Written by Mark
MEET THE CREW OF A USN SUBMARINE
Click here for a Helpful list of Navy ratings & ranks
(10/24/12 on NAVY LIVE: Official blog of the USN) - "#WARFIGHTING – The Submarine Community"
This is an effort to give folks an idea of the organization of a submarine crew and how they all fit together as a team.
Working top down, the Commanding Officer (CO) does not always have the rank of Captain, but may have the rank of Commander. Either way, he can be addressed as “Skipper.” Reporting immediately to him are the Executive Officer (XO) who is overall leader of the officers on board and the Chief of the Boat (COB) who is overall leader of the enlisted men on board. The XO is second in command, and also head of the Administrative Department (more on that later).
The crew is organized into a small number of departments. Each department is led by an officer whose title is associated with it. He is partnered with a Chief Petty Officer (CPO).
Most departments are composed of a number of divisions. A division is led by a more junior officer as the Division Officer (called “DivO”) and a Lead Petty Officer (LPO) who’s usually a First Class (PO1), or sometimes a Chief as the enlisted leader.
A division is manned by sailors all having the same “rate” or job (e.g. Machinist’s Mates, Sonar Technicians, etc.). Each division has Quality Assurance requirements for their gear. Each sends a couple of crewmen to a one-week school for the (QA) qualification. This includes the "Sub Safe" area of responsibility, which touches on any system with components that must hold against sea pressure.
The Administrative Dept. (called “Admin”) is the smallest of the departments, and includes these Divisions:
- Yeoman (YN) – enlisted personnel that maintain all service records, make sure everybody's pay and benefits are squared away, and handle almost all written correspondence to and from the boat. The XO is DivO for the Yeomen
- Culinary Specialist (CS) – the cooks who prepare all the food for the crew
- Logistics Specialist (LS) – personnel who order all supplies for the boat. Headed by the Supply Officer (also known on a sub as the "Chop"), who is also division officer for the CS. The Chop is the only officer on a submarine not nuclear qualified.
- Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) – the IDC is a Hospital Corpsman (HM) with special schooling to be the sole medical professional on a ship. He also maintains the medical records for each crewmember, including radiation dose records.
The Operations Dept. is led by an officer with the title of “Navigator” as the department head and includes these Divisions:
- Electronics Technician, Navigation (ET-Nav) – part of the SECF family of ratings, responsible for navigation, and maintenance of the ship's charts, and navigation electronics equipment, including radar.
- Electronics Technician, Communication (ET-Comm) – led by a DivO titled the "Communicator" and used to be known as "Radiomen"; perform all electronic communication to and from the boat.
The Weapons Dept. is led by the "Weps," or Weapons Officer, and is the second largest department on a sub, consisting of:
- Sonar Technicians (ST) – part of the SECF family, operate sonar gear. SONAR stands for “sound navigation and ranging," the sole means of locating, identifying, and tracking submarines and surface ships. Without them, a submarine is blind.
- Fire Control Technicians (FT) – also part of the SECF family; work closely with Sonar to target and guide the ship's weapons systems, and maintain the boat’s computer network.
- Missile Technicians (MT) – found only on "boomer" (SSBN) subs, they maintain the Trident missiles and launching systems.
- Machinist's Mates, Weapons (MM-Weps) – formerly called “Torpedomen” (TM), they maintain the torpedoes and (if carried) guided missiles, plus their launching systems.
The Engineering Dept. (the “Nukes” or “Nucs”) is led by the "Enge," or Engineer Officer, unquestionably the hardest working officer on a submarine. The senior enlisted nuclear-trained Chief is like the Nucs’ COB and has the title of Engineering Dept. Enlisted Advisor (EDEA), and often called the "Bull Nuke." Engineering includes these Divisions:
- Auxiliary (M-Aux) – also known as “A-gangers,” their officer is the Damage Control Asst. (DCA) and are the only non-nuclear trained members of Engineering. As Machinist's Mates (MM), they maintain
- ship's control systems that control steering and depth control, and their hydraulic systems
- high pressure air systems (and air compressors) critical for ship's safety
- the emergency diesel generator, used as a source of power in the event the reactor must be shutdown at sea
- atmosphere control equipment:
a. that which produces oxygen and eliminates CO2 and other atmosphere contaminants
b. ventilation blowers moving air through the boat
c. coolers that cool air
d. ship's refrigeration equipment
e. damage control and firefighting equipment.
(Needless to say – that’s a whole lot of stuff, making them some of the hardest working enlisted on the boat).
- Machinery Division, Nuclear (M-Div) – are nuclear-trained MMs who operate
- fluid systems supporting the reactor, which produces the heat to make steam
- steam systems that drive the main engines and turbine generators (primary source of electricity)
- evaporators, which use steam to produce fresh water from sea water
- sea water cooling systems and air-conditioning plants which just make water colder to use in the coolers that cool air.
- Reactor Laboratory Division (RL) – led by the Chemistry/Radiological Control Asst. (CRA), comprised of nuclear-trained MMs qualified as Electronic Laboratory Technicians (ELT). They oversee chemistry control of the reactor cooling system and steam-generating and feedwater systems; also responsible for Radiological Controls (radiation safety, sort of).
- Electrical Division (E-Div) – led by the Electrical Officer, it’s staffed by nuclear-trained Electrician's Mates (EM), who operate and maintain the electricity-generating and distribution equipment throughout the boat, including the ‘ship's battery,’ a massive storage battery that is the last source of power on the boat and is maintained fully charged.
- Reactor Controls (RC) – staffed by nuclear-trained Electronics Technicians (ET) who operate and maintain the reactor control systems.