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Old 07-16-2017, 11:13 AM   #1
cj95
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Default Re-Qualify for new subs?

Historical question....

My captain just got bumped from his old S-Boat to a brand new.....er....less ancient Salmon class boat.

Im just wondering, historically how did the sub qualification process work under such procedures?

While most of the fleet boats are similar enough to make the jump fairly easy, the jump from S-Boat to fleet boat has got to be a whole new world.

The thing is, according to my reading it happened fairly frequently in the early war as non aggressive fleet captains were replaced by aggressive S-boaters.

Do you have to re-qualify?
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Old 07-17-2017, 12:07 AM   #2
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Wow...no answers? I stumped the chumps!


Fortunately I ran across my own answer in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8DxhS8wpoI][/url]

About the 44 minute mark one of the veterans mentions the fact that indeed one had to re-qualify aboard every ship even if the ship was of the same class from the same shipyard.

Makes sense in hindsight I guess as no two ships were 100% identical.





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Old 07-17-2017, 07:48 AM   #3
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Talking about chumps old bean you should make sure that any youtube links that you post actually work.

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Old 07-17-2017, 10:22 AM   #4
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Default Not quite true...

It depends on what you mean by "qualify" to start with. It is also very different with respect to the specific circumstances of a Commanding Officer of one boat taking command of a new boat.

"Qualified in Submarines" means just that...qualified to wear the dolphins and to serve aboard any boat (and to collect the additional pay that goes with that qualification).

"Qualified" to fill a specific billet and stand watches aboard a specific boat is different...you have to re-qualify for those each time you report for duty in a new boat (new to you, not necessarily new construction).

On the other hand, a Commanding Officer is "Qualified to Command" just once...and that happens when he gets selected for Command, attends PCO (Prospective Commanding Officer) School and successfully completes his first tour in Command. Normally...meaning in peacetime...a CO will leave one boat and take command of another (bigger - better) boat after an intervening tour in a shore duty billet and after going to PCO school again to get some "refresher" training/education in the specifics of his new boat.

But, in the dark days of WWII, that didn't always happen. A successful "Sugar Boat" skipper could "Fleet Up" to a "new" boat with not much more than a hand-shake from the ISIC (Immediate Superior in the Chain of Command) and the Operational Commander (COMSUBPAC or COMSUBSOWESPAC). There was no re-qualification required beyond a "PCO Patrol" in his new boat before taking command. See Part 3, Chapter 2 of "Wahoo..." by Dick O'Kane.
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Old 07-17-2017, 12:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptBones View Post
There was no re-qualification required beyond a "PCO Patrol" in his new boat before taking command. .

A PCO patrol between commands? Did they have time for that?

I don't see this mentioned in Blair, but maybe that's because Im thinking about the dark early days of the war when people like Coe, and Moon Chapple jumped from Sugar boats to Fleet.
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Old 07-17-2017, 06:24 PM   #6
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Default Yes

They certainly did make time for that. Even in the darkest days of 1942, there are some things that they just would not risk. Putting someone, even a very good someone, on a different boat and sending him out without an opportunity to learn about that boat and crew first, would have been bad form; perhaps to the point of losing him and the boat.

Plus, any submarine squadron commander who would put a new CO in place without a PCO patrol would lose his own job very quickly.
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Old 07-18-2017, 07:52 AM   #7
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During the war, about a third of the crew was switched out at the end of each patrol. Those newbies were expected to hook up with a mentor and qualify for that boat as quickly as possible. They devoted most of their free time to that task, which could take a couple of months for some.

I would have been great. Not being able to draw a box right, I'd have to learn to DRAW first!
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:32 AM   #8
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Default Same-same

It's still done that way.

In general, "boomers" go on deterrent patrols and attack boats go on deployments; both are normally much longer duration than the wartime Fleet Boat patrols. But, in either case, upon return there will typically be a crew turnover of 25-33%. During the inter-deployment cycle the replacements will be hard at work qualifying.

But then, the old hands are also busy hitting the books too, enlisted and officers. Studying for advancement exams and just generally improving knowledge of the boat never ends.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptBones View Post
They certainly did make time for that. .


Im sorry to contradict, but it seems that at least in the early war....specifically in the two cases I mentioned of Moon Chapple and James Coe making the jump from Sugars to Fleets...they did NOT undertake a PCO cruise prior to transfer.

Maybe later in the war such things were common, but for the period in question it seems not to be.

