This issue of UNDERSEA WARFARE comes on the heels of Commander, Submarine Forces’ issuance of Update 1 to the Design for Undersea Warfare (DUSW). The DUSW Update is intended to keep our undersea forces aligned and to provide an update on the progress we’ve made so far and the work still to come in our ongoing efforts to improve the Force. In addition to identifying the undersea forces’ foundation of strength–our Undersea Warriors–reiterating the DUSW Lines of Effort, and evaluating old and establishing new focus areas, Vice Adm. Connor provided his Commander’s Guidance for submarine commanding officers: (1) use the boat to help achieve national objectives; (2) exercise positive leadership; (3) train, mentor, and develop your officers; and (4) build depth in your teams.
In the spirit of the DUSW, the articles featured in this issue examine our Undersea Warriors and, in particular, Submarine Leadership. Vice Adm. Konetzni (ret.) shares his thoughts on Submarine Force values and how to instill these values in today’s leaders. Lt. Josh Weiss’s article on boldness and initiative takes a look at the traits that characterized our operations during World War II and asks how we might reemphasize those traits to ensure undersea dominance into the future. Lt. Rob Szeligowksi and Capt. (sel.) Anthony Carullo suggest that we may not need to look as far away as decades-old history to find Submariners exhibiting that boldness and initiative. A short Q&A with Vice Adm. Connor, as well as his remarks to future Submariners at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Submarine Select Community Dinner, also appears in this issue.
A particular aspect of submarine leadership that I’d like to discuss is accountability. As Adm. Rickover said, “Responsibility is a unique concept. You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you. If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance, or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.” But this responsibility or accountability is not limited to the world of nuclear power; it extends to every area of our business, from the engineering plant to the Control Room, from submerged operations in the depths of the ocean to the simplest in port maintenance job. The harsh truth is that, as Submariners and leaders, we cannot escape our fundamental accountability for what happens to our equipment, our people, and our ships–and that is something we can never allow ourselves to forget, even when our backs are against the wall. This basic virtue is one of the strengths that make us the superb Force that we are.
A sobering reminder of the harsh and unforgiving environment in which we operate–and the continued need for brave and technically competent leaders–is the upcoming 50th anniversary of the loss of USS Thresher (SSN 593) with all hands. On 10 April 1963, Thresher suffered a fatal flooding casualty from which she was unable to recover, leading to the loss of the ship and the deaths of 129 men. The sacrifice of those men led our Force to greater accountability in the development of the SUBSAFE program, which implemented strict procedures for quality assurance. The SUBSAFE program is the product of critical self-assessment and led to real, dramatic improvements in the safety of our Submariners. We honor the memory of the brave men who gave their lives aboard Thresher.
Finally, let me offer congratulations to Adm. John Richardson on his promotion and assumption of duties as Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion. Adm. Richardson is one of the finest officers and submariners of our generation. He served superbly as Commander, Submarine Forces and his great work will no doubt be continued by his relief, Vice Adm. Mike Connor. Congratulations to both admirals and best wishes for their new challenges.
Rear Adm. Barry Bruner
In the photo above: Mr. Brett Faneuf, CEO of Submergence Group (left); Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Lacey (middle); and Rear Adm. Bruner (right), with a scale model of the Mobile Anti-Submarine Training Target (MASST), an autonomous midget submarine simulator used to train our teams in antisubmarine warfare produced by Submergence Group.