Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Obama Shuts Down Norfolk Navy Base

I got a call today from an irate retired Master Chief that still works onboard Naval Station Norfolk. It seems that early liberty was called today for all hands at about 1430 so that the base would be clear for Air Force One to deliver the President to a campaign stop at Old Dominion University for Democrat candidate for Governor, Creigh Deeds.

The Master Chief had a few choice comments for shutting down the entire base for BHO to come politicking: "How much money was wasted today on politics when Chiefs are about to be Rif'd out of the Navy?"

Now, I love a good early liberty just like the next guy but why did they have to get rid of the entire base so Obama could fly in to the old NAS field? Were his handlers afraid he'd run into a couple of salty blueshirts? Did they have to shut down I564 too when all he needed was to go 5 miles down Hampton Blvd?

Just don't tell the hard charging sailors of Subron 6 that their favorite watering hole across from ODU, Friar Tuck's is off limits until after his highness departs; then you will have a riot on your hands.

I'd have to classify this situation as All Slack, No Attack.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WWII Memorial Needs Update

I recently had the chance to go to DC for a conference and I ran across the World War II Memorial. While this memorial is a somber structure that conveys the sacrifices made by the American people, it lacks a certain focus.

The only thing missing is the fleet boat conning tower emerging from the middle of the reflecting pool. Maybe there needs to be a Submarine Memorial in Washington. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where is the Bull Dolphin?

In the last few weeks, I have run across the retirements of some senior sailors that were recognized as the most experienced members of their fields.

The "Bull Frog", the Senior SEAL retired from the Navy last month while the "Ancient Albatross", the Senior Officer Aviator, retired from the Coast Guard.

Both of these items got me to thinking about whether or not the Submarine community recognizes its senior members. The Subvets make a big deal out of the Holland Club for those submariners with more than 50 years of qualification but is there really a recognition for the senior most Submariner on active duty?

The Coasties really get into this kind of thing. In addition to the Albatross, they also have the Ancient Mariner (Gold & Silver) for the longest serving Cuttermen and the Ancient Keeper for the senior most member of the boat service. The even wear the antique style headgear.

So is there a Bull Dolphin?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CPO Standards

The following email is making the rounds and I thought it would make good reading for anyone from the old navy.

Never forget this, a Chief can become an Officer, but an Officer can never become a Chief.. We have our standards!

Recollections of a WHITEHAT.

"One thing we weren't aware of at the time, but became evident as life wore on, was that we learned true leadership from the finest examples any lad was ever given, Chief Petty Officers. They were crusty old bastards who had done it all and had been forged into men who had been time tested over more years than a lot of us had time on the planet. The ones I remember wore hydraulic oil stained hats with scratched and dinged-up insignia, faded shirts, some with a Bull Durham tag dangling out of their right-hand pocket or a pipe and tobacco reloads in a worn leather pouch in their hip pockets, and a Zippo that had been everywhere. Some of them came with tattoos on their forearms that would force them to keep their cuffs buttoned at a Methodist picnic.

Most of them were as tough as a boarding house steak. A quality required to survive the life they lived. They were, and always will be, a breed apart from all other residents of Mother Earth. They took eighteen year old idiots and hammered the stupid bastards into sailors.

You knew instinctively it had to be hell on earth to have been born a Chief's kid. God should have given all sons born to Chiefs a return option.

A Chief didn't have to command respect. He got it because there was nothing else you could give them. They were God's designated hitters on earth.

We had Chiefs with fully loaded Submarine Combat Patrol Pins, and combat air crew wings in my day...hard-core bastards who remembered lost mates, and still cursed the cause of their loss...and they were expert at choosing descriptive adjectives and nouns, none of which their mothers would have endorsed.

At the rare times you saw a Chief topside in dress canvas, you saw rows of hard-earned, worn and faded ribbons over his pocket. "Hey Chief, what's that one and that one?" "Oh hell kid, I can't remember. There was a war on. They gave them to us to keep track of the campaigns." "We didn't get a lot of news out where we were. To be honest, we just took their word for it. Hell son, you couldn't pronounce most of the names of the places we went. They're all depth charge survival geedunk." "Listen kid, ribbons don't make you a Sailor." We knew who the heroes were, and in the final analysis that's all that matters.

