(See M. Pruitt, pp. 74–76, September 2020)
I applaud Lieutenant Pruitt’s contribution to the Leadership Forum and commend his decision to share the account of his attempt as damage control assistant to remove discharged firefighting foam. I was particularly struck by the evolution of his understanding of confidence.
What he describes initially might best be referred to as unreflective confidence—that is, a focus on getting the job done, finding solutions, and projecting a “can-do” attitude. To be clear, these qualities are important. A warship at sea is a goal-oriented environment: Results matter, not only for building personal reputation, but also for mission accomplishment. As Socrates said: “To be is to do.” Actions are the essence of generating effective results.
However, on realizing that his actions had imperiled a sailor and himself, he describes the guilt that came with understanding the gravity of the circumstance and the possibility of an unnecessarily tragic outcome. But the real pearl in this piece is the final segment on humility and deliberateness—and ultimately that it was written at all.
This could have easily gone into his personal bucket of experience—useful information for the future—but by sharing it in Proceedings, others may benefit from his experience. His story was a near miss—it might have resulted in an accident or fatality. The author highlights the need to confront uncertainties to avoid missteps. But more than that, he demonstrates that true confidence is to muster the courage to share what was learned with others—shipmates and strangers alike—to the benefit of all. As Sartre reframes Socrates: “To do is to be,” and it is in the act of sharing those times when things do not go as planned that the seeds of true leadership are planted.
(See N. Golightly, pp. 46–49, December 1987)
(See S. Polson, online, July 2020)
In July, Boeing Communications Chief Niel L. Golightly resigned—or was forced out—after his 1987 article on women in combat became widely known. A Navy lieutenant at the time, he expressed views on this subject that are no longer considered politically correct. His loss of position received wide coverage for a while as an example of “cancel culture.”
When I heard this, my immediate thought was, “The Naval Institute cannot accept this. It destroys their model of free expression by naval junior officers. The Institute will have to do something.”
I have waited ever since for the Naval Institute to respond publicly, but I missed it if you did. Boeing is a big advertiser, but I sincerely hope that hasn’t deterred you. How can a young officer or enlisted person today write freely, knowing that her or his career might be destroyed decades in the future?
—MSGT Bill Brockman, USAF (Ret.), Life Member
Editor’s Note: As the open forum of the Sea Services, the Naval Institute counts on members to weigh in when an issue of importance appears. Within days of Mr. Golightly’s resignation, we received and published Ms. Polson’s comments in the online edition of Proceedings. Members who receive the print edition are encouraged to check the website regularly—many great submissions are posted online only, and all members have full access to current and archived editions of Proceedings through the website.
(See B. McFarland, pp. 48–53, September 2020)
Lieutenant McFarland discusses acoustic performance as an advantage of submarine waterjet propulsion. He correctly points out that cavitation can be reduced or eliminated by limiting the maximum fluid velocity in the jet nozzle, such that the local static pressure remains greater than the local vapor pressure. But cavitation is not the only important acoustic source associated with a waterjet nozzle.
Vortex shedding could cause acoustic scattering from the nozzle’s trailing edge. These shed vortices can be correlated along the entire span of the trailing edge. Although not as efficient as the acoustic source mechanism associated with cavitation, these vortices can create a radiated sound spectrum that has a perceptible narrowband content and is highly directional.
There are ways to reduce the strength of the noise associated with these vortices. For example, the trailing edge of the nozzle can be configured in a “saw tooth” shape to break up the spanwise correlation of the vortices. In addition, the nozzle trailing edge can be contoured to reduce the magnitude of the mean velocity gradient in the shear layer between the waterjet and the surrounding fluid. (See E. O. Rogers and M. J. Donnelly, “Characteristics of a Dual-slotted Circulation Control Wing of Low Aspect Ratio Intended for Naval Hydrodynamic Applications,” AIAA 2004-1244, and my own paper, “Reducing Vortex Shedding Sound from a Trailing Edge above a Wall Jet,” AIAA 2009-778.)
Any consideration of waterjet applications to submarines will require rigorous acoustic analysis and testing to ensure attendant noise sources are minimized.
