bubblehead41 Naval Biography


On sourcing material, a quote from Noam Chomsky:  “In the beginning, God created…… the first words in the Old Testament is flawed in two ways – grammatically incorrect and incorrect in translation” …..so we must be very concerned how we digest any information especially today in an exceptionally imprecise world with massive amounts of opinion and information.  web.mit.edu/linguistics/people/faculty/chomsky/index.html

” It is the nature of human memory to rid itself of the superflurous,  to retain only what has proved to be most important in the light of later events.  Yet that is also its weak side. Being biased it cannot help adjusting past reality to fit present needs and future hopes.” — Milovan Djilas

” As a writer  it’s clear to me that since I started blogging, the amount I write has increased exponentially, my daily interactions with the views of others have never been so frequent, the diversity of voices I engage with is far higher than in the pre-Internet age – and all this has helped me become more modest as a thinker, more open to error, less fixated on what I do know, and more”  — Andrew Sullivan

Having enlisted in the USN in June 1960, the Navy sent me to boot camp at the Recurit Training Command (RTC) San Diego for four months.  Then after boot camp I was granted leave back in Texas and then went then  to Machinist Mate A school at Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago for four months.   After A school I was ordered to Submarine School in New London, Conn. Sub school was four months at that time and an intensive period of classes and physical training including a 50 foot “blow and go” assent in the tank at New London, Conneticut.  I was then assigned for a year to an operating sub out of San Diego for training and qualification in submarines …..USS Queenfish SS 393…..a WWII diesel boat with several WWII vets aboard……the CO was an ex torpedoman named Skirm and a WWII veteran .

Queenfish was redesignated as AGSS 393 and our operations addressed support for Underwared Demolition Teams (now SEALS) and Marine Recon.  We underwent an availability for new batteries at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in the East Bay San Fransisco and this was my first experience in a Naval Shipyard.   I really enjoyed the experiences and gained tremendous respect for the shipyard officers and craftsmen.  Later I was an Officer at Mare Island and alwars recalled the Hunters Point days in Queenfish.  BTW a new Queenfish SSN emerged later and performed in the Cold War but built on the exceptional WWII achievements of SS 393.   I was so honored to have served in Queenfish SS 393 with the WWII men that gave so much.

 I was promoted to Fireman and then Petty Officer Third class soon after in Nuclear Power School. NPS was located at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in California near San Francisco. I was assigned to an augmented course of enlisted guys taught at the same level as the officers…..most of us had some college and the academics were tough.  NPS lasted six months and afterward we were ordered to six more months at a nuclear plant prototype for training in Idaho. I was assigned to A1W….the Enterprise prototype. I completed this training in six months and was then sent to three more months of engineering lab tech(ELT) school in Idaho.  I was retained as a staff instructor in Idaho for a year afterwards focused on plant chemistry, radiological controls and operations.  I was then selected to attend college at NC State University studying Electrical Engineering in Raleigh,  North Carolina. This was in 1964 and I completed my BSEE in three years and MEE in one additional year, majoring in computer science, programming, and control systems.   I was elected there into Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi while studying at NC State in Raleigh……..both national engineering honorary societies.

