The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The reality of the Navy's Personnel Management

Before I was the Gunner's Mate Detailer, I had no idea how BUPERS did anything.  I thought the Detailer was in total control of every manning decision.  I thought he decided who got personnel and who didn't.  Boy was I surprised when I got the BUPERS.

Let me explain this with a story.  One day, Captain Paul Sovey, NAVSEA 62Y1, Head of Naval Gunnery, called me and told me to be at a meeting at an office building close to my offices.  I forget the name of the building, but I go there and went to the assigned floor and room.  He never told me the reason for the meeting.

In that room was three Admirals, more Captains than I could count, and Commanders serving coffee!  There were some vert senior Civilians in the Ordnance world that I recognized.  I thought that was the wrong room for me since I was the ONLY Enlisted Person within ten floors!! So, I walked past the door and headed out to find where I really belonged.  Captain Sovey came out and caught me and told me to get a cup of coffee and find a seat.

I sat in the back of the room, next to Big John Morris.  I found out eh meeting was being chaired by the Head of the Naval Supply System, and the two other Flags were Cruiser Destroyer Group Commanders.  The topics of the meeting was the dependability of the MK 42 and MK 45 Gun Mounts.  The presenter was a Supply Commander from SPCC Mechanicsburg.  He had a very slick presentation that was full of bullshit!  And when the Supply Admiral asked him why he did not delineate between the MK 42 and MK 45 Gun Mounts, he replied; "They are the same Gun Mount.  One is just newer!"  Well, me being a hard headed Senior Chief, who had all the tact God originally issues me, I raised my hand to be heard.  The Supply Admiral looked and me and said; "Who are you!?"  I introduced myself and politely, for me, told the Admiral; "The only thing the same between the MK 42 and the MK 45 is the projectile!"  The Admiral turned to Captain Sovey and asked: "Is this true?'  Captain Sovey said it was and the Admiral told the Supply Commander;  "You finished, Sit Down!"

Later, the discussion turned to manning and Captain Sovey said; "That os why I brought Senior Chief Dolence."  I explained that EPMAC had just deleted all of the GMGC billets on all of the MK 42 and MK 45 ships!  The two Group Admirals jumped out of their skin!!  They said, almost in unison; "You mean we will have 20 of these ships and no Chief's?"  I replied Yes.  Then they asked me how I let this happen?

My real explains how little people know about the Navy's personnel management.  Over the Admiral's Desk in BUPERS used to be a sign that said: "Anyone who likes Hot Dogs and the Navy's Personnel Policies should NOT see any of them made!"   This is the total truth.

The N1, Personnel Head, of CINCLANT and CINCPAC Fleet make all of the manning decisions.  They set manning levels based on deployments, and other magic formulas only they know.  Then, they tell EPMAC the build the requisitions that the detailers fill.

I told those Admirals they needed to contact their Fleet Commanders about this topic and that was it.  A month later, in the new requisition cycle, there were GMGC billets for all of the MK 42 and MK 45 ships on both coasts!!!  Evidently those two Admirals talked to their Fleet Commanders.  And evidently the wisdom and planning of Captain Paul Sovey worked like a charm!!  Sometime being devious is better than being powerful!

Monday, June 20, 2016


I was the GMG Detailer from 1980 to 1983.  That was truly the best job I had in the Navy because I got to help other Gunner's Mates promote!  I sent more young and not so young Gunner's Mates to "C" School and then sent them to billets that helped them promote.  The rest was up to them!  And, many of them took advantage of the opportunities and performed above and beyond and that got them promoted.

But, funny things happened there also.  One day, GMGC Gene Veldhouse answered the telephone and got into a heated discussion with the Commanding Officer of a ship.  The conversation got to a point that Gene needed to pass the call to our Branch Master Chief.  So, Gene said:  "Captain, we have reached the point where i cannot help you.  Would you like to talk to our Two Star?"  The Captain, replied;  "Yes, I would like to talk to the Admiral."  Gene put the Captain on hold and said loudly;  "Master Chief, Line two!"  Without any warning, Master Chief Tisdale picked up Line two and ran smack into a pissed off Captain, who thought he was going to talk to an Admiral!  Master Chief Tisdale was not happy after that call, but Veldhouse was laughing!

When I first got to NMPC I was having difficulty navigating around D.C.  Many of us lived on the Base at Dahlgren, 63 miles from work!  It was a great place to live and we carpooled so it relieved the strain.  But, sometimes things happened.  Like, one morning, GMGC Jerry Hart was driving and the rest of us were sleeping,  I was in the front seat and I woke up, thinking we were close to work.  I saw a freeway sign go over hear that said; Gaither'sburg, next five exits!  I said to Jerry, where are we?  He said, I don't know, but it's pretty!

We got to work a little late!  Like...10:30!!  Master Chief Armstrong was upset, to say the least.    We all went to work and things calmed down.  But, at 11:30, I got up and started to walk out.  Master Chief Armstrong asked, BRUSQUELY;  Where are you going?   Lunch I replied.  I am hungry!!  He steamed!!!  But, I ate lunch.

Another funny thing happened to the Electronics's Technician Dertailer.  I don't remember his entire name, but his first name was Dick and he got angry because some shore command wanted to OP HOLD a sailor that had orders to an Aircraft Carrier.  Dick wrote an message telling the Command requesting the OPHOLD flame spraying them for asking to OPHOLD a sailor on Shore Duty, when that is not permitted in the BUPER's Manual, and referring to the fact that that request would short change a deploying Aircraft Carrier!  He intended to send the message to CINCLANT Fleet and everyone else!  He took that message to our Commander for release.  The Commander told Dick to rewrite the message and say: In response to ref A, ref B remains in effect.  In other words, transfer the sailor as we told you!!  Dick said Aye Aye!  Re wrote the message and the Commander released it.   

