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The Submarine Community has for years adhered to the policy that operations were not to be discussed. Consider-ing the Soviet anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, the reliance on secrecy for success, and the undisputed allocation of financial resources, this policy was prudent and necessary. However, the threat is no longer what it was and neither is the financial climate. In order for the merits and capabilities of the submarine community to be understood and supported by Congress and the public, it is time to understand that silence is not golden. Without effective advertising, a viable, necessary capability will wither on the vine through lack of funding.

Advertising requires an audience be targeted, messages or commercials identified, and the choice of mediums selected. This advertising initiative, to be most effective, should be force-wide. However, the focus of this paper will be from a middle management (Executive Officer or Commanding Officer) point of view. [Ed. Note: See end-note for a brief resume of recent higher-level efforts to reach the public.]

The Audience. Deciding on an audience is not difficult. Congress ultimately funds submarine operations and construction but the public holds influence over Congress. One would have to assume that, if the general public got the submarine community’s message, so would Congress. So, to kill two birds with one stone, the public should definitely be the target of interest.

The Commercials. OP Plan 1-43 was a top secret document issued by the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Aeet (COMSUBPAC) on 24 June 1943 detailing the submarine missions of World War II. It listed sea control, mine laying, support of naval and land forces, reconnaissance, raids, intelli-gence operations, evacuation of friendly forces from enemy held areas, and resupply as the current submarine missions.1 On 18 January 1992, OP-02, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Undersea Warfare released an unclassified document entitled Submarine Roles in the 1990’s and Beyond. [Ed. note: a condensed version was carried in the April1992 SUBMARINE REVIEW under the title Submarine Roles in the Future.] It listed the submarine roles as peacetime engagement, surveil-lance, deterrence, regional sea denial, precision strike, task group support, and ground warfare support.2 Comparison of the two documents shows that the majority of missions are held in common. The similarity suggests that the missions are valid and enduring and that having a force of some size is justified. This force justification, updated as possible with current operational examples, should be the first commercial.

The second message should be the submarine force nuclear safety record. There are frequent articles and news stories covering the deplorable state of the nuclear power industry in general and the government’s nuclear weapons production reactors in particular. The Savannah River site in South Carolina has been in the news, yet rarely if ever does one read about the dozens of reactors which are routinely operated around the picturesque city of Charleston. The reason is that these plants have an outstanding record of safe and responsible operation. However, in today’s financial climate, the absence of negative exposure is not good enough – the submarine commu-nity needs to reveal pro-actively the unequaled record for safe reactor operation. This should be the second commercial.

The third should be the quality of the submarine sailor. Although presented last, this is the most important message of the three. Anyone volunteering for submarine duty is subjected to a stringent screening process. The standards are high and the rigorous training received prior to being assigned to a boat weeds out many would-be submariners. The end result is that the sailors who make the cut are the best to be found in the Navy. Showing the public could only benefit the force.

The Medium. Selecting the medium is a difficult decision because of the wide range of choices. The commercials can be presented to the public directly without using the media as a go-between. This type of approach has the potential of best communicating the quality of the troops and what they do. However, it will only reach a limited audience. Indirectly de1ivering the commercials through the media bas the potential advantage of reaching a wide audience and best describing the technical issues of force justification and reactor safety in easily understood terms. A prudent decision would be to keep all options open and engage the public both directly and indirectly as the opportunities present themselves. This promises the most exposure and the most effective coverage of the submarine community message.

Direct Advertising. Direct advertising is what the submarine community does best and is an area in which it has been excelling for years. From a middle management point of view, it consists of tours and rides, HARP (Hometown Area Recruit-ing Program) duty, and public services. Each option will be discussed in detail.

Submarine rides and tours have been going on probably as long as there have been boats. They are outstanding for communicating the quality of the troops if they are done right {Ed. note: see In the Presence of Greatness in this issue of the SUBMARINE REVIEW.] Right means having the duty section perform the tours (on watch personnel for rides) with groups of five or less. It allows every crew member to explain his specialty and the working of his ship. Nothing demonstrates better the quality of the sailor and the degree of his in-depth knowledge than an opportunity of this sort They reach all levels of society from local civic leaders to members of Congress and Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, from family members to local Boy Scout troops, from midshipmen to allied admirals directing their undersea warfare forces.

