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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

When A LT(j.g.) Gets A "Good Idea"

Navy Times has an article about a proposal on the USNI Blog from LT(j.g.) Zack Howitt to recognize the skimmers doing Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) missions. Excerpt from the initial blog post:
Of all the missions the Surface Navy does, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) might be the least sexy. It involves sitting in a small box in the middle of the ocean for weeks, usually far away from land or even any commercial shipping traffic. Ships on station need to be in a specific engineering and combat systems configuration at all times so they can track or engage a target at a moments notice. This means there aren’t many opportunities for training, ship handling, gun shoots, swim calls, and other evolutions. Sometimes, a poor middle-of-the-ocean satellite uplink makes the internet unusable, and “River City” could be set (meaning the internet is turned off completely) for bandwidth constraints or upholding Operational Security (OPSEC) due to mission sensitivities. Depending on the ship’s heading and location, TV-DTS (the Navy’s satellite TV connection) could go down as well...
...What is needed is a real way to recognize BMD service to the fleet, starting with the most junior Sailor. In fact, we need to do more than recognize it; we need to make it prestigious among the Surface Warfare community. One platform with a comparable mission is the Strategic Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBNs). Besides the fact that SSBN patrols are much more predictable in terms of deployment schedule, their missions are similar. Like BMD ships, they go on patrol for several weeks at a time, in a small box, at a secret location in the ocean, waiting for an order to shoot a missile that most likely will not come. However, because the Navy have taken basic steps to appreciate them in their past, the importance of their deterrence mission, as an integral part of the nuclear triad, is without question. SSBN Sailors are awarded a special uniform device, called the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia (more popularly known as the “Boomer Pin”). This device is the only of its kind in the Navy and can be worn even in addition to their submarine warfare devices on all their uniforms...
...I believe BMD is worthy of having its own special uniform device like the Boomer Pin, but creating a new BMD Service Ribbon is more realistic since it would probably require less red tape to be implemented. Similar to the eligibilities of other service ribbons, one award of the BMD Service Ribbon could be given to all personnel who are on station for 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days over the span of one deployment or every one year if forward-deployed...
And here's some reaction from the Navy Times article:
A BMD badge, critics contend, smacks of being merely an award for good attendance.
“There are lots of long, boring, or constrained patrols out there that don’t get a service ribbon,” one active-duty USNI reader commented on the blog post. “If we used ‘painful but important’ morale-ribbon logic, we might justify a ribbon for everything from INSURV to painting.”
So what do you think of the young officer's idea? While we can chortle and guffaw at the poor skimmer crew that occasionally loses internet connectivity when we think of the "FamilyGram" concept, is there a chance he's on to something, and that this is the sort of "out-of-the-box" thinking that's need to fight and win wars in the 21st century? Feel free to pile on weigh in in the comments.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always thought the "boomer pin" was BS. This is too.

8/10/2013 3:53 PM

Anonymous LT L said...

"This means there aren’t many opportunities for training, ship handling, gun shoots, swim calls, and other evolutions."

Never seemed to bother the boomer guys.

— LT L

8/10/2013 3:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

>... sometimes, a poor middle-of-the-ocean satellite uplink makes the internet unusable, and “River City” could be set (meaning the internet is turned off completely)...

Oh the horror! No internet? They should get a medal for that alone...

I vote big fat NO! to the boring job warfare pin. I also vote to get rid of the boomer pin. Same reason for not being allowed. It is an attendance pin, not a recognition of mastering of a trade.

A shiny piece of medal on your chest to explain that you have spent numerous 11-12 week to nowhere cruises doing nothing does not improve morale. After my JO boomer tour, I never wore my boomer pin again.

8/10/2013 4:58 PM

Blogger Don the Baptist said...

I vote YES as long as it's officially designated the "Boring Job Warfare Pin."

8/10/2013 5:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bouy Pin

8/10/2013 6:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more piece of unearned chest candy. As the author said, it's an attendance award.