Many nights, we sat in the after mess deck wrapping ourselves around cups of coffee and listening to their stories. They were light-hearted stories about warm beer shared with their running mates in corrugated metal sheds at resupply depots where the only furniture was a few packing crates and a couple of Coleman lamps. Standing in line at a Honolulu cathouse or spending three hours soaking in a tub in Freemantle, smoking cigars, and getting loaded. It was our history. And we dreamed of being just like them because they were our heroes. When they accepted you as their shipmate, it was the highest honor you would ever receive in your life. At least it was clearly that for me. They were not men given to the prerogatives of their position.

You would find them with their sleeves rolled up, shoulder-to- shoulder with you in a stores loading party. "Hey Chief, no need for you to be out here tossin' crates in the rain, we can get all this crap aboard."

"Son, the term 'All hands' means all hands."

"Yeah Chief, but you're no damn kid anymore, you old coot."

"Horsefly, when I'm eighty-five parked in the stove up old bastards' home, I'll still be able to kick your worthless butt from here to fifty feet past the screw guards along with six of your closest friends." And he probably wasn't bullshitting.

They trained us.. Not only us, but hundreds more just like us. If it wasn't for Chief Petty Officers, there wouldn't be any U.S. Navy. There wasn't any fairy godmother who lived in a hollow tree in the enchanted forest who could wave her magic wand and create a Chief Petty Officer.

They were born as hot-sacking seamen, and matured like good whiskey in steel hulls over many years. Nothing a nineteen year-old jay-bird could cook up was original to these old saltwater owls. They had seen E-3 jerks come and go for so many years; they could read you like a book. "Son, I know what you are thinking.. Just one word of advice. DON'T. It won't be worth it."

"Aye, Chief."

Chiefs aren't the kind of guys you thank. Monkeys at the zoo don't spend a lot of time thanking the guy who makes them do tricks for peanuts.

Appreciation of what they did, and who they were, comes with long distance retrospect. No young lad takes time to recognize the worth of his leadership. That comes later when you have experienced poor leadership or let's say, when you have the maturity to recognize what leaders should be, you find that Chiefs are the standard by which you measure all others.

They had no Academy rings to get scratched up. They butchered the King's English. They had become educated at the other end of an anchor chain from Copenhagen to Singapore . They had given their entire lives to the U.S. Navy. In the progression of the nobility of employment, Chief Petty Officer heads the list. So, when we ultimately get our final duty station assignments and we get to wherever the big Chief of Naval Operations in the sky assigns us, if we are lucky, Marines will be guarding the streets. I don't know about that Marine propaganda bullshit, but there will be an old Chief in an oil-stained hat and a cigar stub clenched in his teeth standing at the brow to assign us our bunks and tell us where to stow our gear... and we will all be young again, and the damn coffee will float a rock.

Life fixes it so that by the time a stupid kid grows old enough and smart enough to recognize who he should have thanked along the way, he no longer can. If I could, I would thank my old Chiefs. If you only knew what you succeeded in pounding in this thick skull, you would be amazed. So, thanks you old casehardened unsalvageable sons-of-bitches. Save me a rack in the berthing compartment.. "

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Silent Service UA in New Navy Ad

Check out this slick new recruiting ad from the USN.

Now, can you tell me what's missing?

It might be fun to ride the rubber boats around with the Expeditionary Forces and fly in the whirligigs but where is the Sub Force in this latest interpretation of the Navy?

Maybe we get our own commercial, right?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New CO For DSU

I ran across a little item from ComSubPac:

Cmdr. David Lemly relieved Cmdr. Jay Spencer as commanding officer of Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) July 17 during a ceremony held at the DSU facility.

Lemly, a graduate of North Carolina State University (Go Pack!), has been serving the submarine force for 20 years with early sea tours on USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716), USS Helena (SSN 725) and USS Tucson (SSN 770). Most recently, he served as the deputy for Submarine Material Readiness for Submarine Squadron 15.

Deep Submergence Unit provides submarine rescue for the U.S. Navy and foreign navies. Rescue systems include the Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System and Submarine Rescue Chamber Flyaway System. Assigned assets include, the Advanced Diving Suit 2000, and primary rescue module called Falcon. Both systems are operable in depths of up to 2,000 ft of seawater. Staffed by active duty, reserve, contractor, and civilian personnel, DSU provides a lifeline for distressed submarines worldwide.

Incidentally, the Gold DS Dolphins pictured above can be worn by enlisted personnel if they have qualified officers watches making it one of the few gold badges to be worn by blueshirts. The others that come to mind incude the SSBN 20 Patrol badge, Parachutist wings, SEAL's Trident and Aircrew wings.

Congrats CDR Lemley and may you have a boring tour at DSU!