Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Longer SSN Deployments?

Check out this AP story; excerpt:
Vice Adm. John Richardson told the AP this week that keeping subs out longer is one of several options the Navy is considering as the number of attack subs is projected to continue dropping in the next decade and beyond. “I think we’re looking at all the options,” he said. “As you try and maintain the same presence with fewer hulls, there are all sorts of variables in that equation. One would be extending deployment lengths. So that’s certainly on the table.”
As usual, the story by the Michael Melia reporter has to get something wrong ("Enlisted crew members on the attack subs sleep six to a room...") but it seems to be fairly accurate overall. Have you ever done a deployment of greater than six months? What do you think of the potential change? (Alternately, what do you think about the increase in sub pay for E-8/E-9s with over 18 years of submarine service?)

Bell-ringer 1550 01 Oct: It turns out that Virginia-class boats do have several 6 man berthing spaces, so I stand corrected. Only one I was ever onboard was the lead ship of the class in the shipyard, and they didn't have the module with the berthings spaces there when I left.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are at least 7 or 8 6 man berthings on Virginia Class Submarines shipmate.

10/01/2011 4:26 AM

Anonymous Bill said...

I asked Admiral Chiles how we were going to do everything we did with fewer boats circa 1990 and he said something like, We're not going to do more with less; we're not even going to do the same with less; we're going to do less with less. But then that was Hank Chiles at a CSL staff 00 call, attended by his CoS, Big Al K.

10/01/2011 5:25 AM

Blogger liza said...

I think the sub pay increase is long over due!!!

10/01/2011 5:38 AM

Blogger SJV said...

Keep 'em out to sea for eight months, I say. If you want a family during your six to ten year hitch, get out and get a job that doesn't involve submarine service.

10/01/2011 6:01 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Good luck with those upcoming manning issues! Yeah, I know how 9-10 month Westpacs were the norm back in the day, but there were other issues that ensured manning wasn't necessarily a problem.

10/01/2011 8:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The people on the boat who do the least amount don't need an increase in sub pay to watch everyone else field day. Typically, the 8s and 9s are either not on the watchbill, standing watch once every other day or once a day. As a retired 8, the money would be nice of course but it isn't justified by the work that we did. My last ship had an EDMC who spent no less then 8-9 hours in the rack every single day and 12+ on Sundays.

10/01/2011 8:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first deployment got extended from six to seven months. The only problem I had with it is that we weren't informed of the extension until we were at our 5 1/2 month point. We were on our last port visit before we started the transit across the Atlantic back to Norfolk when we found out that we had a 4th mission. My parents had already made plans to fly to Norfolk to see me. Since they already paid for the plane tickets, they came to Virginia anyway and visited Busch Gardens and went sight-seeing in DC while I was still out to sea.

I honestly think I wouldn't have noticed the difference between 6 months and 7 months (or even 8 months) if I had been given some f-ing advance warning.

10/01/2011 8:51 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I was fortunate that I never had a deployment extended. As noted in the article, I believe that it would be harder on the families than on the sub crew. I agree that with advance knowledge, a seven or eight month deployment would be bearable for the crew since the usual coping method is to turn the outside world off until about two weeks before returning.

10/01/2011 9:31 AM

Anonymous Mark/MM1(SS) said...

Any more, time at sea is more relaxing than time in port. But then, it's more family separation, and more struggles to stay positive at home, with the inport workload. Often too much for many couples, so whaddaya do - most likely, get out....oh yeah - then, there's the imminent gutting of retirement.

10/01/2011 11:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the deployments will suck 33% more. So glad I am out. Was extended by about a month once on a 6 month deployment, but it was because something broke and we couldn't cross the pond without it.

10/01/2011 11:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to agree that time on deployment is a lot better than time at wise. Family wise is a different story. If you want a family, get on a boomer or work for Sears selling shoes.

I did a 7.5 month deployment because of Desert Storm and it wasn't a big deal. Of course that was with a lot of port visits and the opportunity to "drain" yourself into some of the local girls.

If a carrier can do a 9 months with 5000 of your best friends then a submarine can surely do 7-8 months with 120 friends.

