Thursday, January 18, 2007

"He shall see no enemy but winter and rough weather."

[Crossposted from Unconsidered Trifles]

My sadness over the loss of crewmen aboard the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) has only deepened now that I've learned that the Commanding Officer, CDR Edwin "Joe" Ruff, is a man that I know and respect. CDR Ruff was one of our instructors at NNPS Orlando while I was going through training there.

He taught EE, but the young officers who saw him in action received a much more profound and important education. You may perhaps glimpse the kind of man Joe Ruff is in the "Mission Statement" appended to his Bio on the USS MSP website:

Upon taking command of the USS MINNEAPOLIS-SAINT PAUL (SSN-708) Commander E.J."Joe" Ruff issued the following statement of his command philosophy. It offers not only an insight into his management style, but it shows that the values of dedication, teamwork, and pride of accomplishment are as much a part of the naval service as when we wore the uniform!


MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENT-MINNEAPOLIS-SAINT PAUL is a warship. Our country relies on us to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea. We are a key element of our Nation's military power. Keep a continuous strain on mission preparedness and combat readiness. (When we keep up with life, life becomes much easier). Stay focused on our primary goal of Mission Accomplishment.

SHIPMATES-Work together as a team. Every member of the crew is important regardless of how big or small their contribution. Leave no man behind. If a shipmate is not pulling his fair strain, pick up the slack for him when needed and help him get back on course. Realize how Quality of Service affects Mission Accomplishment.

PRIDE-Be proud of your efforts. You count. The ship is a complex piece of gear but is worthless without you to operate it. Our ability to prevail in battle is directly related to your individual performance. Do your best all the time. Live our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. We follow a long line of warriors who fought and gave their all for freedom. Always do the right thing in the face of adversity, and you will forever be proud of the legacy you leave behind.

Always remember that we are submarine warriors.

E. J. RUFF, Jr., Commander, USN

Obviously, mission statements, character traits, etc. do not exempt anyone from mistakes or accidents, particularly in submarine life where dangers are, unfortunately, banal. And some of you may doubt the sincerity of these "mere words" in light of what's happened. I can understand that.

I only want to express my profound sympathy for a man who, from what I know of him, must be feeling the pain of this tragedy very deeply. My prayers go out to him, to all the men of the MSP, and especially to the families of those submariners who were lost.


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