Monday, June 2, 2008

Congrats Submarine COs and XOs-to-be

The results of the Submarine CO / XO Screening Board are out. There are a lot of great guys on the list, including my Eng. Congrats to all who were screened for these important career milestones! (The message listing the selectees is at the bottom of this post).

For anyone not familiar with the advancement of a submarine officer's career, here's a quick explanation. (Update 8/17/2008: There's also a pretty good summary on the USNA website). A submarine officer's career nominally progresses through four sea tours:

1. Division Officer. The first sea tour is the Division Officer (DO) tour. If an officer volunteers for submarine duty and passes the interview at Naval Reactors, then he has 15 months of training to look forward to before getting to his first submarine. First there's six months of Nuclear Power School in Charleston, SC, learning the theory behind how a nuclear reactor works. Next there's six months of "prototype" where you actually learn to operate a real live shore-based reactor. Finally, he will go to three months of the Submarine Officer's Basic Course (SOBC) to learn about submarine control systems, periscopes, target motion analysis, torpedoes, missiles and stuff. After graduating from SOBC, he'll finally report to his first submarine to be a Division Officer.
Tangent: We used to call this the "JO" or Junior Officer tour, but in order to alleviate confusion with other services and communities within the Navy that also use the term "Junior Officer," we are now being encouraged to use the term "Division Officer" for first sea tour officers. You see, technically a Lieutenant (LT / O-3) is a "Junior Officer," but you could be a LT on your first sea tour as a Division Officer, or you could be a LT on your second sea tour as a Department Head. Have I confused you yet? Okay, good. End of Tangent.
A "Division" (in the Navy at least) is a group of sailors with the same rating or specialty. As a Division Officer, you are responsible for a Division of sailors - usually a Chief Petty Officer and a group of 5 to 12 sailors. For example, Electrical or E Division has a dozen or so electricians. Machinery or M Division has a dozen or so mechanics, etc.
Tangent: Wait, back up... Before I offend any Chiefs reading this, please allow me to clarify the Division Officer to Chief relationship. It's really the CHIEF responsible for the day-to-day care and feeding of the Division, and a good, salty chief will take the Division Officer under his wing and train him on the leadership and management of his division. One of the best mentors I had as a Division Officer was my Sonar Division chief (thanks STSC(SS) Golliker if you're out there reading this). End of Tangent.
There are nominally about nine Division Officers on a submarine, and they will rotate through a few different Divisions in order to learn about as many different aspects of the ship's operations as possible. For example, during my Division Officer tour, I started out as the Electrical Assistant (EA) ("Assistant" as in Assistant to the Engineer), then rotated to be the Chemistry and Radiological Controls Assistant (CRA), then to Assistant Weapons Officer, then to Damage Control Assistant (DCA).

2. Department Head. After finishing the Division Officer tour, an officer will normally rotate to shore duty for a couple of years and enjoy a desk job somewhere. If he decides to come back for a second sea tour, then he will go to the Submarine Officer's Advanced Course (SOAC) at the Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut.

As a Division Officer, the officer is just assigned to the ship and it's up to the Captain what job he will fill and when he will rotate to a different job on the same ship. As a Department Head, the officer will receive orders to report aboard a submarine to fill a specific job: Engineer, Navigator (equivalent of "Ops" in the surface community), or Combat Systems Officer ("Weps").

The decision to stay on for a DH tour is almost always in the hands of the individual officer. If you think about it, there are nominally 9 DO's and 3 DH's on each submarine. Doing some simple math, you can figure out that the submarine force needs to keep in the ballpark of 33% of the DO's in for a DH tour. A lot of officers will do their first tour to repay their obligation for the Navy paying for their college degree and then get out to start their career elsewhere. Generally, any officer who wants to stay in for a DH tour can do so.