8/10/2013 6:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What service does he think that he is in, the Air Force?

8/10/2013 6:30 PM

Blogger LT H said...

I served on a boomer. I believe strongly in the mission that we performed day in and day out and could honestly care less if I had a pin to show for it. The idea that you get a ribbon simply for showing up for a job that you were assigned to do is for the Air Force, not the Navy. Even the truly exceptional units do not get recognized for extraordinary work - a unit commendation beyond the Battle E is very rare for boomers.

All the "hardships" the naive jg mentions have been a fact of life for the boomer navy for decades. No internet? Boo-freakin-hoo. Each crew still finds ways to train to fight the ship, carry out other missions, etc., while on alert. Each crew still finds ways to relieve the boredom. The surface BMD force will get the hang of it eventually, though their secret location will likely be given away by the high-pitched whine of people complaining that their job isn't sexy enough.

8/10/2013 6:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If all it took was ribbons, medals and pins to support retention in boring jobs, every seaman recruit would have a rack like Chesty Puller.

"Loss of Internet Service Medal"...suck it up you pansy.

8/10/2013 7:08 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I find it hard to believe that no training or drills occur with the surface ship is on BMD patrol. There is a great deal of training that can be done without effecting a mission. Just ask those SSBN crews. I don't know if it is still done but in the sixties and seventies, SSNS that went on "detached operations" got to award the crew the Navy Expeditionary Medal (ribbon). Then a separate decoration was authorized - Just for showing up. The NUC or MUC, and an occasional PUC were for something really special. Napoleon is reputed to have said something to the effect that it is amazing what men will do for a piece of ribbon. The young LT may just have reinvented the wheel for his "beleaguered" fellow surface warriors (I believe we call them targets).

8/10/2013 7:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are various campaign awards given to servicemembers for breathing in a certain part of the world (such as the GWOT expeditionary medal). I see no reason why a BMD medal/ribbon can't be among them. It wouldn't be a prestigious award, just another thing among the myriad of campaign awards that already exist.

As for raising the prestige of the mission, that ain't gonna happen. Let's face it, if the worst thing you have to deal with in your deployment is no internet, then you've got it pretty good.

8/10/2013 8:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

YGBSM, right?


8/10/2013 10:33 PM

Blogger Alicia said...

This is what happens when everyone gets a trophy.

8/11/2013 8:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was fortunate to have served with many WWll vets on my boat in 1960. The only pin that mattered to them was their war patrol pin. One Chief had a Silver Star. I don't know what he had to do to get that, and don't wanna know. The chest candy they wore during an inspection was to say the least, very impressive.

I happened to agree with Alicia...That's what happens when everyone gets a medal...for just showing up!

8/11/2013 9:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just says that its time to get ride of the boomer pin. It really waters down the wartime patrol pin, which was earned with BLOOD.

8/11/2013 9:32 AM

Blogger Curt said...

But... My Boomer Pin Gets Me In The VFW...

8/11/2013 10:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how is a BMD pin/ ribbon any different than my CO getting a bronze star for sitting in the red sea and shooting Tomahawks? He did his job and nothing more. after we got done shooting we went to the rack and played playstation and got a NAM. Woo-Hoo! The same a-holes bitch about who gets NAM's and COM's. If a piece of chest candy can motivate someone then so be it. Get a life and just wory about yourself.

8/11/2013 11:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WTF! That is epitome of a "do nothing" award. Me thinks the young Lt. needs to do a boomer patrol…

On the other hand, I think there should be an award for surviving a shipyard. For every 6 months you are in the yard, instead of a little star, you get a little silver crapper. At least it would be something to be proud of (-;

8/11/2013 1:13 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

"This is what happens when everyone gets a trophy." - Alicia

I totally agree with Alicia, and the next thing that will happen further dilution of submarine service from what the US Navy once called an elite branch, to an underwater OJT for nuclear careers and a stealthy bus service for SEALs, etc.

