Officer Duty Section Watchbill Agonistes

Resolved: There is no activity in submarining more likely to cause lifelong grudges than the wife-generated politics and perceived fairness involved in generating an inport duty watchbill for officers. Discuss. (I'll add my take on the issue tomorrow. I find it interesting that the two officer-and-wife couples with whom I served who absolutely refuse to have anything to do with me post-Navy were on the boat where I served as Senior Watch Officer.)

Update 1015 16 May: When I was an unqualified JO on USS Topeka (SSN 754), the CO's philosophy was that the non-qual officers stood 3 section EDO U/I until qualified, then 3 section EDO until qualified Ship's Duty Officer. Since we generally had two EDO-qual'd / non-SDO-qual'd guys at a time, they took two of three days, and that left the other qualified officers in basically 6 section duty. I got qualified just as that CO left, and the new guy ("He Who Must Not Be Named") went the other direction -- the non-quals needed time off watch to work on their quals, so they stood 5 section and the fully qualified JOs stood 4 section SDO. (Obviously, required monthly proficiency watches for the Department Heads made the schedule somewhat flexible.) The SWO on Topeka was the Nav, who came up with an elaborate "point" system to make it "fair" -- he generated a watchbill that gave you 1 point for Mon-Thurs duty, 2 points for Friday, and 3 points for Sat/Sun/Holiday; he even put a handy "point total" table on the side of the watchbill to show everyone how "fair" it was. However, it always seemed to work out that the DHs were assigned weekend duty when the boat was scheduled to be out to sea, so they racked up their "points" that way. One month we broke and had to come back in, so he regenerated the entire watchbill, giving the DHs duty on weekends on days that had already passed on which we were at sea to make the "points" add up (giving the JOs duty on the future days where we would now be in port when the original fictitious schedule had the DHs standing duty) and seemed amazed that anyone would bitch about it.

When I was SWO on the Connecticut, after trying to pawn it off on the Nav but having the XO veto that (he said "you're the senior officer who stands watch, so you're the Senior Watch Officer"), I remembered the lessons from Topeka and tried to make the watchbill as fair as possible, with no special "reduced requirements" for DHs. Inevitably, however, one JO's wife complained about the perceived unfairness and word got back to me, so I did the only thing possible under the circumstances -- I assigned her husband to generate the watchbill for me for the rest of the time I was on the boat. Since he was a decent and fair guy, he ended up generating watchbills that didn't give him the days off that his wife felt he deserved, since jumping through all the school/TAD/special request hoops really is a tough row to hoe. (They're one of the couples that now won't talk to me.)

Counting my time on the Jimmy Carter, I ended up being SWO for 62 months overall, which might be a modern Submarine Force record. (Granted, for many of those months in NewCon, we didn't have any watches manned, so it was a title without responsibility.)

[Off topic: During my two tours as NewCon Eng, I also generated the first draft and training enclosure of about 60 NR Admiral's Letters, which I'm almost sure is a record. Continuing the off-topic aside on NR, anyone have any bets on who will be replacing ADM Donald this year?]

[Off-off topic: My other record is "fastest American submarine Eng on Alpha Trials".]