But, somehow, the original message was sent!!  Well, when our Commander figured that out, he was furious!!  He summoned Dick to his cubicle and was just about to rip his head off, when he received a telephone call from the N1 (Personnel) from CINCLANT Fleet.  The Captain personally commended our Commander for supporting the Fleet!!  The ass chewing was deferred!!

I enjoyed my time as the Gunner's Mate Detailer.  I believed I served the community and my fellow Gunner's Mates well and faithfully.  When I left NMPC, I went to sea on a Destroyer, deployed!!  So, I held myself to the same standard I held everyone else to.  No one can ask for anything more than that.  

I love the Navy and I loved being a Gunner's Mate.  I miss those days!!    

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Please tell me they are not gambling for money!

When I was the new Command Master Chief on the USS Caron (DD 970) the Captain and I were walking past the Crews Lounge one night when we were underway.  There were a group of men playing cards in the Crews Lounge.  They had a blanket over the table and cards and chips were in use.  The Captain saw this and in his concern for their financial well being, he told me; "Please tell me they are not playing cards for money!"  So, I said; "OK, they are not playing cards for money!"  I got a very stern look!!  Then I told him, I will go back and shut that down in a few minutes!

He explained his concerns to me and I apologized for my glib reply.  But, at that time in the Navy, playing cards for money was common.  Just the same, many Sailors overextended themselves in gambling debt!  Those debts caused bad feelings for everyone.  So, the Captain's concern was warranted.

This came back to my memory because of the many O-6's that live in our community.  Many of them never had a relationship with a senior Enlisted Member.  Especially, those of us from the "Old Navy".  I am forever saying something sarcastic or pointed that they have never experienced before.

I am glad to be the individual that broadens their experience level, even at their advanced ages!!  See, I do have a mission here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

More Navy Characters I remember

I was on the USS Mullinnix (DD 944) as a young Seaman Apprentice.  I was blessed enough to get to strike for Gunner's Mate and one of the First Class Gunner's Mates, who was the Work Center Supervisor of Mount 52, was GMG1 Sam Johnson.   Sam was a character!

He was a single, career sailor that lived onboard the ship, did not have a car, and was fun to be with.  He had many "Lady Friends" in Norfolk, our home port, and they always showed up on payday!  The Quarter Deck Watch would pass the word; "GMG1 Johnson, Lay to the Quarter Deck!"  Sam would tell me;  "Go up and see who it is, if it is not my sister, tell them I am not onboard!"  Now, I am not talking about one or two women coming to the shop on payday.  It was more like 6 or 7 women, insisting Sam was aboard and needed to see them!

Sam also refused to wash White Hats!  He would purchase White Hats by the dozen. When they were dirty, he threw them away!  Now, in 1969, a White Hat cost about a Quarter.  But, even an E-6 who lived on the ship and did not have a car, was not rich! But, Sam insisted it made sense.  At lowest it did to him.

Sam's relief came aboard the ship about six months before we deployed to the Med.  Sam was ecstatic since he had been on the ship for over SEVEN YEARS!!  But, about a month before we deployed, GMG1 Phillips, Sam's relief, was shot and killed in Washington D.C.!!  Sam deployed with us, complaining and cackling all the way!

As I remember it, the Navy was fun back then.  Most of us lived on the ship.  We formed strong social and professional bonds.  We played cars, told sea stories, and read paperback books.  It was a simpler time, less hectic, with more fellowship.  We watched out for each other on liberty and on the ship!  The First Class Petty Officers actively mentored us, 24/7!  Everything was a teaching moment.

I feel sorry for the Sailors of today.  I do not believe they have the same "Shipmate" experience I had.

Friday, June 3, 2016

No Congressional Support for the Navy

 I read an article written by retired rear Admiral Hall, whom I have no contact with, that made the case that Congress is not allocating money to upgrade the Arleigh Burke DDG's while spending BIG MONEY on the anemic now named FF's!

I have written before about the little, close to the coast, underarmed, no armor, no station keeping capability, coastal targets that the Navy bought.   Then, when we do spend money on a "Real" combatant, we use untested, untried, technology.  Look at the Zumwalt Class DDG.  Electric pod propulsion?  It is great for merchant ships that are never expected to g to war.  But I just cant wait to see how the Zumwalt does in Shock Trials.

Then there is the USS Gerald Ford, a nuclear powered CVN that cannot launch planes, find planes join the air, or get underway, even though every penny the Pentagon could sweep up has been spent on this electronic folly.  Tell me;  What was wrong with the existing CVN design?  And by the way, the Navy is removing the Ford from Newport News Ship Building and giving it to some "Down the River" yards to try to make it work, cheaper.  I just can't wait to see how this turns out!    This has waste, fraud, and abuse, followed by failure, written all over it!

In another article, published by USNI, the real threats from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea were openly discussed.  We are way behind our collective enemies, just as I have said many times.  But, we have transgenders, gays, Satan Worshipers, and lesbians, serving openly!  Hey, that should make us Combat Ready!!  Oh, and remember, our Navy has outlawed the urinal!!

I would take on our Navy with a group of 2200 ton Destroyers from World War Two, and a crew of drunk sailors that actually knew their jobs; AND WIN!!!

Yes, I am angry and disappointed in the so called leadership of our Navy and our Military.  Is there any Flag Officer that has the BALLS to wave the Bull Shit Flag!!   Probably not.  Obama had them all fired.

I challenge you to look for these articles and others that are truly representing where we are as a Navy.  You will be as depressed as I am.  Sorry.