8/11/2013 3:32 PM

Blogger KellyJ said...

On one deployment the skippers modus operandi was "remain undetected." Hence we never went after the good stuff. Being a VLS boat we swiped a guys boomer pin, cut the missile off and soldered it to the bow, and proclaimed ourselves the award of the SSGN Deterent Patrol Pin.
On a different deployment in the early days of battle group ops their was much infighting among Admirals over unit awards. The Battle Group Commander would submit the award, but CSP would get pissy because it wasn't routed through them for a the award was given to all the skimmers. When we submitted an Awards package to CSP they again balked since we were a CVBG asset and should have submitted it to the BG Admiral.
So we created a brown ribbon with a bronze steaming pile pinned on and called it the Fleet Unit Commendation with a Joint Operations Badge (FUCJOB).

8/11/2013 3:47 PM

Blogger Scuba Steve said...

Wait, no internet and no swim calls either? This guy doesn't speak for the rest of us. Someone please kick this idiot in the nuts.

LT(j.g.) (SS)

8/11/2013 3:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys, if you really place some thought into this, all ribbons on your chest are from being in the right place at the right time...nothing more. The only exception to this is any achievement medal, commendation medal or higher. Sometimes even these are BS. This also includes the "great silver dolphin giveaways" that every boat has for midshipmen, and non-deserving slugs once in awhile. Even some medal of honor winners will state that they were in the right place at the right time. Now, here is the truth: I am proud of every ribbon and medal I have on my chest. Every one of them hard earned through sacrifice of my time, efforts, family life, etc. Yes, some of them were from being in the right place at the right time, but so were the WWII vets on their war patrol, the guy who runs into battle to save his shipmate, etc.. I earned every damn ribbon and medal I have, and SO HAVE YOU! Yes, I have a boomer pin, and I am damn proud to have that too. None of you have any right to say that a medal or ribbon was not earned, or a rank was not earned.

(2 fast attacks and 3 boomers)

8/11/2013 5:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ETC, your last sentence says it all:

"None of you have any right to say that a medal or ribbon was not earned, or a rank was not earned."

What really matters is if the person that earns it feels that it is deserved and if that same person is truly proud of his/her accomplishments.

8/11/2013 5:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of good idea, what about the one just floated by DOD to allow faggots 10 days EXTRA leave to go get "married" in a sodomite friendly state?

8/11/2013 6:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ anom 0651 pm

Do you need more time?

8/12/2013 6:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^ Awww, don't get all butt-hurt because he didn't use PC language to create a kinder, gentler image of reality.

8/12/2013 10:04 AM

Anonymous SparkyWT said...

10 days extra leave for travel to a friendly state? What are they travelling in, a replica of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert bus?

You can get almost anywhere in CONUS in a single day, unless you hub thru Atlanta, then time dilation kicks in.

What's next, a Navy Relief pot of money to pay for the trip?

8/12/2013 10:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 6:02 AM

Re: your “@ anom 0651 pm"

• How can 0651 be PM?

• AM/PM are redundant when using 24 time.

8/12/2013 10:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boomer pins (I never heard the term Boomer while I was AD) came out right after my first Polaris patrol. I eventually made six of them.

I can tell you that the mission in the late 60’s and early 70’s was serious stuff. For our boat there were no port calls, swim calls, etc. Yes, we did a DASO out of the yards so got to have some fun in Cocoa for a little bit. Yes, we got a MUC for a successful FOT and a second one later for “something else”. Other than that it was Groton-Rota-Groton, etc. We all knew why we were doing what we are doing and took it very seriously.

I am not defending the awarding of trinkets, just saying that there were times when the world was a different place and the possibility of a bad ending was real.

8/12/2013 10:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one that was dual warfare qualified, I can happily say I have never worn a boomer pin on my uniform.

I finally broke down and bought one for my shadow box. I did 5 "patrols" on a SSBN out of Bangor with a total of 28 days alert time! Yes, I realize how sad that is, not my choice to go SSBN after 4 SSNs.