—Joseph F. Slomski Jr.
(See J. Geurts, pp. 54–55, October 2020)
I find it difficult to believe that there was a Russian submarine trailing the USS Thresher (SSN-593) during her fatal test dive or that the Russian submarine made a recording. I was Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Submarines, from 1981 to 1985, when we commissioned underwater scientist Bob Ballard to examine the sunken Thresher. I had commanded her sister ship, the USS Plunger (SSN-595), and was interested in the details of the disaster. We examined all the classified and unclassified information involving the loss. There was no record that a Russian submarine was present.
—VADM N. R. Thunman, USN (Ret.)
Editor’s Note: Last month, Proceedings published a firsthand reflection on the loss of the Thresher by an author who was an active-duty submariner at the time and who lost several friends in the accident. Vice Admiral Thunman was among those who wrote us, concerned at the author’s assertion that a tape played for him and others came from a Soviet Navy submarine. As the admiral notes, there is no evidence that a Soviet submarine was anywhere in the vicinity of the Thresher at the time of her loss, and any such tape would have come from the U.S. Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS). We have edited the online version of the story to reflect this.
(See M. Dahm, p. 45, September 2020)
Commander Dahm rightly questions the use of many of the patches on that jacket but does not mention the strangest of all: the Seabees patch. I was a Seabee, and no aviator should be wearing that patch. There is no excuse for it, and “Maverick” did not earn it. Therefore, I have never liked that movie, nor the arrogant main character, nor Tom Cruise. I do not expect more from the sequel.
—Marc J. Cohen
Regarding that Seabee patch, at the time the first Top Gun was released, the word was passed around the Seabee community that the naval advisor told the director that a Seabee patch would not be placed on a pilot’s flight jacket. The supposed response was that it “looked cool,” and so it remained. Considering all the airfields and other support facilities the Seabees have built for naval aviation, in the eyes of this old Seabee, that seemed most appropriate.
—CAPT William L. Rudich, CEC, USN (Ret.)
Iceman, Maverick, Goose. Hollywood hit the nail on the head in incorporating the tradition of aviator call signs when crafting Top Gun. Now it’s time for the men and women of surface warfare to follow suit.
Having been granted leather jackets of their own, the black shoes should take on the next hurdle in the sport of community rivalry. Over the years, I’ve seen enough call signs applied to aviators’ bylines to make me want to check their birth certificates.
The black shoes should take a hint from the aviators and bestow on their colleagues names equal to the traditions of seagoing sailors. Looking back on my career, here’s a few I would have chosen for mates over the years: Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy—well, you get the idea. Let’s go, surface warfare officers! What’s good for the “Goose” is good for—well—us.
—CAPT Richard T. Sloane, USN (Ret.), Golden Life Member
(See T. Terlizzi, p. 54–55, June 2020)
Commander Terlizzi’s story could well be a common thread among those of us of Italian descent.
I fully identify with him regarding his family background, the value of education, and good career choices. After surviving the 1918 flu pandemic in Italy, my father arrived in the United States as a six-year-old one year later. He managed to get through his first three years of public grammar school with the help of an Italian-American classmate who translated the class material from English to Italian. But he became an honor student in high school and enrolled in and paid his way through MIT’s engineering night classes (mechanical, electrical, and chemical) during the Depression.
In World War II, he supervised refrigeration-system installations on the desperately needed destroyer escorts being fast-tracked and launched every 28 days from the Bethlehem Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. During our family life, he constantly reminded my siblings and me of the value of education and ensured (more like demanded) that we all would graduate from college. (We did.) My sister continued in education as a secondary and college level guidance counselor. Both my brother and I were commissioned naval officers (the first in our family) and served during Vietnam. I continued to serve for 30 years in active-duty, reserve, and recall duty assignments.
I agree heartily that more of our military service members (all branches, active, reserve, and retired) need to have a real presence in our nation’s schools. Our military can provide kids with the varied real-world skills and experiences our country’s next generations will need.
—CAPT R. A. Erbetta, USNR (Ret.)
