesting, however, that no one from the ship is spewing forth details. In times past this has generally meant the crew thought the CO was good and got a rotten deal. I'm sure we will eventually know.

11/25/2010 6:25 AM

Anonymous SubIconoclast said...

No one from the crew is spewing forth anything at all right now. There is a "gag order" in place until the investigation is complete - BZ to the crew for observing it appropriately.

11/25/2010 7:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@vigilis: Come ON, man. You can't seriously be this paranoid.

@Srvd_SSN_CO: As always, some of the most rational comments on this blog. Thanks!

As for this:
"Our best chances for fixing Eng Dept training/exams (and day-to-day submarine priorities in general):

A. A reactor accident caused or aggravated by the actions of poorly trained operators on a boat with flawless training binders

B. Unrestricted warfare"

I think we all have a misconception that, if the shooting actually started, everything unimportant (to include training, inspections, etc.) would be swept aside to do the REAL job. Unfortunately, unless we got into a short-duration, limited war (of weeks or only a few months in duration), that would not be the case. Read Ned Beach's books, or first-hand accounts from WWII COs such as Dick O'Kane and you see the same things we do today: training, squadron inspections, routine maintenance, and ongoing qualifications. Those things can't be brushed aside in war as "unimportant;" in fact, training becomes even more important when the consequences become more grave in wartime. It is more vital for Squadron to verify that a boat is ready to deploy and go kinetic when the missions are anti-surface warfare instead of ISR. And continuing quals happened throughout the war as new personnel rolled onto the boats and the experienced (who lived long enough) went ashore to train recruits and maintain boats.

So, while I agree that it is a challenge to balance the smothering requirements levied upon today's submariners, we should accept that what exists today will also exist if World War III or a limited engagement like the Falklands war kicks off. I may be spoiled, as my ENG ran a training program that tested what was actually taught in Eng. Dept. and EOOW/EWS training, with exams administered on Crew's Mess with proctors. What happened with the grading I was not privy to, but I can say that the ORSE exam grading was as legit as it could be.

It would be great if VADM Richardson continues VADM Donnelly's drive to reduce unnecessary and redundant paperwork and reporting requirements. It is those kinds of programs, and unforunate incidents such as this that will bring us closer to an achievable balance of requirements. Hopefully...

11/25/2010 9:14 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Jerry Holland showed how to reduce paperwork. When he took over Submarine Squadron One in the '70s, he told his boats that 'they should not submit any reports to anyone unless he first approved them doing so. And he told his staff that they would not require inputs from the boats without his OK. NR reports were automatically good, but everything else was clamped down on ... and the admin burden on the boats greatly reduced. Why not?

11/25/2010 10:17 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

@ Srvd_SSN_CO

"So why fire non-USNA men on the basis they will be better suited to managing women ...?"

In addition to cleaning house, might these dismissals reinforce the USNA's unmistakable message for maintaining a zero tolerance environment prior to womens arrival in sub service?

"...there is a much more pressing concern?"

Disagree; according to Sec'y Gates, most comments on TSSP, and poll feedback, ending DADT is not expected to become a pressing concern for the sub force, much less Big Navy.

I, however, believe the onset of unexpected litigation may disprove this complacency, damaging not only Navy PR, but morale in the process.

As to gay men in submarines now serving with distinction, at least 25-50% will continue to maintain their Don't Tell posture for personal or privacy reasons alone.

Time will soon tell who will ultimately be correct. As a taxpayer, I would be thrilled, but totally surprised, if it were you.
With an administration that was largely financed by trial lawyers and is currently being run by trial lawyers, litigation is bound to ensue.

11/25/2010 10:56 AM

Blogger Old Salt said...

@wtfdnucsailor "Returning JO's were told to write down questions so the next guys could study."

How is that NOT cheating? On ORSE LOK interviews, we are told NOT to tell others about the questions. Every exam I took in the nuc pipeline came with an integrity sheet saying (among other things), I will NOT discuss this exam with other classes. It seems that we teach the community that getting the questions ahead of time to study is "great preparation", yet if my guys try that on board, it's hammer time. The "bank vs specific exam" argument doesn't work either. Suppose my friendly neighborhood NRRO rep comes down for a monitor and finds the BEQ exam bank in a locker. What do you think he will do about that?
Call a spade a spade. The PNEO system is organized, systemic, and condoned cheating. The candidates get the bank of questions, and study until they know all the answers. The way we really check adequacy of knowledge is the oral interviews conducted at NR.
Sounds a lot like the qual programs of a few years ago.