Of course, the SUBFOR could say no to some of the piddly missions but that really isn't good with shrinking budgets. Follow the money on this one.

Jim C.

10/01/2011 11:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world is passing you by Joel. It's about the Virginia Class now...6-man berthing.

Maybe you haven't heard...the Russians are also decoming the Typhoon also!

10/01/2011 11:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Longer deployments...meh. Bump the subpay up for everyone PO2 and up i say, but this is a good start. The pay jump is for COB/EDMC's since we can't seem to keep enough inventory of either. Once the economy recovers the Sub force is going to be hosed. We won't have enough senior enlisted / nucs to man even the dwindling force we have now.

Anyone hear about the 7-11? Seems they had a local chapter of the Spice Girls fan club going... About a dozen busted for using it and 2 more from the unit sweep afterwards for coke.

10/01/2011 12:31 PM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Well, wow. Longer deployments would be difficult for sure. I don't know what submarine pay is these days, but a little extra is always nice; something more to pay income tax on.

While serving on boats I was always on the watch bill; COW at sea and DCPO in port. Helped on field days; hands and knees in my space, engineering spaces, and CPO quarters. Doing, not watching. I don't know if the YN gets to stand Pilot/CoPilot on the newer boats; that would be cool though.

All of that said; not counting shipboard deployments, of which there were a bunch on skimmers and boats, I served three unacompanied one-year tours overseas. That could well be an option for the SSN's. Have them "forward deployed" unaccompanied for a year to 18 months at a time, with a high operating tempo. If folks get to go on annual leave from the forward deployed area let them arrange for space available travel or on their own dime. Or, set up an R&R arrangement like we had during the Viet Nam period. I wouldn't be surprised if that is what is happening right now in the mid-east anyway.

I'm sure some of the folks in the service would buck, but an option is, don't go into the submarine force.

10/01/2011 12:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was extended on two different boats. As a NUB on the NYC, our NORPAC was extended by 30 days since the Helena broke prior to releiving us. I was the only one who stocked enough cigarettes. So I traded cigarettes for checkouts on quals and not blown off because of the excuse of not having any time.

The other time was on the Omaha. We had just returned from a NORPAC when the same Helena broke for Mark 48 ADCAP testing in Nanoose. So the Commodore asked us if we could go. The CO tore up our CASREP and said sure. The problems we had were numerous, the steering and diving hydraulics kept shifting to emergency; one SSMG was arcing and sparking; the flange above the chart table blasted water anytime the head valve was cycled and so on. The port visit in Esquimalt was awesome.

10/01/2011 2:48 PM

Blogger Former 3363 said...

I have to wonder if anyone has done an assessment on what extending deployments will do to the maintenance and overhaul cycles. 688s were designed with a very specific lifespan. If you start tinkering with the way you use them, you'll burn through them much, much faster.
I'm not complaining since I now work in a shipyard. If they decide to start refueling the I boats, I'll just start looking at bigger houses and faster cars!

10/01/2011 8:30 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

So why not a blue and gold crew for the least some of them.

You could do some decent training...

10/01/2011 9:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So why not a blue and gold crew for the least some of them."

Actually, that idea is back on the table.

10/01/2011 9:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

2-crew SSN?

One ship, two screws. Actually, the other crew never does the maintenance and always gets the hookup...bastards.

10/01/2011 10:56 PM

Anonymous 3383 said...

What E-8/ E-9 is going to get out between the 18 and 20 year points? DOD could probably take everything except base pay and not suffer attrition.

I'm always in favor of paying more to keep critical slots filled, though; so the article sounded fine with me.

10/01/2011 11:36 PM

Blogger Harold said...

Two of my six month deployments were 7 months long.

Of course, on my third weekly op in San Diego after getting married(leave Monday, back Friday) I called my wife two Fridays later from Pearl. She got used to the fact real quick that return dates are like weather forecasts- not written in stone.

Just one of those things we all get used to.

10/02/2011 5:06 AM

Anonymous Moe Rackburn said...