(See S. Moffitt, pp. 40–45, September 2020)
Congratulations to Lieutenant Commander Moffitt! The section “Do Not Go It Alone” is germane for various disciplines, not just flight training. Success in numerous graduate endeavors—be they medicine, law, business, or naval aviation—virtually requires a student to “study with peers and in group settings.” No matter how intelligent and self-sufficient an individual is, the learning garnered from group discussions to clarify or embed a concept cannot be overemphasized, and it gives the student a sense of how he or she is progressing in the program.
—CAPT Alan L. Williams, MD, USNR (Ret.)
(See J. Winnefeld and M. Morell, online, September 2020, and L. Rose, p. 9, October 2020)
While Mr. Rose may be an ardent student of naval history, it would seem he has overreached when it comes to the history of modern warfare. His letter blithely stipulates how it would not be possible or advantageous for the People’s Republic to attack Taiwan. There is merit there, but not enough to say with any certainty that such an undertaking by Xi Jinping and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is outside the realm of near-term possibility. To briefly respond:
In early 1941, the United States knew Japan would attack the Philippines, but not until April at the earliest. We know how that worked out.
Before the Battle of the Bulge, General Omar Bradley had been provided intelligence that the Germans would attack through the Ardennes but believed it wasn’t possible.
In Korea, General Douglas MacArthur’s staff was provided intelligence that the Chinese had crossed the Yalu River in force, and yet he chose to ignore it.
Also in Korea, the PLA had surmised that, given MacArthur’s background and the Korean geography, MacArthur would land at Inchon. It warned Kim Il-Sung, but the North Korean refused to believe it was possible. (The United States does not hold a monopoly on self-delusion.)
Many other equally egregious examples of intelligence failures, personal hubris, and flawed rationale exist. I would now add Mr. Rose’s arguments as an example.
I am no expert on naval warfare, although I took part in some. However, I have been an avid student of military history for the past 50-plus years, which I would humbly hope would qualify me as a tenured novice!
—OSC A. E. Kirkpatrick, USN (Ret.)
(See M. Clutter, p. 24, September 2020)
Petty Officer Clutter has written a piece to add to my collection of “I wish I had said that.” The merger of the former dental technician rating with that of hospital corpsman was a decision based on shaky thinking, for the reasons the author elucidates: The training line is imperfect and incomplete; therefore, the practice scenario has flaws as well. Dental technicians work with dental officers, while other hospital corpsmen work with medical officers or independently, as in submarines and other billets.
Listen up, Navy Medical and Naval Personnel: reverse the mistake of 2005!
—CAPT Jack Baker, MC, USN (Ret.), Life Member
(See J. Zammit, pp. 15–16, October 2020)
When Lieutenant Zammit decided to “slap the bull,” he not only picked the biggest and meanest, he picked the one as far from the fence as possible! Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication (MCDP) 1, Warfighting, is not doctrine—it is dogma. Heretics always provoke outrage, not for their critique, but for simply daring to read, think, speak, and write.
As Naval Institute members, we cherish our heretics; we believe if one sees the need for critique, one is professionally obligated to share it. In this case, Lieutenant Zammit is explicitly encouraged by Commandants General Al Gray and Charles Krulak in their forewords to MCDP-1, with General Krulak even writing: “Military doctrine cannot be allowed to stagnate. . . . Doctrine must continue to evolve based on growing experience, advancements in theory, and the changing face of war itself.”
Having said that, I believe the author’s critique of Warfighting is flawed. Primarily, he misses the objective of not only MCDP-1, but also the three minimalist sister volumes (Strategy, Campaigning, and Tactics). Collectively, they free the author, his contemporaries, and all Marines from the prescriptive fighting instructions that (in naval history terms) preceded MCDP-1.
In place of generic recipes and rote structure, Marines are unequivocally charged with using their own heads. The only admonitions being they must understand their commanders’ intent and they must fill every unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of focused mayhem to accomplish that intent.
I empathize with the burden every officer feels leading others while still accomplishing his or her mission. Unfortunately, that responsibility cannot be shared with a reference book, however comfortable it might seem. Liberated from prescriptive doctrine by MCDP-1, I suspect Lieutenant Zammit would soon chafe from its ineffectual rigidity.
