Since the creation of the United States Navy the need to deliver warships to the often ill defined specifications of the war fighters by the professional naval engineers and naval architects and the designers/builders has been a challenge. One that continues today and will always be with us be we operators (OPNAV) or designers/deliverers of warships (NAVSEA).

In my career I was fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to work in both worlds in the operation of submarines and destroyers and in the design of both surface ships and subs. Hopefully I see the perspectives of both worlds and will relay a few experiences that shed light on the interfaces between operators and creators of warships.

To illustrate the point with respect and humor I reproduce here a pair of messages committed to the ether in 1964 ( I enlisted in the US Navy in June 1960 for the record and served in DDG 16 for four years as the MPA and Missile Fire Control Officer) . The first I must note was created by the Commanding Officer of the USS Gridley (DLG-21) on 10 July 1964 and answered by Chief, Bureau of Ships (now Naval Sea Systems Command – NAVSEA) on 10 August 1964. The exchange is priceless. I recall having these two messages fall into my hands at the Engineering Duty Officer School at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1975. As I recall RADM Malcolm McKinnon passed to the class. He had a great sense of humor and is fondly remembered by many of my generation.

Thus begins the exchange:

From: Commanding Officer, U.S.S. GREDLEY (DLG-21)
To: Chief, Bureau of Ships

Subj: Urinals,; height of

1. In a recent exchange of correspondence between Commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Chief, Bureau of Ships, the Commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, on the basis of


bu U.S.S. GRIDLEY (DLG-21) and U.S.S REEVES (DLG-24), recommended that in future constructions the urinals be installed at a height of 25 inches above the deck rather than the specified 23 inches. In response to the recommendation, the Chief, Bureau of Ships stated that the evidence cited did not justify the departure from the shipyard specifications on the height of urinal installation.
2. Since the original recommendation was made partly on the basis of GRIDLEY personnel and since there is an indication that GRIDLEY’s complaint was not adequately justified, GRIDLEY has caused a more thorough inquiry into the facts.
3. A survey of ship’s company has revealed that the tallest man in the crew 6″5″ and the shortest 5’4″. In a dry run these men have been poised at the urinals at their present height of 23″, and it has been determined that the tallest man has 15″ clearance and the shortest 4″.

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