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, May 25, 2013

What Makes A Good Submarine CO?

Recently, a series of articles in the online edition of Time got me thinking about what makes a good CO. The articles don't directly address the topic, but they make one think about the mindset, attitudes, and morals of submarine COs. The articles are here, here, and here, for those who want to read them. An additional post by a sometime TSSBP commenter is here.

*** IMPORTANT ADMIN NOTE: It's likely that some of you will be able to figure out which former CO is being discussed. That's not the point of this post, and any comments speculating on the identity of said CO will be deleted. ***

As we all know, some COs are jerks, some are nice guys, and most are somewhere in between. We can see which type(s) are rated as most successful by the current Navy hierarchy by seeing who gets the Squadron command and eventual flag slots after their command tours. In generally, the absolute jerks and the "nice" guys don't do well -- it's the middle-of-the-road guys who are most likely to get their own flag aide to pick up their dry cleaning. My question is: Are the kind of officers we're selecting for command the right kind of COs we'd need were we to go to war?

At the beginning of WWII, the U.S. Submarine Force, to be honest, didn't do very well. Sure, our torpedoes were sub-optimal and we hadn't developed the tactics that would eventually win the war, but the existing batch of COs in December 1941 tended to be too timid and didn't press home the attack on the enemy. Only when they were replaced by young, sometimes hard-drinking and partying firebrands did we successfully wage war on the Japanese Empire.

Are we that way today? Are the "young firebrands" of today's force being passed over for command, or leaving the Navy early? Would we pay the price were we to find ourselves in a submarine war in the near future. I'm going to answer the last question first: I don't think so. Our technological supremacy for the foreseeable future (next 10-15 years) is so formidable that we'd still easily defeat any potential enemy. It just might take us a couple of weeks longer than it might if we had more aggressive COs, but we'd be less likely to lose a boat.

So that brings be back to the original question in the previous paragraph -- is the NR-dominated CO selection process and the "zero defect" policy of firing COs at the drop of a hat making us too timid in submarine operations? Have we forgotten that sometimes you "want a man with a tattoo on his dick" to do the job? Or are the people who can't live by the Navy Core Values not trustworthy enough to be given the responsibility of command in the modern world?

The original linked articles described, from one side, a CO who seems to have issues being honorable in his dealings with at least some other people. But does this mean such a person is by definition a bad CO? Or do we need COs willing to skirt the rules (of the Navy, or of decent society) once in a while? Read this study and let us know in the comments (without mentioning names! Anecdotal evidence carries the same weight whether you name the boat/CO or not).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my perspective, it seems ISIC thinks that a good CO is one who meets ship's schedule, passes inspections, and goes on deployment without hitting solid objects or getting detected. The CO who goes on deployment and accomplishes nothing extraordinary while maintaining safety and stealth will be viewed as better than the cowboy who violated MSR but got some 'good stuff.'

On the deckplate this can sometimes translate to someone who the crew would consider a 'bad' CO if he ignores personnel needs in lieu of meeting a schedule that is too aggressive, and he's too timid to tell the commodore that it can't be done. It can also breed a CO that is afraid of his own shadow and makes things more difficult than they need to be by 'failing safe.'

From a crew perspective, a good CO is one who lives and upholds the standard, but cares about his people. He strikes the right balance between lighting a fire under people's asses and making sure everything is okay on the home front. Behind that requires a strong foundation of expert tactical and engineering knowledge aired with an ability to succinctly communicate expectations and the bigger picture to the officers, chiefs, and crew. He is consistent and firm in upholding expectations yet compassionate toward his crew. And when the shit hits the fan, you know you're in good hands under his command.

Unfortunately, it is not necessary to be a good CO in the eyes of the crew in order to be a good CO in the eyes of ISIC. They don't really evaluate for that in their inspections, so a CO who couldn't care less about his people, or one who has significant LOK gaps but gets good help from the crew can be as successful as one who does care for his people and is a real expert.

5/25/2013 12:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, we don't have technological supremacy over the type 212; We would get our dick smacked against German subs and it's probably only a matter of time until the Russia/China get the tech.

5/25/2013 12:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing we must remember is that a CO can meet all of these standards without being a dick. The crew can do their job. When a CO doesn't value their time, like forcing everyone to come in for a circle jerk work day in the shipyard while everyone else is on a holiday, it doesn't look good with the crew. Look, I know that leaders don't always have to explain yourself, but when you have a crew of (usually) highly intelligent individuals, it doesn't hurt to explain why you're giving them the bone job from hell. They may not like it, but a rational person can agree. It's kind of like drills. Nobody likes doing them back to back to back, but a rational person says "well, we need to train or we will all die when shit hits the fan."

I feel the first anon poster said it pretty well. The mob also considered peoples' fear of them as "respect." The CO should not be feared or loathed. For me, one of the only things I would want is to be treated like a person, not a part of the boat. Also, trust your crew, but not 100%. I saw a lot of problems from micro managing too much, or not checking in often enough (usually the first one).

5/25/2013 2:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I want to know is why is the proverbial man with a tattoo on his dick considered to be deficient in honor, courage, and commitment?

5/25/2013 2:22 PM

Blogger John Byron said...


Thanks for the posting. Important topic, more so for the facts surrounding the case in question and the current status of the decidedly-non-hero who so gracelessly disgraced his calling. You know who it is and I know who it is and I pray fervently that he reads this string and its references ... and spends every waking day going forward looking over his shoulder and wondering when his shabby little game will be terminated.

The good ones — the great ones — I've known have been able to do it all: fight the boat well, excel at whatever tasks higher authority placed in front of the boat, and do it as a gentleman and a person of honor. I've nothing but disdain for those who'd skip a step — "I'm a hot shit, so I can do anything I want" — but perhaps even less respect for those who'd give such lowlifes a bye for having some level of skill in some small aspect of the profession.

Am not sure it's possible to say it better than this:

"Qualifications of a Naval Officer

It is by no means enough that an officer of the Navy should be a capable mariner. He must be that, of course, but also a great deal more. He should be as well a gentleman of liberal education, refined manners, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor.

He should be the soul of tact, patience, justice, firmness, kindness, and charity. No meritorious act of a subordinate should escape his attention or be left to pass without its reward, even if the reward is only a word of approval. Conversely, he should not be blind to a single fault in any subordinate, though at the same time, he should be quick and unfailing to distinguish error from malice, thoughtfulness from incompetency, and well meant shortcomings from heedless or stupid.

In one word, every commander should keep constantly before him the great truth, that to be well obeyed, he must be perfectly esteemed."

Written by Augustus C. Buell in 1900 to reflect his views of John Paul Jones (from Reef Points: 2003-2004, 98th Edition [Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Academy, 2003])

5/25/2013 3:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting topic of conversation, but a little too abstract unless we actually examine the Navy's track record for CO selection in recent history during times of hot war.

Tom Fargo was PACCOM and John Padgett was COMSUBPAC when the Middle East went hot. Both were COs during the Cold War, arguably a time of relative peace, but also a time of having a global submarine adversary, which the U.S. lacks today.

I'm sure a detractor or two could be found, but IMHO and many others both of these men were arguably ideal submarine COs, and later became the right guys in the right place at the right time for the above roles. That they arose to their hot war stations from a time of relative peace I think says a lot about the Navy's lessons-learned and corporate memory from WWII. Neither Fargo nor Padgett were excessively gentlemanly, nor were they scoundrels. They had their tales, some of them earned in their younger days while steaming hard while ashore.

So the Navy got it right that time. No reason to put our feet up, by any means, but that's the relatively recent record.

My greater concern would go toward this question: are the Navy's current batch of COs and O-7 and above crowd capable of blowing the whistle on political correctness run amok...?

Even better: if putting women on submarines turns out to be a really bad fucking idea that has a serious impact on combat readiness, would any of the current, senior 1120 crowd have the balls to make this call, or would they fold their hands and just let it all play out as the surface force has, with excessively high attrition, pregnancy issues, and command hijinks?

Not a good sign: I don't see anyone here asking these honest-yet-uncomfortable-yet-vitally-important questions.

And before the "you're a racist" or a "misogynist" or a "blah-blah-blah" tirades begin from those of us on permanent shore patrol, I'd first like to see a real answer from real COs or flag officers on this one. Technically, today, they all have the balls for it.


5/25/2013 7:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

[quote]My greater concern would go toward this question: are the Navy's current batch of COs and O-7 and above crowd capable of blowing the whistle on political correctness run amok...?

Even better: if putting women on submarines turns out to be a really bad fucking idea that has a serious impact on combat readiness, would any of the current, senior 1120 crowd have the balls to make this call, or would they fold their hands and just let it all play out as the surface force has, with excessively high attrition, pregnancy issues, and command hijinks?[/quote] They don't get to make these calls.

All the PC crap with DADT, sexual assault prevention being the "#1 priority", female submariners, female infantry, etc. is coming from civilian political leadership. If you don't like it, vote members of the House and Senate Defense Committees out of Congress to send a message (and we could have voted Obama and his SecDef/SecNav out of office, too, but too late for that now).

For all we know our military leadership may have spoken their minds at the appropriate time. But once the civvies say "make it so," and the door opens, it's no longer a topic up for discussion. Failure to comply will have you removed and replaced, one of the most infamous in recent history being Gen MacArthur.

It's easy to call our military leadership spineless (MacArthur sure wasn't), but they don't make those policies; they implement them. And even salty Gen MacArthur marched north of the 38th parallel when Truman told him to do it, even though he kicked and screamed and bitched his way into being fired a year-ish later.

5/25/2013 8:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They don't get to make these calls."

Actually...that is bullshit.

The women on submarines thing is widely acknowledged even by Big Navy as being a _test_. If so, what are the criteria for failure, and who gets to call it that ***IF*** that criteria is reached...?