11/25/2010 12:31 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

In all of this, from the wild range of facts and theories, of moral judgments and practical considerations, is there anywhere a sense of honor, of honesty? Jesus H. Christ, can't anyone find the correct path to visit permanent integrity upon my beloved nuke brethren?

Here's a sample of 32 honor codes used at various institutions. Pick one. Stop whining. Stop cheating.

11/25/2010 1:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@wtfdnucsailor - That was cheating.

11/25/2010 5:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do not train for ORSE. You train to operate the ship. Anyone who says otherwise is a flat out idiot not worth his salt.

Let us dispense with the pleasantries: With your head so far up your own ass as to be able to tickle your tonsils from the backside, how in Hell did you ever make it beyond Div O? Regardless, you are one naive mo fo to believe that crap you're slingin'.

11/25/2010 8:06 PM

Blogger SJV said...

I don't think the issue is about knowing the questions. I think it's about faking results to match expectations, and a system that expects results to match expectations so tightly that the only way to hit the target is to fake the results.

11/25/2010 10:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... any news on the firing - not the cheating?

11/28/2010 8:46 AM

Anonymous pc assclown said...

I’ve been away from the internet for a few days so am coming to this discussion kind of late. Not sure whether the concept has been discussed in any of the 122 comments, or in any of the past thousands of comments on this subject over the past few years. The concept being an actual quantification of manpower requirements vs manpower availability. It’s called a time study, and if broken down into small units, is not that difficult to do.

If I complained to my boss that I did not have the manpower to fulfill current expectations, the first thing he’d ask for would be the analysis to support my claim. Without any supportive data, he’d quickly remind me that I was wasting his time and just as quickly invite me to leave his office.

Maybe a new enlisted rate should be created whose job it would be to perform time studies for each rate/NEC. Better yet, maybe these tasks would be more suited to the division officer and department head.

I’m pretty sure this concept is used at some level to determine manning requirements throughout the navy. It’s pretty obvious, however, that the determining data is gathered too far from the actual point of requirement and so misses much of the actual task details.

A force commander passing down new directives is probably doing so to 1. Solve a real or perceived problem, 2. Pass on orders from above, 3. Protect his/her career (CYA). Their expectation is that the directive be carried out. As long as they are not being presented with compelling reasons why their directives are unrealistic, given current labor availability, they’ll continue to pass additional new directives.

If cheating on training and admin requirements are truly a symptom of unrealistic expectations by big navy and not just poor leadership within commands, those expectations can pretty easily be proven to be unrealistic through some basic analysis. And if the current crop of JOs and department heads are incapable of performing this analysis, then fire them, not the CO.

11/29/2010 12:32 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

The crew staffing for a new class of ship is determined fairly early on as a combination of battle-station manning, underway watch standing, in port manning, and some predictions on preventive and corrective maintenance loads. It's pretty rigorous but still has guesswork. It also has some wild assumptions - augment crews in port for example - and is completely disconnected from later funding. An example: the maintenance plan for the FFG/7 class was never paid for and nearly killed the crews. The boats do better. But there is nothing to keep higher authority from going batshit with additional duties - except higher authority itself. Shame on them (submariners all) if that's the case today.

11/29/2010 12:59 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

PC Assclown,

This is partially the difference between BA & NMP in today's Navy. But there's more to it than just that.

BA=Billets Authorized. This is what we (Navy) paid for.
NMP=what we have inventory for - usually somewhat less.
Then there is the AMD (A-something manning document, which is a different animal entirely).

NAVMAC (in Millington) is tasked to evaluate manpower needs via fleet feedback on surveys (don't blow them off), site inspections, documented maintenance, watchbill requirements, and the like.

But even after NAVMAC staff have made their assessments, it is up to the Big Brass (& ultimately Congress to approve the budget) to make a decision on where to change billet & manning requirements based on their assessments.

My understanding is the assessments
regularly demand MORE personnel, not fewer, but berthing constraints & budget costs override what the workforce analysis numbers say.

A good example of this is the newly added requirement of a LAN division and the incipient IT(Submarine) rating coming online. Word has come down from on high that the total # of bodies onboard 688's will NOT GO UP, so cuts are being made elsewhere in other forward rates to accomodate a new IT division.

Regardless of the fact that workloads have generally gone UP and not down. IT(S) will cover the AEF logs on their "LAN TECH of the WATCH" duties, so the watchbill requirements will not change, which was a shortcut. The IT worker duties are currently being performed by onboard Sailors until the rating comes online (ETA Spring 2011 but that is written in Jello powder).

11/29/2010 6:41 PM

Anonymous T said...

PC assclown:

I really like how your argument turns into it's the JOs fault, the CO is willfully ignorant, and thus free from blame.

