The Submarine School’s Mission Statement has been rephrased many times since the School was founded in 1917. Presumably most versions, however, resemble the 1984 mission:
- Prepare prospective submariners for submarine duty.
- Prepare submariners for their next
- Prepare submarine crews for war (as the most effective deterrent to prevent it).
Over the years, officer training at Submarine School has been dynamic to meet the changing requirements of an evolutionary Force. As a result, officer training for submarines is markedly different than most seniors experienced as junior officers.
It is useful to look at a brief history of Basic Officer Submarine Training before reviewing what we teach our officers in formal school training today.
Submarine Officers’ Basic Course History
1959-73 : 6 month Basic Course taught to officers prior to their initial submarine tour. Course was in two versions: “diesel” and “SSBN”. This was the only formal course for submarine officers (dept. heads and below).
1973-76 : 6 month “diesel” and SSBN curricula continued for non-nuclear trained accessions. A 5 week indoctrination course was offered to nuclear trained officers.
1977-79 : 10 week Basic Course curriculum taught to all officers. Diesel curriculum dropped. 1 week Officer Submarine Orientation Course offered to all non-nuclear trained officers.
1980-83 : Basic Course extended to 12 weeks to accomodate the 2-week Navy-wide, Leadership, Education and Management Training (LMET) course. 1 week Orientation course was offered as an add-on for non-nuclear trained officers.
Early 1984 : Basic Course extended to14 weeks in major course revision which emphasized submarine fundamentals, relative motion and “mental gym”. 1 week orientation course continued.
Late 1984 : Basic Course shortened to 13 weeks as a result of the LMET curriculum change (1 week in Basic Course and 1 week in Submarine Officers’ Advanced Course vice 2 weeks in the Basic Course).
In addition to the major course revisions summarized above, there have been a series of changes– some subtle and some significant– in the purpose of the Basic Course.
In the 50s and early 60s, officers who attended basic submarine training were usually sea experienced junior officers who had qualified as OOOs and completed at least a division officer tour. Usually these officers had made a career decision, were competent in shiphandling and problems of relative motion comprehension, and could manipulate Maneuvering Boards (with grease pencils and in their heads). Submarine School, therefore, had a different purpose, not to mention a different type of submariner to teach. Qualification of prospective Diving Officers was more important than preparing Officers of the Deck.
Submarine School was then expected to prepare young officers for the transition to submarine duty.
Today the challenges and the students are completely different. Still, the recently approved 2 week extension of the Basic Course adds much material which to a great extent is a modernization of the daily TDC and “think on your feet” exercises conducted 20 years ago.
The Basic Course for Officers
Today’s Basic Course student starts an officer’s classroom day at 0730. Classes end at 1630 but some labs are conducted in the evening because of scheduling demands on tactical training devices. Homework assignments add one to three hours to the day.
A breakdown of the course, as taught in 1984, follows:
While a comparision with the 1970’s course can be misleading, old timers will nonetheless be interested in how much (how little?) has changed over the years. Topics are listed in the following table:;
Salty, grey-haired submariners who suspect that life in general, and Submarine School in particular, may not be nearly as demanding as it was in the “old days” would be very satisfied with the demanding tenor of the Basic Course and the enthusiastic appetite of our prospective submarine officers for knowledge and responsibility.
Seven Basic Course classes convene each year. A typical class size is 100 officers, including LDOs, Supply Officers, EDOs and 1120s. Today’s Basic Course objectives are to:
- be immediately ready to serve as a functioning:
-Fire Control party plotter/plot evaluator.
-MK 81 analyzer “MATE” operator .
- be ready to qualify as Diving Officer and Contact coordinator.
- be proficient in mental analysis using thumb-rules to solve tactical problems in LOS parameters, range, Ekelund range, three minute rule, reciprocals, doppler, and periscope operations.
- have a basic understanding of submarine safety, systems, weapons and sensors.
- possess a basic level of seamanship and relative motion comprehension to support Officer of the Deck qualifications.
- feel a “member of the “
The Submarine Officers’ Advanced Course
Although the Submarine Officers’Advanced Course has been in existence for over 10 years, only in the past year has the Force realized its objective of 100% attendance in the course by all officers enroute to their department head assignments.
The Advanced Course has become increasingly important and demanding over the years. It provides an opportunity to teach the officers our corporate knowledge. It is a post-graduate course in submarine warfare.
Since today’s submariners’ initial assignments might give them experiences ranging from a TRIDENT in new construction, to a 585 class refueling overhaul, to a 616 class SSBN conducting deterrent patrols, or to a 688 class SSN on extended operations, the Advanced Course becomes an opportunity to even out (and share) the knowledge gained by officers with such diverse backgrounds.
The Advanced Course began as a 26 week course in 1971. Today it is being changed to 22 weeks. Most of the changes in the Advanced Course have been piecemeal rather than wholesale revisions. The course has become more difficult as the School has tried to accomplish more objectives in a shorter time period.
The current Advanced Course objectives are:
- to develop the tactical expertise of each student to the level of a skilled Fire Control Coordinator at Battle Stations.
- to upgrade the student’s knowledge of the threat and improve his proficiency as Officer of the Deck and shiphandler.
- to complement the technical knowledge attained in the initial submarine tour and prepare students for the management responsibilities of submarine department heads.
- to develop the professional knowledge of students to the level of a submarine department head.
Recent revisions to the Advanced Course curriculum include added Arctic Warfare training, additional emphasis on modern sonar systems employment, submarine sound quieting, anti-ship and land attack TOMAHAWK employment, more practical navigation work and daily mental gym. The 2 week Leadership, Education & Management course taught in the Basic course is being revised so that 1 week is taught in the Basic Course to prepare officers for their division officer duties and a second week of this course is taught during the Advanced Course. This second week course is being revised to take advantage of the students’ fleet experience.
In 1985 it is anticipated that analog fire control system training will be deleted from the Advanced Course and taught on a stand-alone basis to officers assigned to submarines so equipped. In its place, training on the Combat Control System (MK 117 FCS modified for TOMAHAWK use) will be added.
Nine Advanced Course classes convene each year. This is up from four less than two years ago. Class size is 20-30. The 1984 course breakdown is as follows:
Sixty officers are involved in teaching the Basic and Advanced Courses.