Oh and while you'll make cracks about the boomer pin in my shadow box, it is right next to my recruiting badge. Unfortunately, I earned both. :(


8/12/2013 2:19 PM

Anonymous 3383 said...

I agree with the 11Aug 113 PM post- after the Yard time medal. And before the Drone Air Medal/ Drone wings.

8/12/2013 9:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We actually called them Polaris Pins.

28 days alert time wasn't even one full patrol for us.

I can see why you were less than impressed. Now,about that SW thingy! :)

8/12/2013 9:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noting the earlier comment from Don the Baptist: "I vote YES as long as it's officially designated the "Boring Job Warfare Pin.""

I agree with Don, but would add the additional requirement that the appropriate acronym be used. The is the military, after all.

Thus the new, more efficient title: ""BJ Warfare Pin."

8/12/2013 10:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This also includes the "great silver dolphin giveaways" that every boat has for midshipmen, and non-deserving slugs once in awhile."

On my boat, once pinned by the CO, the Middies had to "earn" their silver fish through a humiliating series of events or hand them over. The majority handed them over. Those who didn't, did so half-way through the process. We had one snake-eater who actually earned his (minus qualifying watches) in about 3 weeks of non-stop studying. He loved the process, more than we did. He earned his.

8/12/2013 11:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's lost in all this is that the BMD skippers are all CAPTs not CDRs since BMD is a post-CO tour in the SWO community. If these CAPTs are anything like the CAPTs currently serving as SSGN skippers, the result is that his or her wardroom is getting far more NAMs and COMs because the skipper is the approval authority, not some off-hull senior officer. As a result, if LTJG Skimmer is worried about the size of his salad bar, he should stop worrying... no need for a pin.

As for giving up the SSBN deterrence patrol pin, I'll support that -- as soon as the SSBN crews are taken seriously for more than just the Sea Service Ribbon like their SSN/SSGN shipmates are.

8/13/2013 10:16 AM

Anonymous 4-Stop said...

So I guess Annon 8/11/2013 6:51 PM

these words do not apply to you, especially the last line right?

I am a United States Sailor.

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.

I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.

I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.

I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.

8/13/2013 11:12 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

What's lost in all this is that the BMD skippers are all CAPTs not CDRs since BMD is a post-CO tour in the SWO community.

Not true...BMD DDG's (SUL and CNY come to mind) are commanded by first-tour O-5's.

8/13/2013 12:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enough of this silliness. Who is ready to talk about a good old fashioned COB firing?

8/13/2013 2:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I guess Annon 8/11/2013 6:51 PM

these words do not apply to you, especially the last line right?
. . .
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.

Only in the warped mind of a peter puffer could granting 10 days E-X-T-R-A leave so two butt-pirates can get "married" be "fair."

8/13/2013 4:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is what happens when everyone gets a trophy." - Alicia

Funny, I guess the next thing that'll happen will be all boomers get a MUC/NUC... oh no, already happened! Going around and around and..

8/13/2013 8:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another fact not mentioned is the liberty ports a BMD ship gets to visit. Unlike a boomer who essentially sees their home port, once a BMD is done playing in the box, they get to go out and see the world. They are not attached to a task force, so independent ops it is! My son is on one of these ships and on one of their deployments, they made liberty call in 32 different locations. That is more ports than I visited on a SSN and SSBN for 8 eight years. They do not need a pin, they receive the benefit of additional liberty ports. Something boomer sailors can only dream of.

CWO3 (Ret)

8/13/2013 9:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's nice to see that the comments can always be counted on for hatred, bigotry, intolerance, and the worst of humanity.
Homophobia from the community that routinely grabs ass and balls, whips out their dicks for other men, and oil checks each other is always hilarous.

8/14/2013 6:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If disapproving of people ACTING upon their depraved BEHAVIOR (read that as faggots doing what they do), then I'm PROUD (your word, right) to be called intolerant or a homophobe, bigot, etc..

