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.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Submarine Force Initiatives

Word on the street is that some of the higher-ups have been talking about splitting the submarine officer path into two separate tracks: SSN/SSGN and SSBN. The idea seems to be that someone taking command of one of America's most important national security assets should have the maximum possible experience operating said asset before becoming Captain. The addition of female officers to the mix adds another issue, since they would likely choose the SSBN path (with SSNs unavailable to them for the foreseeable future) and they'd lose the SSGN platform.

Another initiative, more highly publicized, has been getting the input of younger officers and enlisted men into the design of the submarine control system interfaces through the TANG ("Tactical Advancement for the Next Generation) program. Here's a video about the program:



What do you think about these two new initiatives?

139 Comments:

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

That would be a dumb idea, I agree that SSBN CO should not be your first tour on one. That doesn't mean you need to split the force to make that happen. How about JO or DH on one before serving as XO or CO. That way you have a viable submarine force capable of handling any assignment on any submarine.

1/17/2012 4:06 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Independent of any positives of the splitting theme, it would seem to provide two paths--a merit-based path in SSNs/SSGNs and a path in SSBNs for which the definition of "merit" could be adjusted in many ways for PC purposes.

1/17/2012 4:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The TANG concept is interesting. The younger crowd probably will want to make it more video-game-like, including more visually intensive displays. That could present significant problems for dinosaurs over the age of 30. Back in the day, when fire control systems went from line-of-sight diagrams to stacking dots, COs didn't know what they were looking at. As a result, software modules had to be created to give the COs a line-of-sight diagram to check for comfort level before they pulled the trigger. I envision similar problems with TANG. Two other problems with dinosaurs, they don't multi-task very well (when compared to average 20-year-old gamer types) and dinosaurs typically don't process information as quickly as those average 20-year-old gamer types.

1/17/2012 4:18 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Multitasking is not all that it is cracked up to be as it usually results in doing a bunch of stuff half-@$$ed and making silly mistakes. That is not what I want when it comes down to nuclear war or shooting torpedoes.

1/17/2012 4:24 PM

 
Blogger Papaya Mom said...

I think splitting the career paths will create an unneeded divide in the sub force - who gets more money, who is a higher priority, is one platform considered the "top gun" over another? Bad idea - better to have our submarine officers have a broad range of experience on various submarine platforms. Command is not about knowing the ship individually, it is about the whole knowledge gained in the path and leadership.

1/17/2012 4:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two other problems with dinosaurs, they don't multi-task very well (when compared to average 20-year-old gamer types) and dinosaurs typically don't process information as quickly as those average 20-year-old gamer types.

From a 45 yo perspective, the 20 something yo gamer types (male and female) regardless of where they went to school "generally" have ZERO work ethic.

1/17/2012 4:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is one platform considered the "top gun" over another?

That's already been answered; Boomer fags need not respond.

1/17/2012 4:35 PM

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

U.S. Air Force tried that for 46 years with Strategic Air Command, and Tactical Air Command. In 1992 they were absorbed by Air Combat Command.

I wonder if anybody has talked with the Air Force about why they changed. It sounds like maybe somebody is considering a SAC/TAC type career path.

1/17/2012 4:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can easily see where advanced 3-D image processing abilities could help out when it comes to full situational awareness (SVP profile, ocean 'fronts', bottom topography, etc.) ...regardless of one's age.

But relying on 'gamers' to actually come up with something useful just because they're gamers seems a bit of a stretch...also regardless of one's age.

And as to multitasking: that is precisely how costly mistakes get made. Period. Just ask the captain of that Italian cruise ship who was trying to juggle show-'n-tell at the same time he was navigating Med' rocks. Ditto for the USS Greenville skipper who harpooned Ehime Maru while trying to impress VIPs (like they had a clue) with the very low, warrior-like profile of 'scope exposure he used.

Life is hard, but it's harder when you're stupid...and TSSBP.

1/17/2012 4:52 PM

 
Anonymous Cupojoe said...

My experience was that the sub force was already bifurcated. Substantially all of the JO's who did their first tour on an SSN got out, and the Boomer guys who didn't know how the other half lived became DH's. Of course, many were ill prepared for the op tempo of an SSN.

In short, I think SSNs would have a real retention problem if you couldn't go to a boomer every now and then.

1/17/2012 4:57 PM

 
Anonymous submarines once... said...

Okay-been gone for 13 + years-but do not think the two track idea has any merit at all for the reasons mentioned above. And yes, I did my final tour at sea (command) on my first SSBN after 25years in the SSN community. Last chance to go to sea before I had the choice of driving a desk or another career-when you can't go to sea as a sailor, I chose the latter. Haven't looked back.

1/17/2012 5:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

The problem is not with our displays, the problem is:
1. FT/STS/ENS don't come to the boat with the fundamental training to understand what our displays are telling them. If I get a FTSN or ENS who doesn't understand relative motion, bearing fans, etc, I don't want to put him in front of a display which would overload him with data.
Pull out the DRT paper in sub school, and draw the lines of bearing. Understand the fundamentals and all you'll need is a few quick glances at a few key pieces of info to keep us safe (which is what FTSNs and ENS should be doing).

(The training issue extends to RMs and Nav-ETs. I've gotten Nav-ETs who couldn't tell you the cardinal headings, understand Lat/Long, Distance-Rate-Time. What are they doing at school?)

2. Stop changing everything all the time. I've been on two first flight 688s. Here is a summary of what I've trained on and operated: Paper plots, BQQ-5, BYG-1, RTI, CCS Mk1, ARCI Phase 2, ARCI Phase 4, and at least two other versions of fire control where I didn't even bother to learn the names.

1/17/2012 5:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, the designer of the user interfaces for the pilot / co-pilot never heard of Jakob Nielsen.

1/17/2012 6:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the Chiefs have already made the split (tail). Just try to detail a Bangor bunny to a SSN and hear the squealing.

1/17/2012 6:11 PM

 
Anonymous John Wolf said...

It used to be that the chain of advancement meant that SSBN CO's had to have been a SSN CO so that they would have in depth knowledge of anti detection tactics. It also gave their ticket punched to qualify in a deep draft to advancement to Admiral as well as getting 1/2time(B&G) off.

1/17/2012 6:35 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Bangor Bunnies don't know what to do where there is no TRF to fix their shit.

41 for Freedom Tough :)

1/17/2012 6:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I'm naive or just old, but I've always assumed the obvious differences in qualifications, personality, and other factors were already taken into account when selecting CO's for the different type commands.
A bit of the cowboy may be good on a SSN, but probably not so great on a SSBN, and vice-versa.

1/17/2012 7:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to see them bringing in some submariners for CCS development, but do they really have the right folks? Where are the SSN DH's fresh of a mission in a high density area?

What really drives me crazy about all this CCS brainstorming is that most of it is done by people with very little or no time on the conn, either PhD's or civilians who have done one tour as a JO. I once heard a NUWC genius say "I imagine a sonar screen that surrounds the OOD so he can look in the direction of a sonar trace, like you'd look in the direction of another vehicle when driving a car." The other example is that most of the control room concepts look like something off the starship enterprise.

IMHO submarines are not cars nor are they movie-set spaceships. I fail to see how a huge contraption that requires me to stand in the middle of the conn and removes my ability to see all sonar bearings at once could be an improvement, but it sounds cool to someone who operates a car daily. There are more examples but I think they should tap folks who have extensive & recent experience actually driving submarines. I've also seen surface ship CIC's where the TAO sits in front of two large screen and talks to his myriad of watchstations via various voice nets. Talk about a disconnected watch team. SSN DH's, XO's & CO's fresh off deployments are who I feel should be the dreamers, with a few JO's peppered in to add a few crazy ideas that just might work.

Also, happy to finally see large touch screens being used, these cannot come soon enough, accompanied by a user friendly VMS.

1/17/2012 7:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Navy starts to require CO/XO's to have done a tour as a DH or JO on the platform they are going to command (which is a good idea), isn't that unofficially splitting the path anyway?