So in 1968 I was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy after completing Officers Candidate School at Newport, Rhode Island.  While at NAVOCS in Newport I entered as a First Class Petty Officer and took the exam for Chief while a Midshipman and was told I passed but not promoted because I was to be commissioned in a few weeks…missed out on that honor because of the Clerks in WDC.  But essentially being a Middie, CPO, and Commissioned Officer in a 90 day period was rather unique.   Many other NESEP officers were in the same category BTW.   I was asked to return to the Nuclear Power Program but that would have entailed over two more years in school and qualifications.  We were in a war in Viet Nam and I wanted to be involved…..so I went into the surface Navy, attended Engineering Officers School in San Diego and then was assigned to USS Joseph Strauss (DDG 16) as Main Propulsion Assistant for two years.  I was a division Officer and Deck Officer in Strauss during that period and made two deployments to Viet Nam.  I had the largest division aboard and was responsible for two engine rooms and two boiler rooms……a real challenge in that the steam systems were superheated high pressure systems prone to many problems.  Thank goodness no engineers in Strauss were killed in the spaces . Several were on other Destroyers of similar configurations…..credit the excellent men in that division. I recall “loosing the load” steaming back from Australia near the equator…….dead in the water for several hours as we regained the boilers and moved on.   The BTs were exceptionally brave young men and saved us on more than one occassion.  The ship was based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  I was promoted to Lieutenant JG and sent to Dam Neck, VA for missile fire control training, after which I returned to Strauss as missile fire control officer.  I was promoted to full lieutenant and made two additional deployments to Viet Nam 1970-1972.  My promotion was temporary in that the billet was a full lieutenants slot and I was at the time only a JG…..I was selected and promoted to full lieutenant two years later before departing for MIT.   The ship was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Meterious Unit Citation for operations in the Viet Nam combat zone  while I was aboard.    We fired over 16000 rounds of 5 inch ammo on one deployment.  We had to have the gun barrels replaced twice on that deployment as I recall.  I was awarded a VA disability in 2011 for ear damage because of exposure to  explosions and subsequent ear damage during these deployments. At Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, we also were converted to the first fully digital missile fire control system in the USN and successfully fired in excess of 50 missiles testing the new system in Hawaiian waters.  We basically shot the entire envelope over a two week period off Barking Sands …on the Island of Kauai.  This system evolved into the Standard Missile System that today is used in modern surface ships.  The combination of the evolved Standard Missile System and AEGIS today is a front line ABM system that is deployed anyhere many Navy ships can go.  My four years service in Joseph Strauss was the most satisfying of my career….I was a warrior in the only war we had, except for the Cold War with the USSR.  Viet Nam was just the Cold War turned hot for a few years.   We were fighting the Commies and not at all the Vietnamese…..we were fully engaged with the Chinese and Russians……we still are.  In Strauss we had an XO,  David Jeremiah , that made VICE Admirald and was the Deputy Chairman of the JCS later in his career. I was privileged to have served in Joseph Strauss with this exceptional Naval Officer.

My last CO in Strauss was CDR Jim Clarkson, who encouraged me to apply for MIT and prepare to be an Engineering Duty Officer.  He went to bat for me and in 1972 I received orders to MIT and returned to Pearl to pick up my family and headed to Cambridge where I spent three years studying Naval Architecture and Mechanical Engineering  at MIT. Initially NAVPERS was reluctant to let me go to graduate school in that I held A MSEE already,   I argued that I got both my BSEE and MS in less than 48 months and should be entitled to additional graduate school regardless…..Captain Clarkson agreed also and I got my orders  to MIT accordingly. He was possibly why I landed in Cambridge and I will be eternally grateful to him and for his confidence in me.

Our trip across country  as a Viet Nam Vet was a bit disconcerting in that I actually had to not wear my uniform for concern over the safety of myself and family. Upon arrival in Cambridge, peseudo- students had burned the NROTC building at MIT and the local populace was very vocal and violent.   Viet Vets were shunned (and still are – shame on the American people), and today we still see the ideological chasm between egalitarian forces and traditional American values that divide us fundamentally.

At this point…Summer 1972 I had twelve years on active duty, was qualified in submarines, was a qualified Surface Warfare Officer, held a BSEE and MSEE , was a combat veteran and headed for MIT.  What a ride…..but much more to follow…..the Gods indeed smiled on this poor soul for over 40 years.  I probably did not deserve the good fortune, but just happened to be in the correct places with good timing. . My three years at MIT were a real challenge with the first year devoted to advanced math, naval ship design courses,fluids, thermodynamics, heat transfer and a few Sloan School management courses. I attempted to take a MS in management from Sloan and the Engineers Degree in Naval Architecture in three years.  Sloan required 18 courses, all but four from Sloan.  The graduate course load would have been about six courses a semester….a brutal load at any school but for me overwhelming at MIT.  I went back to a MS in ME and the Engineers Degree in NA.   The Engineers Degree took the same course load as a DSc but with no dissertation. I was married with two children during this very challenged time.  I survived and was awarded my MS and Engineers Degrees in May 1975.

I was ordered to Mare Island Naval Shipyard and arrived there in July 1975.  My first assignment was as a Nuclear Ship Superintendent and completed one Fast Attack project in that capacity until assigned as The Nuclear Repair Officer responsible for all nuclear repair work at Mare.  We had 12 boats in various stages of refueling/overhaul and as a young Lieutenant I was very busy. Mare Island was “dry dock limited” and we had to complete projects to permit much needed work to be accepted – the pace of operations in the fleet was high and the boats needed refueling, bckfitting and repair.  We also were backfitting new weapons systems and SUBSAFE modifications.   I took no leave for three years.  Afterwards I was assigned as The Nuclear Power Superintendent for the refueling of Seawolf and defueling of Nautilus.