HARP duty is another way to get the submarine message oul HARP duty is a recruiting initiative which allows sailors to assist recruiters in their hometowns on a temporary basis (approximately six weeks). Not only is this a good deal for the sailor (free leave) but it also provides the submarine community an opportunity to have one of its own speak at several local high schools. It’s an opportunity to get the message out albeit to a young audience.

Public services are the last direct avenue for advertising the commercials. Services which come to mind are local “Adopt a School” programs and tutoring programs. “Adopt a School” is a program in which a ship or shore activity donates time and sometimes tools to assist the adopted school with self improve-ment projects such as cleaning up school grounds, getting a football field ready for the season or building and painting new dugouts for the baseball field. Tutoring programs are similar except sailors and officers donate their time to tutor high school students in math, physics, or the sciences. These programs allow submariners to demonstrate the type of people the majority are — hard working and intelligent. This is the commercial the public should understand.

Indirect AdvertisinK. Indirect advertising is the most difficult due to a deep-seated organizational bias of non-disclosure. However, as previously mentioned, it offers the substantial advantages of reaching a large audience and of presenting potentially detailed commercials in clear, everyday language. There are widely known approaches such as documentaries like Pride Runs Deep and Steel Boats. Iron Men and novels/movies such as The Hunt for Red October. However, these are typically outside a commanding officer’s or executive officer’s ability to influence either in their making or in their showing. Indirect initiatives from a middle management perspective consist of professional articles, news releases, and media tours.

Professional articles in magazines such as U .S. Naval Institute Proceedinw; and The Submarine Review provide vehicles to send the most technical of commercials. They reach a large audience and allow control over what is printed. However, on the down side, they are like preaching to the choir. The audience is typically military and, in the case of The Submarine Review, mostly all submariners. This shortcoming greatly limits the utility of this type of medium.

News releases to the local paper and hometown news provide an excellent opportunity to show off individual sailors or the command to a wide, potentially non-Navy audience. Although it probably would not communicate the commercials of force justification and reactor safety, it can convey the quality of the troops and is a task even the most junior collateral duty public affairs officer could handle. These advantages make it a useful medium.

Media rides are the final option which has the largest potential advertising payoff as well as the largest risk. The payoff is that this avenue, particularly if it is video, has the ability to communicate all three commercials to a large, uninformed public. The obvious risk is, unlike any other advertising initiative, whether justified or not, it will not be career enhancing. It would also involve the most command effort from the C.O. or X.O. to sell the idea to the chain of command and to the media it is trying to attract. However, the bottom line is getting the message out and this avenue is too promising to ignore.

In conclusion, the submarine community can no longer afford to be the silent service. The commercials of a justified capabili-ty, reactor safety, and the quality of the submarine sailor need to be widely disseminated. It can be accomplished at the ship level directly through tours and rides, recruiting, and public services. It can be accomplished indirectly using the media through professional articles, news releases, and media rides. With effective advertising, a viable, necessary capability can be maintained through public support of funding.


1. U.S. Navy Dept., Submarine Operational Historv. World War ll (Washington, 1947), I, pp. 41-42.

2. U.S. Navy Dept., Submarine Roles in the 1990’s and Beyond (Washington, 1992), pp. ii-iii.

Editor’s End-Note: In addition to Submarine Roles in the 1990s and Beyond. the ACNO (Undersea Waifare) has published two glossy magazines: America’s Nuclear Powered Submarines of 28 pages, and Around the World. Around the Clock, Alwavs Ready of22pages.

The number of submarine rides for 1991 and the final half of 1992, doubled the number of rides for the two years preceding. Of those in 1992, one-third were for the press. A notable event was the flying up to the Arctic Circle of 8 reporters for an overnight underway on USS GRAYLING. Several interviews of note have been given, including:

Vice Thomas of Seapower
Barbara Starr of Janes Defense Weekly
Wolf Blitzer of CNN
David Evans of The Chicaro Tribune
Suzanne Schafer ofAP
Charles Corddry of Baltimore Sun
Bart Gelman of Washington Post
Eric Schmidt of The New York Times

An internal video was produced explaining what the submarine can do in the current world situation. This video has been distributed to a variety of internal naval commands for indoctrination purposes.

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