1/17/2012 7:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"2. Stop changing everything all the time. I've been on two first flight 688s. Here is a summary of what I've trained on and operated: Paper plots, BQQ-5, BYG-1, RTI, CCS Mk1, ARCI Phase 2, ARCI Phase 4, and at least two other versions of fire control where I didn't even bother to learn the names."

Agree wholeheartedly. The most recent CCS are fine as far as displays. What they really need is to 1) stop implementing programs that overload the processing capability of the system and 2) Get the software bugs out so the damn thing works without having to call the FTC or STSC to control every other day to troubleshoot glitches. Doesn't help that the T/S guides inevitably lead to "hit the reset button. If that doesn't work, seek technical assistance." Yea, great, hit the reset button in the middle of mission. Oh, and since the system went through 4 upgrades between the Chief's shore duty and now, he has never even worked on that software build or anything like it.

1/17/2012 7:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cupojoe said...
My experience was that the sub force was already bifurcated. Substantially all of the JO's who did their first tour on an SSN got out, and the Boomer guys who didn't know how the other half lived became DH's. Of course, many were ill prepared for the op tempo of an SSN.


Not sure how long ago you got out but it is the opposite now. Especially during the 06/07 time frame when all the shore duty posts were being picked clean for IA's to Iraq. Most SSBN guys were extending on board and getting out straight from the boat. The detailer actually talked about it when he met with us at PNEO and how the navy was trying to figure out why all the SSBN JO's were getting out.

I might have actually stayed in if I could have gone back to an SSBN. As the SSN force continues to shrink deployments will only get longer. How long until 8-9 months is the new "normal", (not even including all the bullshit rides beforehand)? No thanks, as much as I loved being part of the submarine force, I want to actually be around to raise my kids.

1/17/2012 7:44 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prototype
Object
Oriented
Naval
Tactical
Advancement for the
Next
Generation

POONTANG Mk 2

1/17/2012 8:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

Anon @ 1/17/2012 7:39 PM, I'm pretty sure we're in the same boat, literally.

1/17/2012 8:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really shocked in a good way about that TANG clip. BZ to DEVRON12 for grasping the big picture and doing the right (and clearly controversial) thing! Now if only they could make the RPCP more advanced than a 1983 IBM PC Jr.

To the naysayers: when you get too familiar with a system, you become incapable of seeing its flaws - that's why people with just enough (but not too much) experience are picked for industrial design exercises like this one. The idea of sending a DH Mission OOD to design the FC/Sonar interface is really stupid - the only thing a mission OOD interacts with is a periscope, using one eye, a thumb and an index finder! (not even that on the #1 scope)

1/17/2012 10:43 PM

 
Anonymous Post NAV said...

WRT to officer career paths, I believe it should be left to the officer to decide which platform fits his interest. Not all personalities fit SSNs or SSBNs mentalities. Problem with the sub force we think all subjects need to be trained all the time across the board. We all know no BN is going to go hunt an enemy SSN. So stop letting SSBNs pretend to use ADCAPs for anything other than an XL countermeasure (yes they could be called in to sink a terrorist filled merchant ship, no stealth really required to complete it). Some guys need the fast attack way of life for an excuse to separate themselves from their wives. The rest of us love our families. To the guy referencing the Air Force, the Chair Farce may all be part of Air Combat, but a fighter pilot still doesn't fly a cargo plane or vice versa. The biggest problem of not mixing experience across both platforms goes to promotion selection and the lack of ability to adequately compare and judge an applicant's ability to lead and solve problemsa when more time is spent on one platform or the other. To much stigma exists as shown by this blog.

WRT to TANG, a decent step in a direction. However:
1) As mentioned, more mixture of leadership is needed.
2) And as stated, fancy software is nothing if the hardware cannot support.
3) Also, are there any plans on some cost analysis when deciding to move forward? Our budget is getting crunched. Too much money is being spent to upgrade 5 boats. So as sailors and officers move around, as they tend to do (mostly to support detailers in ability to actually plan), they have to learn a new system which prevents efficiency. Too much cost as overhead goes into upgrading a few boats. Can you imagine if every person had to bring their computer to the store to get a new operating system or patch and pay thousands to do it? Why not insist on simplicity to allow the sailors to upload it themselves? Most computers these days tell you when a patch is available and ready to download, as well as do it themselves. Novel concept!

4) Another problem exists if none of the users know how to use the new bells & whistles, what is the point of adding them? Ex: how many tools exist in the home office suite when less than 1% of the navy know of their existence or how to use them? Why bother upgrading if it doesn't make producing a power point faster? Don't like the comparison, would you put a turbo or charger on your car if you received no additional HP or acceleration/speed? (I guess a few would do it if their car looked cooler.)

In my opinion to many of our leaders are about having a new gadget without knowing if it actually improves us or has it replaced before users fully understood the aspects the gadget was built for in the first place. The only reason to have smarter machines is to improve our efficiency or reduce required training for the operators. Do we have any metrics to support either of those to a significant degree? Additionally, if our weapons are so much smarter, what exactly are we gaining by fine tuning the solution another 1/2 of a percent? Have the boys at Contractor R US proven that to you before giving them a paycheck? Sub leaders with decision making abilities IRT R&D, let's see you hold the line instead of nagging about an incorrect number or a mispelled word in a power point. Last time I checked a power point didn't save a life, but it did allow a kid to get a dog.

I little bit of a rant, a lot on my mind at 1 AM ET. I really would like to know what the sub force thinks its getting with these upgrades vs the money spent to get them ($100 million saves us 2 seconds, yeah!). Can you publish a brief on that without risking some careers?

The brain child behind NAV ET combination would be losing the argument. I venture to guess quite a few would have placed bets on this outcome if they had the chance.

1/17/2012 11:31 PM

 
Blogger 4MC said...

Makes me smile (not really) to read all of the old school, thick headed, louder-not-smarter crowd whining at full speed. Thank God a majority of you are long gone and far far away from the submarine force.

I personally know several members from that TANG group, and even without knowing any details whatsoever, can comfortably say their inputs were surly brilliant.

So for all of you former glory grease pencil writing, eye patch wearing, loud mouths (goat locker and wardroom alike), go buy yourselves another 6-pack of Pabst or cheap bottle of sparkling wine and wait to beat your wives again when they get home from work.

1/17/2012 11:48 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"surly" and "brilliant"--two words I didn't think I'd ever see used together properly. And I still haven't.

1/18/2012 6:10 AM

 
Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

4MC -

I'm a DH, 32-yrs old and definitely grew up with technology. I'm perfectly accepting to change and improvements.
My point is, you don't give a 4th grader a graphing calculator, you make them do the work by hand in order to understand the principles. We need to return to that.
WRT the 'TANG' initiative, I'm supportive if it provides a (1) improvement in our capabilities that (2) can be deployed force wide within a few year time span and is (3) supported fully by training, hardware, technical documentation.

What I expect we'll get is a graphics heavy processor hog with little or no support.

BREAK

@Anon 1/17/2012 5:29 PM

You do need DHs on this project, at some point in the development process. While you JOOD/JOOWs are the plot coordinators, who better than me, who has been a JOOD on station AND a OOD on station to understand my data requirements.
Also, you can't discount experience across different mission areas and theaters. Not all areas utilize our equipment in the same fashion. DH's have that experience, not a bunch of JOs from the same home port.

1/18/2012 6:25 AM

 
Blogger Curt said...

I really enjoy the way we Bitch Slap each other here...

1/18/2012 6:27 AM

 
Anonymous academia-research said...

This is incredibly good

1/18/2012 7:58 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please try not to repeat the cluster fuck that happened when we went from the Mk 113 fire control system to the Mk117 fire control system for entering in the periscope bearing on final approach.

Mk 113 - flip a switch to enter the current bearing of the periscope to the fire control system (so easy even I could do it).

Mk 117 - navigate your way through several sub-menus to find the right command to send the pericope bearing to the fire control system (so fucked up I refused to learn it at sub school since I knew I was going to a Mk 113 boat)

1/18/2012 8:31 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

32 yr old DH -

That clip was about user interface design, not requirement generation. Data requirements are already spelled out (also by CSDS 12, yes?) That's why they have junior people (who actually use the equipment) participating in this exercise. The point is to understand how complex raw data can organized in a comprehensible way, not to come up with another useless task list acronym that gets ignored 70% of the time.