It's a simple question, really. And one due for an answer any day now, one would think.

5/25/2013 10:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we that way today? Are the "young firebrands" of today's force being passed over for command, or leaving the Navy early?

Based on the tools currently populating the flags, I'd say we're getting stuck with a bunched of PC Assclowns who will get their asses handed to them pretty damn quickly if/when near technological equivalency occurs. (And for all intents and purposes, that can occur rather quickly with AIP.)

5/25/2013 10:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a test and it's not the brainchild of military servicemembers.

If it were a test, I suppose the criteria for failure would be:

-The women could not possibly qualify submarines due to some gender trait that prohibited it.


-The submarine could not possibly accomplish its tasking with women on board.

So it looks like the 'test' was a success. If you don't want to believe me, look up what COMSUBFOR had to say about it in USW magazine.

5/25/2013 10:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

IF the female billets were and are assigned "in excess" (and they WERE), then it's a rose by any other name to call it a TEST.

5/25/2013 10:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read all the links about the Oceanographer and her heart wrenching story of displacement and disillusionment. I understand it is a sad story. But how can any of you possibly say that the Navy should take some sort of punitive action or relieve the man from command? He broke off an engagement. That is ALMOST ALWAYS going to cause deep animosity and mistrust. Nothing stated about the alleged second relationship rises to the level that would reasonably warrant consideration. Many in different articles have cautioned against doubting the word of the Naval War College Review letter author, or doubting her intentions. You don't have to doubt her veracity or her intention at all to still find that the Navy Leadership did the right thing by leaving it alone. Those of you that think the Navy should have fired a Commanding Officer based on the fact that he broke off an engagement BEFORE GETTING MARRIED are right in the same boat with the PC Nazis, riding us over the cliff of celebrating only muted, moderate mediocrity.
If the Navy took this information and decided it warranted a DFC, then every single divorced Officer ought to start worrying about his ex calling up COMSUBFOR for a chance to tell him what a slug her ex husband is. Heck, we could even invite them to sit at the Command Screening Board! Maybe to be safe, we could bar everyone from Command who didn't marry their High School Sweetheart, because you never know what stories might come up after we spend so much putting him through 13 weeks of NR then SCC. We could bring Judge Judy on as the COMSUBLANT N1 and have divorce court before every Screening Board.

5/26/2013 11:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't anything new.

Talk to an old timer from the 'Nam era and if you were an Officer and single at O-3, your bosses would start to wonder why. If you were divorced you were outcast. You may not have been publicly castrated in the media, but the big boy's club knew who you were and you wouldn't be welcomed into it.

Can't speak about mistresses on the side though. Maybe that was an acceptable alternative to divorce once upon a time.

Anyhoo, this is a long-standing culture starting from the days when a commission was a birth right of nobility in England instead of something one earns.

Considering an officer can be divorced, have tattoos, etc. and still be promotable means we have actually come a long way in some regards.

As the saying goes, the more things change...

5/26/2013 11:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am getting at to the age where the guys I went through NPS with are now in command. I will admit that this group who were selected for the honor was very different from the one I imagined when we were all ensigns. Its too bad that many with the best talent got out, and I don't blame them.

5/26/2013 12:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at our CO/XO selection process! Every community posts the results of the board, who was on the board and what the precepts were. Not submarines! Its always a mystery who sat the board or what the criteria was! If you are not tied into the 0-6 mafia, you probably won't get selected. The party line in superior performance at sea, but it was clear that my fellow classmates at SCC had more success on highly connected shore duties than they did at sea. The guys that really work hard, the COSS we throw away to squadron deputy jobs. All the sea time with no privilege of command and little hope of promotion. No process is perfect, but at least we should be more open about how we pick our CO/XOs.

5/26/2013 2:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue with the oceanographer isn't about a broken engagement, but about a CO who deliberately misled several women at once and with no regard to their lives and well-being. "The Oceanographer" was left to fend for herself, while the CO in question evidently felt no responsibility at all for having put her in such a perilous position. The same man is now commanding a boat with women on board? At the very least, the CO is a liar and a con artist. At worst, a misogynist. We should care about this.

5/26/2013 8:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, our submarine force is in trouble. Our technology has been sold, stolen, and re-branded. Our beloved force is being compelled to follow old tactics by "Big Navy". I for one, would love to have a real leader, and mentor, but there are none in our current force. All Navys and each branch think they are number one, until a smaller, more capable, and out of the box thinking adversary comes along. Think Spanish Armada vs England, Battle of Troy, Germany's thoughts of America during WWII, etc. We will be defeated, it is inevitable, due to our current leadership dismantling our force, and by not having COs that would throw away the playbook and rely on original out of the box thinking. The Chinese and Russians, with the right learned, stolen, or contrived technology could easily defeat any of our current crop of COs. No, I am not anti-American.....I am a scared American.

5/26/2013 8:33 PM

Blogger Scott Minium said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/26/2013 11:02 PM

Blogger Scott Minium said...

I normally post somewhat anonymously, but I feel like making an exception.

To anon 5/25 @1202. I submit that you have no idea what an ISIC looks at to grade COs. Inspections are but one tiny part of that very large picture, and what if everyone is simply 'at standards'? According to you we go with who we like. I could not care less about that criteria for the simple reason than it is BS. As for 'Cowboys,' 'Cowboys' are people who flaunt the rules or pretend they don't exist. They are not people who bump into MSR now and then while trying to do their job. Cowboys pretend MSR does not apply to them.

To anon 5/26 @1435. Your data is out of date. CO/XO screening results are sent by message within a couple of days of the board. This has been the case for a number of years now. Precepts are public knowledge. You've obviously never sat a board or you would know the process is about as fair and unbiased as you can make it. I defy you to find a better way to select people. That said, if the reporting senior doesn't include the dirt, or just makes it read like the guy is fine, then that's all the board will ever know.

To anon 5/26 @2033. I sleep just fine.

As to the topic at hand, I will draw the line at illegality with this instance. Ever lie to get the girl at the bar to go home with you? Anyone ever decide they don't want to get married? Break up over the phone? Be a heel under any circumstance? I'm not interested in persecuting people because they are jerks. Though if they did I would have had some different people in my chain of command in the past. The guy who faked his death violated the UCMJ in a way long known to result in severance. The schmuck who left the oceanographer, to my knowledge, is still just a schmuck, but no less than the JO who used to pick up women by telling them he was a minor league baseball player. IMHO, big gamble on her part to move to Guam -before- the wedding.

5/26/2013 11:11 PM

Anonymous xmgt said...

Thanks to Captain Minium for weighing in, from a former COCC sailor.

In my opinion, a great CO is one who knows in his heart that his responsibility vastly exceeds his (or any human's) capability; a man who knows that he is exceedingly lucky, not deserving, of his position. To be anything other than extremely humble in the face of such awesome responsibility is not rational. That said, anyone can be humble. A great CO can be humble internally, but do the job he is paid to do, take Command, and confidently execute the mission-- with his behavior tempered by certain knowledge of his limitations.

5/26/2013 11:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To anon 5/25 @1202. I submit that you have no idea what an ISIC looks at to grade COs. Inspections are but one tiny part of that very large picture, and what if everyone is simply 'at standards'? According to you we go with who we like. I could not care less about that criteria for the simple reason than it is BS. As for 'Cowboys,' 'Cowboys' are people who flaunt the rules or pretend they don't exist. They are not people who bump into MSR now and then while trying to do their job. Cowboys pretend MSR does not apply to them."

I wrote the post at 1202 on 5/25 and I submit that you read it with the eye that you were going to disagree regardless of what the content was because nowhere did I say ISIC selects COs based on popularity. In fact, I stated the opposite. And I agree inspections are only a piece of the puzzle, which is why I talked about other commitments the ship has to make in the very same paragraph. Finally, you understood what I meant when I said cowboy, which is a colloquial term, but you decided to change the definition I implied to fit your rebuttal. Call an aggressive CO an Indian instead of a Cowboy for all I care, doesn't change the fact that the risk adverse CO will prevail over the one willing to take risks while still following the rules but has to tell dad he got a little too far up the skirt.

@ 5/26 2033:

On what experience do COs have to draw on to innovate tactics? Unfortunately, the only way to advance warfighting tactics is to be at war. Well,the submarine force isn't actively at war, so the playbook will have to do for now.

5/26/2013 11:51 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

scott minium: There's more to the tale than posted. Involves not one but two serious and simultaneous wedding engagements dishonorably breached, involves financial obligations abandoned, involves flagrant dishonesty in full view of the ship and embarrassment to the wardroom, involves an abusive attitude towards females in a time when — vide posts here — the submarine force is doing all it can to combat a reflexive misogynist mindset infecting some in it.

I've seen raffish behavior on liberty — perhaps been-there-done-that myself. I'm aware that affairs of the heart are never certain in their future. But a dude who is engaged to two women at the same time, rings and all ... and then dumps them both (at great financial, emotional, and career cost to the women) to marry a third, well, that seems beyond the typical wild night on the beach.

The issue isn't does-this-happen. It's does this have a cost; should the submarine force chain of command pass this guy on as an all-up round; is this who we want standing for our values? Boils down to whether the black-letter words in the title of UCMJ Article 133 continue to have meaning: is conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman still to be censured and proscribed. It's a very serious and relevant question.

I don't care how well this lowlife boils water. He does not belong in our Navy and he sure as hell doesn't belong in my submarine force.

5/27/2013 5:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No spoiler alert necessary, but this whole subject and dialogue leaves me reflecting on the recent Star Trek movie, wherein *Lieutenant Commander* Scott is moved to say at one point: “A military organization? Is that what we are now?”

I'm with Captain Minium on this one. Persecuting jerks is certainly an activity that the Navy provides a target-rich environment for, but one that comes with a cliff, not just a slippery slope.