Two crews will not work on SSN's it is a fighting ship. They actually have a real mission to perform. How are you going to schedule crew rotations it is not a bus schedule like on boomers, oops we can't start a war this week Mr. President the gold crew does not come aboard until next week. Besides there are barely enough enlisted nukes to fill one crew on the boats as it stands today so how are you going to double the number of nukes?

10/02/2011 6:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Of course two-crew can work. As far as enlisted nukes - there was a time, in the not-so-distant past when there were many more enlisted nukes. Raise the recruiting quotas and increase power school class sizes. Done.

10/02/2011 7:59 AM

Anonymous Mark/MM1(SS) said...

They can certainly accomplish a crew swap in Guam, DG, or Maddalena - though it'll be more of a challenge than a boomer swap, to accomplish a refit under those circumstances, but it can be done. As far as numbers of nucs go, the remaining prototypes can't supply the needed numbers to the fleet as it stands now. This can probably be overcome, I suppose, but not with the current model. Does anyone know when the two 688 hulls slated for conversion to MTS units will be online?

10/02/2011 10:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is a nuccentric blog, butt trust me, when the operational commanders and war planners discuss missions, the last thing on their minds are the ammount of enlisted nucs available.

Bottom line: if they need more slaves to get back there and push, they will find more slaves.

10/02/2011 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, senior enlisted can really be bribed for <$2,000/year?

10/02/2011 12:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So, senior enlisted can really be bribed for <$2,000/year?"

No, but throw in some free donuts and kiddy porn and then they will be happy!

10/02/2011 1:25 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Another option to expand the deployments of limited SSNs, not yet mentioned above, was predicted 6 years ago. In fact, those paying attention will realize it had been discussed by the submarine navy in the last 18 months.

Other than food, SSNs have plenty of endurance; what they do not have yet is two crews. This might also help to explain the "critical need" rush to bring female crew aboard. The one thing the submarine force has always done par excellence is strategic planning. Enter the mother ship.

10/02/2011 4:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok all you submarine Admirals, here is an idea.

Hot about...Hotboating.

Assign 3 crews to 2 submarines.
One crew on deployment with one boat, one crew in upkeep and predeployment type training and the other crew in a modfied off crew/training period.
You could make it 4 month cycles or any # of month cycles.

I haven't really thought of specifics, but its an idea and it might work!


10/02/2011 4:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Bottom line: if they need more slaves to get back there and push, they will find more slaves.}

Sorry, but that is, in fact, the MOST nuc-centric comment ever seen on this blog :)

10/02/2011 4:37 PM

Anonymous 1120 turned 1800 said...

Bottom line on longer deployments is that if you feel that what you're doing is important, you know tracking someone or something, it's a lot easier to stomach an extra month. If all you're doing is poking holes in the ocean to satisfy a bean counter's need for "presence", than heck no. Decent port calls help, too.

As far as E8-E9 sub pay, it's important to realize that it's not primarily for the COB/EDMC on the ship, it's for the Senior Chief on shore duty that has a choice about doing the COB/EDMC tour. So many of our senior enlisted are getting Bachelor's and sometimes more, that retiring and going into the private sector can be a straight up pay increase, on top of retirement pay.

10/02/2011 6:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 crews for 2 hulls was looked at for the OHIO Replacement but it breaks the op tempo rules. (yes optempo rules exist, even for SSNs)

Op tempo requires that no more then 50% of the time can be spent at sea in a two or three year period (I forget which). Of course "little" underways <72 - 96 hours (I think don't quote me on that) don't count.

The reason to minimize two crew ships is based on cost. The most expensive part of actually operating a ship is the crew. The navy can't afford to have two crews on all the SSNs but it might make sense for the boats that are already forward deployed (Guam).

As to fighting ships not being able to have two crews I will just point out that GN's have two crews. no matter what your opinion on the two crew concept you have to agree that any ship that can pump out 100+ tomahawks is a fighting ship. Sure it was against helpless Libya but there is no reason the ship can't sit 100 - 200 miles off the coast of China and do the same thing.

The GNs certainly bring some amazing capabilities, too bad we can't afford more! Virginia Payload Module (4 87" missile tubes aft of the sail) just won't be the same.