From the perspective of a 32-yr old who operated a DOS command line at the age of 7, transitioned from green screens to BSY-1/ARCI at 24, and worked in tech for 5 years after a top-3 MBA - this is the right way to do things. What's your opinion based on?

1/18/2012 8:36 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fancy name "TANG" and Commodore Merz's smile on the product but the process is not new.
BYG-1 was designed the same way but by more senior people. A post DH and post JO from CSDS12 with FTCSs and FTCs from both TRE teams, NUWC, and some sqdns sat down with developers for about two years to make the original fleet tested version. Every month or so the CSDS12 COS was briefed and he brought the good work to the TSCG and STRG and SOG. ...alphabet soup for leadership.
These guys combined pre and post launch displays, put all the plots on one display, enhanced PEP, made the geo manipulatable, and much more.
I do think the one thing lacking was fresh ideas as the youngest member of the group had over 10 years of submarine service.
TANG is a good idea. Nothing will be implemented without leadership buy-in and many lab trials but getting ideas from novices is worthwhile.

1/18/2012 8:42 AM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I am going to show my age here. I think the TANG approach is a good step. The SUBFORCE has done similar efforts in the past as a previous poster noted. One that I remember was taking a young ensign waiting for NUC School on board with his "dot stacking" computer program for CSDG 12 in the early seventies. It got a work out on local ops and a eighteen months later the same young officer, now nuc trained, was attached to our sub along with a much improved "dot stacking" analyzer. We took it on a mission and it worked great. A few years later, everyone was stacking dots and watching waterfall displays.

As an officer whose command tour was his only tour on an SSBN, I can say that the shift from an SSN mentality of heading toward the action to the SSBN mentality of heading away from the action was tough but managable. Actually, the SSBN routine made my fire control party very strong and we did well in the pre patrol attack centers where I could teach some SSN tactics to the SSBN folks. When matched against the SSN predeployers (AC vs AC), we generally won. I don't believe the officer paths should be split. The SUBFORCE is small enough as it is and the cross pollination is good for both the SSBN and the SSN operational climate (at least it was thirty years ago).

1/18/2012 9:28 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Although I've been out for a while, I'll jump in and say the TANG, within limits, is a damned good idea, and not just for how we stand watch, but how we do maintenance as well.

How many guys on the boats here are familiar with Dobles, Omicrons, etc? For example, time response testing SHOULD be much easier than it was back in the day, and with the right equipment (read: something from THIS century) it can be.

I'm well aware NAVSEA is still clinging to the KOG's opinion that we don't get new technology for new technology's sake, but there comes a point where technology changes so friggin fast we simply can't afford to be running reactor plants in 2012 with 1972 technology and equipment.

Get the younger guy's (and gal's) input. Implement what works, tweak or shitcan what doesn't. Viola.

1/18/2012 11:09 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

ETA: and while I was just a dumb blueshirt, I would opine that splitting officer career paths into SSN-SSGN versus SSBN is a bad idea. You'd create flag officers with no idea how to best employ one or the other, particularly in the current drawdown with very limited resources. My suggestion would be to have alternating DH/XO tours on SSN/SSBN, although the females would throw a SMALL wrench into the works. Screen for CO based on where you'd be a better fit and availability.

1/18/2012 11:14 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NHSparky--you were a nuclear-trained submarine ET, ergo, you are not dumb.

1/18/2012 12:01 PM

 
Anonymous dissertation help said...

Excellent post! Thanks a lot for sharing.

1/18/2012 2:42 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I personally know several members from that TANG group, and even without knowing any details whatsoever, can comfortably say their inputs were surly brilliant." IBAL is hands down the worst invention ever. I am angry that the taxpayers of the US had to pay the bill for this inept piece of software.

You clearly don't use the equipment you claim your friends are so brilliant at making.

1/18/2012 3:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a move to limit the amount of damage that female officers can achieve by keeping them off the real fighting boats which are the SSN's and SSGN's. In other words kick them off the SSGN's.

That suggests the integration of female submarines officers is not going very well.

1/18/2012 3:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...about splitting the submarine officer path into two separate tracks"

What else could some "higher-ups" be attempting to accomplish with this injection of submarine career uncertainty?

HINTS:

Does added uncertainty enhance, reduce or not impact near-term recruiting prospects?

If female officers are assigned mostly to SSBNs, pregnancy management becomes (select one) easier/tougher/the same during Blue-Gold shore rotations.

How many female officers assigned to SSGN/SSNs are going even to stay in the navy long enough to be promoted to a sub CO (select only one)?: More than/fewer than/ about the same as those on boomers.

Do the female recruits even know what they are really signing up for (select only one)?: Yes/ No/ Insufficient information --- What time of the month did they volunteer?

A recent court ruling seems to have come just in time for the navy.

1/18/2012 3:57 PM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Excellent discussion, but those who insist on expressing asinine misogynistic points of view need to leave the discussion to the grownups who have real things to say.

1/18/2012 5:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair comments about the added expense of putting women on subs -- particularly their dramatically lower historical retention rates -- both deserve & need to be aired out here, because you damn sure won't hear an honest and rational discussion from the Navy about this.

Why is it that Democrats' first instinct is to muzzle anyone that disagrees with them? Aren't you guys/gals/strap-ons all about the First Amendment...or is that only for those 'real' people that agree with your opinions & point of view?

1/18/2012 6:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@"I personally know several members from that TANG group, and even without knowing any details whatsoever, can comfortably say their inputs were surly brilliant." IBAL is hands down the worst invention ever. I am angry that the taxpayers of the US had to pay the bill for this inept piece of software.

You clearly don't use the equipment you claim your friends are so brilliant at making.



as a member of the TANG Forum, we did not come up with IBAL. Not many of the people at the forum even liked it and we expressed our concerns. The TANG forum help pick flaws of current systems and help get different prospectives to help make new, more effectives systems. Damn all you naysayers!!!!

1/18/2012 6:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Relax, Francis. This is the submarine force. Expect to be challenged.

For those old skins wondering what in the heck an I-BAL is, here is a public discussion of it:

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/usw/spring08/Modernization.html

1/18/2012 6:44 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Excellent discussion, but those who insist on expressing asinine misogynistic points of view need to leave the discussion to the grownups who have real things to say." -Srvd SSN CO

Are you a USNA grad, per chance?

If yes, please leave the discussion to the grownups unafraid to note gender differences that a related NASA Task Force recommended be studied. Perhaps you can tell us all why the recommended study has been buried or the results covered up.

Then again, perhaps the discussion might be too grown up for a PC weenie...

See recommendation #8 (Page F-10) of this 1997 NASA study
http://bioastroroadmap.nasa.gov/Documents/CMTF_final_rep.pdf

1/18/2012 6:49 PM

 
Anonymous APB09-TI-10 said...

The current SSN combat suite has more screen selections than "Carter has little pills" (ask your grandpa), and requires a good 2 months of dedicated full-time training to operate effectively as a team. Now some slick software guys get a TON of "development" dollars to do the out-of-the-box deal. At the end of the day, we create another bottom-up training, software and lab system to support redundancy and increase cost instead of fixing and maintaining what works. We are throwing good money away faster than anywhere in the world.

1/18/2012 7:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of those "slick software guys" work at NUWC, by the way.

Gotta justify and validate last year's people-budget, don't ya know.

1/18/2012 7:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to remain anonymous for some good reasons. Maybe I'll do some good, maybe I'll be ignored as a crank, or maybe someone will figure out who I am and my dick will get smacked. If so, oh well - that's the way it's always been in the Navy when you say unpopular things.