5/27/2013 8:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course there is always two-sides to a story. Crazy women abound so I wouldn't judge too quickly. Whoever this "CO" is, he wouldn't dare comment on this issue, nor will the Navy let him.

That said: I do defer to anyone who has better/more insight into this situation than the rest of us.

5/27/2013 9:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the Star Trek metaphor (spoiler alert...*not*): the irrepressible, politically incorrect Captain James T. Kirk wakes up one morning to take a call after having freshly shagged two lovely beauties...who are both still in bed (tails and all).

Some would say that Kirk should've been fired just for that alone. Bad Captain. Bad Boy. Bad Example. See ya.

Oh...wait a minute. Earth's about to be destroyed? Well, ok...just for now...can you take the Enterprise into harm's way again, Jim boy? Just this once? But when you're done, better wear a dress -- we're going to put the ladies in charge of your warship, as that has worked oh-so-well in the least, in our minds.

5/27/2013 10:10 AM

Anonymous Indiana Subs said...


Another great thought-provoking post. To your question, "Are the kind of officers ... the right kind of COs we'd need were we to go to war?" ... I suspect the answer is yes but I'll leave that discussion to others closer to the issue. I've been off active duty for 15 years and stood my last submarine watch/duty day longer ago than that. But, since we brought up WWII I would like to refer back to the words of two WWII COs out of the pantheon of great US sub skippers from that era. Both men acknowledged the role of their crews in their success. IMO, Skippers Fluckey, O’Kane, Ramage, and the others felt the same way.

The first is Slade Cutter, CO Seahorse (SS-304):

“The Seahorse sank nineteen enemy ships during the four war patrols I was the skipper. The crew got the job done. I was merely the coordinator. They were brave and talented, and I never had to be reckless. I thought of the lives of those fine men, and frankly, I was aboard too.” – Slade D. Cutter

The second is George L. Street, CO Tirante (SS-420). Excerpted from his obituary (posted on the Naval Submarine League’s website):

Despite all his individual honors, Street was exceedingly proud of a collective award, the Presidential Unit Citation, which went to the Tirante for its overall combat record. As Street put it, "I really treasure that more than the Medal of Honor because every man was there with us."

My final point is that the WWII torpedo defects with in original version of the MK14 torpedo were nothing short of scandalous. There were 3 separate design and/or production problems with the weapon. The MK VI magnetic influence exploder often caused premature detonation, the contact exploder frequently failed on impact due to improper material selection, and the depth sensing device caused the weapon to run too deep. It was 21 months into the war before these 3 defects were corrected and boats were going to sea with a reliable weapon.

5/27/2013 11:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All ships

Exhibits integrity, performance to navy standards
Commands firm, consistent discipline
Demonstrates concern for crew welfare
Establishes and maintains strong unit cohesion, pride and confidence
Rewards merit
Disciplines fairly

Nuclear Submarines (particularly)

Personally participates in manuevers and operations at key times
Knows crew: names, abilities, limitations
Projects concern for crew's readiness, professional development

5/27/2013 12:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


In a similar vein Fluckey was supposed to have said that he was proudest of the fact that not one of his crew had earned a Purple Heart. That coming from the leader of a crew that earned him a MoH and four Navy Crosses...

5/27/2013 1:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ anon (5/26-2351):

"On what experience do COs have to draw on to innovate tactics?"

Easy. The experience they can draw on is that of the CREW! In today's environment, I know that can take some "brass" ones, but there it is, right in front of you the whole time. Loosen the reins a mite at the right time and place, remain open to suggestions/recommendations and then step back and watch - it's quite possible some magic will happen.

Further, in answer to the remainder:

"Unfortunately, the only way to advance warfighting tactics is to be at war. Well,the submarine force isn't actively at war, so the playbook will have to do for now".

Respectfully disagree with this particular mindset. Imho, there is no time like the present to work on tactics development. We still do exercises with other units, don't we? Melee and target? Case in point:

Way back (when Jesus was my seadaddy), we were playing target for a DD, standard exercise format (10 single-fire events). Damn GNATS driving us nuts. First three 46(mod 2) shots were hits. I got a bright idea and ran it by the OOD. He listened, then said no, we had to go "by the book" and were thus constrained in our evasion tactics. I countered by pointing out they had the same book we did, to no avail. Get back on the bus...

Run #4, same old same old. Another hit. Yawn. During reset the dialX rings and its the OOD asking what was that idea again? (He was feeling just as frustrated as we were). The OOD runs it by the CO. This time it was thumbs up, go for it - and why not? 'Bout time!

#5 a huge miss. Score one for the good guys. Worked like a champ for 6 and 7 too, both big misses. For run #8 my PNB operator suggested a refinement - he'd been watching and using his head. Sounded good to me, so requested permission to give course, speed and depth orders from sonar. Granted.

Results: Runs 8 & 9 had that DD running from both of his own fish, which had lost us, then reacquired HIM. On the final run, not to be outdone in the adapt and innovate category, that bleepin' skimmer let loose with a 3-fish salvo. (Cheater! ;-) We successfully evaded the first two, the third one scored a hit. Contractor reps were waiting for us on the pier.

And that is the November Sierra on how the 46(mod 5) came to be. That cheese we pulled won't work anymore, but at least we ended up with a more capable lightweight.

Think like a pirate! Know the box, love the box, yes of course. But knowing when it's a good idea to step out of it and add a page or two can come in handy. The playbook has its place, but if the opportunity presents itself in the right time and place (like above)- GO for it! What've you got to lose? The time to learn, develop and hone your skills is right NOW...If it doesn't work, so what? You learned something, right? Edison had the right attitude with respect to lightbulb development...

If the playbook is putting everyone to sleep, shake it up! Bust a move. Don't hazard the vessel in any way, but short of that I recommend always be on the lookout for ways to refine and improve. A subordinate has a flash of inspiration, check it out. Evaluate it for potential merit before a green light, certainly. But don't summarily dismiss it out of hand for the reason it's not in the book. (Yet?)

"Conn, Sonar. Torpedo in the water!" (I don't hear any fat lady singin').... Haaarrrrr, mateys!


5/27/2013 1:46 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

The submarine force has a great place to experiment with tactics that does not cost any lives. Back in the day when both SSNs and SSBNs homeported in New London, the SSBNs got much more attack center hours than the hard working SSNs. During SSN workups, the head of the tactics department at SUBSCOL would pit the SSN vs the SSBN. Generally the SSBN came out on top because they had more "out of the box" responses to a tactical situation than the SSN. I was on both sides of that equation as an OPS/NAV who was the Fire Control Coordinator because the CO trusted me more than the XO (the SSBN took us to the cleaners and then hung us out to dry) and then as an SSBN CO when my attack center team destroyed a working up SSN just because we had practiced more "unusual" tactics. I don't know if the SSBN folks at Bangor and Kings Bay work against each other in the off crew but it is a great opportunity to try new tactics against a thinking opponent. One time the tactics department hooked up three attack centers and turned the tactical teams loose. All attack centers thought the other two were "enemy" subs. That was some real fun.
In the Pacific in the sixties we also practiced rabbit techniques with other SSNs. After a few days of "canned play" the rabbit was let loose to use its imagination. The reconstruction was difficult but the action was fun and very useful when evaluated by the tactical wizards. Many of the ideas dreamed up later came out as tactical doctrine. Most did not, however, because they failed to accomplish their intent. But at least they were tried and found wanting.
On the major topic, I am not in a position to judge the current crop of COS since I view very much from afar. I gather it is more challenging now than in my day since the computer and rapid comms permits lots of "observation" and "direction" from outside the submarine.

5/27/2013 3:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Failure is even more important than success. If you aren't failing in your practice, you will fail in the real thing.

5/27/2013 3:32 PM

Blogger Scott Minium said...

@Rubber Ducky 5/27, point taken. Well said sir.

5/27/2013 4:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This got me thinking more about the sheep, sheepdogs and wolves story from LTC (RET) Grossman. This guy is a wolf in sheepdog's clothing.

The submarine leadership are the only ones who get to decide what makes a good CO Honor, courage, commitment. Failure on all three when doing the right thing is obvious.

Rather than get hysterical, she raised the question about what qualities go into being an excellent CO. That took backbone. She still missed the difference between a sheepdog that bites to protect and a wolf who destroys.

If he is the kind of leader today's submarine force wants, then it has lost its core. I know I wouldn't want my sons or daughter anywhere near his command as long as people are pretending he's just another sheepdog. I suspect the extra attention has gotten him to really go the extra mile to act right. Hope that gets him through.

5/27/2013 6:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good CO understands
-that the inspection is not the mission
-how to build his team to compensate for his shortfalls
-that he is in command, not the isic
-that the training and qualification of his crew is important
-that his crew being right is more important than him being right
-how to keep his ship safe
-how to teach his crew to keep the ship safe
-how to deliver the bacon
-how to build an efficient fighting machine
-how to make his ship work at the right level

5/27/2013 7:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recent SSBN patrol... CO's stated goals for the patrol:

1. Successful midshipmen operations
2. Keep boat clean for inspections
3. Don't mess up the women-friendly environment (paraphrasing here, he discussed head use, etc.)

SSN deployment just a couple years ago... Commodore pulled my CO aside and told him not to have a bad ORSE, right before casting off. He basically said you can have as great a mission as you want; you mess up that ORSE, you didn't have a successful deployment. CO put that one out to the wardroom.

5/27/2013 8:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Exercises today aren't nearly as dynamic due because we are more risk adverse than the Navy of your day.

Also, not every CO gets the opportunity to perform those types of exercises.

Finally, exercises are not reality. We don't go against USS Arleigh Burke in real life. It's great that you had the foresight to know that they would use similar tactics as you and knew your tactics. You don't have that knowledge against foreign warships.