10/02/2011 8:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vigilis said: The one thing the submarine force has always done par excellence is strategic planning. Enter the mother ship.

Uhhh, I think you're being sarcastic.... right?

10/02/2011 9:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we had some more sub tenders we could keep the SSN's out a little longer. They could just nest along side the tender for quick refits or crew swaps.

10/03/2011 6:54 AM

Blogger Jon said...

Isn't there a problem with the nuc training pipeline that they cannot pump enough students through due to lack of resources in the pipeline?

Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I have been reading lately, there are now long waits between power school and prototype because there is not enough capacity in the prototypes to handle all of the students coming out of power school.

Maybe it is time to refuel another retiring sub and park it in Goose Creek...

As a note, just read a bit about the ex-Sam Rayburn... apparently it is scheduled to be used until 2014...I would assume it will get extended, but even those S5W units are going to have to be replaced at some point.

(All technical information listed here found on Wikipedia, just to cover my tracks.)

10/03/2011 8:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't the Navy try out crew swaps on destroyers for a few years about about five years ago, and didn't that grand experiment turn out to be a failure? So why revisit it for SSN's?

Maybe on SSN's the better answer is they ought to increase sub pay, and increase propay too. Quit messing around with imminent danger pay too. It just seems cheaper and smarter to increase supplemental pay of the one crew than it is to hire two crews. And toss in another port call for morale. How much could that cost? A lot cheaper than paying two crews, flying two crews around the world and swapping them.

10/03/2011 1:01 PM

Blogger Brad said...

@3383 - They aren't getting out. Post tour COBs are going CMC and leaving the SUB force - that's the part of the problem I'm aware of.

10/03/2011 3:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think two de-comming 688's are getting parked at NPTU at some point, with the old SSBNs going to razor blade heaven.

10/03/2011 3:54 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Interesting questions, especially regarding two crews. Here are the hard problems with what has been said:

SSBNs have 60% optempo, SSNs around 30%. SSBNs have an entire maintenance system built around that higher optempo...SSNs do not. Just one example will suffice: how long between shaft changes. Drydock the ship for shaft replacement 2x as much, and that's just a start.

3 crews for 2 subs. Bad math. 2 crews for 1 SSBN/SSN, 200% manning. Explain to me, in simple terms, how 3:2, or 150% manning, results in more butts/mile. If you fall for this logic, then 4:3, or 20:19 would net you so much op time you find you have no problems! But wait, isn't 65:64 awfully close to 1:1? Hmmm. Bad math. And SAIC thought of it first.

10/03/2011 4:32 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

@Brad, wouldn't call that a problem. What we don't need are three and four tour COBs. We need to promote the E8s that can do the job instead of keeping the served COBs around forever. Same thing goes for EDMCs.

10/03/2011 4:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SECNAV recently clarified (at a visit to Naval PostGrad School) his intention to properly man ships for longer forward deployed time per hull. His response was that the option they are currently considering involves a rotating crew schedule similar to SSBNs, however the rotation would be 3 crews across 2 hulls vice the SSBN 2 to 1.

10/03/2011 6:34 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

A 3 crew-2 boat concept sure is gonna make qualifications an interesting endeavor were that to happen.

But when they can get 1 boat manned with 1 crew, let me know.

10/03/2011 7:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the mid-2000s we studied two crew SSNs to death. This went along with the surface Navy experiments know as "Sea Swap".

Bottom line from the existing SSN perspective is that in addition to being twice as expensive, two crews burns up fuel about twice as fast. Sure, you get some short term gain in presence, deployed days or whatever metric you use. But just like putting 30K miles per year on your car, you shorten the time in between major maintenance and ultimately your hull life is only about half as long. Most of our remaining SSNs were not designed to be refueled, so trying to do that after the fact would be hugely expensive. Ultimately, it's not the near years that we have the big shortfall of deployed SSN days or presence numbers. That comes in the 2015-2030 time frame when the 688s will retire at the same rate they were built; 4-5 per year.

