|June 2001 - Foreword by Captain Thomas:
I was the Weapons Officer and sometimes Acting Executive Officer of Submarine Base New London. Captain Ruben Woodall was the Officer in Charge of the Submarine School. He asked me to give the commencement address for the graduation of the 298th Basic Enlisted Submarine Class which graduated on 8 April 1964.
Here is the address:
Captain Woodall, Chaplain Tubbs, Members of the graduating class, families, and friends.
Our purpose in gathering here today is to render honor to the 298th class to graduate from the Basic Enlisted Submarne School and to welcome them into the Submarine Force.
The past performance of submariners and their boats is recorded in the glorious history of our Navy.
Performances such as those of the submariners of World War II, when they sank over 55 percent of all Japaneses ships sunk, earned 7 Medals of Honor, countless Navy Crosses, Silver Stars, and other honored decorations.
Deeds such as those accomplished in 1949 by the men of the diesel powered PICKEREL, when they transited 5200 miles from Hong Kong to Pearl Harbor without surfacing.
Accomplishments of the men of NAUTILUS in reaching the North Pole submerged and the men of TRITON circumnavigating the world submerged.
Yes, these deeds you know of through your training progams, your association with your instructors and other submariners, and from reading books or watching television programs.
But what of the future accomplishments of the Submarine Force?
Today, the number one priority for the development of a weapons system in the Navy has been assigned to the Polaris missile and the nuclear powered FBM submarine that carries it. Can we afford to have anything less than a number one type performance by a number one type man for this system? You, as well as I, know the answer is NO!
The future of the Submarine Force depends on men such as you that are graduating here today. It is true you have far better equipment than those submariners of past decades, but your challenge is also greater.
Just what kind of man is a submariner?
He comes from the cities of America - Los Angeles, Boston, or Chicago or from the small towns of Georgia or Vermont or the farms of Ohio or Texas.
He is interested in boats, or cars, or electronics, or sports, or music, and, of course, girls.
This is his background, varied though it may be. But on the submarine, he is the same as his shipmates.
He is proud - proud of his ship - his department - and his Dolphins.
He is enthusiastic - enthusiastic about his work and his qualification in submarines.
He is ambitious - ambitious in his desire to better hinself - to advance in rating and to win his Silver Dolphins.
He is responsible and reliable - responsible for keeping his equipment in tip top shape and reliable in times of emergencies.
He is alert - alert to the possibility of danger that exists aboard a submarine and alert to prevent disaster or at least to minimize it.
Another trait is that of mutual respect. He respects his shipmates for the knowledge they have of their ship and the responsible way they put this knowledge to work.
These are the kind of men that man our submarines.
How do you become one of these men?
You have already started on the road toward this goal by successfully completing the Basic Submarine Enlisted Course. Of the 349 that entered with this class, 301 have withstood the test. Some of you graduating here today will not measure up to these standards in the future and will be transferred to duty outside the Submarine Force.
The great majority of you that do win your Dolphins will know within yourselves that you have that something that it takes to be a true Submariner.
You will go through the same qualification program that every man now wearing Dolphins has been through.
You will discover that the standards for qualification will not be lowered for anyone. And when you win your Dolphins, see to it that they are not lowered for those who will follow in your footsteps from this school to the boats.
You will find that your new shipmates have a personal interest in your qualification, and for a very good reason - they want to be able to sleep at night confident thay you know your job and your ship well enough to perform your watch in a completely reliable manner.
You will find that you are not competing against your classmates, but against a set of rigid standards. Standards that have been developed through many years of submarine experience.
You are not preparing for a quiz to be assigned a mark now, but preparing to meet any emergency as though your life depended upon it. It does!
The majority of you will face the reality that you have never been in such a position of responsibility before in your lives. You are a member of a team. You are a link in a chain - a chain that must remain unbroken in order for the the submarine to operate properly. A chain that depends on each link being strong or the chain will not remain unbroken
When you report aboard your submarine, your life will not consist of qualification only - you will be involved in the advancement in rating program. Submarines have a higher percentage of petty officers than any other type of ship in the Navy. To illustrate this, three years ago when I was skipper of the submarine REMORA in the Pacfic, we returned from a seven month cruise to the Far East with 68 of the 72 enlisted men aboard wearing the crow of a petty officer on their sleeves.
Incidentally, on that same cruise, that crew of fine submarine sailors achieved one mark of distinction that other submarine crews may equal, but cannot surpass - every one of them was wearing Silver Dolphins.
Your submarine life will offer other experiences also - you will enjoy the benefits of the old recruiting slogan, "Join the Navy and see the world".
If you go to a Pacific Fleet submarine, you will visit such places as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Manila, Honolulu, Alaska and West Coast ports. Those of you reporting to Atlantic Fleet submarines will visit the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Scotland and East Coast ports.
To the families of these men graduating here today I would like to say this:
These men need your understanding - your support and your encouragement as they face this new and challenging life of a submariner. Give them this support, understanding and encouragement. It will go a long way toward helping them as they chart their way through the rough seas ahead
Before closing I would like to extend a very sincere 'Well Done' to the honorman of your class. ... I know the gold watch he will wear on his wrist thoughout the years ahead will be more than just a timepiece to him. It will always remind him of the rugged competition he faced from the 298th class as well as remind him of the common bond the members of this graduating class will always have.
Men - Congratulations.
Welcome aboard the submarines of our wonderful Submarine Force and - Smooth Sailing!