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

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Old Topeka Shipmates In The News

Hot on the heels of the story of my old Weps from USS Topeka (SSN 754) hosting a famous tennis star, I noticed two more Navy stories about some of my old wardroom buddies from the "Defender of the Heartland" -- these guys were JOs with me, so they're now on their submarine command tours.

The first discusses the recent return from the sub's 40th deterrent patrol of USS Maine (SSBN 741) (Blue), commanded by my old shipmate CDR John Tollier. Captain Tolliver discusses how the boat was out for 98 days on this patrol, thereby earning the sub and crew the Sea Service Deployment ribbon. The story also mentions something I either never knew or had forgotten -- apparently if a crew has two 80-day patrols then they also earn the Sea Service ribbon. I wonder -- does that only applies to Sailors on one crew, or do they get credit if they transfer from one sub to another and get the required patrols/deployments during a year? (Looking at the applicable instruction -- starting on page 4-45 of a big .pdf file of SECNAVINST 1650.1G -- it looks like that wouldn't be the case, which strikes me as kind of unfair.)

The second is a picture of my old shipmate CDR Mike Tesar re-enlisting three of his crewmen from USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) aboard the USS Bowfin Museum at Pearl Harbor:

You gotta love seeing guys wearing whites in November -- Hawaii is a great place. You also gotta love seeing the 3 junior nukes getting a combined total of almost a quarter million dollars for what normally amounts to about an extra two years each above their current obligation for their first re-enlistment. I think it's one of the Navy's best methods of long-term retention of nukes -- it gets them to shore duty, which gives them a chance to catch their breath after their first sea duty and evaluate their career options. Hopefully the term "buy-a-crow" for this type of re-enlistment (if the guy is an E-4, like the middle Sailor pictured) has gone out of favor; that being said, I'm still in favor of the use of the term "rent-a-crow" to describe all of us nukes and other technical rates who get automatically promoted to E-4 for finishing A-School; I liked the money, but always thought that was kind of cheesy -- especially for the MMs who made MM3 within 2 months of finishing boot camp back before they made all the nuke A-schools longer sometime in the 90s.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ribbons for 98 and 80 day patrols...???
In the 70's 100 day patrols were the norm and all we got was another star for the patrol pin.

11/22/2008 7:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning MAINE Warriors.

11/22/2008 7:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ribbons? Pins? pfft. During Earnest Will (6 mo.) we were 1 or 2 days short of a second beer day, some "imminent danger" pay, and an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (although mine appears to have been lost in the mail). Normal WestPacs were supposed to be <6 months, with no other benefits.
Well, port visits. Except Diego Garcia.

11/22/2008 10:26 AM

Blogger reddog said...

I was not aware that 100 day patrols were the norm. We were submerged all Summer of '76, it was fairly unusual at the time.

Isn't it cute how boomer bunnies give themselves awards for keeping the hatch closed. Do ya'll get an oak leaf cluster for good personal hygiene?

11/22/2008 10:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Longest I ever did a fast boat between ports (chin hae and bahrain) was 70 days. 98 days is a pretty long run without tying up. I don't think they gave themselves anything, I think they earned it.

It is good that they get some recognition as port calls for boomer sailers have been off the table for years.

Having done both sides of the force, some things on bns are easier, some are harder. On average it can be a little more pleasent with the ability to actually plan vacations. You do tend to spend more christmases underway on the bns. (like the mail the mission never stops)

Boomer bunny comment sounds like it came from a yard bird.

11/22/2008 10:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All that money and they will still whine about being nukes!

Anyway, more importantly, I heard that ANAV pay is going up to $750.

11/22/2008 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it normal to reenlist with a hand on a Bible?

11/22/2008 11:32 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Yes. Normally each ship has a Bible, and everyone who re-enlists (or promoted) and takes their oath on it will sign it.

11/22/2008 3:18 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Problem is the whole advancement and reenlistment system is out of whack. I spent 5 year grinding out an EM2 the hard way (only 11% advanced with me if I recal correctly) while ET's and now to a lesser extend MM's are picking up second as soon as they get to the boat and take a test. So EM retention is up because you cant advance without reenlisting meanwhile ET bonuses go through the roof because there is no incentive to reenlist because making PO2 is nearly automatic. I'm not sure how to fix the system, only that it need fixing

11/22/2008 5:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're Nuclear guys can make E-5 roughly 6 months after A school as a MM or ET on the Nuclear side? What in the world is wrong with that?

It took me 3 years to make E-5. If the Nucs can make it in a year or less because of their accomplishments, then all power to them.

Hell, I say go for it.

SSGT J. Casey

11/22/2008 6:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

$247k for an axtra two years each? Let's see, if my radcon math is correct, that's ~$82K per nuke, or $41k per extra year. Counting that + base pay + sea pay + pro pay + sub pay, they still end up getting the ol' nav bone-us. Commercial nukes are currently paying signing bonuses, retention bonuses, relocation, etc., and virtually all guarantee a minimum of $100k/year after 18 months. I certainly hope they didn't re-up for the $.

11/22/2008 8:04 PM

Blogger carbs said...

The first thing I noted when I saw the photo was "replace those propellers with globes, and the bonuses are cut in half."

I did this out of boredom a year ago, and just updated it - it shows just what the electricians are up against:
Zone A SRB multiples

jpveez is dead on about the vicious cycle in EM land. But I wonder how much of that is driven by changes in demand as more 774s come on line.

There's a flaw in the two years for "stop at BIG BUCKS" - you'd likely have to extend for any reasonable shore orders. Exhibit: my roommate from NH, who had to tack on 21 months to obtain orders to NPTU Ballston Spa.

It's not six months after A school for MMs and ETs, though. It's often on the first advancement exam after arriving in the fleet. I made E-5 off my first test on the boat (a week after checking in), and was getting paid for ET2 at 2 years, 8 months.

Of course, even electricians can overcome this, if they test the one to be frocked alongside myself this week. I'm sure jpveez knows who I'm talking about...

- Matt [ET1(ss)(sel)]
twelve fluid ounces

11/23/2008 7:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding EM advancement:

I got to a boat in '86 and made EM2 on the first test on the boat. Others in my division didn't score high enough to get it. That was the last test until after I got out in 1990 that any nuke EM was advanced via rating exam - too many STAR re-enlistments. BTW, I also made EM1 on my first test and it was "pass and be advanced."


11/23/2008 11:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im an EM on the Cheyenne so I know these guys. All the MM3's that took the exam in March made it. Fortunately I was one of the few EMs to make EM2 this cycle, but it took blowing the exam out of the water. The advancement for EMs is on the rise. The previous cycle 18% made 2nd and this time 28% made it. While money is unfortunately a big driving factor in reenlisting so is being able to move out of the barracks.

11/24/2008 7:36 PM


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