As for the surface Navy, they did use a crew swap model for some smaller ships (minesweepers mostly). Their initial experiments weren't real conclusive since they starte with 30 year old Spruance class which were retired shortly after the experiment. They did use some DDG 51 class, for about 2 years. Not repeated, so I draw the conclusion that there was little gain from the trouble. Of course, it could be that whoever was pushing the issue retired; and his relief decided this was a bad idea to begin with.

I'm sure the current generation of staff weenies will study it to death, and draw the same conclusion.

10/03/2011 9:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than a full second crew for SSNs, what makes more sense to me would be a "relief crew" concept similar to WWII, wherein the shore-based, yard-heavy types would swing in to make it all work again, and thereby get the load at least substantially off the necks of the one-crew, one-screw.

Sure,'d have to QA what they'd done...but how much more livable would a higher tempo be if someone else made _damn_ sure it all works again right after a long mission?

10/03/2011 9:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...two crews burns up fuel about twice as fast."

Not if SSN remains forward deployed without return to port. Mother ship replenishes supplies and exchanges crews A and B. Nuclear fuel is conserved, crew A is relieved, longer missions are enabled, and with a little cleverness, stealth could is maintained.

This also has been tested; you probably never heard about the results.


10/03/2011 10:06 PM

Blogger KellyJ said...

1st problem: Extending deployments means burning more Core/hull life. Shortening the already shortened lifespan of the boats (especially the 688I boats). This leaves you in a worse case a few more years down the road where your mission/optempo is still high, but now your number of hulls take another plunge off the cliff.
2nd: Extending deployments will drive more sailors out. I did a 9 month deployment (extended for the Gulf War) and while it was well worth it there were still family issues to deal with after the extra time. I then did a 1 year unacompannied homeport change that turned into 2 years because the skipper didn't want a new Sonar Chief for WESTPAC. Came home to an empty house after that one.
Todays sailors (especially the junior 1st termers) aren't going to stick around...especially when they get home only to continue the same old 12 hour daily grind of training/upkeep.

SubPay increase. Nice idea, wrong solution. The reason why your Senior Chiefs are getting out at the 20+ year point (me included) is the lack of advancement. If your not a COB (or ACINT for STS) your not making E9. The subforce has plenty of COB-waste (guys who did a full or partial COB tour, made 9, then were either tossed because they sucked or dropped out of the CMC program (but got to keep 9 anyways). This has sucked up all the billets. In my case it was a matter of asking myself why I wanted to do a 3rd strait seatour (on the "City of" in Guam) playing Sonar Chief/CSDLCPO with more ORSE workups, upkeeps from hell, mandatory attack centers using trainers that in no way resembled the equipment on the boat, the training BS previously discussed elsewhere, AND having to deal with some snot nosed junior LT whose POed because he wanted the Eng Billet for HIS career advancement. All of that with zero chance of putting a second star on my Anchor? All because I chose to stay in rate and be the goto guy in my specialty.
Everyone knows when they've hot the brickwall at the end of a career and its time to move on and start a knew career. A hundred or so extra bones (taxable...thank you very much) is no where close to being compensation enough.

10/03/2011 10:28 PM

Blogger Former 3363 said...

""...two crews burns up fuel about twice as fast."

Not if SSN remains forward deployed without return to port. Mother ship replenishes supplies and exchanges crews A and B. Nuclear fuel is conserved, crew A is relieved, longer missions are enabled, and with a little cleverness, stealth could is maintained.

This also has been tested; you probably never heard about the results.


Oh Cookie, you make me laugh. Here's some simple math for you. For every hour that a nuclear reactor is shutdown, that's an hour of full power that is now available for future use. If you use two crews, and keep the boat out, you will burn through the fuel at a higher rate.
In addition, your mixer will get a lot more use, and that will piss off e-div more than you can imagine. Now, if we expand the mixer reference to the rest of the boat, shit will be breaking left and right. There was already enough duck tape on things in the engine room, and now you want to tell people to use it more. BAD IDEA!

10/03/2011 10:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't transit, you don't don't go fast, so you don't burn EFPH as quickly. Doesn't solve the non nuc systems maintenance issue though.

