U.S. NAVY SUBMARINE WARFARE BADGE

Although officers and enlisted Sailors attend submarine courses prior to their first undersea assignments, this level of training does not make them “qualified” in submarines. For enlisted personnel, a Submarine Warfare designation means they have passed an oral examination and a practical test of their submarine knowledge and working skills; for officers, the designation is evidence that they are not only well-versed in all the technical and operational aspects of submarines, but also are capable of taking command should the need arise.

During the six-week Basic Enlisted Submarine School, Sailors are taught the fundamentals of serving aboard a nuclear-powered submarine and are introduced to the ship’s systems. Safety is understandably a major component of the training regimen, and special instructions are conducted in fire-fighting, escape procedures and damage control. While the classes are based upon Los Angeles-class submarines, the underlying concepts are applicable to all subs currently in service. Enlisted personnel must log at least six months of operational submarine duty before they are eligible to wear the Submarine Warfare insignia, colloquially known as “dolphins.”

Officers must successfully complete a number of assignments before they can earn the Submarine Warfare insignia after being assigned to a submarine, including serving as Officer of the Deck (in both surfaced and submerged conditions), Duty Officer, Diving Officer of the Watch, and Engineering Officer of the Watch (the last requirement was added in January, 2015). Some of the other parameters which must be met before the designation is granted are somewhat subjective, such as displaying the ability to serve as part of a fire-control party or demonstrating a “temperament suited for submarine duty.” Nine months of operational sub service is required for officers to become eligible for Submarine Warfare qualification (three of those may be spent in a shipyard), but they also must complete the qualification process within fifteen months of operational service.
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