@Capt Minium,

If you have a different mindset than the following, then kudos to you, sir, because you are a rare breed. Our CO was told by the commodore prior to deployment that success hinged on not hitting anything and not getting counter-detected. That, and passing ORSE at the end. The commodore couldn't care less if we obtained any intel worth a damn. We know this because he relayed it to us. There was absolutely no reason for our CO to ever take a bold risk to accomplish the mission, even a calculated one that followed proper ORM practices. Therefore, his promotion hinged on running away at the first indication that things might get hairy. Great use of taxpayer money, I must say.

5/27/2013 9:35 PM

Blogger Scott Minium said...

@anon 2135, I wish I could say inspections don't count, they do. But they are not #1, and no way is a deployment's success dependent on the last 48 hours. But all you have to do is not be in the basement to have everyone forget it the next day.

Someone above said "You are in command, not the ISIC." One thing that hits me quite clearly every day is that no matter how much impact you think you have, you and your staff are on the ship for only a small fraction of the time. THAT is the one reason, above all others, that the CO is the one ultimately accountable.

The guidance to your CO is BS. He was being told to 'play not to lose.' I am quoting another sub flag, but it is great wisdom: "Playing not to lose is not the same as playing to win." We should play to win. Follow the rules, get the bacon, do well -enough- on exams, and let the rest sort itself out.

Before my last mission my commodore told me I would be an abject failure on mission. The next week he said he was sure I would do fine. I did the best I could, went over a few lines, and somehow survived.

Earlier someone quoted a WWII vet who said his unit awards were his best ones. I heard this from Andy Borchardt, and my bio has said that ever since.

Long rant, but the CO biz is hard, very very nuanced, and filled with as many opportunities for screwing up as it is with chances for great performance. I'll just count myself equal parts lucky as all the rest.

5/28/2013 2:29 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Heard this same story independently from two shipmates, a CO for whom I was XO and an XO who worked for me. Earlier both served at the same time in the CSG-6 staff under Kin McKee...

RADM (then) McKee was in the habit of issuing a continuous stream of taskers at every CSG-6 morning staff meeting, "do this now" and "do that sooner," etc. Finally one morning, in a bit of exasperation but mostly to help get the forthcoming workday sorted out, one of the SubGroup staff asked this of the boss: "Sir, you give us all these directives and attach great urgency to every one of them. We can't do it all at once. Could you just tell us what's your number one priority?"

To which McKee replied: "Gentlemen*, EVERYTHING is number one priority!"

True then, same true for command today. It sets a false dilemma to seek to know whether a successful op is more important than routine inspections is more important than the ORSE is more important than a clean ship is more important than tidy topsides is more important than not fucking up; on the beach. EVERYTHING is number one priority.

The good ones can and do do it all. Lucky, too.

*It was only 'gentlemen' then, no females on the deployed staff. In a later life as detailer and placement officer I was able to put a female lieutenant on CSG-6 staff in operations — Admiral Smith thought it a great idea — and then on CSG-7 staff also. They performed superbly.

5/28/2013 4:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To which McKee replied: "Gentlemen*, EVERYTHING is number one priority!""

This is a giant managerial red flag. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

5/28/2013 5:56 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I had an XO once who told me that his job, and the COs, was like spinning plates. You had to know when to give each plate the kick to keep it spinning. All were important but generally, one was more important than another at any given moment in time, you had to know when to shift the focus. That is really what ADM McKee was trying to say. Everything is important, but in its moment of time during the day. This can be as mundane as the daily PMS, the watch evolutions, a safe red tag, the training lecture, the ship drills, the successful approach and attack, the transit to port or from port, the contact management, remaining undetected, field day, ORSE workup, TRE, etc. There were a lot of priorities in my day and I am sure there are alot for the submarine today. Just keep the plates spinning and you will be successful. The real trick is knowing which plate is the priority at each instant in time - often not the easiest of tasks

5/28/2013 9:16 AM

Anonymous Wakeup Call said...

Ladies & gentlemen:

In theory, what would be the appropriate punishment for an officer doing what this officer allegedly did (which was a personal matter with multiple interpretations and no impartial witnesses)?

Compare & contrast that to what actually happened to Holly Graf, who committed multiple unambiguous offenses on duty, against officers & enlisted personnel under her command, in front of corroborating witnesses. Exactly how many free passes did Graf get?

Now ask yourself why you are surprised that nothing has happened to this particular officer.

Nothing SHOULD happen to this officer as a result of this clearly-unstable woman's attempt to exact revenge.

Do I want this officer dating my sister? No, I do not.

Am I responsible for policing my sister's relationships for her? No, I am not.

I doubt this officer is an Academy-award-winning actor. So why did the oceanographer do such a bad job of picking a good mate? And why should that be the Navy's problem?

Women lie with regularity, to their trusting partners as well as in courts of law. In that regard they are no different than men.

The only difference is the unwarranted credit we as a society give them, despite their track record of bad behavior.

It isn't illegal to be a cad, any more than it is illegal to do a crappy job of picking a mate.

5/28/2013 9:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Rubber Ducky,

While yes, every boat has to pass inspections, do workups, train its crew, keep the boat materially read (which includes cleaning), it is difficult to believe that the Adm was talking about keeping all the metaphorical plates spinning when telling his staff that every tasker in a single day's agenda is #1 priority and should be accomplished immediately.

What you provided was an example of exceptionally poor leadership and personnel managerial skills from a flag officer. It is one of the ways where military thinking is backwards -- in the military, the subordinate is expected to figure out how to prioritize his time and it is beneath leadership to provide guidance (this mentality is getting better but a lot of leaders still have it). In the civilian world, management actually manages its work force to get them to work on what they want to work on, because a crew of people fumble-fucking around at "guess what's in my bosses head" is inefficient, which eats profit and ultimately puts people out of jobs.

5/28/2013 10:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The title of this post is "What Makes A Good Submarine CO?"

It is interesting that Admiral McKee's name has come up, since he was (and may still be) considered the finest post-WWII CO that the Submarine Force has produced--it being nearly impossible to effectively compare wartime COs versus peacetime COs.

He also seemed to do quite well after his CO tour, so I'm having trouble swallowing the "exceptionally poor leadership and personnel managerial skills" line.

In addition, I know a senior non-submariner Naval officer who served as Admiral McKee's Flag LT. That officer told me that he would follow Admiral McKee through hell. So whether you necessarily agree with anecdotal stories about how Admiral McKee conducted his business, he was a tremendous leader.

5/28/2013 11:07 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Anon @ 5/28/2013 10:27 AM:

My but we're cranky today...

Kin McKee was a good submariner and did an incredible job following Rickover's mess as the Kindly Old Gentleman stayed too long and failed to transition gracefully. As to my old CO and my old XO working for McKee, they'd both do it again in a heartbeat. For you, not so sure; you sure you took your meds this morning?

5/28/2013 11:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I do not know the man from Adam and do not care about him. The only thing I know of him is what you posted: That when faced with a staff that needed further clarification on how to prioritize their time, he told them to pack sand.

5/28/2013 12:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott Minium - Thanks for posting. I agree wholeheartedly with your 5/26 2311 post. Rand Aynis and Rubber Ducky, you both cracked into the "misogynist" realm. I'm sure that there must be evidence beyond what the aggrieved party said that supports that charge. But then, if she said it, it must be so. But imagine a world where there could be some sort of widely recognized, enforceable agreement that includes a financial responsibility to keep your promise to be faithful and exclusive to one person... You want that enforcability to begin when plans start being made? When the ring is bought? When she starts participating in the FRG? When he says "move to Guam"? (All part of her postings on the Naval War College Review) Marriage means something. If you let someone "test drive" your car for a cross country road trip, thinking they are going to buy it upon return with 6K more miles on it and they bring it back and say "no thanks", have they committed fraud? But what if you REALLY believed they would buy it? But what if you were COUNTING on them buying it? But what if they left you a DIAMOND RING as collateral? I'd be right on your side if the guy actually married the woman, took her money, then deserted her in Guam to run off with another woman. But I've only heard of that happening to men, and when it does they get the raw end of our justice system as well as public opinion. Rand, you say "at the least this guy is a liar and a con artist." I disagree. There are many more possibilities that are less than that, which particular one does not necessarily require the Navy to wade in and try to determine.

5/28/2013 1:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the other possibilities, assuming the woman's report is true, and the guy was (formally) engaged to two women at once? Seems obvious to me this moves him out of "cad" and into "liar/con-artist" camp. I don't think the charge was made he'd done anything criminal, but that he was dishonorable. As for the use of "misogyny" as a descriptor, you are correct that it could be the wrong word. In fact, he may have no concern for women or men. I guess that'd be sociopathy. I am genuinely curious what the "other, less than" possibilities could be, in your view.

5/28/2013 4:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently his personal life did mesh with his professional life. He brought these women down to the boat. It is one thing to keep it completely private but when you involve your crew, then it is a completely different ball game. This kind of behavior has no business being in the upper ranks of Naval leadership. If this guy is so arrogant to think he can away with multiple lives with multiple women then what is keeping him from making a cocky decision that endangers the crew? Whatever happened to lead by example? We keep seeing poor examples of leadership over and over again, and this is part of the reason why the "good guys" are not sticking around.

5/28/2013 4:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an aroma if not even an outright statement in some of the arguments here that if the man's conduct isn't illegal, then there isn't much you can do about it. That's a false premise in the case of conduct unbecoming.

Here are some examples of successful prosecution of conduct unbecoming -- they did not require illegal conduct, and even call out that fact.

Specifically: "An officer’s conduct need not violate other provisions of the UCMJ or even be otherwise criminal to violate Article 133, UCMJ."