10/03/2011 11:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Former 3363

" make me laugh. Here's some simple math for you" according to Srvd_SSN_CO (3 OCT 4:22 PM) "SSBNs have 60% optempo, SSNs around 30%."

And that 60% has been routinely exceeded. Yeah, yeah higher maintenance system (only because they are SSBNs). With the advent of women on SSBNs, there may be more returns for unscheduled "maintenance" (like British subs do too often now)- just an excuse.

10/03/2011 11:27 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

And personally, I'd love to know where the 30 percent number came from. Most years I spent upwards of 240-250 days out of port. First year on my first boat, 307 days. Oh, good times those were.

And transits at normal SOA don't burn that many EFPH either. It's the 60-plus day ops/week in/another 45-day op that burn up the core a lot faster than NAVSEA wanted to. And as 3363 said, there's a lot of shit that simply won't get fixed because there isn't enough inport time to fix it all. Damned ESL is gonna be thicker than the RPM at some point. Forward deployed is nice (like my first boat in Guam now) but at some point you've got to hit a drydock, and I'm not sure I'd trust the folks in Guam with that (no offense.) Pearl maybe, but not Apra Harbor.

10/04/2011 3:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If an ancient mariner may join the conversation, what you are reliving is 1970...without the new construction, and without the Tenders ' flexibility. In that world deployments started out for six months and were extended to nine at month 5, routinely. Retention plunged and bonuses soared. Morale went with the leadership ability of the command, some dropped to remarkably low levels. Why?

Too many commitments, too few hulls, too little maintenance money because the Army got it for the war and the Navy never got it back, because Congress spent it on social programs.

Hank Chiles was dead right.

10/04/2011 6:32 AM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I'm sure I'm off on the overall percentages, but I'm still waiting for the 2:1 vs 1.5:1 to come back to me.

And the crack about women being a reason for more RTPs and trying to link that to a UK experience? The UK Navy does not have women on subs. And it's a bs argument to start with.

I'm with Bill @10/1.

10/04/2011 8:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Srvd_SSN_CO
"The UK Navy does not have women on subs. And it's a bs argument to start with."

Exactly, but they already use the "maintenance" excuse. I stand by both statements:

Higher routine maintenance applies to strategic subs for obvious reasons.

While there is no doubt big Navy has decreed the women on subs thing "a bs argument to start with", only time will decide whether it ultimately ends up so tidy.

10/04/2011 10:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Longer deployments have been happening for quite some time. SSGN's & Guam boats are already on "forward deployed" schedules: more underways, but shorter duration (1-2 months). Two crew SSN's will not happen, like mentioned above:
1. Cost.
2. Prototype Bottleneck (it's not getting better anytime soon).

10/04/2011 3:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get rid of the made up "missions" and this problem takes care of itself.

10/04/2011 5:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If greater forward presence really is the goal, the SSGNs might bear the major impact. Because of their previous life as two-crew SSBNs, perhaps going to two crews on them might help address the problem, at least as far as they are concerned.

The three-crew, two-boat approach brings to mind a longstanding submarine term of art for which "cluster" is only half.

10/04/2011 6:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the risk of stirring up a hornet's nest, the three crew, two boat approach might end up working something like this. Crews A, B, and C each get a new nuclear-trained MM3. The MM3s in crew A and B are male, while the MM3 in crew C is female. An admiral epsouses the benefits of diversity.

Initially, MM3-A goes to sea in boat 1, while MM3-B goes to sea in boat 2. During the "off-crew" period, MM3-C gets a command NAM for reorganizing the M-Div training binder. She also gets pregnant. MM3-C's fetus can't be exposed to ionizing radiation, so she stays ashore while MM3-A and MM3-B continue to go to sea. Because she's cute, MM3-C is assigned TAD as the commodore's driver and personal assistant. Once the child is born, MM3-C takes maternity leave. The admiral publicly states that diversity is the Navy's number one goal (as opposed to warfighting and other more mundane goals).

