The Silver Dolphin Issue
Point of View No. 017
facsimile transmittal sheet

to:  Capt. K. B. Leahy USN Date: December 8, 1997

Commanding Officer Naval Submarine School

from:  CWO4Kenneth J. Lowen, USN Ret



ComSubLant Note 1530 authorizes the practice of awarding enlisted Dolphins to Midshipmen. Twenty Midshipmen from the Naval Academy were awarded the Enlisted Submarine Warfare badge (Silver Dolphins) during the 1997 cruise sequence. I have no knowledge of earlier years but know that the Lant note has been around a long time.

The practice of awarding dolphins to persons who can in no way satisfy the traditional requirements for earning the award is ......NOT ADVISED!

The enlisted men of the submarine force past and present are very proud of their accomplishment in having earned their Dolphins. They worked for them, they were tested, they were selected. Midshipmen being awarded Silver Dolphins is like pinning a Marksman badge on a topside watch in recognition of him wearing a holstered pistol. Itís like giving Air Crew wings for riding as a passenger in the cockpit of a commercial airline. Its like having burial in Arlington cemetery without having met the minimum military requirements. The practice serves to tell every enlisted man who earned his Dolphins that it was no real accomplishment at all. The Dolphins are being tarnished into something no more significant than a ships name badge on the uniform.

The Commanding Officers who "give" the Dolphins away send a strong negative message to the members of their crew and enlisted submariners everywhere. The message is, enlisted Dolphins arenít worth much and have little significance in the grand scheme of submarine things. Not a nice thought.

It is requested that you take steps to assist in halting the practice of giving Dolphins to Midshipmen on summer cruise. Air Warfare, Surface Warfare, SEALS, Diversónone give away their badge. Have the Dolphins become that much easier than the Surface Warfare badge to obtain?

See some insight into this problem. Itís not really a little thing in the hearts and minds of those who were awarded the enlisted Dolphins. Comment from one senior office on the BBS says any complaint is sour grapes.