BYG-1 is a damned good system, especially now that the hardware and network has caught up to the outstanding software product. What the guys in the fleet aren't seeing is that it is being nit-picked, piece by piece, by civilians who have a financial interest in using different new ideas developed by their pet contractors - IBAL and CBB being the most obvious culprits here. These people, with their financial interest at the forefront and the safety of the fleet taking absolute last place in their thinking, then convince the other civilians in charge of the MTT (who haven't used a system in decades) to brainwash the fleet into using the shiny new substandard displays that are really just a poor imitation of what was already included in BYG-1 years ago. An example of this is the new replacement coming out for the stadimeter window. Stadimeter, a product that has worked in BYG-1 for a decade and is now being replaced by something that looks similar, but doesn't work half as well. Why is it being replaced? A more popular "in-crowd" contractor came along and convinced someone they could do it better, but they still can't get it right.

Another great example is the crap in that CBB tab that looks like BYG-1. It isn't BYG-1, it isn't even made by the same people, and 4 years after deployment it still doesn't work half as well as BYG-1 did - but the MTT military guys, when they try to bring this up and teach their conscience, are calibrated by their civilian leadership who are being told by their buddies to use the new stuff.

I watched a guy once, who says he was a former FT (and the guy can flat do some TMA) ask these guys if they ever did a study comparing solution generation times and accuracy between CBB centered TMA methodology and BYG-1 centered TMA methodology. He was pooh-poohed and ignored. They don't even know this stuff is better, they're just force-feeding it to the fleet because it's in their interest.

It's a cluster, and it's frustrating, and it's making the fleet less safe. A bunch of civilians are earning a hell of a profit, though.

1/18/2012 7:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boomer officers, in my observations, had ZERO tactical experience, ZERO technical competence, and an INFINITE sense of entitlement. Get rid of boomers. It's an antiquated weapons platform.

1/18/2012 7:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been a long time since I was on an SSN & SSBN, so two points:

1. Going from a JO tour on an SSBN to a DH tour on an SSN WAS an eye-opener. No, I didn't bitch about "when is off-crew?" but the condition of the ship (25yo SSN vs 5yo SSBN) and time allotted to train was a rude-awakening. TRIPER program & off-crew are two jewels not just for quality of life but to allow the everyone to train better.
Its true we didn't do cool mission stuff like on an SSN but I felt as confident with my SSBN crew if we were to go into harms way as I was with my SSN crew (tho it wasn't until after POMCERT that I felt that way about my SSN crew). SSBN life favors planner/thinker types of leaders, while SSN life favors leaders w/ instinct. Both are needed in the Navy in different capacities, IMHO.

2. For all these new systems, don't they go through OPTEVFOR? OPTEVFOR may not be a perfect filter for allowing equipment to operate in the fleet, but they're mandated by Congress (99% sure of this) and have to answer to the same (hold jokes about Congress aside, please).

And if you're REALLY passionate about the poor performance of systems entering the fleet or waste of money on these systems, why not place a call to IG or any other waste, fraud, abuse line? Can't hurt to try.....

1/18/2012 9:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best info I can find on Mariano:

http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2011/12/proceedings-pos.html

BTW...and no big surprise to anyone who knows Rhode Island...but their politicians were involved as well.

All in a day's work in Providence.

1/18/2012 9:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like IBAL was the result of seasoned submariners and civilian contractors playing amateur UI designer/software architect. Which would explain why the professionals (IDEO) are now being brought in for the Mk2 version. Anyone in the know care to verify/reject?

Ya'll should look up IDEO before you rush to judgment. They are seen as the best at what they do, and they've designed many of the products you use on a daily basis. I've seen some of their projects firsthand and they've been very impressive.

1/18/2012 10:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When are the nucs going to get input? A few buddies and I already have a huge shitlist about VIRGINIA, and it's not all "that could be in a better spot." They can start with that pos called the watertight door. Try getting through that on a steep down angle in a hurry, and I was one of the bigger guys.

1/18/2012 11:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who views boomers as an "antiquated weapons platform" has violated the old dictum of remaining silent lest you remove any doubt as to what an idiot you are.

Boomers provide a stealthy mobile platform from which to launch nuclear weapons at people. Last time I looked, that cannot be said of the missile silos. If you want to take out the boomers, you first have to find them - whereas the missile silos are a stationary hole in the ground that is not likely to move around much.

Bombers are mobile like the boomers but have the disadvantage of having to fly to their targets in order to drop their bombs, so they can be defended against.

So if boomers are so good, why do we have the other two legs of the nuclear triad? Simple - redundancy and an aversion to putting all of our nuclear eggs in one basket.

Boomers are not going away anytime soon.

1/19/2012 6:23 AM

 
Blogger Henson said...

"boomers are not going away any time soon."

At an estimated $9 Billion a pop to replace, I wouldn't count my chickens before the Ohio's get retired...

1/19/2012 7:05 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are everyone’s thoughts on the possibility of changing/improving the officer career path?
How would you make it better?

1/19/2012 8:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS that load mouthed SOB Mariano still working for NUWC? I've seen him bully sailors and civilians alike for many years. Lock him up.

1/19/2012 10:09 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Land based ICBM's does not imply "fixed launchers". The Soviets had railway cars from which to launch their ICBM's. Nothing much preventing us from doing the same thing and scrapping the Ohio replacement.

You could buy a lot of railroad trains for $9 billion.

The reason SSBN's will still be around probably owes to Rickover's ghost rather than to some imaginary inability to hide a few hundred mobile missile launchers inside a country as big as the US.

Besides if you want to talk about an obsolete weapons platform "manned strategic bomber" is more of an anachronism than the SSBN.

1/19/2012 10:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The TANG concept is interesting. The younger crowd probably will want to make it more video-game-like, including more visually intensive displays. That could present significant problems for dinosaurs over the age of 30. Back in the day, when fire control systems went from line-of-sight diagrams to stacking dots, COs didn't know what they were looking at. As a result, software modules had to be created to give the COs a line-of-sight diagram to check for comfort level before they pulled the trigger. I envision similar problems with TANG. Two other problems with dinosaurs, they don't multi-task very well (when compared to average 20-year-old gamer types) and dinosaurs typically don't process information as quickly as those average 20-year-old gamer types."

1/17/2012 4:18 PM

Interesting statement with a lot of truth behind it. Back when the USN Sub service was shoved into WW2, the training the CO's had back then was to be cautious and fire weapons from PD. It took a year and a lot of pruning to get rid of the "dinosaurs" to get the younger, more aggressive officer's into the command slots.

1/19/2012 11:56 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Railroad trains are mobile only along their tracks and, thus, are much simpler to predict, track, and attack than an SSBN. Also, I don't think we really would want ICBMs rolling around the countryside, not to mention the political fallout from even suggesting to study such a course of action.

1/19/2012 2:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alhough I never served on an SSBN, slow SSNs and old SSBNs back in the day relied heavily on the geo plot. If you got an SSBN guy who had worked the geo plot regularly, the guy typically could extract tons of information from that plot. To the extent that counts toward an evaluation of tactical experience, many of the SSBN guys were pretty good.

1/19/2012 2:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The JO to DH transition is a bitch, no matter what side of the equation you're on.

Guess what? Most SSN JO's suck initially as SSBN DH's too. It's difficult to do something different from what you're used to, and takes some getting used to. Get over it.

1/19/2012 3:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS that (loud) mouthed SOB Mariano still working for NUWC? I've seen him bully sailors and civilians alike for many years. Lock him up.

The FBI is hard at work on that.

For those not familiar with the story, Mariano was a civilian program manager and systems engineer at NUWC Newport who has been charged with embezzling $10-20 million dollars via various small contractor kickback schemes. The money went to Mariano, his father, his girlfriend and -- per an earlier link here -- also politicians in Rhode Island, one of whom last name rhymes with "Kennedy."

Ralph singlehandedly caused NUWC Newport to lose all of its contracting authority for some time (now restored)...a very big deal then, considering that's pretty much 90% of their job.

Of course, the course of events put a bit of a crimp in Marianos lifestyle, cash-flow-wise. He found an alternative to that by way of making $100,000 on the slots ("I'm shocked...shocked!" at his luck) at the local casino. The presiding judge made that avenue of income go away as a condition of bail.

The last news I've seen on the situation says that three of three accused of bribery have pled guilty, and that Ralph is still pleading innocent.