Due to a "manning" shortage, MM3-A is port and starboard for an entire deployment. A drug bust in his division puts MM3-B in a similar predicament. One or both of them also has to cover crew C. They go delinquent in quals. In the meantime, with plenty of time to study, MM3-C passes the advancement-in-rate exam with flying colors. Coupled with her glowing evals from the commodore, she becomes MM2-C. While touring the Naval Academy, the admiral ensures that he doesn't actually come into contact with any of the diverse midshipmen.

After maternity leave is over, MM2-C comes back to work, but puts in for a hardship transfer to shore duty. Before the transfer, the squadron commodore strongly suggests to CO-A or CO-B that MM2-C get her dolphins, so that is pushed through without the knowledge of deployed crew C or virtually any sea time on the part of MM2-C. MM3-A and MM3-B finally go three section and fight their way off the DINQ list. As an end of "tour" award, now MM2-C(SS) gets a NCM. The admiral retires while trumpeting the excellent evaluations, quick promotion, and rapid submarine qualification of MM2-C(SS) as demonstrating the benefits of diversity.

MM2-C(SS) goes to shore duty, expecting to get the same kid-glove treatment. However, her first eval is less than what she feels entitled to, so she files a sexual harassment complaint against her boss. His career is ruined, but the Navy gives her a settlement, including an honorable discharge, to go away quietly. As part of the settlement, the Navy pays her tuition at law school. MM3-A and MM3-B finally earn their dolphins. The retired admiral, now a talking head on TV, tells a rapt national audience that it's a shame the Navy can't retain its talented, diverse sailors.

More fantasy or reality?

10/04/2011 7:57 PM

Blogger Erica R. said...

The boats that are forward deployed do come back to their home ports for maintenance from time to time. I understand the logic when a boat is forward deployed, but for the guys flying out to Diego, that 30 hour flight is a little rough, and I am sure that it is much cheaper to fly them to the boat instead of bringing the boat to them. From a family member's perspective, I am not a fan.

Interesting thoughts about retention. We used to have a chief that I worked for tell us that he could not pay us more money, and he does not control when we go out to sea, but he could give us time off when we were home. He sure did try. That does not solve problems with the pipeline, but a great BS filter does wonders for morale and people will work harder for the guys that are fair.

Oh, and I know this is apples to oranges but my first deployment was extended. The reason was really stupid as we just wanted to go home, but we were out to sea for 159 days with 5000 of my closest friends, before we pulled into Bahrain, which is nothing to write home about. Anyway, we were extended to pull into Marseilles so that way it would be known that air craft carriers actually do make port calls. Silly right?

For the record, I still would have chosen to go home. I missed my first wedding anniversary to pull into a port where I watched everyone get drunk and act stupid and then blame it on the fact that they were drinking because they did not realize that they were indeed stupid. Not really my idea of a good time.

10/04/2011 8:06 PM

Anonymous Mark/MM1(SS) said...

anon @6:52 - so, your idea is to man the SSGNs with two crews? Awesome idea! You could even name one the gold crew and the other the blue crew. Sweet!

10/04/2011 8:07 PM

Blogger Erica R. said...

"so, your idea is to man the SSGNs with two crews? Awesome idea! You could even name one the gold crew and the other the blue crew. Sweet!"


10/04/2011 8:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


re: 3:2 vs 65:64, etc. I'll bite, I'm not sure what your logic is, or if you are making a joke, but the numbers don't add up to me.

That said, I don't think the 3:2 is really workable, as I think the 3 crews are really going to be eating shit with deployments, and in fact it could end up worse than it is now, if you goal is maximizing deployment time, but not sure I can figure out where your math was going.

10/04/2011 9:57 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I'll try again.
1 crew, 1 boat: 100% manning results in X amount of availability.
2 crews, 1 boat: 200% manning results in a max of 2X availability.

There are those who believe that 3 crews for 2 ships is EVEN BETTER than 2 crews for one ship.
3 Crews, 2 boats. 150% manning results in a max of 1.5X availability. Little problem there.

Those who proclaim 3:2 is better than 2:1 have gone on to 'demonstrate' that 5:4 is better still! Given that logic, why not just add one crew to the fleet and rotate all the crews, giving us, say, 50 crews for 49 boats. Based on the dumb logic above this would net more availability than we know what to do with. Problem is, 50:49 is really, really close to 1:1. Hmmm.