5/28/2013 4:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the Minimum wasn't good enough, we'd not have a Minium"

Lucky enough, in his own post, to survive Command and is now an ISIC

So, a good CO should run HIS ship and the ISIC, the deputies, and clueless staff generally ignored unless they are providing a requested "assistance".

Probably won't make Flag, but few will, so take care of your crew, get the job done, and don't scrape paint.

5/28/2013 6:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shift to the mentality that the CO runs the boat and ISIC needs to have a more hands-off approach toward mentoring COs is very recent (like, less than 2 years old). ADM Richardson highlighted that ISICS were too controlling over the way COs ran their ships in his Design for Undersea Warfare. While it's clear that Capt Minium has "bought in" to the new way of thinking, it is unlikely that the huge culture shift being called for is complete in this short amount of time.

5/28/2013 6:53 PM

Anonymous The Nav said...

Having been on the boat at the time in question and serving with the CO, I offer: Did we, the wardroom, know the CO was single? Yes. Did we know he may have had more than one girlfriend? Yes. Does it matter if it was the CO or the Ensign with more than one girlfriend? I don't believe that it does or should. Did we know he was engaged? I did not and will not speculate as to the rest of the wardroom. I apologize for not keeping tabs on my superior's dating and marital status. An individual's personal life, that has no impact on one's ability to command or lead is the individual's business.

Anon @ 5/28/2013 4:08 PM
Is the personal behavior of individuals, in our military (or maybe just our Navy) something that we can or should regulate? If so, how do you propose we do it? I assume that this would then become part of a person's FITREP or EVAL, as the only real way to hold a person accountable to the board? How many of us have taken girls down to the boat, in an attempt to impress them, with the hope of getting some later? How exactly does this translate into a 'cocky decision' by the CO or an example of poor leadership? I could easily argue, and have witnessed, that the poor leadership is evident in a CO/XO/DH who is married, engaged, or single. Their personal life does not always have a direct impact on their ability to lead.

Anon @ 5/27/2013 7:46 PM
This list seems pretty good, something that will never be complete, and most of which were exhibited by the individual at various times, not the 'cocky decisions' implied by Anon @ 5/28/2013 4:08 PM.

Anon @ 5/28/2013 4:39 PM
While I agree, as stated, that "an officer’s conduct need not violate other provisions of the UCMJ or even be otherwise criminal to violate Article 133, UCMJ," your cited examples also specifically point out that conduct unbecoming an officer rationally entails a higher level of dishonor or discredit than simple prejudice to good order and discipline. I don't see how this come close to prejudice to good order and discipline, and therefore how it applies in this case. In the discussion you cited, some of the examples are: a senior officer made unsolicited comments of a sexual nature to an enlisted woman; when he released classified documents about detainees at the Guantanamo naval base; conduct unbecoming an officer by obstructing justice; etc. Where does personal behavior, away from the command (which his relationships took place), would garner support for prosecution under Article 133? Does this mean that any officer who cheats on their spouse or dates more than one person at a time can now be prosecuted under Article 133?

For All
The question raised by the Oceanographer is a valid question, but should not be limited to just the CO of a unit or ship. The CO's that we see get fired, or that we feel do not have the leadership qualities we think make them good, were probably not perfect earlier in their career either. Our Navy has a bad problem of never wanting to say anything derogatory about a person for fear that it may ruin their chances of making the next milestone. Where are the comments stating, when needed, that a person is not ready to proceed to the next rank or position?

Our system does not allow for people to remain at the same level longer than one tour to allow their full potential to be developed. For some, the desire to remain at one level for more than one tour, if not an entire career, may be appropriate. When no longer effective, the person (officer or enlisted) must go regardless of time in service or proximity to retirement. This can only be made acceptable to many by thinking outside of the box with respect to the manner in which we conduct our business, at BUPERS, in this day and age.

5/28/2013 7:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's patently ridiculous that we wait until one becomes a CO before we hold him to a moral 'standard' of conduct. Standard is in quotations because it seems to not exist until the command pin is put on. If this were a LTJG or even a CPO doing this, it wouldn't be news and we wouldn't even be talking about it.

If we are going to fry a CO under the heading of "conduct unbecoming..." because he cheated and lied to his fiance(s), then we also must fry single JOs for 'playing the field' as well. The offense is conduct unbecoming an officer..., not conduct unbecoming a commanding officer.

And if we do hold officers accountable for immoral but legal behavior, where does it stop, and who decides it? Do we write letters of reprimand for not attending weekly mass when we have a religious CNO or COMSUBFOR? Do we fire JOs who lie tell white lies in a bar to get a woman in bed?

Not long ago the nuclear Navy changed the definition of integrity to be more narrow in scope to one's duties. So telling a police officer "no, sir, I don't know why you pulled me over" when you know damn well it was because you were doing 80 in a 65 does not have repercussions on your career for violating one's integrity.

Drawing the line at illegal behavior according to the UCMJ is a good place to leave it. Don't dip pen in company ink and don't cheat on your wife (erm, spouse). Girlfriends and even fiances are in different categories legally, and morally depending on who you ask. The onduct unbecoming charge should be limited to poor conduct while performing official duties.

5/28/2013 9:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the anon that posted the link for other conduct unbecoming cases. My intention in pointing out the no-need-for-illegality aspects of the charge is merely to inform the community...not charge the two-ring wonder.

This whole issue is only an issue because the misogyny or sociopath charges that some would read into the case are coming from the same usual suspects: the leftist wanna-be politicos in the crowd.

Here's some pixie dust to wake up those who would try (and have tried) to make a mountain out of this non-work-related molehill: since DADT is now rescinded and buggery is now considered to be a sexual preference and in fact a right which cannot be challenged without raising charges of "discrimination" (the horrors!), a man having two wives any of the Navy's fucking business? (so to speak) Similarly, why would the man's choosing to end one or both marriage proposals fall under UCMJ jurisdiction?

It's all good now...right? We're just making shit up now when it comes to morality, so why not two wives or more? At least that's Biblical when it comes to moral and historical foundations. Buggery? Not so much.

You don't get to make up your own morality, such as the Democrats here so love to. You either have a code of conduct, or you do not.

So leave the three-ring marital circus alone, my little hypocrites -- you're just being prejudiced, don't'cha know. Polygamy is the new gay discrimination...your bias just won't let you admit that.

5/28/2013 10:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sodomy is still illegal. So gays can marry, but they can't have sex. Just sayin'.

5/28/2013 10:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ Thank you for the reminder. Article 125 (Sodomy) is still on the UCMJ books.

Rules against multiple marriages...? Again: "not so much."

5/28/2013 10:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As if I needed any more reminders of the general low quality of individuals in today's armed forces...

Would you want this guy around your wife or kids? How about on your base around your wife or teenaged daughter when you are at sea?

He is obviously a total scumbag... but good enough for today's Navy! And you wonder why retention is in the pits....

5/28/2013 11:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rand - One other "less than" possibility is that he is/was going through the courtship period in the classic sense of the word, evaluating the suitability of a potential spouse before actually going through with a wedding ceremony. He didn't cheat on his wife. She apparently considered the deal closed because she felt he had committed. Then her reaction to being rejected was the same as many human being's reaction would be. In the sense of not cheating on his wife, this CO was apparently more virtuous than Dwight D. Eisenhower, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, ... fill in the blanks with historical figures.

You made a remark earlier about how especially bad it was that "the same man is commanding a boat with women on board?" I don't really understand the relevance of that observation. If your point is that there are deep moral flaws in the individual (a conclusion that I disagree with based on the evidence available), then mixed crew or not makes no difference. If the makeup of the crew does matter, it seems that you are implying that COs of mixed crews need to have an extra measure of sensitivity and purity as relates to dealings with females. I think that view is insulting to the female crewmembers and is untimately more "misogynist" than the callous breaking off of an enngagement.

5/29/2013 4:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, you are some nasty people. I think it's relatively obvious that she did not plan to move to Guam in a vaacuum. From the article at question:

"He says his next duty station will be Guam and so at his insistence she leaves the mainland and moves there for a life together"

I repeat:

"He says his next duty station will be Guam and so at his insistence she leaves the mainland and moves there for a life together"

Maybe some of you didn't read that part. "Playing the field" by getting engaged to multiple women is caddish, but maybe somewhat defensible. But where you willfully mislead someone to move to a duty station outside of the continental US where you aren't even PCS'ing to is BEYOND the pale.

Someone can't do that, and then claim to honestly be a decent person.

He should of just faked his death.

Given that, I'd like to see some more people excuse and defend his behavior. You are in very good company, indeed.

5/29/2013 5:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't include it in the quote, but it's clear from the article that he never actually moved to Guam.

5/29/2013 5:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nasty breakups happen. Yawn.

5/29/2013 6:25 AM

Anonymous Wakeup Call said...

""He says his next duty station will be Guam and so at his insistence she leaves the mainland and moves there for a life together""

It's an allegation without corroborating facts. Repeating just compounds your logical error.

If the oceanographer claimed he offered to pay off her college loans, would you dock his paycheck on her say-so?

I wonder if the morality police were as diligent in poking into Holly Graf's off-duty behavior, which predates the repeal of DADT.

(It's a rhetorical question; I know you weren't.)

5/29/2013 8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


5/29/2013 10:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

show me the precept.

5/29/2013 10:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bitches lie... Just ask a Florida sailor

5/29/2013 12:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So a professional who knows enough about the Navy to contact this man's chain of command is the same person who moved to Guam without her fiance having orders in hand just because her fiance said he's negotiating for orders there?

Something's fishy.

5/29/2013 1:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know him.

He had orders to Guam, but performed so badly on a major inspection he had his orders changed at the last minute.

He does have deep character flaws that are known to many in the force. Their choice to ignore what was known, and not document it in his record is why he still continues.