And don't kid yourself, people aren't nearly as accepting of this behavior as you like to believe. Just as Kinsey cooked the books on his well dis-proven 10% claim, the polls proclaiming widespread acceptance are more than likely cooked as well. You should hear what the "accepting" folks say when you're not around.

8/14/2013 8:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone this obsessed with homosexuality must be gay. Seriously dude, take a look in the mirror. Most of us just could not care less. Not only do you care, you seem to be getting totally freaked out over it, in the most over-the-top way.

We don't think less of you for putting the volleyball scene in Top Gun on continuous loop or however else you exercise your closeted gayness. You'll be getting busted smoking tube in some highway rest stop soon.

8/15/2013 11:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While they are at it, they should approve my Barge Warfare Device, for all the sailors stuck on the equally as boring deployment known as EDSRA. (before anyone jumps down my throat, this is all sarcasm.)

8/16/2013 11:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anyone this obsessed with homosexuality must be gay. Seriously dude, take a look in the mirror. Most of us just could not care less."

And...anyone who claims they "could not care less" in the very next sentence after having used homosexuality labeling as a pejorative clearly has plenty of their own issues.

Just sayin'.

8/16/2013 12:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny, good to see you still in the loop.

8/20/2013 9:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pins and ribbons help some guys to feel value in their service, but not everyone. This sounds like a junior guy wanting to make himself feel better about his mission by having some chest candy to show for it.
Working at a joint command now I have seen what I consider some significantly inflated awards pinned on guys that I don't think would have survived a single deployment or patrol in the sub force (done both many times) but we have each chosen our 'rates' and thereby chosen our fates.
In the end, our awards are a personal thing, about three tours ago when I had to submit my bio, the next to last line is a summary of your awards, I listed all my unit awards and my battle E's listing my personal awards as only "in addition to personal awards." One of the things I have loved for over 20 years of submarining is the men and the community. I personally take pride in the accomplishments of my ships and crews and god willing I expect my orders any day back to sea for what will most likely be my last ride. Something exciting, but bitter sweet at the same time. In any case, I am ready to leave the strange place that is PACOM.

8/20/2013 9:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^^^ Well said, stowe4c! Nice to see you are still fighting the good fight. I never always agreed with you, but we are definately on the same page with this. You were part of something good, based on the number of JOs who continued and are or already have been successful at the DH level. I count at least 8 off the top of my head. Good luck with the next step, see you out there.

8/21/2013 9:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No internet AND no TV??? How do they survive? It must also suck when they can't call home daily, the vending machines are empty, and the ship's store runs out of geedunk.
This guy should STFU and get a life. Maybe cross deck him to an SSN for a long mission and he will see how green our grass is.

10/11/2013 12:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! Where is my "mess crank" medal for my 60 days of scullery/galley duty?

How about an UNREP medal for way too many times sitting on top of 7.5 million gallons of DFM and JP5 while steaming at 18 knots with a ship 200 feet off of both beams at the same time...while connected to them with a large collection of hoses and cables?

Seriously, most of my medals are unit citations and "being there" awards. The only ones I really earned were the rifle and pistol. I use the term "earned" loosely. When you grow up hitting the wheat fields for deer season, the "E" on the rifle ribbon isn't difficult.

Internet? Was a civilian again before I ever heard of it. Instead, there was a used book store in Alameda that was always VERY happy to see me.

Obviously, I was surface fleet. Left the Navy in '93 as an IC2. Last seagoing command was the USS Kansas City (AOR-3).

10/14/2013 11:28 PM

Blogger Jeff Hall said...

"Swim Call" on a boomer was a threat.

2/27/2014 12:21 PM

Blogger Jeff Hall said...

What is an STSCS anyway? I thought it was a mess crank in khakis. Try being an engineer, our "patrols" started when we got to the boat and ended seeing daylight for the first time in 105 days at change of command.

2/27/2014 12:41 PM


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