Master Chief Garrison is the Force Master Chief for the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force.
Admiral Mies, and Naval Submarine League, thanks for giving me the opportunity to address you today. I regret that the Pacific Force Master Chief Mo Pollard could not attend, as he had other commitments but he wanted me to pass along his best.
This is my first time speaking as the Submarine Force Master Chief and I can think of no better group to address early in my tenure than the members of the Naval Submarine League. I have been given a 30 minute time slot this afternoon, however, my prepared remarks will not use the allotted time so I am looking forward to some questions from you.
It is appropriate that I am here to talk with you in October, the bloodiest month for the Submarine Force during WWII. Of our 52 Submarines lost from 1941 through 1945, 8 total were lost during the Octobers of 1943 and 1944. One of these was USS WAHOO (SS238), whose feats have become submarine legend. She sank27 ships totaling over 119,000 tons before her loss on 11 October 1943.
These 52 great crews and the other submarine crews of WWII have left us a rich history with innumerable inspirational examples of what we can be.
As you heard this morning from our Force Commander, our Submarine Force is placing emphasis on 3 priorities; Operational Excellence, Development of our People and Maintenance and Moderation of our Force.
My focus is and will always be centered around the Personal and Professional Development of our Sailors we are entrusted to lead everyday. Providing a tie to this rich history is not only part of my responsibility, but is also part of my strategy to accomplishing this important priority.
A goal of mine is to instill in our Sailors today, a respect for this rich history. A few examples of what we are doing:
On most boats when a Sailor is awarded his dolphins, a selected passage from books on submarine history, such as Thunder Below and Clear the Bridge, is read. This works to keep the crew grounded, gives qualified Sailors a sense of being a part of history, and helps the crew stay focused on what is important. 16 June 1987, was the proudest day of my career. After punching through the ice on USS PINTADO, I received my dolphins with four other Shipmates at the North Pole.
This past May, USS LOS ANGELES deployed with a cribbage board that belonged to Medal of Honor recipient and WWII prisoner of war Rear Admiral Richard H. O’Kane. The tradition of passing the cribbage board from the oldest submarine to the next was started with the second submarine named USS TANG (SS-563) and was most recently passed to USS LOS ANGELES from USS PARCHE. As said by USS LOS ANGELES Commanding Officer Erik Burian, “Embarking with a piece of submarine history is a constant reminder of the legacy that we will continue.”
I had the distinct honor of meeting Signalman 2nd class Neal Sever earlier this year. Some of you might remember Neal as part of the only ground combat operation on the Japanese Mainland in WWII. Under command of Eugene Fluckey during that famous 12th war patrol of USS BARB, Neal and 7 other men went ashore to blow up that train. As he told this story to the crew of USS OKLAHOMA CITY, I could see the tremendous amount of pride and professionalism displayed on every crew member’s face. As I visit our boats in port or at sea, I will continue to impress upon our Sailors the importance of pride and professionalism in all we do.
Another key piece of my strategy is to continue the recent emphasis on Deck-plate Leadership.
- Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles.
- Deck-plate Leadership: “Chiefs are visible leaders who set the tone. We will know the mission, know our Sailors, and develop them beyond their expectations as a team and as individuals”. We have revitalized this in our Submarine Force and it is paying off.
- Delivery of USS HAW AD two months early and with flying colors. This difficult task was attributed to the leadership within the Chiefs Quarters Jed by Master Chief Bob Bentley, his Deckplate Leadership was recognized by CNO Admiral Mike Mullen during his ride.
- After a successful 6 month deployment, USS ALEXANDRIA was able to deploy again a short 3 months later and completed ICEX 2007. This joint tactical exercise off the northern coast of Alaska would not have been successful without the hard work of the crew under the leadership of the Chief Petty Officers.
- 75 percent reduction in traffic fatalities from FY06
- NA VSAFCEN TRiPS (Travel Risk Planning System)
- Emphasis placed on motorcycle safety. Overall 29 percent decrease Navy wide on motorcycle fatalities this year. None in the Submarine Force.
- 23 percent reduction in illegal drug use.
- Urinalysis compliance is up. Randomly testing a minimum of 4 times a month with at least 15 percent of the crew.
- DUI’s down 3.5 percent from last year. More importantly, there was a 6.5 percent decrease from our Sailors on sea duty. As the Admiral mentioned this morning, 13 crews have gone more than a year without a DUI with USS ALEXANDRIA going on 3 years.
- Safe ride programs are strong. Since inception in Groton 11 months ago over 215 Sailors have used this program
- Subscol report card system – Allows the leadership on the boat to identify High Risk Sailors early.
- We are educating our Sailors to ensure they develop a Culture of Financial Fitness. Identity theft and predatory lending are two immediate concerns. Payday loans still affect l in 5 military families. We continue to push the Navy’s thrift savings plan as this is a great tool that starts a young Sailor and his family off on the right foot.
Earlier this year we rescinded the requirement for enlisted personnel to achieve a degree prior to selection to Senior Chief or Master Chief. Although we value and encourage education, our senior enlisted community is focused on developing our Sailors not through books, but through Deckp/ate Leadership. Having said that, we continue to educate our Senior Enlisted Leadership at the Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, R.I. This 6 week resident course focuses on many subjects and situations that our front line leaders will encounter at the LCPO level. Additionally, prior to assignment as a Chief of the Boat, Senior Chiefs and Master Chiefs are required to attend a 2 week COB/CMC course taught in Newport, R.I.