JAMES COE

S-39 --Ended patrol March 13,1942
SKIPJACK --Assumed command March 28,1942
SKIPJACK --First patrol with Coe in command --April 14,1942

In essence he was in command for barely two weeks before his first patrol in a fleetboat. Or looked at another way he had 15 days between the time he stepped off a Sugar boat before he assumed command of a fleet boat.

No PCO cruise noted.


MOON CHAPPLE

S-38 --Ended patrol January 1942 (I couldn't find exact date)
PERMIT --returned from patrol under old captain Feb 6,1942
PERMIT --Departed first patrol under Chapple Feb 22,1942


While I don't know when S-38 ended her patrol in January, Permit wasn't even in dock a t Surabaya until Feb 6th so Moon could not have taken over prior to that date. Assuming Hurst was relieved the instant he stepped off the boat, Chapple had at maximum 16 days in command prior to leaving on his first war patrol.

Again no time for a PCO cruise.




These are just two examples but are probably the best known skippers making the sugar boat to fleet jump. Neither had time to make a PCO cruise under another captain in his new boat.
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Old 07-18-2017, 06:36 PM   #10
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Well, there are exceptions to every rule; especially in time of war. But, in the cases of Chapple and Coe there weren't really any exceptions made.

Chapple did a peacetime "PCO cruise" equivalent as XO of TARPON (SS-175) before taking command of S-38...no further PCO cruise in a "P" Class boat required...already done.

Coe did a similar "PCO cruise" equivalent in a "Salmon" Class boat (maybe even the SKIPJACK) while he was on the Staff of ComSubRon 5 (June '39-January '40), before taking command of S-39...again, no further PCO cruise necessary...already done. The Squadron Commander, CAPT John Wilkes, required all of his staff officers to train with, and qualify in, each of the different types of boats in his squadron. Admiral Hart retained him and promoted him partly because of his exceptional understanding of his skippers and their boats.

CAPT Wilkes (promoted to ComSubsAsiatic) was thoroughly familiar with both Chapple and Coe. They both had served a long time in "S" boats of SubRon 5 under his command and he would have had no qualms assigning them to a "new" boat with which they were already completely familiar.
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Old 07-19-2017, 01:15 AM   #11
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I guess we are both arguing different points.

While I don't really consider a stint as XO as a "PCO" cruise...(the focus being on supporting the current captain rather than preparing for your own command)....I do see how such could give you a feeling for the boat in question.

Fair enough.

As mentioned the original question was related to my in-game captain transferring from Sugars to Fleets and wondering about the procedures involved....specifically in the early war period when such transfers took place.

I believe we've covered that pretty well.

Presumably my captain similarly made XO cruises in peacetime prior to the war as well.

In early '42 however...there was little time.

I appreciate all the input and viewpoints.

C'est la guerre.


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BTW...Im curious as to what reference you used regarding the bios of Coe and Chapple...Id love to review them for more info.

For myself I used the microfilm ships logs of the various boats at this site. :
https://issuu.com/hnsa/docs
Tons of great first hand info complete with typos from the original captains.
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Old 07-19-2017, 11:50 AM   #12
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Lets go back to the start. The "PCO" patrol was unique to the submarine force during the early days of WWII. It did not exist in pre-war peacetime or after the war's end and was not even frequently needed after 1942. It was an expedient used to get someone coming out of one boat "up to speed" and ready to take command of a new (to them) boat, without the cumbersome peacetime process of going back to New London for PCO School. For the most part, it seems to have been used primarily to get timid and unsuccessful CO's replaced by aggressive and potentially successful men who were otherwise fully qualified and immediately available.

During the war, the "normal" process was to take a good XO and send him back to the States to take command of new construction. Complete involvement in building, fitting-out and undergoing Trials of the new boat was certainly more than the equivalent of PCO School and a PCO patrol combined. But the prerequisite was still good performance as an XO.

As for an XO tour being considered as a "PCO" cruise...it doesn't matter what either you or I think. The Navy considers an XO tour to be the final preparation for Command. An XO tour therefore certainly was a "PCO cruise"...but it also wasn't. That's because there was no such thing as a "PCO" cruise to begin with, until it had to be invented to satisfy the unique circumstances as mentioned above.

In the peacetime Navy (then and all during my career), you became Qualified for Command through a specific process. You must successfully complete tours as a Division Officer and a Department Head. During the former you must get Qualified in Submarines. During the latter, you will take a written exam (several, actually) and a rigorous oral exam by a Board of not less than three post-Command Captains (I served on a couple such Boards). The oral examining Board must provide a unanimous recommendation for Command Qualification. Only then will you go to an XO tour. The XO tour is absolutely the final preparation for becoming a Commanding Officer. If you are successful and receive excellent Fitness Reports as an XO, you will be considered by another Selection Board for Command...if not, you won't. I also served on a Selection Board.

