Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry

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Dispatches from the Deep: #5 (June 26, 2008)

I like the current batch of midshipmen much more than any of the previous ones. Why? For the sole reason that it's the last group we're taking on. We've spent the last week and a half doing operations called CORTRAMID and PROTRAMID. At first glance, those probably sound like bad cough medicines. But in actuality, the former stands for "Career Oriented Training for Midshipmen"; I'm not sure as to the latter, but I'd bet on "Professional Training for Midshipmen" or something equally lame. As near as I can tell, the only difference is that the CORTRAMID groups are composed of ROTC folk (spoken: normal college students who play Sailor once a week), and the PROTRAMID is all U. S. Naval Academy students. Hosting all these people aboard has effectively detailed the Submersible Death Trap to Carnival or Royal Caribbean. We have to cater to them in many respects. One is that they get to pick the movie watched on the mess decks every night; this has led to a lot of viewings of 21 and The Bank Job, and produced some frustrated crew members. We do "angles and dangles" every night, which are totally not conducive to sleep (and are, in fact, the main reason why I'm awake enough to type this right now). We have to show the midshipmen our pride and professionalism, and engage them with a "positive attitude." This really means "lie to them about how much most of us hate our jobs and regret the day we signed on."

Perhaps the worst aspect of these midshipman operations is that the schedule is running us absolutely ragged. Every morning, the entire crew is awoken so we can perform the exact same close-quarters maneuver - drive into the Mayport basin, conduct a personnel transfer, turn the boat around, and head back out. There are some rack shifts that accompany each transfer, since we leave some people in port each day to prevent half the crew from having to hot rack. But those can be done without passing over the 1MC "reveille, reveille, up all bunks, now reveille." We also don't need every last man to perform the piloting maneuver - especially now, having done the maneuvers so many times that even someone like myself, with no navigational training, is intimately familiar with the sequence of turns. In fact, we conclusively proved last year that when frequent personnel transfers occur in similar situations, a full maneuvering watch need not be stationed every time. Unfortunately, the command structure is such that when three decide, one hundred forty suffer - and suffering we are, with no end in sight until we steam into the Thames River.

It's funny that I'm talking about the proverbial occupational rape this evening, because it dovetails nicely with something I saw a couple of days ago. As Logroom Yeoman on Memphis, all the message traffic the ship receives is routed to my boat inbox. Most of it is irrelevant to me, but I did see one message that caught my eye. I highlighted one full paragraph, and since the message is labeled unclassified, I can share it with the world:
Special and incentive pays and personnel policies are among the tools available to influence retention. Nuclear special pays combine to make nuclear trained Sailors the highest compensated in the Navy. However, careers are seldom about compensation alone, and are influenced by the same factors we have discussed in division officer retention. In particular, your leadership and mentorship impacts each Sailor's quality of life, quality of work, sense of purpose, and job satisfaction.
It seems that someone at COMSUBFOR might be smelling the coffee. It's a possible sign that they're realizing that many more nukes than I feel as I do - that continued service in the Submarine Force isn't worth any salary upgrade or reenlistment bonus. Some of this can't be controlled at the command level. My "sense of purpose" in what I do is influenced heavily by top-level policy, and that isn't likely to change no matter who wins the Presidential election. But "quality of life" and "job satisfaction" are two things that a command's top shelf have a great deal of control over. From my perch, both have gone down, down, down in the nearly three years I've been assigned here. More duty, more tasking, more headache - without anything close to a "we feel your pain, and we know it sucks, and we're sorry," to say nothing of funneling additional American dollars to me. That's why it's three-two-seven days and counting, with absolutely no chance of derailment.
Tags: memphis, navy hate

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