Just trying to show that people make some bad arguments and someone has to call them out.

3:2 works, but not better than 2:1.

10/05/2011 10:35 AM

Anonymous Squidward said...

Erica, your foolish ideas of better leadership resulting in an improved quality of life for the crew are insidious and otherwise non-productive.

That sort of talk leads to happy crews which are more likely to be effective in combat. But since we're not really preparing for combat, we must push such frivolous ideas firmly out of our minds.

Report to your DLCPO for assignment to additional degrading and ridiculous work, ASAP!

10/05/2011 11:02 AM

Blogger Erica R. said...

Squidward, but it is not a foolish idea. That is how a proper leader is suposed to act. Just because you might have gotten the slimy end of the stick when you were moving up the chain does not mean that you get to treat your guys like crap. That is a horrible excuse to be an awful leader. What is even worse is the asshole that plays favorites. That is the worst kind. If you are going to be jerk, at least be consistent with your expectations. You also have to know the limitations of what your guys can do and work with it.

I got out because I wanted to have children, number one. Number two, I got out because we were treated like crap and I did not feel that the Navy was as "family friendly" as they claim to be. Yeah, yeah needs of the Navy come first, blah, blah, blah, that is my opinion and I still feel that way. When my husband went out to sea for the first time, his patrol was awful and he said he was getting out. There were more issues after that, but it was because of the people he worked with, not because he was going out to sea. He has since decided to stay in and will retire.

No one likes to get up and do a job that they hate. You cannot change the environment, but as far as leadership at the deck plate level... That is something that can be controlled. My division EMCM was one of the best people that I ever worked for because he stood up for us.

10/05/2011 11:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I nominate Anon 7:57 for the Pulitzer Prize in the Non-Fiction Department.

10/05/2011 11:51 AM

Blogger Ross Kline said...

I think Squidward was being sarcastic, Erica....

10/05/2011 11:52 AM

Blogger Erica R. said...

Ok. I have a terrible time reading tone as I am fairly new around here and most of you all have been interacting for quite some time.

Forgive me if I come across defensively.

10/05/2011 12:02 PM

Blogger Erica R. said...

Now I feel like an idiot. Not that it isn't the first time and probably not the last.

10/05/2011 12:16 PM

Anonymous Mark/MM1(SS) said...

Oh, don't be too hard on yourself, Erica. If you must though, feel free to post any pics of you administering self-discipline :)

10/05/2011 4:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice to ease the deployment schedules however we have less boats. Stop and think CODT's, POM Certs, and ORSE work-ups all add up.
The submarine force does not have the manning to add crews. We barely are able to keep up with maintenance and required schools. Like someone mentioned earlier being gone for 8 months although not ideal is not to bothersome if your actually doing something (i.e. tracking someone.)

10/05/2011 8:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Longer SSN Deployments bother the crew less when you are upfront with them. In fact tell them all they have 8/9 month deployments, then bring them back at 6/7. It will be like Christmas. Of my last 3 deployments on the same boat, extended 3/3, 2 of the entensions came at the very end. The one announced early when people decided to f-with my country, I would have stayed with the carrier for a year or two and launched everything I had at them.

All I can tell you from working both sides is that leadership on shore duty wants to make a powerpoint look good, and typically jam the crew at the end of deployments because of operational commitments when they don't plan ahead. Be upfront with the crews and they may not like it, but they would like it even less at the last minute.

Most likely absorb longer deployments or higher optempo by homeporting out of Rota with the BMD's. Yes you'll pay more for services, but you would be surprised how quick things can spin up and for how cheap.

10/11/2011 7:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about instead of increasing deployment time you get rid of the useless 8's and 9's so everyone else can get the real work done in 6 months?

10/19/2011 1:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

us brits are doing 10 month ssn deployments as standard now with 12-14 month deployments in the pipeline. fun fun fun

10/24/2011 2:20 PM

Anonymous nike free run cheap said...

My last ship had an EDMC who spent no less then 8-9 hours in the rack every single day and 12+ on Sundays.

11/10/2011 10:57 AM


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