This is all taking place in "Wode I-wand," so it's anyone's guess as to how it'll all play out.

But suffice it to say that yes, Virginia...there has apparently been some of that there fraud thing at NUWC Newport.

As a first-hand witness of Ralph's style, yes, I'd agree that there was more than a tad of attempt at bullying in his style. Aside from the fact that he's kind of a runt, as a former nuke sub officer I found that fairly easy to diffuse at the time whenever he even thought of pulling that crap on me.

Not happy or sad to see Ralph being sized up for a striped suit, but life is pretty simple, after all: TSSBP. And Ralph was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

1/19/2012 3:49 PM

 
Anonymous ew-3 said...

Question from a skimmer -

You sub guys take great pride in earning your dolphins as you should.

But if someone earns their dolphins on an SSN they know ever system inside out.

If after serving on an SSN what happens if you go to an SSBN ? Are you still qualed? The systems are likely very different.

1/19/2012 10:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EW-3,
You re-qual within 6 months on
each boat you report to by requalifying your senior watchstation.


hagar

1/19/2012 10:50 PM

 
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1/20/2012 2:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EW-3,

I went from an SSN to SSBN and had to do the entire qual card. It was worth it because it also helped with DCPO/COW/DOOW requals.

There are some different systems, things work different (can't train that darn outboard and how do you flood negative?)and valve numbers vary. Definately need to know that when checking tagouts, DC, giving qual checkouts, etc.

Retired ANAV

1/20/2012 6:52 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Joel, can you start a thread on how things are going for the boats with the female officers? I ask because you never hear anything either way until well after the fact. I for one would be interested to here first hand about either it has been no big deal or there are issues. If there are issues how are they being dealt with.

1/20/2012 8:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is pretty much a comms blackout on anything concerning the girls onboard.

I hear stuff privately from friends but won't post it (positive or negative) because of the strong chance of big Navy going after someone.

For now, this will work because failure is NOT an option. It is what it is.

1/20/2012 8:36 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Even if it fails miserably? Look, I'm not one of those hoping the whole program goes away based on one of them making one stupid decision or unprofessional act, but I personally am not holding my breath, either.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and if it's failing, we need to know. If it's succeeding, we need to know.

1/20/2012 8:40 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interested in Navy Scuttlebutt ... Check this out.

http://navyscuttlebutt.blogspot.com/

1/20/2012 12:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suppose you were stuck with having female officers on subs because it is a widely publicized political decision from the president on down, but later found out their actual performance is failing badly. How would you limit the damage they can do? First you would create a wall of silence around the boats that have the females. Then you would need a long-term a plan to pull them off the kinds of boats that fire their weapons: create a plan to yank them off of SSGN's, and (quietly) make sure they never get on SSN's. But to avoid a public relations disaster, you would also need to hide it in plain sight by making it a small part of a much bigger change, calling it something different, like for instance "splitting the submarine officer career path".

1/20/2012 1:16 PM

 
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1/20/2012 1:17 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how about the "Design"....

Is it making the force better?

Thoughts?

1/20/2012 6:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is it making the force better?"

Is that even an entering arguement?

1/20/2012 9:32 PM

 
Anonymous ew-3 said...

Thanks guys.

Color me impressed.

ew-3

1/21/2012 10:11 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[quote]What are everyone’s thoughts on the possibility of changing/improving the officer career path?
How would you make it better?[/quote] In what way are you aiming to 'improve' it?

If "improve" means produce more competent, experienced senior officers, the answer is to make every JO and DH split-tour -- 2 years on SSN or SSBN, go to PNEO, then 2 years on the other platform. DH would also do 2 and 2, attend some kind of career schooling between the two ships.

Before people scoff at that, the average CO of a submarine will have spent a little less than half of his career at a sea tour. The rest is spent on shore duty or at TRACOM.

However, that would create JO and DH sea tours in excess of 48 months. The effect on mannning and pumping Officers up to Command at Sea will never allow for this. They are actually shortening DH tours now so that Big Navy can solve the over-manning we have at this point.

1/21/2012 11:06 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're seriously going to put a bunch of women in charge of ending the world?

Really problematic idea from a logistics standpoint. As the sub force shrinks, small hiccups in officer pipeline flow (school delays, medical losses, etc) will have a increasingly large effect on boat manning (smaller surge tank). Now you're going to cut the force into two smaller forces, making things even worse.

In an ideal world where there are plenty of hulls to go around, specialization actually makes a lot of sense from a capabilities developing perspective. The sub force is not in that ideal world. Honestly most of the work can be done by robots, and the decisionmakers are starting to act accordingly.

1/21/2012 12:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't want to go into too much detail here, obviously--but I'm a former submariner and now working as a contractor developing some of the systems currently being deployed in the fleet. (Which, again, I won't name.)

We're getting a black eye in this comment thread, some of it deserved, yeah, but some of it undeserved. The vast majority of us in the field are former sailors ourselves, we're not making the big bucks like you might think, and we're genuinely interested in providing the best product we can to the fleet. We get just as frustrated now when something doesn't work as we did when something didn't work while we were in.

Unfortunately, overall, the development and delivery of new systems is very complex... and I can tell you that we--as contractors--are not the ones making the go/no-go call. System requirements are largely driven by Navy (yes, primarily civilians at NUWC) and schedules are driven by fleet availability.

Does this mean sometimes stuff makes it out to the fleet that isn't quite ready for primetime? Absolutely. Obviously we're not going to deliver anything that is egregiously broken, but there is a very complex system of checks and balances--between Navy and individual contractors--in the test and integration field that takes place before anything gets delivered. However, I will tell you that when it comes down to making a schedule... I hate to say it, but that system breaks down. I don't like it. None of us who served on a boat likes it.

As much as anyone, I wish we could slow down a bit. I don't think the fleet needs every latest and greatest feature that comes up in each new delivery. I wish we could stop for a while, make everything we have out there BETTER, and then move on.

In short, though--and I guess this isn't that short anymore--I just wanted to say that we're not always the ones making these decisions.

1/21/2012 9:48 PM

 
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1/22/2012 7:04 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "smaller surge tank" comment is right on the money. When the talent pool gets shallower, every individual becomes more important and every personnel hiccup becomes a bigger deal. Flexibility in manning is a critical element that needs to be carefully considered.

For example, in the mid-1980s, the Australian Navy had only six submarines. Their CO candidates go to the Perisher course, which they must pass, so the Aussies always sent extra candidates to allow for some failures. One year, however, something like 5 of their 6 candidates failed the course. So they had COs that needed to rotate ashore to fill more senior billets, but no one to relieve them of command. So they extended command tours and even brought at least one former CO back out of retirement. But the effects of that problem were felt for several years.

1/22/2012 8:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone can waste money on stuff that doesn't work it is NUWC Newport.

Newport is interested in only one thing and that is Newport.

People were hoping Wears would clean some of the mess up but he appears to be ineffective and too worried about his next job.

1/22/2012 9:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would you break out individual groups for being CO’s it limits your pool SEVERLY. I have a better idea. How about we TRAIN our Jo’s properly when we first get them and put the time in to make them Dept Heads. The problem is JO’s do not learn to be Dept Heads ½ through there Dept Head tour. Why is that?? Because senior leadership is afraid and lazy to make time to think ahead. The Marine Corps teaches its people 1 rank ahead so when the role of Company Commander (i.e. Dept Head) they can function well. As far as women on boats. The senior leadership decidied to let them be onboard well they should be able to compete on SSN/SSBN/SSGN and if they cant cut it then they go home just like any other JO. I fail to see why limiting out talent pool. That is what makes the SUBMARINE FORCE THE BEST our ability to adapt and pull personnel from any place and fill in a void.

Whether the Officer detailing looks at the prior platforms Im not sure. But it does not good to have a JO that has only done Boomers or done shipyards on an SSN. These are all things that should be looked at. As one person posted:

ETA: and while I was just a dumb blueshirt, I would opine that splitting officer career paths into SSN-SSGN versus SSBN is a bad idea. You'd create flag officers with no idea how to best employ one or the other, particularly in the current drawdown with very limited resources. My suggestion would be to have alternating DH/XO tours on SSN/SSBN, although the females would throw a SMALL wrench into the works. Screen for CO based on where you'd be a better fit and availability.
Hit the nail on the head.

