Tuesday, May 23, 2006

English Major Turned Submarine Nuke

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

In a story that's opposite that of WillyShake (submarine nuke turned English Lit guy), DefenseLINK has a profile of a submarine officer who started his career as an English major at the Academy:

"Backhaus graduated from the academy in 2001 with a major in English. He earned a master's degree in literature, then went on to nuclear power school and the submarine fleet, an unconventional move for a non-engineering major. He returned in January for a shore tour to teach alongside his former professors in the English department.
"Backhaus said that while attending the academy he thought the midshipmen who wanted to be submariners were all "big geeks."
"That's a stereotype that's out there," he said. He told himself as a plebe -- freshman in academy jargon -- "I'm never going to be a submariner; that just sounds terrible."

As the story implies, most submarine officers have technical majors in college; I'm not sure if the rule's still in force, but I remember that there was generally a limit of 10% of all submarine officers chosen for any year group that could have non-technical majors.

On USS Topeka, we had one JO when I was there who had been a poli sci major -- inevitably, we called him our zampolit. Since all the line officers who get to the boat have made it through the nuke pipeline, there really isn't any difference between any of them, but I think there's still a little bit of a "huh?" reaction people have whenever they see a liberal arts guy on a boat.


At 5:47 AM, Blogger WillyShake said...

Great story--thanks for sharing! One quote leaps off the page for me (& I don't mean to sound like I'm blowing my own horn, but I have found it to be very true):

"The officers tend to do a great job in the classroom. They know how to walk in and speak to a group, and the rest of the stuff you prep for," she said. "They tend to be great teachers."

And that goes for many outside the wardroom as well!

At 7:53 AM, Blogger bothenook said...

as a nuke shift test engineer, i had to give many many briefings on upcoming tests. i also attended a ton of briefings given by other STEs. one common thread was the ex-navy nukes all did great at presenting the info and answering questions, while the college types without the navy experience took like a year to get up to speed. i rack that up to the countless engineering dept. training sessions we all attended and held. i really don't know how many seminars i've lead or training sessions i've held. i know it was a lot. and let me tell you (like you really need telling)there is no more critical audience than a group of tired nukes. there is no b.s.ing the troops, because for the most part, they already know the subject matter inside and out.


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