I was selected for the ED Dolphin Program in 1977 but did not start the program until late 1978 because of the heavy workload at Mare.  I attended Officers Submarine School as a new Lieutenant Commander and then a cruise in Robert E. Lee (SSBN 601) out of Guam.  After a review board in WDC I was awarded ED Dolphins in late 1979.  I was also designated as the Project Officer for the overhaul of NR 1 in Groton, CT in the Fall of 1979 (NAVSEA selection) but elected to leave active service in July 1980…..a very difficult decision to say the least.  I was selected for Commander but because of the requirement to stay on active duty for three years after accepting the promotion and family considerations I let it go and another ED got the nod. While at Mare I was priviledged to work on 22 subs in some capacity including spook boats, fast attacks, balistic missile boats, Nuclear surface units, and deep submergance assets.  My career spanned over two decades in the heart of the cold war with four deployments to Viet Nam and qualifications in both submarines and surface warfare.  It went by so very fast but was an honor in every way. During these two decades the submarine service transistioned from a handfull of diesel boats mostly left over from WWII to over 100 nuclear fast attack and balistic missile submarines.  This was a phenominal accomplishment and credit goes to thousands of  American engineers, craftsmen and naval operators that dedicated their lives to this program.  I apologize for using the “I” word so much here but this piece is strictly about my Naval career.

I accepted a position at Lawrence Livermore after retiring. After several years at LLNL I accepted a position at River Bend Nuclear Station serving as Director of Nuclear Engineering.  I moved back home to North Texas and was the completing Director of Nuclear Construction at the Comanche Peak SES.  CPSES is a story unto itself and best left to another medium. Commercial nuclear power USA is essentially dead essentially because of greed in the industry and a pronounced lack of leadership…..a sad happening that in my lifetime probably will not be resurected……generations must pass for a flawed culture to be washed from the technologies.

 Consulting for the Department of Energy followed after two years at The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) in Atlanta.

Lately I have been attempting to paint(watercolor, acrylic and oils) and writing  in a new studio high in the Rockies West of Denver.

Important topics to be explored in a web log are:


Under Ice Operations/Technology

NESEP Program

Operations and Engineering Integration

Commercial Nuclear Power and HGR

Nautilus – First

The Flying Submarine (with Dr. Chuck Reynerson)


CIA/KGB and The Future of Both

Loss of USA Constitution Post 911




Boats and Ships worked MINS 





George Washington

NR 1  Groton



Robert E. Lee  BUBBLEHED 41  ED Qual Boat


 ONE Gold Star

Seawolf 575



Home in New London

Nautilus Underway “On Nuclear Power”



688 Class (SRAs)

Below Typical


Qualification Units see also RE Lee Above

Queenfish SS393     My Enlisted Qual Boat


Joseph Strauss DDG 16   Surface Warfare Qual Ship  Viet Nam Service


 Bubblehead41 Ribbons/Medals



Bubblehead41 TRINKETS


Bubblehead41 REFERENCE LIST   – THE Library

Many as listed are now available for e – readers at good prices.



“Scorpion Down”   Ed Offley

“Rethinking The Cold War”    Gaddis

“Spy Wars”   Kenneth Bagley

“Blind Man’s Bluff”   Sherry Sontag

“Silent Steel”   Steven Johnson

“The Silent War”   John Pina Craven

“All Hands Down”   Kenneth Sewell

“Power Shift”   Dan Gillerist

“Concepts In Submarine Design”   Roy Burcher

“Rising Tide”   Gary Weir

“KGB – The Inside Story”   Christopher Andrew

“Cold War Submarines”   Norman Polmar

“Red Star Rogue”   Kenneth Sewell

“Transparent Oceans”   Lewis Soloman

“The RICKOVER Effect”   Theodore Rockwell

“RICKOVER – The Struggle for Excellence”   Francis Duncan

“Stalking The Red Bear”   Peter Sasgen

“Listening For Leviathan”   Mary Wilheim

“The KGB – Masters of The Soviet Union”   Kenneth Bagley

“RICKOVER” Noeman Polmar

“A Matter of Accountability” Trever Armbrister

“Moscow and The Italian Communist Party”  Joan Urban

“The Art of War”  Sunzi

“Boat Sailors”  James Nelson

“SEALS: The US Navy’s Elite Fighting Force” Mir Bahmanyar

“Spymaster” Tennant Bagley

“Against The Tide” David Oliver

“Operation Ivy Bells” Robert Williscroft

“Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to The NEW COLD WAR” S. Cohen

This listing is provided as a background reading list and addresses many post threads.  I will repeat a short list for each post and try to provide www links as found.

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