1/22/2012 9:03 PM

 
Blogger Henson said...

The 2nd anonymous contractor who posted a defense of those of us working to make things better has made some good points. Full disclosure - I'm one of those horrible vilified contractors myself, also in the test/integration field.

This is a really complicated engineering problem, and the necessity of caring about information assurance (rather than just paying it lip service like we used to) makes it just that much more complicated. There are several different companies making several different products that all have to work together perfectly to guarantee ship safety and self-protect functions, and getting those interfaces right - and keeping them up to date with new technological standards - requires a lot of man hours and a lot of thought.

He's also right when he says that we're constrained by requirements that the Navy creates and maintains. I think in the current iteration of fire control there's something like 8000 or 9000 individual technical requirements that all need to be tested and verified within a tight schedule. Sonar has to have at least twice that. The contracters build precisely what the Navy asks for, no more and no less. We have things that we would like to see implemented that fall out of favor, and things about the system that we hate which are seen as important by the Navy customer. That's just the nature of the business.

I'm getting long-winded, but it's really unfair to lay the blame for whatever perceived weaknesses there are in the system in the lap of the contractors. I can't speak for everyone, but a huge number of the people you're complaining about are submarine veterans, and many of us have friends still in the fleet that we are sending to sea with the systems we build and test. Do you really believe we're conspiring to deliver substandard and dangerous junk?

If you see problems with the system (or with the training and/or concept of operations) please feed that back to NUWC and the Navy civilians responsible for making things better. They care, and we care. We just can't wave a magic wand and make things better if we don't know what the perceptions are.

1/22/2012 9:24 PM

 
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1/23/2012 12:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the former contractors who are now submariners: I know that you care about your service, its in the nature of earning dolphins that you will continue to care, & its the reason the US submarine force has the best combat systems in the world, even within our own Navy. For those of you who have not gone to sea in the last decade, or with these systems they are truly amazing. This from someone who has gone to sea only with these systems.

However... I believe that we have bought so completely into the evolutionary nature of these systems that occasionally the incremental improvements of these systems change something was fundamental. Without being specific I think there must have been some certain basic decisions (mostly display & physical layout related) made back in the Q5 days that still apply but get forgotten or diminished in the evolutionary process. Much like the basic width of modern vehicles & trains was first sent by the width needed for a two horse team. Some basics need to remain because they are fundamental to the basic process.

1/23/2012 6:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction to above: "To the former submariners who are not contractors:"

1/23/2012 6:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you mean "who are NOW contractors"

1/23/2012 6:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off-topic (OT): Idaho nuclear facilities, plutonium and Rickover's name all being droppped today.

Link: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/01/23/rockybarker/sobering_report_places_responsibility_plutonium_contamination_id

Nowhere near as bad as what happened to Denver back in the day, but I thouht it worthy of an honorable mention here.

1/23/2012 9:46 PM

 
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

SSN LT refused to go back as a SSBN dept head. I would go out of my mind from the boredom. I wouldnt say create a separate career path, but dont require everyone to cross over. Although it was quite entertaining to have a dept. head ask me in private, "Do they treat you guys this bad all the time?", my response "Fast Attack Tough" and I smiled as well.

SSN people largely have a somewhat sadistical mindset where they like long work hours in port, doing stuff, and more ownership of their equipment even though it requires more time to fix it. Its a larger sense of pride and accomplishment to some extent.

Meanwhile the former JO-SSBN dept heads I was sent, I worked circles around tactically and repeatedly had to remind them that even though the boat was different, the laws of nuclear physics still applied. Not all were bad, 2 out of 6 of mine were ones that were great leaders, meanwhile the other 4 were part of the problem (scolding JO's in front of the crew, Cheifs in front of the enlisted, and giving out bad LOK...I was trained to read the book (RPM/SSM) for a reason or go ask Chief).

1/24/2012 9:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Giving people the opportunity to do something that they enjoy i.e. SSN/SSBN/SSGN mission at your choosing is a good idea, though actual implementation is likely to prove more difficult.

I do understand the belief in familiarity of one platform and mission, but regardless the boats are so different nowadays a standard level of adaptability is expected.

1/24/2012 9:58 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The boat I was on had new sonar and fire control onboard that we didnt have manuals for or they were incomplete. The new stuff we didnt want and repeatedly crashed during inopportune times...can you say sphere goes down on approach to PD?

1/24/2012 10:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...Does this mean sometimes stuff makes it out to the fleet that isn't quite ready for primetime? Absolutely. Obviously we're not going to deliver anything that is egregiously broken...". Clearly you didn't go to sea with TI-06 APB-06 the way I did. Factory trainers flat out lied to us about system and parts reliability.

Do I believe most of the contractors guys mean well? Nope. I believe most want to get paid. Too many have forgotten they had anchors on their collars at one time and do not mind having tunnel vision. Worse, the decision makers in charge (contractors) are maliciously compliant with how they execute the government contract to the letter when it suits them to wring more money out of their next government contract to fix broken stuff from the current one. Then plead nothing but excuses when they can't evade flat out substandard software/hardware. There are some who try very hard and are well intentioned, but they are in the minority. Over time, corporate greed infects most.

1/24/2012 9:47 PM

 
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"corporate greed" is what creates innovation. It's why Apple sold billions in the tablet market, Android doubled its share of smartphone holders in a year, and consumers are inundated with new, working technology that they didn't even imagine, but now can't live without.

The problem isn't corporate greed, per se. The problem is the way the US Gubment does business and the way they dictate design specifications. The F-35 program is exemplary of this. They wanted a jet that could do it all and be used across 3 different services for completely different mission areas. As a result, it was delayed repeatedly because its impossible to meet all the contradictory design specifications.

1/25/2012 4:36 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are some who try very hard and are well intentioned, but they are in the minority. Over time, corporate greed infects most."

Is that so? Tell us, my friend: is this from your own direct, knowledge-filled experience as a government contractor...or are you talking out of something besides your piehole?

Am hearing a lot of NUWC-ish talk in your language. Comet to think of it, Ralph Mariano used to talk just like that...before he was indicted for embezzling $10-20 million from the U.S. taxpayers.

1/25/2012 10:55 AM

 
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1/25/2012 1:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I am still active duty. But I interfaced with multiple contractors and installers on my last two boats for multiple faulty installs and upgrades as well as going to LM for factory training. Some contractors were better than others but the majority worked only to the narrow boundaries of their contracts. When the well intentioned contractor tells me the install plan and system design is flawed but his supervisors won't approve a LAR or admit fault or even consider a design change for other boats when an easy solution exists - there is a problem with the system.

1/25/2012 5:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The decisions about what fixes to authorize and what to leave in place until a new APB comes out are not made by contractors. They are made by the Navy. The contractors generally recommend that ALL fixes be approved, because they get paid for those fixes. It is the Navy which decides to leave stuff broken, because redelivery of a delivered system is hugely expensive. Sorry, but that cost isn't going to be covered because a button on your screen flashed on and off when the boat passed 200'. There has to be a real operational impact that is seen when the boat is following guidance properly.

Once a system is delivered, the contractors are not allowed to send out a new software build with an unapproved fix, no matter how much they may want to. It's not that these guys you're so disgusted with don't want to fix stuff. It's that, once a build is approved and tested for a boat, that's it. It can't be changed without going through that hugely expensive testing and redelivery process again. They are not allowed to fix anything for your boat unless a new build or, if it's important enough (which isn't likely), a patch is approved by - wait for it - the Navy. Kinda like you guys aren't supposed to do "sailor alts," right?

Really, some of you guys just don't live in reality. It's popular to crap on contractors, but the real problem lies in the lap of clueless and/or corrupt Navy civilians. There is a committed cadre of smart guys at NUWC who care about the product and how useful it is to the fleet, but they tend to become uninvited to important meetings really quickly after sharing any unpopular or unapproved opinions.

