After three wonderful years on shore duty at the Naval Postgraduate School and working with the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group, I am now under orders to return to sea duty as a submarine department head. I am excited to be returning to the Submarine Force and the talented men and women I will be serving with. I have periodically reflected on my division officer sea tour to gain insight into achieving excellence as a department head. My preparations broadened as I reached out to a few of my mentors and opened discussions not only on being a department head, but also on my eventual qualification for command. I was content to continue discussions and this method of learning, but an essay written by Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, the former commandant of the Marine Corps University and an exceptional historian and thinker, profoundly affected me and the way I was preparing for my return to sea duty.
More of a focused memoir than an academic treatise, General Van Riper recounted his career from his early enlistment to his retirement in terms of an evolving, personal professional development program based on literature—his essay serves as a veritable guide for starting a professional reading program. He relates how he came to reread certain books over and over again for their reminder of how horrific infantry combat can be to broadening the scope of his reading to prepare him for each new assignment. I immediately set out to create my own professional reading program to help me prepare to be a submarine department head. My list contained more than thirty books to be read over thenext year, a very reasonable goal given my proclivity to reading. The books span from leadership to navigation and operations to submarine history. It is this body of topics that I wish to explore further.
The Submarine Force has a storied and proud history. After rereading Thunder Below by Admiral Eugene Fluckey and Clear the Bridge by Admiral Richard O’Kane, I feel humbled to wear the same dolphins and be called a submariner. I re-read these books, along with many others, though the lens of leading highperforming teams and command. The results left me further in awe but lead me to redouble my efforts to gain greater knowledge and wisdom so that I may be a better submariner, but I still crave more.
Much of our modern history remains untold. After consulting with the NSL Executive Director, CAPT Tim Oliver, we agreed that the corporate body of knowledge within the Naval Submarine League should be shared with our current submariners. For chapters not near fleet concentration areas, sharing the wisdom of your careers and mentoring our active duty sailors can be remarkably difficult. We want to alleviate that problem. The end product has not been settled yet, but we are looking for your sea stories, lessons, and advice for submariners moving on to the next stages of their careers. We are looking for articles on the following topics, though all relevant submissions are welcome:
Becoming a Chief Petty Officer
Chiefs Molding Division Officers
Developing First Class Petty Officers
Being a Leading Chief Petty Officer
Technical Competence and the Division Officer
Being a Division Officer
Leading Peers as a Junior Officer
Division Officer as an Internship for Command
Being a Department Head
Preparing for Command as a Department Head
Mentoring Division Officers
Being an Executive Officer
Being a Commanding Officer
Vision and Strategic Direction
Navigation and operations
Leading teams (The Chiefs’ Mess, the Wardroom, Watch
Sections, Divisions, etc.)
Handling conflicts and poor performers at all levels
Relevance of Submarine History to Submarine Leadership
Learning from our Medal of Honor Winners
Role and Value of Mentorship
Sea stories for all of the above topics!
Humbling experiences or other lessons learned that you
want others to know!
Please be cognizant of classified material in your stories. Any length will be accepted; there is no minimum. Should you find writing a bit too daunting, we are willing to help you tell your stories, just ask! Simply, we want to ensure that this and future generations of submariners benefit from your experiences. If you are interested in contributing to any of the above topics, please contact the Editor, THE SUBMARINE REVIEW at the Naval Submarine League, 5025D Backlick Road, Annandale, VA 22003.