Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Navy Political Camouflage Part II: "Shuffling"

History (submariner USNA grad)

The 21st century began January 1, 2001.  The Pentagon (and Navy) used two types of rare, poltical (non-combat) camouflage during the prior century. The gobbledlygook variety was described last week.
The shuffling variety described below had been used as far back as the1800s, and still persists.

The destroyer USS Decatur (DD-5) ran aground 7 July 1908 under the command of  Ensign Chester W. Nimitz, who was court-martialed, found guilty of neglect of duty, and issued a letter of reprimand.  Ens. Nimitz was next assigned to instruction in the First Submarine Flotilla in January 1909.  By May of that year he was given command of the flotilla, with additional duty in command of USS Plunger (SS-2), later renamed USS A-1source
Of course, readers are aware of Chester W. Nimitz, who went on to become, in 1944, a Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy.  Except for navy historians few may be aware, however, that assignment to the submarine navy of 1909 was not the plum it became after USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was commissioned in 1954.

Batleships were the coveted assignments of their day, while destroyers and subs particularly were considered the bottom rung for career officers.  Nimitz's grounding had not earned him a feather, rather it placed him in a largely unknown, despised, and suspect backwater with which few officers desired any association. Nimitz himself would say he considered the submarines of the time "a cross between a Jules Verne fantasy and a humpbacked whale".  Newspapers in WW1 would write about the cowardly, criminal and inhuman nature of submarine warfare.

Though shuffled off to submarines, Nimitz's career thrived to the surprise of many because he was exceptionally suited for leadership.

21st Century Shuffling Camouflage (non-submariner USNA grads)

Example #1- CAPT Holly Graf 
On 13 January 2010, Capt.Holly Graf was relieved of command of USS Cowpens [CG-63] by Rear Admiral Kevin Donegan, commander of Carrier Strike Group Five, as non-judicial punishment stemming from an admiral's mast. The punishment followed an investigation "which verified allegations of cruelty and maltreatment of her crew, and conduct unbecoming an officer".

Shuffling (face saving)
Graf was slated to take a job at the Office of Information, Plans and Strategy (N3/N5) at the Pentagon after leaving the Cowpens. However, after losing her command, Graf was reassigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center's laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia.

A board of inquiry composed of three admirals held hearings regarding her conduct in November 2010. On December 3, 2010, the board of inquiry recommended that Graf be separated from the Navy and receive a retirement under general circumstances so she could be allowed to retire with the rank of Captain. On January 6, 2012, this decision was reversed and Graf will be allowed to receive an honorable service characterization as a retired officer, as it was, "...determined that her conduct did not rise to a level sufficient to warrant the characterization of her service as less than honorable.

Example #2- Arson on USS Miami (SSN-775) on Shipyard Commander, CAPT Fuller's Watch

Readers no the story of USS Miami's senseless detruction. Most never learned the story of the shipyard commander at the time, however. PNS's Shipyard Commander and Deputy Commander had no actual submarine service. The Deputy Commander had tender and skimmer experience, and the Shipyard Commander, Capt L. Bryant Fuller a skimmer, was NOT qualified in submarines.

Shuffling (face saving)
May 21, 2013 Capt. Greene to assume command of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
KITTERY, Maine — After 3½ years at the helm of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Rear Adm. (select) L. Bryant Fuller is stepping down from command  ... Fuller will be relieved by Capt. William C. Greene at a change of command ceremony on Friday.
After nuclear power and submarine training, he [Greene] was assigned to USS Guitarro (SSN 665) as an engineering division officer where he completed his Engineer and Submarine Warfare qualifications. Capt. Greene then reported to USS West Virginia (SSBN 736). There he served as the ship's Quality Assurance Officer, Damage Control Assistant and Tactical Systems Officer over four strategic deterrent patrols. Capt.Greene then reported as Navigator and Operations Officer on USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), where he completed two deployments and earned the designation Qualified for Command of Submarines
Fuller has been selected for promotion to Rear Admiral and will be assigned as deputy commander for ship design, integration and engineering at Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C.  source
Did CAPT Fuller, shipyard commandant at the time of the Miami arsons survive the investigation
For the moment at least, but the new Commandant is qualified in subs.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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