Friday, May 7, 2010

The Best and the Worst People Could Be Found There

They could be found at the various naval facilities, known as Navfacs. That was the cover name for SOSUS stations.[1]

Female line officers started being assigned to the SOSUS stations at the end of the 1960s. Until the early 1980s, when women began being assigned to surface ships and began going into flight training, assignment to a SOSUS station was the closest thing to an operational job that the Navy had for women.[2] The women officers were unrestricted line officers (designator: 110x)[3] and they were the cream of the crop. Many had hard science degrees and/or advanced degrees

Male junior officers who were assigned into SOSUS in the 1970s were, on the other hand, generally a group of serious fuckups. Oh, there were some who were just there because of bad luck, like a few pilots who had been in crashes, been hurt badly enough to be disqualified from flight duty, and were serving out their time. But mainly, the male JOs were complete fuckups who had been booted out of their warfare communities. These were guys who couldn't hack being on ships or guys who had been washed out of flight school and then couldn't hack sea duty. They were the guys who would eventually fail to select for lieutenant.

You could find these guys scattered all over the Navy, if you knew where to look. They were the ensigns and JGs who were doing paper-pushing at the recruiting offices, the ones that were not let within a league of a potential recruit. You might find them nominally in charge of the pass offices at places like the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard.

It took being a serious fuckwad to get fired from a ship as a first-tour junior officer. A captain who sent such a JO to the beach might have to wait a year or more for a replacement, when a twit like that could at least stand watches as a JOOD underway or an OOD in port.[4] So for a captain to throw someone like that off the ship meant that the young lad had to be one serious piece of human shit.

And that khaki-wearing turd could be pretty much counted to wash ashore at a SOSUS station.

[1] It's hard for me to grasp the fact that I can even write about this. SOSUS was once one of the most secret programs that the Navy had.
[2] As opposed to an administrative-type job.
[3] 110x was the designator for "unrestricted line", which by the late 1970s, meant women. Men who had the 110X designator were fuckups (or were possibly in a secret specialty).
[4] I knew of one JO on a ship on the East Coast whose job was "ship's photographer". It was more common to find them nominally as division officers of divisions with very strong chiefs.


Jimh. said...

Funny you should mention SOSUS. I just picked up "Hunting the Red Bear." While a fictionalized account, it does seem to give one a chance to glean some idea of early 1970s submarine espionage. Thanks, as always, for the post.

Anonymous said...

Ha! To this day, it feels kind of creepy to say SOSUS.
osc ret

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

I know. If I hadn't found the article on SOSUS on an official Navy site, I wouldn't have written this blog post.

merlallen said...

why wasn't John McCain assigned to a SOSUS after his first crash?
when I was in the Navy, SOSUS was just a rumor.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

why wasn't John McCain assigned to a SOSUS after his first crash?

Might have had something to do with who his father was. Or his grandfather.

But that's just speculation.

merlallen said...

I figured as much. That comment was mostly sarcasm.

chaoticsynapticactivity said...

I relieved "Wild Bill" (no last name), who was a 4 year Ensign. Seems, as the GUNO on a LEAHY Class CG in the mid-70s, they were tasked to head to the SS MAYUGUEZ, and the embarked ADM requested a gun shoot to ensure readiness. The midships mounted 3"50s went *click, click, click*! Something about the troops, upon being tasked to do PMs told him it was too hard, so he didn't make them do it.

Something about an ADM yelling at a CO with words to the effect: "He's never going to make JG, is he Captain?"

(CO's approve O-1 to O-2..all other promotions come via Congressional approval).

So, he departed the Navy a few weeks after I arrived and went home to the mid-West...