A Pocket of Resistance: A Sea Story

For those readers who might not approve of profanity, or “swearing” as my mother used to call it, you might wish to pass on this post as the “F…” word is critical to the story. (this italicized section will have the green font color once i figure out where my “color” icon went or someone smarter than me, like Walker Hicks, shows me how to change the font color)

My last tour in the Navy, based out of the Naval Amphibious School, Coronado, was as the Director of Leadership and Management for the West Coast and Pacific Rim, and also the director of Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO) for the same areas. This position was supposed to be the executive officer facilitator for the  Prospective Commanding Officer/Executive Officer Leadership and Management one-week course, but morphed into the two-day Command Excellence Seminar. After eight months of facilitating the course with Captain Dave Carey, i took the lead when he retired. For over three years with CDR Larry Phillips, then CDR Raul Vazquez, and several others, i conducted a minimum of two of these seminars, sometimes as many as four, every month for senior Naval officers and a bunch of other government managers.

When i retired, i eventually got into leadership, organization development, and team building consulting. From my four months in Navy OCS (September 1967 — February 2, 1968 until i quit writing my “Minding Your Own Business” about three years ago, i have had this constant consideration of leadership.

There is one constant in leadership. As Dave Carey called it: “Followership.” And sometimes, it can get bollixed up. All folks in leadership positions are not necessarily effective leaders. Case in point (true story as well as a sea story; the identities are kept anonymous here to avoid someone’s embarrassment).

A destroyer type ship was concluding an eight-month overhaul in a Naval shipyard in a big city. A Naval Academy graduate, by then a lieutenant was Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer. He had invited his fiancé and her parents aboard the ship to show them his work place. He had taken them through the sonar suite, the bridge, the ASROC missile launching area and concluded by taking them to the Mark 32 torpedo tubes on the starboard side. His second-class torpedoman in his dungarees was leaning against the bulhead with his white “dixie cup” cover tilted over his eyes.

As the prospective in-laws and young woman arrived, the lieutenant proudly pointed out, “And here are my torpedo tubes.”

The second class petty officer shrugged, tipped his hat to the back of his head, and pointedly disagreed, “Excuse me, sir, but those are MY fucking torpedo tubes.”

He was right.

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