Monday, June 23, 2008

Submariner? You Be The Judge

Last week we posed this Mystery Question:
What submariner made the quoted declaration, and in which branch of the armed services did he enter the military?

Less than 24 hours later, esteemed reader SonarMan nailed it...
That would be oceanographer Robert Ballard of Titanic finding fame. He first entered the Army as an intel specialist, and then later transferred to the Navy as an oceanographer. Point of contention: Ballard was never a true Submarine Sailor. Though he worked on submersibles, he never earned the Submarine Warfare Dolphins insignia. You can't be a Submarine Sailor if you haven't earned your Dolphins.

While SonarMan's correct answer exhibits significant astuteness, his prize is whatever psychic satisfaction he obtains from being the first with it.

In all fairness, Dr. Ballard is a highly accomplished civilian submariner. Moreover, he is eminently qualified on operation of submersibles that have set diving records. The fact that most of Ballard's research submersibles were deep-diving rather than combative units of the greatest submarine force on Earth may be administrivia. In today's world Naval strategy calls for increasingly non-combative missions, as Galrahn often reminds us:

There is a mission statement in bold and italics on page 4 of 21st Century Seapower, (PDF) it reads: 'We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars.'

For hints on answering next Friday's mystery question, readers will want to re-read carefully last Friday's posting.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



At 23 June, 2008 22:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still hold my point of contention. The operative word is "submersible", versus "submarine".

A true submarine is a warship - a ship of the line, and not to be confused with a research submersible. For instance, the USS Dolphin (SS 555), was used for research, but was a commisssioned naval vessel, commanded by a naval line officer. Ballards submersibles were not.

If one were to call a naval submarine a "submersible", a submarine sailor would have an issue with that. The term submersible implies something other than a warship.

No disrespect to Dr. Ballards estimable accomplishments, but he was a submersible operator, not a Submarine Sailor, as defined above.

Those of us qualified in submarines would never consider Ballard a submarine sailor, though indeed his work in submersibles is prodigeous and record setting.

At 24 June, 2008 00:38, Blogger Vigilis said...

Thanks for taking a strong position, SonarMan. As stated, Dr. Ballard never served in (and consequently never qualified in) our submarine force, which requires among other special quals those related to weapons.

Would you not say he has earned an "honorary bubblehead certificate", however? Some qualified submariners think so. See under "Civilan" at bottom of this page: Cob Links

At 24 June, 2008 17:24, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, I would definitely grant him the the title of "Honorary Submarine Sailor". We gave that title to a gal we work with purely because she could dish it out as well as she could take it.


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