3. Executive Officer (XO). This is a MAJOR milestone. Here's why. Those three officers who decided to Stay Navy for a DH tour have now made a commitment to the Navy and are most likely interested in making a career out of it, so all three of them are going to want to stay in for an XO tour. Looking at the numbers, there are 3 DH's and 1 XO on each submarine, so again, the submarine force needs to keep in the ballpark of 33% of the DH's in for an XO tour (disclaimer: in reality the percentage is higher than that due to longer DH tour lengths and shorter XO tour lengths and a couple of other factors, but I'm trying to explain this in simple terms for family / friends who may not understand submarine officer career progression).
Tangent: Speaking from experience, it's very humbling and sad to see close friends and shipmates not make that cut for XO. I know several close friends of mine who I think would have been excellent XOs, but for one reason or another they weren't screened. I feel bad for those friends, because I know they feel betrayed and let down by the submarine force that they worked so hard for. For an officer who doesn't screen for XO, there's basically three options at this point in their career:
Option A) Plateau at the rank of LCDR and finish out your 20 years for retirement. This isn't all bad, because there are actually a lot of really cool jobs you can do in the Navy as a LCDR with no prospect for promotion.
Option B) Lateral Transfer to another community. This bears the opportunity to continue to be promoted. Some communities within the Navy are very reliant on warfare-qualified officers with experience on the pointy-end-of-the-spear to make up their ranks. If I hadn't screened for XO, then my plan was to lateral transfer to Intel. Other close friends of mine have lateral transferred to the Engineering Duty (ED) and the Foreign Affairs Officer (FAO) communities. I think both of them are doing cool, exciting, important jobs for the Navy, and I think they both have a pretty good chance of getting selected for promotion to O-5.
Option C) Bail out. Resign from the Navy and start your new career elsewhere. If you've already invested a dozen years in the Navy, and with very viable options A and B above, I think it would be a mistake to toss it all out the window at this point. I don't know anyone who's taken this route. End of Tangent.
4. Commanding Officer (CO). This is the pinnacle of a submarine officer's career - to be the Captain of your own submarine. Going back to the simple number analogy, there's 1 XO and 1 CO on every submarine. So unlike the previous transitions where there's a significant pyramid-type draw-down, there's a one-for-one ratio here. That does NOT mean that there's a 100% selection rate. Not every guy who serves as an XO gets to go on to be a CO. The tendency is to make CO tours longer and XO tours shorter so there's a larger pool of guys who have completed an XO tour to choose from, and the submarine force can be somewhat selective in who gets to go on to be a CO.
Tangent. If you want more details and statistics, you can check out the Community Status Brief on the Pers-42 website. Slide 29 shows there's normally close to 100% selection for DH (i.e. anyone who wants to stay in for a DH tour gets to stay in, except for a dip around 2001 - I can explain that some other time if anyone wants to hear it). Slide 32 shows there's around a 60% chance of getting screened for XO (out of the guys who WANT to stay in - as I mentioned before there are some other factors at play here). Slide 37 shows there's around a 60% chance of getting screened for CO. If any of you reading this have questions about the submarine officer career progression or about any of the slides in the Community Status Brief, then please ask - either comment or an email (if it's via email, please let me know if I may share your question and my answer on the blog with anyone else reading). End of Tangent.
Anyway, all that being said, here's who screened for XO and CO this year:
R 291759Z MAY 08
FM COMSUBFOR NORFOLK VA//N00//
TO ALSUBFOR
BT
UNCLAS //N01000//
MSGID/GENADMIN/COMSUBFOR NORFOLK VA/-/MAY//
SUBJ/FY09 SUBMARINE COMMANDING OFFICER AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER SCREENING BOARD RESULTS//
RMKS/1. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOLLOWING OFFICERS WHO HAVE ACHIEVED THIS SIGNIFICANT CAREER MILESTONE. COMPETITION WAS EXTRAORDINARILY KEEN AND SELECTION FOR COMMAND OR EXECUTIVE OFFICER REFLECTS SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE AND OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL.
2. THE FOLLOWING OFFICERS WERE SCREENED FOR NUCLEAR SUBMARINE COMMANDING OFFICER:
ARNOLD GEORGE RICHARD II
BERNARD PAUL JEFFREY
BILOTTA JAMES M
BIONDI JOSEPH J *
BRATTON MICHAEL D
BUZIAK CHRISTOPHER
DUBNANSKY RICHARD FRANK JR
DUNCAN CURTIS BENJAMIN
ELKOWITZ BRIAN P
FARAH JEFFREY NAIFF
FIGANBAUM TODD ADDISON *
GUTIERREZ GUSTAVO
HUDSON PETER WESCOTT JR
KERCHER GREGORY R
KIMSEY ANDREW JAMES
MASSIE RICHARD NEIL
MOLINA LUIS EMILIO
NOSSE JOSEPH A
POORE DARREN R
RHINEHART RICHARD GILES J *
SEVERSEIKE ERIC LAVERNE
SPENS AXEL W
SUKOLS NATHAN BRIGGS
TILBROOK NICHOLAS RICHARD
VARNADORE LARRY PAUL *
VENTURA ALVIN SISON
WARD MICHAEL P II
WILKINSON STEVEN R
YOUNG RICHARD S
YOUTT DAVID A
* PER NAVADMIN 093/05, MUST COMPLETE JPME PHASE I PRIOR TO ASSUMING COMMAND.
3. THE FOLLOWING OFFICERS WERE SCREENED FOR NUCLEAR SUBMARINE COMMANDING OFFICER (SUBMARINE SUPPORT):
BELZ JAMES A
GLADUE MARK A
HANNA ROBERT G III
HOLDAWAY AARON MATTHEW
JACOBSON RONALD GREG
JAMES GEOFFREY CHARLES
JEZEK ROBERT JOHN JR
JOSEPH JEFFREY A
KOLLMER TIMOTHY PAUL
LACOSTE EUGENE DOUGLAS
LIBERMAN CARL MICHAEL
MYERS COLEY R III
SKRETKOWICZ STEVEN JOSEPH
TAYLOR CHARLES LACKLAND
TERWILLIGER MATTHEW D
TYLER TREVOR NEGAL
4. THE FOLLOWING OFFICERS WERE SCREENED FOR NUCLEAR SUBMARINE EXECUTIVE OFFICER:
BIGHAM JOSHUA D
BYERS EDWARD KIRK
CAVAZOS GABRIEL BERNARD
CLARK ANDREW JOHNSTON IV
CLARK TIMOTHY MICHAEL
COE DAVID JOHN
COLE ERIC DOUGLAS
COLSTON JAMES NEIL
COX DAVID SCOTT
CROSS DON BRYAN
DAVIS THERON COURTNEY
DIGERONIMO MATTHEW J
ETHRIDGE JOHN EDDIE II
FANNING MATTHEW DAVID
FLOYD EDWARD K
FRECK BRIAN GREGORY
GILMORE CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
HERNANDEZ INDALECIO MADRID
HOGAN BRIAN PATRICK
HOLLENBACH MICHAEL PAUL
HORGAN CHRISTOPHER THOMAS
KARPI STEPHEN C
KOBLE JOHN J
KUHL MARTY D
LAING KELLY LOGAN
LAMMERS DAVID P
LANZER KEITH A
LESTER ANDRE BRENARD
MACY KEVIN WAYNE
MARTIN BENJAMIN P
MCCONNAUGHAY CHRISTOPHER
MCGINNIS SCOTT JAMES
MOLLER KEVIN O
NAIDAS MELVYN N
OSBORN CHRISTOPHER M
PAMPURO PAUL R
PARKER DAVID CHRISTOPHER
PHANEUF MATTHEW D
POLK CHRISTOPHER JOHN
PORTER JESSIE A
REINHARDT PAUL B
REISS DANIEL J
ROENKE HENRY MERRILL IV
SAVERING ROBERT W
SMITH ALBERT
SMITH MELVIN RONALD JR
SPELKER ROLF BERNARD
STALEY JONATHAN A
STOWE RONALD LARSEN
THORP JAMES TRAVIS
VASSELL MAGNUM O
WITHROW RONALD L
YACH SCOTT A
ZIMBAUER JESSE J
5. THE FOLLOWING OFFICERS WERE SCREENED FOR NUCLEAR SUBMARINE EXECUTIVE OFFICER (SUBINE SUPPORT):
BUCZKOWSKI JOSEPH MICHAEL
DUTTERA ANTHONY SHANE
FREEMYERS STANLEY G
HEIN DAVID D
HILL ROBERT M
KENNEDY MARC A
LOMBARDO DANIEL JOSEPH
MARCHAND RICHARD L
MCLENITHAN CHARLES AUSTIN I
PASHNEHTALA KAMYAR
PAWLOWSKI ALEXEI M
PRESBY ANDREW LAWRENCE
REIDY TIMOTHY P JR
RING ANDREW HOMER
SHILLING KEVIN ROBERT
6. THE FOLLOWING LIMITED DUTY OFFICERS WERE SCREENED AS ALTERNATES FOR DRYDOCK COMMANDING OFFICER:
ALLSHOUSE ROBERT J
BURKHARD RAYMOND W
CALLAHAN EDWARD L
CAMPBELL MICHAEL J
GOFF JOHN JAY
STAHRE GEOFFREY LYLE
7. THE FOLLOWING LIMITED DUTY OFFICER WAS SCREENED FOR DRYDOCK EXECUTIVE OFFICER:
HURD COREY DEAN
8. THE FOLLOWING LIMITED DUTY OFFICERS WERE SCREENED AS ALTERNATES FOR DRYDOCK EXECUTIVE OFFICER:
DIVANO BRUCE ANTHONY
GRIFFEN ALEX WILLIAM
HAMLETT AUBREY K
HENDERSON GORDON CONRAD
MCMILLAN JEFFREY T
REDDER CHARLES DAVID
SCALZO JAMES G
SULLIVAN PAUL L
TAYLOR RITCHIE L
9. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF OUR FUTURE SUBMARINE LEADERS.
10. VADM DONNELLY SENDS.//
BT