Engineering Department Master Chief or EDMC Working Conferences and Courses
This initiative was prompted by Naval Reactors in early 2006 after we suffered numerous uplanned losses by serving Engineering Department Master Chiefs. These conferences occur every 6 months and are attended by all available EDMC’s. The group to date has been responsible for numerous Sailor work load reduction initiatives removing unnecessary administrative practices, establishment of the EDMC Forum Website, and EDMC course development. The first EDMC course was completed in August and is taught once a month in Norfolk by our Force EDMC. This course improves the skill sets of our best nuclear~trained Chief Petty Officers as they prepare to serve in one of our most challenging billets. We are also in the final stages of the development of a Nuclear Leading Chief Petty Officer Course. This two week course was initiated to help mitigate the reduced experience of nuclear LCPOS; which in the last 10 years has dropped from 14 years to 11 years and in some cases only 8 years. The course will commence in April 2008 with a goal to provide these leaders with additional tools to ensure their success in their first LCPO sea tour. Investment now in these critical areas will ensure success for our future.
The Submarine Force prides itself with on ability to retain properly trained, diverse and top performing personnel. The leadership applied over this past year in our war for talent has clearly made a difference. We have arrested the downward trend in retention we have seen over the past 3 years and have seen a steady increase in all zones since February. We are above the CNO benchmark in Zones A and B and right at the benchmark for Zone C and it
continues to look promising.
Retention Deep Dives
Next week we will place a team of experts on one of our retention challenged boats. The goal is to determine the root cause of poor retention, high attrition and low morale. The team’s mission is not to provide the Commanding Officer with a list of deficiencies but rather issues that the command can focus on to improve retention and morale. Future Deep Dive visits will include commands with high retention and low attrition to identify and understand successful practices that can be shared with the rest of the Force.
Reenlistment Bonuses for some nuclear ratings are at the highest levels ever. All nuclear ratings increased to a maximum ceiling of $90,000. The latest SRB message earlier this month reflects all submarine ratings either increasing or remaining the same award level with the exception of I.
USS LA JOLLA has re-enlisted 16 personnel in the last 3 months and is heading for the retention honor roll.
Each year our Force loses talented personnel. Some of these Sailors have the training, knowledge and capabilities that make them a valued member of our team. Command involvement is the key to prevent our young Sailors from making career ending actions or decisions. There is no greater impact on these Sailors than our Chief Petty Officers. Just over 20 percent of our Attrition comes from a combination of our Physical Fitness Assessment program and Misconduct.
These are the 2 areas where I feel Deckplate Leadership have the biggest impact: First:
Physical Fitness and Health
As you’re aware the submarine life is not always conducive to a healthy lifestyle. We still have the best food in the Navy and unfortunately sometimes it shows. We are working hard on developing installed treadmills that will fit directly into the deck of our boats. Additionally, we recently placed 2 nutritionists onboard USS MONTPELIER for a short underway to help better understand the lifestyle of a Submarine Sailor. Navy menus fleet wide have been standardized to afford our Sailors healthier choices. We have seen a dramatic decrease in 3 time failures from our semi-annual PF A’s. 475 failures in the Spring of 06 to 145 in the Spring of 07. Our physical fitness program has teeth and its paying off.
We have enjoyed a 58 percent decrease in attrition resulting from misconduct from FY 06 to FY 07 in all Zones. Our Chief Petty Officers are working hard at instilling pride and professionalism in our young Sailors during that critical first 30 days onboard and throughout their first tour. Professional Development Boards and solid command sponsorship programs are just a few tools at the disposal of the Chief Petty Officers.
Chief’s Standards and Conduct Board
This new program is currently being piloted at our Submarine School. This program is designed to allow the Chiefs’ Mess greater involvement in handling minor behavioral infractions, identifying potentially high risk Sailors, and intervening early to prevent future, and potentially more serious, misconduct. Chiefs Standards and Conduct Board is an administrative action forum and is not punitive in nature. The board will use traditional administrative remedies, such as corrective counseling and extra military instruction. Additionally, the Chiefs Standards and Conduct Board can offer a Sailor voluntary diversion when he or she recognizes their infractions and, as an alternative to Non Judicial Punishment or NJP, freely place themselves on restriction for a period of no more than 14 days. The board is meant to be a flexible process. It can be used either independently or as part of the formal disciplinary process.
Individual Augmentees (IA’s)
We are not only fighting the Global War on Terror from our Submarines at Sea, but we are playing a vital role with our Sailors on the ground in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Kuwait, and other hot spots around the globe. Preparation for our Sailors and their families is priority. Admiral Mullen said it best “Personal and Family Readiness equates to Combat Readiness.” Maintaining continuous contact with our Sailors and their families throughout deployment is critical to this successful mission.
- We currently have 122 Sailors with boots on ground
- Total of 390 since 2005.
- Currently 4 Submarine Command Master Chiefs with Boots on Ground.
Our hard work is paying off. Our Sailors are doing well, and it is our Chief Petty Officers that are leading the charge. As we continue to leverage on the advances in technology, I assure you that we remain vigilant on our number one resource that has been the single most important factor in the history of our great Submarine Force: Our Sailors.
Thank you for the opportunity you given me today and the support you give to our Sailors and their families