I'm not sure where you work now, but there is really no mechanism that I'm aware of for Junior Officers to push the results of their "time studies" to the powers that be. Nor does the Navy offer any training related to determining manning requirements to JOs or DHs.

Somebody already did a better job explaining manning requirements than I ever could, but after reading that I'm sure you can agree that is not really a feasible path to improving training.

11/29/2010 7:16 PM

Anonymous Don't Be Dumb said...

The "Time Study" (TS) division would, of course, need continuing training program complete with training, exams, goals, assessments, and the MK 1 MOD 69 training binder.

Not to mention qualifications such as the Time Study of the Watch (TSOW), Inport Time Study Petty Officer (TSPO), and other ship's quals.

Where would the TS's field day? What drills would they run..."Loss of stop watch in ______, all off-watch Time Study division personnel muster in the forward head".

PMS, tagouts, evals, leave, advancement...make it stop! We don't have time for this!

11/29/2010 8:00 PM

Anonymous Jim C. said...

Too funny! I know, the chicks could do it. Of course the division would become the Time Assessment division.

I can see it now:

"Chief, I think I am spending too much time working on charts and inputing data into VMS"

"You are right, ET2. I will get the T&A's up here right now and let's get to the bottom of this"

"Thanks Chief, you really know how to work it"

"Ain't that the truth, ET2. Now break out that relative bearing grease, I am going to need it!"

Jim C.
Retired ANAV

11/29/2010 8:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And well, at least we would know who was in charge of timing the Code Reds, Code Greens, and Code Browns (for shit covered injured man).

11/29/2010 9:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think some of the important nuance is getting lost here.

The major complaint here isn't about the amount of work for the JOs and the crew. In critique parlance we might say that’s not the root cause. The issue here is a couple particular standards are being put down where 4.0 guys are expected by the boat leadership to cheat, while ISIC and above pretend it’s not happening. Two specific instances come up over and over again:

1) The BEQ exam is typically made impossibly hard to pass after only two months on the boat. The EDMC and ENG don’t expect JOs to pass without cheating. A JO who tries to pass without help from the RPMs and fails is treated like a shitbag just to maintain the appearance that everyone else passed with integrity.

Note the number of people who confirmed to having the same experience as Chris Brownfield and Joel’s description of the BEQ exam from when he was ENG, especially his description of turning a blind eye when the ship was at sea:

The purpose of this whole exercise is so that the boat looks like it has tough standards when ORSE rolls around. To be clear, the complaint here is not that the standard is too high, it’s that EDMC, ENG and XO know damn well that JOs can’t pass with cheating, and don’t expect them too. Its rigged for you to fail, the test is really whether or not you are willing to compromise your integrity or not. The guys who have the integrity not to cheat, generally have to be clued in privately by one of the senior JOs - swallow your pride and get past it.

2) The training binder. Fleetwide it’s common to tweak the training binder – read fake some failures – so that the program looks like the desired outcome for ORSE. Nothing makes a new MM3 feel good like telling him he was failed on an exam, despite trying his ass off, because he was the junior guy and someone had to fail. Then we’re surprised when he fakes some chemistry logs… (I have almost no knowledge of Hampton, my point is the practice and corresponding corrosive climate is fairly common). To top it all off, administration of the training binders takes tons of time for everyone up the chain of command all the way up to the XO.

No one is complaining about the high standards at PNEO, oral boards or the actual ORSE level of knowledge exams. Guys work hard to do well on those, and at least feel like they aren't rigged for failure. The complaints are about situations where we are essentially expected, with a wink and a nod, to cheat. The common thread here is situations where the training process, not the outcome, is subsequently evaluated by NPEB or NR.


11/30/2010 8:19 AM

Anonymous T said...

Nick, really good post. Sums up my issues perfectly. Someone from NR/COMNAVSUBFOR/NPEB should print that out and read it every day until it is no longer true.

11/30/2010 8:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't forget, this isn't just a nuc issue. The forward divisions operate the same way.

11/30/2010 8:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick, I too believe you have captured the issue(s) well.

I believe they point to leadership failure on the boats--not something for NR or anyone else to fix.


12/01/2010 9:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

pc assclown said:
"If I complained to my boss that I did not have the manpower to fulfill current expectations, the first thing he’d ask for would be the analysis to support my claim. Without any supportive data, he’d quickly remind me that I was wasting his time and just as quickly invite me to leave his office.

Maybe a new enlisted rate should be created whose job it would be to perform time studies for each rate/NEC. Better yet, maybe these tasks would be more suited to the division officer and department head."

pc assclown's point (to me) seems to be if there is truth to what many have said-- too much to do, too little time-- then the data should not be impossible to gather.