And no, spending a couple weeks with NUWC installers doesn't make you an expert on the reality of these contracts.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am hearing a lot of NUWC-ish talk in your language. Comet to think of it, Ralph Mariano used to talk just like that...before he was indicted for embezzling $10-20 million from the U.S. taxpayers."

Charmed, I'm sure... Am I to infer from your tone that all NUWC Employees are Ralphs-in-the-making? Isn't that a bit like saying, if one sailor is convicted of rape, they must all be like that??

Fortunately, I do not believe that 'all sailors are like that'. I respect the vast majority of United States sailors for the oath they have taken and the multitude of sacrifices that they have made, and I don't let the failures of the few, tarnish the many in my eyes.

1/26/2012 7:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a timeless submarine force initiative:

Sailors belong on boats. Boats belong at sea.

1/26/2012 11:26 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And no, spending a couple weeks with NUWC installers doesn't make you an expert on the reality of these contracts.". Most recently It was a DMP and i only wish it was a few weeks instead of the fourteen months from start to finish. I never said I was an expert but I know what I saw and experienced first hand. SPAWAR did an investigation afterwards because some of the CONTRACTOR work was so shoddy. Have a nice cup of stfu.

1/26/2012 4:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. I won't shut up, because what you wrote is obviously wrong to anyone who knows better. Combat system installs do not happen in the shipyard unless it is for a new construction, and I'm not even 100% sure about them. They happen afterwards - different pot of money. They also do not take anywhere NEAR 18 months.

And no, shipyard employees are not contractors. Take the subject of who actually runs the shipyards as a lookup, and then have the character to feel some embarrassment for your rudeness.

Also, the NUWC installers? They don't build the system. They don't integrate or test the system. They don't develop fixes for the system. They're not involved in any way. They are installers. They follow an installation checklist and procedure that is generated by others who know the systems a lot better than they do. Completely separate contract, and if they're unwilling to write up problems you (or they) see with the system, they are lazy and are not doing their jobs. Knowing these guys, though, I kinda doubt that. I've seen some of the problem reports they write up, and there's good stuff in there. Heck, even the MTT will usually go out of its way to alert the program offices of problems, and they don't really have an iron in the fire.

So, once again, spending a few weeks listening to some installers gripe about stuff they don't understand does not make you an expert on these contracts. Neither does the universally crappy shipyard experience, one I myself shared about a decade ago. I'm sorry you went through DMP. They suck, especially if you were at PSNS. Coulda been worse - could've refueled.

1/26/2012 6:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listen. You are talking out of your ass. The ARCI / BYG-1 upgrades can and DO occur during DMP's. Different pot of $ or not. TSMS, WSQ-9, as well as other CS systems. We had PSNS, EB, NUWC, NNSY, LM, SPAWAR, and others all working on the boat in Pearl at various times of the DMP. Pretty much from start to finish once world power was down. Some systems only took a few weeks individually, but in aggregate the interaction with contractors was a lengthy amount of time not measured in weeks. I have never said I was an expert on contracts even though you keep trying to say otherwise. I can say the contract system is partially broken and favors the contractor.

1/26/2012 9:22 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're talking past each other. Most of that is because I got defensive - I can't imagine why, since you basically called all of us thieves who conspire to sell substandard crap. I'll end the snark, though, because it accomplishes nothing.

That aside, read carefully what I told you the other day. When a system is delivered to a boat, it has been put through a series of lengthy and expensive test periods that start at the contractors' facilities and continue at NUWC, all the way up to post-install verification on board the ship. Because of the way NAVSEA manages its engineering processes, once that is done and the software is delivered, it cannot be redelivered until that several weeks-long testing process happens again.

What you're not seeing behind the scenes is this: Maybe a specific problem isn't found until it is installed on the boat, with all of those real world interfaces on board that can't completely be emulated in testing. If it doesn't case a problem for ship safety or self protect functions, the boat that finds the problem may never see a fix for it - but the other boats that are getting that system installed later WILL see the fix. On the other hand, if it is a big enough problem, the Navy will spend the money to patch the issue and push it out to the boats as fast as possible, but even that will likely take months to accomplish because of all of the testing this stuff has to go through to make sure the "fix" won't kill people.

What is fixed, and when it is fixed, is not decided by the contractors. It is decided by the program offices who control the money. They prioritize this stuff, and just because you think something is annoying doesn't mean Captain Whoever at the program office will agree that we should spend 6 figures to fix it immediately.

Frankly, I think the process works pretty well. My frame of reference is coming from watching how CCS Mk2 B1C came to the fleet. I had the same gripes as a Sailor then that you do now. That process took FOREVER, and there's still problems with that system that will never be fixed. BYG-1 and ARCI, on the other hand, if there's a problem - even something that's just a minor annoyance - it's fixed in (at the latest) the next APB a year down the road. Does it suck that not every boat in the fleet gets that fix? Yeah, but it's a heck of a lot better than it used to be, and it's a great way to maximize fixes while still minimizing system risk. It's risky to patch stuff. You start fiddling with complicated software and the Law of Unintended Consequences invariably rears its head with three more problems that your "fix" has caused. The Navy can't justify that risk with platforms that are deploying unless the problem truly is a safety of ship issue.

I'm not trying to be mean to you, and I'm not giving excuses. I'm explaining to you why this stuff seems to move so slowly. If it were up to the contractors, we'd just fly down and patch your stuff as soon as the fix was in hand, but that Navy - rightly - demands a higher standard.

1/26/2012 10:58 PM

 
Anonymous Post VA class NAV said...

I doubt this is ever read by that many people. However the argument at the end of this blog has pointed out the biggest problem (which I wrote about ealier). Knowledge Value Added (KVA) is a comparison of money spent versus the actual change of output. The output can be time saved either by completing a task faster by trained person or allowing an untrained individual to complete the same task. Tax software is a great example. $30-$60 spent so the normal person doesn't have to read the entire tax code to take advantage of write-offs, since the questions are asked.

Where is the study which shows the output given from each upgrade versus the money spent to achieve the upgrade? How many boats have the same builds of software in our SSN fleet, the primary concern with SONAR and Fire Control (After all the SSBNs use it primarily to avoid getting run over. SSBNs play SSN, but that is a bunch of crap whether anyone can truly admit that. -prior SSBN JO)?

Based on few boats (5-10) having the same installs/builds, it is harder to keep software from having bugs since each boat is so different. Additionaly you have to track each build and the type of bugs each is getting to solve separately. What does that cost? How much better are the boats with APB08 vs APB04. Can anyone show that anywhere? Example: APB08 provides a system solution within 10% accuracy of actual contact solution using 25% less time than APB04? Solutions still rely on recording 'X' observations to determine a solution. So the time to conduct 2 or 3 TMA legs does not change. Some boats are outfitted with better equipment. The wide aperature array is great, sometimes, and not all SSNs have one.

So our root problem is: the upgrades give a bell or whistle for a handful of crew members to know about and understand or a display change without really accomplishing anything useful or important (tracking a target or putting ordanance on target) and noone in the leadership of the Navy actually understand this principle. Therefore, the upgrade equal a waste of money on behalf of the Navy, fitrep bullets for desision makers in the process, and money in the pockets (or jobs) of contractors.

Again, I give the analogy, would you spend your OWN money to add a supercharger to YOUR car if no added acceleration or velocity is provided? NOOOOOO!!!!! What would be the point? Also, you don't insert more RAM or replace a the processor in a computer if it isn't going to be faster.

Can any contractors actually say the software you work on or install are significantly better than the previous one? I realize how complex it is to get software written and working, and thus the root cause of millions spent for no real benefit.

Last point/question - Have any of the collisions in recent history ever had a lesson learned stating: had the boat receieved the next software upgrade for SONAR or fire control, the collision would have been avoided?

1/28/2012 2:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BYG-1 uses spiral development, and does get measurably better over time, because most of their process is geared toward enhancement, not alteration. They're also the contractor out there who is most resistant to reinventing the wheel with every new APB cycle and has tried very hard to keep the same basic look and feel for nearly a decade now.