The article’s second flaw is academic. With only seven citations, the author may have overrelied on Austin Long’s perspective. The Marine Corps had many post-Vietnam challenges, but not an identity crisis. Beltway defense policy trickles down slowly to the Fleet Marine Force (FMF) through force structure, mission, and roles, but not doctrine. Doctrine germinates in the FMF and bubbles up to be formalized at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
Recognizing the chaotic nature of conflict, the Marine Corps has eschewed the Army’s attempt to exquisitely orchestrate operations via centralized control. General Gray’s bold decision to promulgate a pamphlet written by a mere captain, John Schmitt, as the cornerstone of doctrine for the Marine Corps cemented this commitment to command through leadership rather than control by radio. It now falls to this generation’s officers to exploit that exquisite minimalism.
Here’s a minimal hint: Exploit the chaos!
(See T. Manvel, pp. 52–56, September 2020, and P. Pournelle, p. 9, October 2020)
I commend Captain Manvel for what he wrote, but I was surprised that several valuable points were missed.
The biggest oversight was not pointing out why the USS America (LHA-6) cost $3.4 billion and the Gerald R. Ford–class nuclear-powered carriers (CVNs) cost $12 billion. It is not merely that the CVNs are significantly larger than the America, but the two A1B nuclear reactors will operate a CVN for decades without refueling.
An Aegis destroyer burns something like 1,000 gallons of petroleum an hour. The much larger America burns a good deal more. And, all ships burn at even higher rates when they operate at top speed. That fuel must be supplied by tankers, such as the USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205), which cost $640 million to build. Consider also the costs of the tanker’s crew, the fuel to run it, and the fuel to run the America. Calculated over 20 or so years (the unrefueled life of a CVN’s reactor), those costs would be significant and should be added to the $3.4 billion cost of the America for the comparison to be equal. This important factor is frequently not considered by those wanting to build less expensive aircraft carriers.
Another important fact: Not only does the nuclear carrier have significantly greater magazine space, as was pointed out, but also it can carry more aviation fuel for aircraft, because it carries essentially no fuel for its own use.
I noticed that the author was chief engineer on another USS America (CVA-66). I served in the reactor department on the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) (designations in those days . . .). I remember when Gamal Nasser of Egypt was trying to force Jordan to join his United Arab Republic in 1963. We were in port for liberty call in Cannes, France, when we got orders to stand by for 30 knots for 30 hours. We left Cannes and headed east, leaving behind our escorts and support ships.
When we arrived off Lebanon in support of Jordan, we were 14 hours ahead of the fleet. We arrived not only ready to engage, but also with enough aircraft fuel to support sustained operation without taking on fuel. Try that with a fossil-fuel power plant! By the way, Nasser backed off, and Jordan never joined the UAR.
—Bob Gabbert, Life Member
(See K. Barrion, pp. 67–71, October 2020)
One of the hallmarks of the Coast Guard naval engineering community is a workforce that is incredibly skilled at identifying innovative solutions to complex problems. The Coast Guard relies on this type of ingenuity. I applaud the author for the inventive approach to restructuring Coast Guard cutter engineering departments. Proposals of this nature provide us with the opportunity to implement significant changes in support of our incredible engineers.
The Coast Guard operates approximately 250 cutters, nearly 85 percent of which are structured with experienced technical specialists as senior engineers. This group of warrant officers and critical senior enlisted members climbed the ranks through a combination of accredited technical training programs, years of sea time, routine knowledge tests, and annual performance evaluations. These engineers have spent their entire careers operating, maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing the multitude of the Coast Guard’s complex multimission assets.
The remaining 15 percent of cutters operate with a significant increase in deployment length, effective range, and mission complexity, including routine integration with Department of Defense and international assets. The engineering department structure on board these larger cutters relies even more on the knowledge and experience of the senior enlisted and warrant officer technical specialists and is further augmented with a commissioned officer to lead the department to focus on advanced planning, logistical, and maintenance demands. These engineer officers (EOs) provide vital leadership experience and an unparalleled ability to harness the critical and mature infrastructures of the Coast Guard mission-support business model and logistics to maximize operational availability.