My experience so far: Nukes love data; Nukes don't love claims without data to back them up. We've all heard more than one sailor say he doesn't have time to get everything done. (Far from me to challenge their statement.) But if somebody showed up with real numbers-- among NNN sailors studied, NN% got everything done with X hours of sleep in an eighteen hour cycle while MM% had to cut corners somewhere, or only slept Y hours on an 18-hour cycle... Sailors spent X percent of their time doing training, Y percent of their time doing maintenance, Z percent of their time doing (IJK) ... you get the idea.

To put it another way: testimonies indicate that there might be a wealth of data available. But until someone gathers actual data, will the Nukes In Charge listen?

--"Data Speaks"

12/01/2010 10:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

pc assclown said: "If cheating on training and admin requirements are truly a symptom of unrealistic expectations by big navy and not just poor leadership within commands, those expectations can pretty easily be proven to be unrealistic through some basic analysis."

With all due respect to pc assclown-- it's the "pretty easily" phrase I struggle with here. Nothing I can picture so far -- that would be robust-- qualifies as "pretty easy".

Would this mean an analysis of everything a sailor spends time doing, including sleeping, eating, head calls... ... does the DivO follow the sailor around? How much do you trust the data from the DivO when he has things of his own to do?
Perhaps more to the point, "I spent two hours studying." Who says what's enough?

Maybe another way to get at this data, is to remove all the answer keys from the boat (realizing that only works dockside) and have an external team -- maybe it shouldn't be another boat-- do the grading. Take the training binder offboard; make sure there is no more tweaking. ( Find out what realistic grades and scores are for a cross-section of boats when there is no possible way to cheat.

In essence, remove the grading curve. Get back to absolute scores, and find out what the the boats (the fleet?) can and can't handle as a whole. If whole squadrons are flunking a module, now that's data.

Needs a very large test population for the numbers to mean anything.

--"Data Speaks"

12/01/2010 11:52 AM

Anonymous pc assclown said...

I too agree with Nick’s limited assessment although I feel he fell well short of itemizing all of the wasteful and unnecessary practices which eat into the crew’s time. I also agree with the comments from “Data Speaks”.

Time studies only serve to identify the time it takes to complete tasks. If time studies reveal that available productive man-hours exceed required tasks, it’s time to go drink a beer. If they prove the opposite, then it’s time to move to the next step…….Identify wasteful and unnecessary processes (Nick identified a few, but there are many more).

If a process adds value, do it. If it does not add value, convince the chain of command that it is wasteful and should be stopped (convincing is made easier through realistic supportive data (Time Studies)).

Defining what is truly value adding and what is wasteful is the first true challenge. This step requires absolute buy-in from the CO down. Defining what is wasteful also requires the vision and wisdom of the most experienced members of the crew.

The second true challenge is convincing the CO to support the analysis and resulting recommendations, and then have him band with the other Cos of the squadron to push up the chain of command for policy changes.

Like working any other problem that has ever existed, the solution to this one requires multiple steps.
1. Agree that there’s a perceived problem (Folks are being fired for loss of confidence)
2. Gather analytical data (Time studies, etc…)
3. Identify the wasteful and/or unnecessary processes to be eliminated
4. Combine findings with those of sister commands
5. Hope like hell the COs don’t get fired for rocking the boat

In my experience, positive change needs to happen from above and from below. Admirals may send signals that they are open to reform in certain areas, but the actual reforming absolutely must begin with the crew.

12/01/2010 12:47 PM

Anonymous T said...

I see two problems with this:

Nobody wants to go on record saying "Well, I cut corners on this to save time"
"I spent 0 hours giving LOK's, but 15 minutes making up results to LOK's does not read well...",
"2 hours blazing my training plan",
"4 hours cheating on my BEQ test.", and
"1 hour making up comments for fake monitors that I never did to populate the monitored evolutions database", etc. Especially because there is an expectation that you would be hung out to dry for admitting that you were cheating to actually get everything sort of done. I speak from experience, as I had a CO who actually tried to do this with the JO's... as a result, we all made up numbers that looked semi-plausible.

Lastly, perhaps I am jaded, but my first expected response would be "Oh, so why are you shitting/eating/sleeping/masturbating/watching movies when you could be doing all of this work you are blowing off". And the knee jerk reaction would be to close the crew's lounge or eliminate movie time or something like that

So in short, what I'm saying is, everyone would be *expected* to lie on this so the boat didn't *look bad* and then they would lie on it to avoid getting into trouble, for that is the culture we have created.

12/01/2010 9:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why mess with it since it seems to be working? Kind of a "don't ask, don't tell" mentality.