Both Chapple and Coe went through the peacetime process and were fully qualified to move up from "S" boat to command a PERCH or SALMON Class boat without further ado. Making that change was entirely at CAPT Wilkes' discretion. Whether that could be done for others or they needed to go through a PCO patrol was up to the cognizant Squadron Commander.

I'm not sure where I got those particular bio's; I have old Xeroxed copies of about two dozen WWII sub commanders' bio/service records that I collected between my Midshipman days, SubSchool and PCO/PXO Schools.

The Naval History Center (Naval History and Heritage Command or something like that now?) has hundreds of biographies. Service records are also available from the National Archives, but not all of them can be released to the public. I think the rule is that the person must have given their consent or been deceased for 60 years or something like that. There are also bio's at a couple of submarine veteran and historical groups...Coe's wife (or daughter?) also wrote a book IIRC.

Moon Chapple...I met him in the early 70's when I was a wet-behind-the-ears Ensign and he was a guest of honor at a Change of Command Reception at the Point Loma O'Club...or maybe it was the North Island O'Club....memory is not so good anymore. Spoke to him a couple more times on similar occasions...he was quite a well-known "character" in Coronado...not one to reminisce about the war though.
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Old 07-19-2017, 04:21 PM   #13
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I guess I am separating XO tours and what Blair calls PCO tours.

Numerous times in his book he refers to:

USS XXXX Submarine
Commanded by XXXX
XO was YYYYY
also aboard was ZZZZZ on his PCO patrol.

Specifically the PCO officer was separated from the XO....I dunno i'm just an amateur, but Blair mentions it over and over in his history so I figured that was the practice.
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Old 07-19-2017, 06:26 PM   #14
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That's correct, just as you wrote...which is the same as what I wrote...isn't it?

But again, the PCO patrol was "normal" only during the war and only for the specific purpose of getting a new CO (the PCO) out on a patrol to observe and learn before taking command, without using the peacetime "pipeline" process. Not every PCO needed a PCO patrol; those who served as XO for several patrols and were highly recommended could go directly to new construction.

Then, think about this, not every XO was new construction PCO material either. Therefore not every XO is going to be sent off to take Command of a new boat, or even an old boat that needs a new CO. We built over 200 boats during the war and started with 39 "Fleet" boats (the Perch, Salmon/Sargo, Tambor/Gar classes and one Gato) and a few others in commission at the beginning.

Even if you took every one of those XO's and sent him off to new construction after one war patrol, you'd still only have 39 to take command of the new construction boats. There were 72 Gato's already under construction/fitting out/working up on December 7th...even if all of those 39 XO's were fully qualified and ready for their own Command, you're already 33 PCO's short, following the peacetime "pipeline" process...and it'll only get worse as attrition takes out some of those 39 (and many others) while new construction accelerates.

You're going to round up every single man that you can spare who is in every other way qualified and ready for command and get them on the way to a Command. Those who are in command of one of those 39 Fleet Boats and show some promise early-on are going to get a ticket home to a new construction boat, ahead of those "promising" XOs even. They will need to be replaced...who better to replace them than the CO's already in command of an older ("O" "R" and "S" class) boat right next door (like Coe and Chapple) or a "promising" XO who could quickly do a PCO patrol and take command? ...and so on down the line for a couple of years. They were scraping up every man they could find in any boat or Squadron Staff who was otherwise qualified and considered ready to take command of a boat and would take the fight to the enemy.

Take the case of one Dudley W. Morton; he'd done a war patrol in command of R-5 and was in command of "Dolphin" (one of those "others") undergoing overhaul when "Wahoo" desperately needed a new CO. A perfect example of someone who only needed that PCO patrol to get him in the saddle and charging to the sound of the guns! On the other hand was his XO, Dick O'Kane; ready and highly...strongly...recommended for command. He went to new construction and took command without any need for a PCO patrol...he'd already done 5 of them as XO in "Wahoo".

BTW...I'm sitting here looking at a piece of badly pitted steel, cut in the shape of the State of Texas and labeled "BB-35 3-12-1914". Thank you for your work on the "Texas"; I hope you folks can keep her afloat, or at least preserved in some way, for another hundred and some odd years.

Last edited by CaptBones; 07-19-2017 at 06:31 PM. Reason: Afterthought
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Old 08-10-2017, 01:01 PM   #15
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Talking about chumps old bean you should make sure that any youtube links that you post actually work.

PLAYED FINE FOR ME
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