10 comments:

Sam said...

Congratulations all around! Andys' old advisor from NCSU NROTC screened for CO and his old ENG from the 740 screened for XO!

a_former_elt_2jv said...

Ok, I'll be the moron-- why the dip in DH promotions in 2001?

blunoz said...

Former ELT - You are by no means a moron for asking. Basically, the submarine force recruited enough junior officers in order to man the boats assuming a 2-VIRGINIA Class per year build rate. Unfortunately, when we only built 1 VA Class per year, it resulted in a glutt of DO's. Boats had on the order of 12 to 14 DO's per boat instead of the nominal 9. We had to create a lot of jobs not listed in the SSORM like "LAN Officer" and "AT/FP Officer", and it was a challenge to get every DO their required 12 months as an Eng Dept Divo so they could go to the PNEO exam. Anyway, that's it in a nutshell.

a_former_elt_2jv said...

So basically the Assistant CRA was baloney?

Thanks for clearing that one up~

bullnav said...

We had the same type of DH deal in the early '90s when peace broke out and we started decommissioning 637s left and right. By '98-'99, we were down to something like 8 JOs on the mighty SCRANTON. Interesting to see the cycle repeat itself...

C said...

Congrats to all!

630-738 said...

I always get a kick out of seeing JO's refer to themselves as the "EA". Per the Engineering Department Manual for Nuclear Powered Ships, the correct term is "Electrical Officer". All other Division Officers are referred to as "assistants". Not casting stones, just pointing out.

Chap said...

I just looked at the selection list for one of the years I was up for it. I think there are many more selected on this list than the one I was on. I wonder why that is...

kholmar said...

HEY, my baby brother is on the XO list, congrats to him and everyone else.

also, thanks for the write up, it was cool learning about the career progression path.

that dang boy dont TELL us NOTHIN.

=)

Chap said...

Huh. Looks like a couple of XOSS spots opened up (NFI for this ckt). Keep the faith, bubbas...