12/01/2010 9:10 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

You guys aren't getting it.

Even when you take out all the nonsense BS that we have to do on the boat - the amount of REAL work (watches, maintenance, training, admin for evals, etc) already adds up on the surveys and NAVMAC work assessments to generate the demand for more personnel onto the boat. That is OLD news. Every time they do an assessment (& they revisit existing platforms every so often) for submarines it comes out the same.

It comes down to money.

Since we're somehow accomplishing the 20lbs of crap w/ a 10lb bag by working massive hours, etc already, and we're ALREADY in the hurt locker overall for money (I.E. The budget is f*cked), then we keep on keeping on. The big brass refuse to add more personnel to the crew roster as a solution, regardless of the assessments.

Every time we have a major mishap, the root causes does not ever add up to 'lack of manpower', so there is no smoking gun to use there to prove otherwise.

12/02/2010 7:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

stsc said: "the amount of REAL work (watches, maintenance, training, admin for evals, etc) already adds up on the surveys and NAVMAC work assessments to generate the demand for more personnel onto the boat. That is OLD news. Every time they do an assessment (& they revisit existing platforms every so often) for submarines it comes out the same."

So you are saying that the data-- including the time studies-- already exists, and has for a while, and moreover goes back through several iterations. In other words, much of the work is already done.

Sounds like precisely the data "pc assclown" was asking for.

In which case, that data should be gathered & presented as supporting evidence for the preceeding arguments. Any volunteers?

Suspect a solution needs to also be presented, else presenter will be told "You are now part of the problem."

--"Data Speaks"

12/02/2010 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Solution: Standardized training from NR. We just issue tests, give lectures, grade based on NR key, and fill in the training plan. Leave a little bit of flexibility for the boat to do its own thing some weeks.

You'll cut out a lot of crap, get a "more" honest assessment of how smart different crews are, and provide lesser incentive to cheat (or at least be able to detect it easier). And you will free up significant amounts of time in several sailors schedules. IMO, it's a no-brainer, we're just too stupid to actually do anything outside of the box.

12/02/2010 9:42 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

"12/02/2010 9:42 PM"

To the extent that the tests have a training purpose (what else, you ask; well, it sounds like they've morphed into a test of manhood), NR, as the source of nuke documentation and the authority on the plant, is the logical source of formal testing materials.

1. NR is the only outfit around with the resources, discipline, and direct control of the maintenance philosophy able to do this right.

2. Lifting the adminutia burden from the troops in the boats with a pre-packaged testing program is a really elegant way to cut workload and raise efficiency.

So maybe this whole cheating thing will turn out to be a good thing IF it gets NR off their burro to actually take responsibility for onboard testing materials. Their failure to do so for so long in the program - forcing every crew to reinvent the same wheel over and over and over - has been just plain arrogant and abusive of the people. (Somehow I sense that lurking deep inside this issue is an attitude of senior people no longer punching holes in the ocean along the lines of "I put up with this shit - they should too." For that I've zero respect. These guys are supposed to look out for the troops, not beat them up.)

12/03/2010 5:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12/03/2010 9:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no way anyone should want NR to take responsibility for exam programs on ships. No disrespect intended to NR--they are very good at what they do; however, you don't want them in that kind of a position if you're assigned to a ship. They are institutionally incapable of dialing things back. You think it's hard now.....

Be careful what you ask for.


12/03/2010 4:25 PM

Anonymous Magento Themes said...

@ Vigilis points, it was great see your discussions.

12/06/2010 10:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave - they seem to do a good job with NNPS. For that matter, it seems like they've made it progressively easier over the years. They don't turn on a dime, but they do turn.

The education/training NR guys are not the NRRO NR guys.

12/06/2010 10:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 10:42--

Good points. My experience with the NR training/education guys was different from my experience with the NRRO guys. I still don't think I'd want them that deeply involved in my business if I were ENG again, but I wouldn't dismiss the suggestion out of hand. I'd be willing to give it a chance and see if it could work.


12/07/2010 11:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is "anyone really listening".......

12/07/2010 5:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess not

1/06/2011 4:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am.

1/06/2011 5:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl Lahti, that's a name I haven't heard in a while. Carl and I were JO's together on Stonewall Jackson sometime about a thousand years ago.

You know, to this day my signature looks more like a single initial from having to sign my name hundreds of times per day when I was in the Navy. There were times when there was just so much to do and I thought the tension between hours in the day and my integrity could snap a rope.

6/13/2011 7:55 AM

Anonymous Evangeline said...

Thanks for your post, very useful information.

9/14/2012 2:56 AM


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