The Silver Dolphin Issue
Point of View No. 020a
(1 Feb. 1998) The following "snail-mail" letter was written by Bob Barbee and passed to me today and is posted with Bob's permission.
Note: To assist the reader, I have converted some references to "clickable links".
February 1, 1998

Editor U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings
118 Maryland Avenue
Annapolis MD 21402-5053

Dear Editor,

This is my comment and discussion on Save The Silver Dolphins, an article by Michael M. Rankin that appeared in the Nobody Asked Me, But... department of the February 1998 issue of Proceedings.

In the early fall of 1997, the word was out that a few midshipmen from the Naval Academy had earned enlisted silver dolphins during their six-week summer cruises on nuclear-powered submarines. There was an article in Navy Times about this which prompted an immediate response from active duty and veteran submariners to various submarine-related Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) on the Internet. The BBSs were the main places that submariners could air their views without the filtering process editors of print media must use to decide which readers' letters they print..

On October 20, 1997, I began cutting-and-pasting the postings on this issue from the most popular of these BBSs, Ron Martini's Submarine BBS into a word processing document. I did this because, due to BBS megabyte limitations, many of the postings had been dropped off (in chronological order) to conserve memory on the site. Other issues were discussed on this BBS, but the silver dolphins for midshipmen issue filled up the BBS more than others. Since October 20th, my word processing document on this issue has grown to 105 pages of single-spaced, 9-point font text, and it's still growing.

Mr. Rankin, in his seven paragraphs, has covered every concern and feeling of the submariners whose posts fill up my large word processing file. Many of us have written to, e-mailed, and phoned our elected representatives, the Secretary of the Navy, COMSUBLANT and COMSUBPAC, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, local newspapers in the areas where submarines are homeported, and even some Internet and radio commentators such as retired Colonel David Hackworth and Rush Limbaugh, in an effort to let them, and others, know how distressed we are with this policy that so denigrates the accomplishments of enlisted submariners, past and present. All of these people, so far, have kept our concerns in-house. The men who contacted them have gotten back responses about how they understand how everyone feels and the matter will be looked into. But Mr. Rankin, with his article, and this magazine's decision to print it, has hopefully thrown a brighter spotlight on the issue; a spotlight which will illuminate our concerns to a much wider-ranging audience. This wrong-headed, submariner morale-lowering policy must be rescinded immediately.

Bobby R. Barbee Senior Chief Machinist's Mate (SS/SW)
United States Navy (Retired)