5/29/2013 1:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then why the fuck is he still entrusted to run a multibillion dollar piece of equipment with the lives of 150 souls in his hands?

5/29/2013 2:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind. Major character flaws overlooked, aye. Navy leadership at its finest.

5/29/2013 2:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ Yes..."major character flaws overlooked."

Just like...:

President Obama (cocaine & marijuana use).

President Clinton (adultery and rape allegations (Juanita Broaddrick)).

President Carter ("lusted" in his heart).

President Kennedy (adultery).

President Johnson (allegations of coup d'etat)

Oh...and U.S. Navy ADM Rickover (screamer extraordinaire...clearly a "deep character flaw").

Prediction: When robots can do the job on submarines...they will. Until then: "It is what it is."

5/29/2013 2:49 PM

Anonymous The Nav said...

I can confirm that he did have orders to Guam and had them changed at the last minute. So last minute that I don't remember seeing them on the message boards. During the inspection in question, his relief was onboard to give you indication of how close he was to relief prior to the change of command.

Back to the original topic, is this post supposed to be about what makes a good CO or what set of morals do we want to have in the people who serve in our Navy.

If it is about what makes a good CO, off duty actions that do not impact professional performance on the boat have no place being discussed here. Get another post to discuss the moral judgement of individuals. The only off duty actions that we should be including would be criminal and that is not applicable here.

If it is about what set of morals we want people in our Navy to have, who's set of morals will we use? How will we determine when someone's morals cross the line? What is the evaluation criteria and how will we incorporate this into the eval and fitrep process that must start upon entering the Navy (Officer of Enlisted)? This is closer to what the Oceanographer, IMHO, is getting at with her letters and comments.

Both questions are valid and must be addressed, the sooner the better.

5/29/2013 6:33 PM

Blogger Whatever satisfies you said...

Bottom line is that we can all judge from our preachy, little keyboards.

I can say Women in Submarines will only be a failure if individuals make it so. DADT will only result in failure if individuals make it so. Submarining WILL fail if individuals make it so. Enough with the Nay-Saying (as Jack Black eloquently says)... always with the Nay-Saying. The Naysayers can always bring an institution down. The world is full of haters.
Wouldn't you like to see a world of "Here is how we can get it done?"

As The Nav says, the only TRUE story is known by a very select few. Who are we to judge?

Are you perfect?
If so, I am ready to receive. Please tell!

5/29/2013 8:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some not unreasonable Q&A...though some "A"s may be more likable than others:

Q1: (a) "...who's set of morals will we use? (b) How will we determine when someone's morals cross the line?

A1 (a): In our United States, civilian politicians and political appointees run the military, and despite all its flaws and features no one can argue that this is going to change anytime soon. Thus the unpalatable but truthful answer is:

"We'll be using, and are already using, the morals encoded by U.S. politicians and their political appointees. Thus -- based on politicians' track records -- we may logically expect moral conflicts, cowardice and the encoding of immorality by both historical religious and legal standards in their guidance (e.g., DADT rescinded while Article 125 is still operative). It is what it is."

A1 (b): Given the above, "We will determine immorality on a political basis...not a religious one, and not necessarily a legal one."

Q2: "What is the evaluation criteria and how will we incorporate this into the eval and fitrep process that must start upon entering the Navy (Officer of Enlisted)?"

A2: "For the Navy, the assignment of a political officer/commissar to shipboard and shore environments will provide the necessary input and co-signature for the eval and fitrep process regardless of rank or rate. Nom de jour: 'zampolit' (замполит)."

That is ALL.

5/29/2013 8:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"At the deepest level, every human culture is religious— defined by what its inhabitants believe about some ultimate reality, and what they think that reality demands of them."

—Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Link: YouTube book review

5/29/2013 9:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: admiral McKee. I think there is confusion here between being a great Leader and a great Manager. If someone is willing to "walk through hell and back for Admiral McKee" that is great Leadership, but he can still be a terrible manager. Saying "everything is #1 priority" is poor management, but that doesn't mean he is not an inspirational leader. (I sort of suspect that there is more context to the quote, because I have a hard time imagining someone intelligent saying something like that in 100% seriousness)

From most accounts, Admiral Rickover was poorly liked but an efficient technical manager. He had some interesting theories on What it means to be responsible or have integrity, but I haven't heard too many stories about how the men of NR would wade through the River Styx if Rickover asked them too.

Leadership is more a "cult of personality" that will inspire people to do things, being a great manager is more "efficient use of people and resources". Most Navy officers are both shitty leaders and shitty managers, because the Navy tries to teach leadership (which is difficult to do) and fails to teach efficient management(or any management techniques at all, really). Probably because we idolize great leaders, but have no real idea how they became great leaders, and have the luxury of a captive work force that you can grossly mismanage without mass short-term attrition.

I think the Navy should focus on developing great managers and let the great leaders rise to the top through whatever arcane process develops them.

5/29/2013 11:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ Your comment, "I think the Navy should focus on developing great managers," makes me go 'bleccchhh!'

The first, minimal job of every senior military officer is to be an inspiration to their men. Managers are a dime a dozen, and they don't take men into battle. Management techniques (TQM, blah blah blah) come and go like the wind, and in the long run are meaningless.

The first, minimal job of every junior officer is to be an inspiration to their men, but as their many other skill-sets are too immature to be highly respected, the ONE thing they need to do right out of the chute is show authentic enthusiasm, no matter what happens. No one needs a "downer" when the suck hits...they need someone who helps lift them up so that they can continue to get the job done.

5/30/2013 6:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not saying that the Navy doesn't need or desire people with "leadership" (as opposed to "management" skills), just that it's not really teachable, so it's not worth your time to focus on it exclusively. The impact a JO can have by just cheer leading is pretty limited. 90% of the mood in a division is driven by the command team and department heads. A "happy" JO can only compensate so much for a command team that wastes its sailors' time.

In my ten years of naval service, I never met any truly inspirational leaders, but I have met a lot of really bad managers. Guys you would follow into Hell are rare, and I don't think that character trait can be taught, so why focus on trying to develop that? Being a decent manager CAN be taught, so maybe it's better to have a good manager with mediocre leadership qualities than a mediocre leader who is kind of just playing defense on the management side.

Most complaints sailors have are management related. It's normally some variation of "the Navy doesn't respect my time/personal situation/me as a person." That's a management failing, not a leadership one.

5/30/2013 7:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your opinion is heard & understood.

Now...go ask the ranks what they appreciate the most in a junior officer.

BTW...this has already been done. The number one appreciated trait by the rank & file? "Enthusiasm."

5/30/2013 8:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the CO asks his wardroom to lie to the multiple women who are calling the ship - is his personal life then impacting his professional life??

If a squadron deputy is assigned to monitor the spurned woman's blog for classified information - is his personal life impacting his professional life?

I don't think you can seperate the womanizer from the Sailor.

5/30/2013 8:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your opinion is heard & understood.

Now...go ask the ranks what they appreciate the most in a junior officer.

BTW...this has already been done. The number one appreciated trait by the rank & file? "Enthusiasm.""

I have never seen this study or heard of it. Is there a link available?

I don't expect you to know much about proper survey design (but I do it for a living now), but without knowing the actual distribution it's hard to say how much enthusiasm matters. If it is #1 with 5% of the vote or there is a limited slate of choices it may not reflect any actual preference. This also may indicate that the crew thinks JO's are incapable of doinf anything else well. It certainly isn't conclusive that this is the key to being a successful JO.

In any rate, I am guessing this survey is not nuke-centric ;-)

5/30/2013 8:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best Co I had was on the old NYC in the late 80's. He was quick to praise good work and leadership and equally quick to slam someone making a boneheaded mistake. My interview with him as qualifying QMOW went like this: Him "what is the one thing I want most of all from my QM's on watch?" After having observed his behavior while underway I answered; "To keep you off the rocks." He jumped yelled "Exactly!!" and signed my qual card. That said it all to me. I would go to war with him any day.

5/30/2013 8:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reference for JO enthusiasm being the #1 trait appreciated by their subordinates...the book that goes with this blog.

You've probably even read it at one point in time. In one eye...out the next?

BTW, you sound like your average "woe is (fuck) me" former or current nuke JO. A boomer guy by any chance? Maybe that 'neg' attitude is why you're working on the administration of surveys for a living now (for fuck's sake). Good luck with that.

5/30/2013 9:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Throttle back with the personal attacks and assumptions. Not productive.

Enthusiasm is an important leadership trait at all ranks (among all the other JJ DID TIE BUCKLE adjectives); nevertheless, the point about not developing management skills among the wardroom is a good one. The wardroom on my ustafish thought that personnel management was beneath an officer's job -- it was the goat locker's responsibity. "Chiefs run the division" was the company line. Well, the goat locker isn't who went to college to learn the cutting-edge efficient management techniques and theories from business leaders.

Management is an important leadership trait as well. We like to toot the warfighting horn, but the reality is that personnel in the Navy spend a significant amount of planning and performing duties that will get the ship ready to fight, but not actually fighting it. In 2013, that's the only thing the sub force does. Being inspirational and enthusiastic is not sufficient to get the ship through a maintenance availability or deployment workup. You need to be able to manage major events, people, and time. It is particularly integral to the DH/XO level to be expert managers, especially for the Eng. But as stated, that skillset is never taught. Instead, the most book-smart JOs are selected for Eng and they figure out (or not) how to manage a department's maintenance and inspection schedule via trial by fire.

