Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Personal Experience: SUBSCREEN

Some Background
Psychological fitness screening of  volunteers for U.S. submarine duty has been a significant topic at Molten Eagle since 2006.  Later psychological issues queried whether NASA had adequately screened its female astronauts before a very major embarassment with regard to Capt. Lisa Nowak (2007).  Of course, implications of that question also bore directly upon the political decision to admit women into submarine crews. A three-part series in 2009 began with A Bloody Nose, Sexual Harassment and a Deserter (after only 110 days) - Part 1,  Part 2, and Part 3.

An earlier series (2008) had been based on psychological officers actually on submarines - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Then, ten days ago, a new book, The Killing Depths, came to Molten Eagle's attention.  A plot review on Evilcyclist's Blog rekindled Molten Eagle's question of pyschological screening adequacy for enlisted sub crews. In response, Vigilis read The Killing Depths without finding a concrete answer. However, the psychopathic killer in Depths was highly skilled in both submarining and disguising his true nature. 

A Qualified Submariner's Personal Experience
In my first days at Groton before Submarine School (BESS), during the huge nuclear sub buildup of the Cold War, I would meet many other volunteers who would become casual acquaintances, liberty pals, future friends, or, mostly, remained total strangers. Often such meetings would occur in various waiting lines for medical/dental testing or meals.

These hundreds of fellow volunteers (mostly draftees) seemed to have little in common beyond individual accomplishments of  significant work experience and/or post high school education.  All seemed physically fit and their general demeanor was cheerful, courteous, and honorable, with one unmistakable exception. 

He was shorter in stature, with a personality that made nearly everyone around him very uncomfortable.  He was needlessly loud, quick-tempered, inordinately critical, and he displayed open hostility and inappropriate aggression toward authority. Some of us felt his personality disorder might have been due to a Napoleonic complex , but how would we really know?

Personally, I just hoped he would never be assigned to the same sub as me...  after all, how far could someone like him be trusted?  Weeks later, when day-long classes had barely begun, cuts were made without notice. Two guys from my class, people who had made little lasting impressions, simply disappeared. Not only were they missing from future school activities, we would never see them again. We knew they would become skimmers.

However many people were cut the result was not obvious in our lunch lines. And, although we would never discuss it among ourselves, the little misfit was also gone.

At that point, my confidence and pride in the U.S. Submarine Force received an immense boost for its wisdom and competence.  Of course, there would later be Subscreen, too.  - Vigilis

Submarines are always silent and strange. 

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