Of the current and former EOs on active duty, 86 percent hold STEM or maritime-specific degrees, and another 10 percent were part of our important “chief warrant officer to lieutenant” program. The remainder, who hold nontechnical degrees, excelled in completing the same rigorous qualification process on the path to becoming EOs.
This comprehensive qualification program involves multiple system and equipment knowledge fundamentals, job qualification requirements, and technical drawing reviews while the member “cuts their teeth” for two years as a student engineer before qualifying to lead an engineering watch section as engineer officer of the watch. From there, they must have completed practical factors for shoreside depot maintenance support, completed an accredited prospective EO course, and attended the Navy’s damage control assistant course, which provides foundations in shipboard damage control, gas-free engineering, and chemical, biological, and nuclear defense. While they may not fit the mold of a “chief engineer,” their comprehensive training program has produced highly skilled shipboard engineers ideally suited to lead the Coast Guard in the operation, maintenance, and repair of our most complex surface assets.
The extraordinary women and men who comprise the naval engineering workforce remain the highest priority of the Naval Engineering Program, and we will continue to diligently review any proposal that may aid in their duties in support of a ready, relevant, and responsive Coast Guard.
—CAPT Chris Webb, USCG, Chief, Coast Guard Naval Engineering Division
(See J. Johnson, pp. 15–18, September 2020, L. Hughes, p. 87, October 2020, and P. Gregory, pp. 87–88, October 2020)
(See W. Melbourne, pp. 12–14, September 2020)
Although heartfelt and personal in their perspectives on the current discussion of perceived systemic racism in the Navy, the commanders lack a long-range perspective on race within the Navy. Counting my student time (at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) and professional career, I had 50 years of intimate contact with the Navy.
The vast changes and improvements in race relations over that period were significant, and under normal circumstances would indicate racism died as a systemic Navy issue in the 1980s. My entering class was all male, with only one black member. By graduation, there were several black men in the entering classes. Two years later, women entered, including several black women. On the first two Navy ships I served, the mess attendants were all Filipino; on the last two, this had changed.
As a junior officer preparing captain’s mast cases, I saw no discrimination with respect to who had discipline issues or how the nonjudicial punishments were handled—and in the early 1970s, we had several per day when in port.
At the Nuclear Power Training Unit, we were interested only in the technical knowledge of the personnel in training. Granted, the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program attracts the Navy’s top performers. But the spectrum changed quickly in the right direction from a race perspective, primarily through remedial training to make up for significant high school deficiencies among students of all races.
In shipyard dealings with ships’ forces and shore support personnel during the late 1980s and early 1990s, I observed professional teamwork, cooperation, and technical competence, with few exceptions. The critical tasks at hand were the primary focus, and race was never a consideration.
Commander Melbourne laments the dearth of black officers above two-star; I remember working with Admiral Cecil Haney when he was a ship commander and squadron commodore, an outstanding officer and great example to all. And Admiral Michelle Howard made the long march to the top by competence and strength of character. These four-star examples are not signs of systemic racism but of competitive excellence in a true meritocracy.
I know something in general of the typical educational experience growing up in the ’80s and ’90s. Students then were exposed to overt and subliminal messaging to look for and react to anything hinting at unequal treatment or unequal results. If you look hard enough anywhere, you will find something that fits into those categories, but that is an unhappy approach to life. Commander Melbourne’s cathartic experience read like a late chapter out of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, Jung Chang’s experience of “confessions” during the Cultural Revolution.
Commander Johnson proposed concrete actions to address the perceived issues, but the last three read like steps to set up political commissars waving little black books. Even Stalin realized by 1942 that was not working out well in the deadly fight with Nazi Germany.
The Navy’s primary mission is to keep the oceans safe for world commerce and to be ready to fight instantly when necessary to protect American and allies’ interests. Looking for monsters under the bed is a waste of time and effort; it detracts significantly from the preparation and training for the primary mission. The Navy needs to focus on the primary mission.
—LCDR Mark Prose, USNR (Ret.)