I eventually figured out (never was taught) that the most useful management thing a JO can do is be the link between the CPO's divisional planning and the ship's schedule. The wardroom is privy to more planning meetings and CO-XO-DH conversations over coffee in the wardroom than the CPO quarters. Being able to critically review the quarterly schedule(s) on a frequent basis, look ahead a few weeks, and tell your CPO when the jenga puzzle doesn't work because of another critical event occurring can save dozens of man-hours in frustration. An addendum to that is to remind him of what the DH/ship's priorities are when the schedule gets too, so he knows what he can put off to let his guys go home at a reasonable hour. It's the difference between guys having to come in on a Saturday to accomplish something or moving it to fit into the weekly/monthly plan, particularly if it has to move to the 'left'.

In the end, many Admirals (including ADM Richardson) beat the drum that our people are our most important asset. If that is true, it's long overdue that we formally teach our leaders how to effectively manage them and the schedule, instead of the blanket "leadership" courses in SOBC/SOAC that really just analyze how to handle ethical and integrity crisis management, but not how to manage your people on a daily basis. It would not be hard to integrate this into CPO initiation, SOBC, and SOAC.

5/30/2013 11:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apologies for calling you a 'boomer guy.' Don't know what took hold of me. Time for a blog-break, I guess.

We all get the need for management skills. To your point, and speaking as someone who was an overhaul SSN Eng once upon a time, I would defy anyone to show me a decent training system to manage back in the early '90s. What was inherited blew chunks in terms of management interface, and probably still does...but hopefully. by now, exceeds my expectations.

But that comment goes mainly to the system itself, not management skills, per se. I got through PORSE and ORSE with acceptable, mediocre, 'average' grades...but we could have done so much better with the right systems in place.

Going off-line for a good long while. Semper Fidelis.

5/30/2013 11:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The best Co I had was on the old NYC in the late 80's."

That NYC CO had been a college football linebacker and captain of the team. So he wasn't a typical submarine officer.

That NYC CO also was able to change the boat to a no-tobacco boat during a short stint in the floating drydock. Plenty of advanced warning for the crew, but it still took his force of personality to make it stick. At least one other Pearl boat tried to emulate his approach, but the CO wasn't up to the task.

That NYC CO also knew how to play the game to make the boat's inspection scores/his FITREPs better. I didn't particularly like some of his tactics in doing so, but it certainly was effective.

5/30/2013 12:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes a good submarine CO? An example of what makes a pitiful CO, and represents the epitome for loss of CONFIDENCE ...hat tip to Vigilis.

5/30/2013 2:34 PM

Blogger fourfastboats said...

There is no simple answer to the question "What makes a good submarine CO?".

Much depends upon whose perspective we talking about. The wardroom, CPOs quarters, crew, the guy who signs your FITREP, or those at higher levels who will have input on your FITREP and your future assigments will all have a different perspective.

Which of these matters most to you?
Are you looking at command at sea as the greatest job you will ever have, or merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things? What do you want to be remembered for and by whom? Right or wrong, everyone has different motivations and will answer those questions according to those motivations and aspirations - and when truly pressed these will come out.

Command is a balancing act and it is not difficult to get out of balance. There are many examples at either end of the spectrum; from killing a crew with kindness to mission accomplishment at any cost. Anyone who has been around awhile has examples.

It is tough to keep all the plates spinning. If you are excelling in one area, it is probably at the expense of another area (and quite possibly crew morale).

That said, I think that a crew wants someone that they can respect, that clearly communicates their standards and expectations and is consistent. To me that means that you have to walk the walk and can not be one of those "do as I say, not as I do" kind of guys. The crew is not stupid. It listens to everything that the CO says, but may not hear what you are trying to tell them - this is where you need a good COB to ensure that your crew understands your message. The crew watches everything that you do and they will remember everytime that your actions and words do not match.

I do not know any of the details involved in this most recent case, but have a hard time believing that the way this individual lived his personal life did not impact the performance of his ship.

5/30/2013 9:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The best Co I had was on the old NYC in the late 80's."

I served on the NYC in the late 80's under the CO known as Terrible Tom Travis.

5/31/2013 8:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NYC CO that played college football was Charlie Miletich. Since he already was the CO in 1991, he must have relieved former CSS-7 Engineer Tom Travis as CO NYC.

I note that both Travis and Miletich won the Pacific Fleet Stockdale Leadership Award. The lone winner between them was Jon Greenert, the current CNO.

5/31/2013 9:28 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Late to the party, but here's my .02 from the former blueshirt perspective:

To me, there are three simple questions you need to ask of every CO, hell, every officer, in order to find out how far they'll go: 1--Do you respect them as a PERSON? 2--Do you respect them as a LEADER? 3--Would you go into battle with this person?

Failure in any area is cause for failure overall. In my time in, I knew of exactly TWO CO's who I could say yes to all three questions. Both made flag. Of all the DH/XO/CO's I can recall who didn't fit those criteria, none made flag. Notice that I didn't say "liked" or even "agreed with" in there. You can have a ballbuster for a CO but if he articulates his decisions and leads from the front, that's going to go a hell of a lot further than the, "Because I'm the Captain, that's why!" style of leadership.

That style doesn't work with bubbleheads, as we're all aware. I've had CO's who could drive the boat to hell and back but were total scumbags (Pearl, late 80's) in the personal conduct department. Then there were the ones who while they did well on ORSE or TRE, you just couldn't see them sailing up against the enemy and putting the wood to the bad guys.

And on another note, looks like the Russians are going to be back up to longer patrols in their boomers. Sleep well, gents.

6/01/2013 4:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They advertised a med patrol. Would provide some good port calls for the SSN that goes out to track him, provided this isn't just more hot air from the Kremlin.

6/02/2013 11:50 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I’d like a CO who seen and done everything…a truly worldly and wise man. Not just a technocrat. A "Rick Blaine" type of guy...a character who has the capability to act in isolation and independently if called upon.

Utterly loyal and in love with the USA!

6/02/2013 4:05 PM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

What makes a good CO? A good XO and a good (strong) COB.

The best CO in the world will look like a turd if the COB is a self centered asshole.

If the CO has to do all of the dirty work, because the XO can't seem to bring himself to kick some ass, and the goat locker is taking advantage of the gap in leadership, that CO will fail.

The rule used to be; The (smart) CO is the good guy, and the XO was the asshole to carry out the CO's orders. Those orders were usually hard to justify or swallow, but were necessary for the mission.

The COB made sure the enlisted did what they were told by the officers.

The above made for a good dynamic, but one that was hard to find. I saw it once in my career. I had a smart, likable CO, an asshole (but not stupid) XO and a great, fair COB.

I have had 2 of the 3 twice in my career.

The atmosphere changes as each individual leaves. A new CO will hose the dynamic quickly. An ass-kissing XO will screw up the dynamic quicker. A bad COB will kill a boat - no matter how good the CO is.

6/03/2013 5:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would submit that a good CO can get a below-average COB to turnaround...or get rid of him. Same with the XO. If the XO/COB don't pull their weight and the CO doesn't do anything about it or compensates through micro-managing, well...whose fault is that?

But this goes back to having management skills that the Navy doesn't teach, and apparently some people detest.

6/03/2013 4:52 PM

Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

That fat little fucker Maj. Nidal Hasan wants to represent himself in court. Can you believe it? He'll be face to face with some of his victims as well if this should happen. Wow, what a sad world the Army lives in.

Joel, when you're thinking of a new subject to post...What about asking, if anyone here has ever been involved in an Article 32. What, Who, Why, Where and how did it happen? What was the final outcome?

Sound like a journalist don't I? Sorry, that was not my intent. The last thing I read was about that idiot Jackass Husan.

6/03/2013 9:20 PM

Anonymous Dardar the Submarian said...

Sorry for the dated response. I forgot this isn’t the days of yore, when “firing” wasn’t the norm. One had to fuck up grandiose to get fired. I have seen it – to a COB – but we were very typically stuck with whatever douche bag showed up for at least 2 years.

Firing isn’t a leadership skill, it is a reality show.

Leadership is taking 200 lbs of shit and sculpting a shit statue. You can’t fix shit, but you can make it work. That is what leadership is.

With that sculpting comes a cost to the command. While the CO is concentrating on his command team, he is neglecting the mission, at least in the eyes of the crew. That is what I’m talking about. With a good XO and/or especially a good COB, the CO WILL be free to run his ship his way. . . Leading the ship. . . Managing the crew.

That is when you can see a good CO – or bad one.

Sorry for assuming.

6/04/2013 5:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Nuke, I found the COB to be useless.

But, a lot of things depends on what the boat is doing (ie, in shipyard, normal operations, deployment, etc). Not likely to find a CO who excels in all environments of the sub force.

Each has different focus and thus differing needs of management style.

As for a COB, I always thought the COB was insignificant to my daily life as a Nuke outside of lucking into a line handling position on the man. watchbill.

As a former TED, I found the CO who treated the crew as people and not mindless chess players made the crew generally more positive. The rest fell into place (or not) based on the attitude of the crew. Had three COs and the over bearing style doesn't work that's for sure.

Piss off and wear out the crew day in and day out and you'll get a tired crew who hates you, hates the Navy, and counts down to EAOS.

Set goals and incentives for the crew and you'll have a team under you, not puppets. My best CO set clearly defined goals for the crew, you knew when drills would be done, what work-ups were coming etc and the boat became well oiled and the groveling went way down.

My worst CO treated everything as if it was fire-fighting and jumping from one "crisis" to the next and wore everyone out.

6/04/2013 5:53 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

What do you think about that Russian Submarine prowling off our coast? I say invite them into our ports and show all them sailors a good time.

If I was Obama I’d make the invitation first by media…then a official invite.

6/04/2013 10:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

dardar, one doesn't become a COB/EDMC or XO by being a shitbag. Yea, there are the few COBs who look at the fact that there are no more promotions to earn as a free ticket to do whatever he wants, but by and large if you show me a bad XO/COB/EDMC, you have a weak CO who doesn't know how to manage his staff and set clear priorities.