How are they thanked for this stability by the in crowd at APB? They get ignored, and the fleet is taught not to use their proven effective tools in favor of using the shiny new unproven (and largely unstable) tools.

The APB process keeps trucking along, Sonar looks completely different - and even more incomprehensible - every other year, and BYG-1/PMS425/GD-AIS slowly becomes the Rodney Dangerfield of the community because they refuse to sacrifice "effective" at the altar of "new."

The Australians sure love that system though. In fact, they've kept all the useful stuff the USN tore out, and improved on a bunch of it. If I was going to Best Buy to purchase a submarine CCS, I'd buy the one General Dynamics sells the Royal Australian Navy.

1/28/2012 7:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The argument against the "our current stuff is good enough" point is that it's been 70 years since submarine combat systems were last tested in an environment where nuclear subs are actually needed. Think multi-ship/multiple-weapons in engagements in restricted waters).

If PD trips and 3 knots to nowhere are your threshold for "good enough" combat systems, then even current warships and systems are needlessly overpowered. (And there's a strong argument for that.)

Would agree that this TANG stuff really isn't going to make a difference to current missions. But if a shooting war breaks out in the Pacific in 20 years, 10-15 VA class subs with combat systems like these could come in very handy.

1/29/2012 11:26 AM

 
Anonymous Jim Houston said...

I wholeheartedly agree with splitting the two out. I saw way too many DHs, XOs and COs with nary a clue how fast attacks operated, how to conduct USW, how to conduct ISR. I would submit that some of the mistakes you see guys making and the unwillingness of some ship-drivers to properly assess and take risks would be rectified by keeping fast attack guys on fast attacks the whole time. I can't speak for boomers (I was on four fast attacks). But it seems that their mission and capabilities (as sailors) are very different. I always thought it was detrimental to the force to mix the two anyway...

1/31/2012 8:39 AM

 
Blogger Henson said...

It would be nice if everyone could recognize that the contractors are not just people, not just engineers, but almost all veterans of the silent service ourselves.

This thread has seen some discussion among those of us who work on these systems. It was described as, among other things, depressing. Airing some of the petty politics here doesn't represent the community well, Navy civilian side or contractor side. It's a bit late to dam that waterfall, though, isn't it?

1/31/2012 3:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scamming $10-20 million is 'petty politics'...? Seriously?

1/31/2012 7:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ex Nav...

Actually as far as the sonar system goes, there are several measures of effectiveness. In fact there is a program at Johns Hopkins that is specifically designed to ensure that the APB process adds value.

Another measure is overall cost. In the days of legacy sonar systems it would take an entire rebuild to improve the system that the ship was built with. Legacy systems were hardware based, vice todays software based systems. The cost to upgrade at all was prohibitive and often ships were decommisioned with the same mainframe suite that they were built with. When we came up with ARCI in the 90's the cost to upgrade was miniscule and the upgrade in processing capability was incredible. In fact the ARCI program was the first large scale use of COTS hardware/software in the military and was one of the best innovations in military aquisition in our time. Even with the APB/TI process using COTS through a ships lifetime (with continual upgrades) costs about 25% of what a single upgrade used to cost. So the measure of savings there is pretty amazing.

To be sure there are bugs in the system and always room for improvements. To be honest, we couldn't leave a system in place more than about 6 years because of the shelf life and availability of the hardware. So we are driven by circumstance to continually develop.

One may think that is bad, however, with rapid technology development, we would be doing it anyways to stay ahead of competitors. Another point is we are required to expand our architecture to meet expanding missions and integrate emerging technology (we hadnt even heard of AIS 8 years ago).

The process you see in the TANG video is another way to quickly change the way that we interface with the systems and it is also incredibly cheap.

I have been part of one of the working groups (active duty) for several months and have NEVER seen such rapid development. The focus is on effectiveness and ease of use.

As I explained before, we have no choice but to upgrade, we might as well do it smartly. By including young fleet operators in the process alongside with very seasoned senior leaders, we are developing some revolutionary controls.

Then what is the measure of effectiveness? Well it may (or may not be) detection ranges. It may be operator's ability to sit down and self teach himself operations, or even the systems ability to teach him the fundamentals that our training process has failed to do.

We have hit some rough spots in development in the past, but there are ways that shortfalls are fed back (you know those damn enclosures that you have write...) and developers use them. In the 70's, systems were tested for YEARS and still were delivered with bugs...but you had to live with them, at least now we can get them fixed pretty rapidly.

The bottom line is the cost here is small and the gains great. 10 years ago you had green screens, 3 sensors and 4-8 trackers. Today there are no such limitations, some ships have upwards of 10 sensors feeding fire control. We operate in places we wouldn't dream of going in the 80's, at an OPTEMPO that no one could imagine, and we have much greater abilities than we ever had.

2/02/2012 8:09 PM

 
Anonymous write my essay said...

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2/03/2012 4:33 AM

 
Blogger M.S said...

I can easily see where advanced 3-D image processing abilities could help out when it comes to full situational awareness (SVP profile, ocean 'fronts', bottom topography, etc.) ...regardless of one's age.

But relying on 'gamers' to actually come up with something useful just because they're gamers seems a bit of a stretch...also regardless of one's age.

And as to multitasking: that is precisely how costly mistakes get made. Period. Just ask the captain of that Italian cruise ship who was trying to juggle show-'n-tell at the same time he was navigating Med' rocks. Ditto for the USS Greenville skipper who harpooned Ehime Maru while trying to impress VIPs (like they had a clue) with the very low, warrior-like profile of 'scope exposure he used.

Life is hard, but it's harder when you're stupid...and TSSBP


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2/20/2012 1:02 PM

 
Blogger M.S said...

That would be a dumb idea, I agree that SSBN CO should not be your first tour on one. That doesn't mean you need to split the force to make that happen. How about JO or DH on one before serving as XO or CO. That way you have a viable submarine force capable of handling any assignment on any submarine.



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2/22/2012 9:23 PM

 
Blogger D.A.P said...

VA Loan Refinancedispensing gunsAs an officer whose command tour was his only tour on an SSBN, I can say that the shift from an SSN mentality of heading toward the action to the SSBN mentality of heading away from the action was tough but managable. Actually, the SSBN routine made my fire control party very strong and we did well in the pre patrol attack centers where I could teach some SSN tactics to the SSBN folks. When matched against the SSN predeployers (AC vs AC), we generally won. I don't believe the officer paths should be split. The SUBFORCE is small enough as it is and the cross pollination is good for both the SSBN and the SSN operational climate (at least it was thirty years ago).

2/23/2012 2:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the proposal to split the submarine officer path... well what's new about that? Back in the early 70's, when I served on SSBN-624, and then SSN-639, it was VERY clear that the Sub Service had a split personality. Yes, there was a divide between SSN's and SSBN's in about every area, all based on the mission definition of each platform type. This split personality included both the officer and enlisted communities. SSBN enlisteds were more often family men, a bit older, who seemed to prefer the predictable routine of planned patrol cycles and dual crews. SSN enlisteds were typically single, younger, and were ready for anything and the more challenging the spec. op., the better it was! Looking back, from an enlisted perspective, it seemed as though the SSBN Officers I served under had perfect personalities for that duty. Like their enlisted shipmates, most were a little older, married, conservative, and methodical. On the other hand, the SSN Officers I new and served were mostly younger, unmarried, innovative and quick thinking... definitely had "aggressive" mind sets... again similar to their enlisted shipmates. My SSBN CO was a senior and staid O-6 who had multiple command tours... all on SSBN's. I can't imagine him performing well on 639. Conversely I can't imagine either of the two 639 CO's (one a very junior O-5), I knew, surviving on 624 without going stir crazy! Whether unintentionally by natural selection or intentionally via a selection board, the officer paths in reality were split back then. It worked. Always good, our Submarine Service during the height of the Cold War was vastly superior to ANY other sub force of the era.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

All very confusing. I experienced enough culture shock in going from the 571 boat, to the 659 boat and sub safe even.
Now it's gonna be women on the boats and what path who is gonna take and all that other strange stuff.

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