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Submarine officer's JO tour dream sheet

While my hubby was in prototype he came home and said it was time to fill out his dream sheet. Since this is for his JO {Junior Officer} tour-- his first tour as a submarine officer-- he was only able to rank locations and types of boats. For his JO tour, he could only pick out of the submarine bases, which there really aren't that many.

Submarine bases:

1. Groton, Connecticut {Naval Submarine Base New London}
2. Norfolk, Virginia {Naval Station Norfolk}
3. Kings Bay, Georgia {Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay}
4. Bangor, Washington {Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor}
5. San Diego, California {Naval Base Point Loma}
6. Honolulu, Hawaii {Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam}
7. Guam {Naval Base Guam}

Before I get started on this guide, I want it to be known that this guide is for the spouses, not the military members. This is a very general and very brief summary of the types of boats with information on schedule and boat life. I would also like to state that the only experience my hubby and I have had on a submarine is on a fast attack {read "STA-21 'Officer's' Program"}.

There are two different types of submarines:

1. Boomers
2. Fast attacks


We'll start with boomers. Boomers are ballistic missile submarines {SSBN}; they are Ohio class. Their job is to keep our seas safe by guarding the perimeter. They are huge submarines and have two crews, a blue crew and a gold crew. The two crews take turns manning the boat. The crews are given a schedule ahead of time: 3 or 6 months on crew followed by 3 or 6 months off crew. As a spouse, this gives you a little planning room for when your military member will be home or away. Boomers are based out of Georgia and Washington. They are also forward deploying, meaning the crew's family lives in Georgia or Washington but the boat doesn't pull into port except for maintenance; on crew flies to where the boat is {usually Guam for Washington and Italy for Georgia}.

More reading on boomers: "The US Navy: Fact File: Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines: SSBN"


Next up: fast attacks {SSN}. Fast attacks are Los Angeles class, Seawolf class, and Virginia class submarines, much smaller than the Ohio class submarines. They have one crew and no set schedule. Fast attacks run missions. They can be underway a week, in a week, underway two months, in for a couple weeks... While underway the crew is on 18 hour days making the in and out exhausting for the crew and making a lot of the in port times revolve around catching up on sleep. As a spouse, there is little or no planning to be done around the boat schedule; basically, don't make plans that you expect your spouse to be there for because the schedule is written in sand. FRG meetings are exceedingly important on fast attacks because this is where you will receive a general idea of the boat schedule. My hubby never went on a deployment {picked up STA-21 right before the boat left on deployment}, but he was gone 75% of the time we lived in Hawaii just from underways. What I enjoyed most about fast attacks were the homecomings at the pier and watching the boat come in and out of port. It is amazing to behold. Fast attacks are stationed out of all the submarine bases.

More reading on fast attacks: "The US Navy: Fact File: Attack Submarines: SSN"


Finally, GNs. Guided missile submarines {SSGN} are Ohio class submarines. How I've had them described to me is "fast attacks on a boomer schedule." These submarines run missions, but also have a two crews and a schedule like boomers. They are also forward deploying, just like boomers. GNs have homeports in Washington and Georgia.

More reading on GNs: "The US Navy: Fact File: Guided Missile Submarines: SSGN"

Note on schedule: what is really important to remember when reading this list is that the schedule with submarines often does not go as planned. Shipyard is longer than expected... off crew gets called in... stand down gets cancelled... things change.

For more reading on submarines, check out this link: "Frequently asked questions about submarines"

When we filled out our dream sheet for my hubby's JO tour while at prototype, we ranked our choices from 1 to 10 considering location and type of boat. For example:

1. Washington-- SSN
2. Washington-- SSGN
3. Georgia-- SSGN
4. Georgia-- SSBN, etc.

{That isn't the order of our dream sheet, but an example to show you how you get to pick location and specify the boat type in the order of your choosing.}

Dream sheets are exactly that: dream sheets. The detailer will look at the dream sheet when assigning you a boat, but this might be a crash course on "the needs of the Navy," a phrase often quoted in regards to getting your bottom choice. We heard it a lot as we waited for our assignment. "I hope we get our top choice, but, you know, the needs of the Navy..." Thankfully for my hubby's class, most people were assigned one of their top choices {my hubby received his #2 choice!}.

I am nervous and excited to go back to boat life. My hubby loves his job and so I'm excited for him to get back to what he loves doing. I'm also very excited about living near close friends again {love our Navy family!}, but I'm also dreading the return of a boat schedule and duty days. The last time we were on a boat we had one child and now we have four. I think it will be a very different experience from dealing with one infant/toddler to older children who are far more aware of Daddy coming and going.

I've been a submarine wife for 8 years; this move will be our 5th PCS together. I'm still learning new things about submarines and Navy life!

What was your experience filling out your dream sheet?


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