Managing the crew? That's the DIVOs and LCPOs jobs, with a little bit of DH thrown in for macro event planning. The DHs are supposed to manage the DIVOs, the XO the DHs, and CO the XO/COB. If the CO is directly managing the crew other than having normal, human conversations with them about life, family, etc., or taking someone to mast for egregious offenses, then he's operating at 3-4 levels beneath him.

6/04/2013 10:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have met at least 1 COB and 1 EDMC that were not very impressive. That was on exactly one 32 month JO tour. Granted, I have less experience than many, but when fully half of the Master Chief's I've worked with sucked... well... that's not a good sign.

6/04/2013 11:16 PM

Blogger fourfastboats said...

" one doesn't become a COB/EDMC or XO by being a shitbag"

The CO had to be an XO first, so by that logic...

There are plenty of examples of poor leadership at any level.

The CO/XO screening process is not perfect - there will always be some that get through that probably should not, but it is a fair process. There are always complaints about it, but never any constructive or reasonable recommendations to improve it. Simply put past performance is the best indicator we have, but does not guarantee future success.

Certainly the CO sets the tone for the leadership team. He has to be comfortable in his (or her) own skin to recognize their own weaknesses and recognize where the strengths of the XO and COB can compliment his (or her) abilities.

At the end of the day in small commands (like submarines) it is the CO who deservedly takes the lion's share of the credit when things go well, or the blame when things don't.

It is one thing to criticize a CO for what he (or she) did or did not do. It is another to learn from them and apply that when you are in their shoes. It is not as easy as it looks and it is not for everyone.

6/05/2013 12:56 AM

Anonymous xmgt said...

I'm a little late to the punch here, but for anyone interested in further reading on the common refrain that we have bred "boldness" out of today's COs, here's a great article from Undersea Warfare I came across today:

6/05/2013 1:25 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Removing some spamments. Thanks to everyone else for keeping the discussion on track.

6/06/2013 8:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great thread Joel. I'm in the firm belief, a "Good Submarine CO" cares, listens to his crew, and especially the Chief's Quarters. We can all think of our favorite skippers immediately right? I know without a doubt, the great ones cared, and were probably mentored by a good chief as a JO. The power never went to their head, and they didn't become pompous, conceited, arrogant, egotistical, screamers. We all know the type right? I’m personally at about one good CO, for every two bad CO’s, but that was my experience. It takes a bad one or two, to REALLY appreciate the good ones, when you get them. The worst CO's I've ever had were worried too much about meeting spurious deadlines, passing bogus inspections and sucking up to the ISSC’s. And they'll go down as some of the worst…ever. So look at it like this – when you’re retired, who are the ones you liked and remembered?

6/06/2013 11:34 AM

Blogger DDM said...

Agree with Anon @ 11:34. The best COs were the ones who could communicate well at all levels and kept the crew focused on the mission. Inspections were a requirement, not the end-all, be-all that some of my less than favorite COs made them. I recently read the book "Turn The Ship Around", by a former XO I served under. It's a pretty interesting read on leadership.

6/08/2013 4:14 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Reading through the responses, I sorta wish we'd seen more comments in the direction of the good CO being a competent warrior. One who could take the boat into battle and prevail. One of the spirit 'come-back-proudly-carrying-my-shield ... or being-borne-atop-it.' That fight and win stuff, that's got something to do with why we have a submarine force in the first place. Just saying...

6/08/2013 10:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goes back to needing to be at war to have competent warriors. Exercises and trainers don't count.

What you really mean by competent warrior is someone with charisma, who you think with a good deal of certainty won't crumble if the shit ever hit the fan.

6/08/2013 5:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sanity check re. the 'warrior mem': how many of these boats ever fired a warshot in anger...?

Just sayin'. There's little doubt in my mind that come the next shootin' war with submarines, there will be a very loud collective sneeze heard as the politician COs are expunged in favor of the most aggressive and truly 'warrior' COs.


6/08/2013 6:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My hubby was a submariner so I'm usually just a lurker here but I read this and then went to find out some more because of what I heard earlier (some on this blog). I don't know her but we have some of my friends do and she answers email. I do know him, from a long time ago but he won't answer his email, even from my husband. Funny that.

It's really a lot worse than what's been made public. This isn't even about a relationship gone bad, although it doesn't sound like he can handle even a breakup. email? Seriously? He could have just said something before she moved across the world. My kid has more honor and courage than that and he can't even drive yet. This guy's idea of commitment is a three ring circus.
It's not a relationship when he lied and manipulated someone from day one or exposed them to potential STDs and other medical problems and then lied about even that. When someone says NO, they don't want to be treated like that, he should have left them all alone. Instead, he kept up the mind-fuckery for years and watched them lose their careers and take on other financial losses because of him and his family. He took away one girl’s family treasures and household goods while he handed out engagement rings like they were recycled aluminum. He dumped his family on another girl and then dumped her when he didn't need her anymore. He sent emails that he couldn't imagine finding anyone as perfect for him just a week before he emailed that he already had someone else. Going after someone in such a cruel unwelcome way for years? That's the sickest case of stalking I've ever heard of.
Someone needs to buy the Navy a dictionary because they keep throwing around words like honor,courage,commitment. If they think this guy "exemplifies" all that, well I don't think those words mean what they think they mean.

Maybe incredibly irresponsible guys who lie and steal can make it as a CO but they sure wouldn't make it as leaders in the real world.

6/09/2013 9:30 AM

Anonymous NaCly Dog said...

IRT Anon 6/09/2013 9:30 AM:

Fleet Admiral King.
Asshole, liar, egomaniac, screaming control freak, seducer of his command's wives and other wives, heavy drinker, hard partier, Naval Aviator with no solo flights after his first solo, graduate of Submarine School as a CAPT, operationally inept Commander of a 4 sub division for a year, and never wore dolphins.

Promoted and given plum assignments by senior officers he had pissed off, because he had other gifts. His seniors recognized King's professional abilities outweighed his personal deficiencies.

It's not like that today.

6/09/2013 12:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also FADM King decided that we should let our convoys get sunk by German U-boats because, when faced with the fact that he had no ships designed to specifically be convoy escorts and wouldn't for about a year, he chose to give no escort rather than allocate some DDs or FFs as a stop-gap like the British did (the British plan worked). He also pointed to the Army Air Corps and said "they're not giving me aircraft for coastal ASW."

Great warfighting leadership there.

6/09/2013 3:20 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

Anon @ 6/08/2013 6:20 PM

You nailed it.

6/09/2013 3:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 9:30 am,

No one forced these women to be in a relationship with this man. If he was manipulative and played "mind games" for 3 years, they could've gotten out at any time.

Your first line says that the CO did more than break off engagements in bad taste, but the rest of your post is relationship drama that has no business determining whether someone keeps their job in the military or anywhere else.

What's that saying..."all's fair in love and war."

6/09/2013 3:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Rubber Ducky:

Thank you, and back at 'cha.

My earlier comment should have also mentioned these 11 boats in addition to the 123 featured in the earlier link.

Mea culpa. wondering just how many men were in all those no-warshots-in-anger boats' crews.'s this for a SWAG guesstimate (ignoring NR-1 as a non-combatant):

(110 men/crew * 41 boomers * 2 crews/boomer * 30 years / 3 years/crew) + (110 men/crew * 93 fast attacks * 30 years / 3 years/crew) = 192,500 men...? Give or take a few? Y'think?

6/10/2013 1:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one of those "staff/training weenies," I can honestly say that there are some good COs out there and can also say that as a force, our system of certification is rigged against good CO's that know how to fight their ship. A few weeks ago I watched a great CO receive a terrible evaluation on an approach and attack in one of our attack centers as part of deployment workup. Quite frankly, it was one the most awe inspiring displays of bad ass ship driving and torpedo shooting I had ever seen. I felt like I was reading a page from Fluckey's book. He was willing to come home with an empty torpedo room and the evaluators were pissed he was shooting without "verifying" the bad guy. Good news is the CO is going on to Major Command, the bad news is that we evaluated his warfighting skills as "reckless." Go figure.

6/11/2013 9:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have military radar systems on our surface ships that will pick up and auto-target sub scopes at a range that far exceeds our effective torpedo range. It is not a stretch to assume our enemies also have these. Yet we insist on getting visual ID on the enemy. If we were ever at war, that equals death by air-dropped torpedo.

PS: Yes, I recognize that unrestricted submarine warfare violates the Geneva Conventions, hence the emphasis on visual ID to confirm you are shooting a warship. But then the only option is to not engage because engaging an ASW capable warship at PD means certain death.

6/11/2013 10:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The great CO may have been shooting contacts that were making 30+ knots on twin shafts without visual identification. If the staff/training weenies were evaluating that as "reckless," perhaps they should have the staff/training RPPO requisition them some balls and a bit of common sense.

6/13/2013 6:55 PM

Anonymous soggycrow said...

When I was XO in Sculpin the word went out on the NLON waterfront that RADM R. H. O'Kane was coming to town for a book signing. It was his second book, on the subject of the Tang patrols. His first had covered his Wahoo days under Mush Morton.

He had also agreed to address the submarine officer community. This was set up at the auditorium up the hill at SSEP.

He appeared to be frail, wearing a suit that was about two sizes too large. He wore his Medal of Honor.

We all expected to be electrified by his personal reflections on war in submarines. He was a direct link to what we all thought was a more daring, swashbuckling submarine force - before Rickover.

O'Kane spoke forcefully for about a half hour, and what it all boiled down to was - "if you expect to have to fight your boat, get down in the bilges and learn every pipe and valve." It was all about engineering excellence. It might as well have been Rickover.

Rickover did not change the soul of the submarine force. He was aligned well with it.

7/02/2013 9:37 AM


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