After finally getting through the nuke school our son is headed for his boat, the Columbia in Hawaii. During his time in the various schools we could always count on hearing from him and rested in knowing where he was.
So here are a few new Sub-Dad questions...
1. When someone gets assigned to their new boat, when they report in, will the boat typically be in port or do they have to go somewhere to meet up and join the crew?
2. I have read that they can send some emails from the boat every now and again, do they have to use a special "@navy" or similar email address / server? And if so how do we get that email address?
3. I have heard the term "Ombudsman" and that this may be a good person to know, possibly a liaison for family and the boat. Is this correct? if not can someone direct me to a source for this please?
4. Is there any "average" length of patrol for a SSN these days?
5. Is the Navy still supporting "Tiger Cruises" and if so, being that he is new would this mean a long wait and such?
6. Lastly are there any other Dads / Family with kids on the Columbia here?
1. There is no guarantee that a boat will be in port. Columbia is an attack boat so they might be out training or underway. If underway, each submarine belongs to a squadron which has a shore staff. They should handle all the logistical stuff until he connects to his boat (if they are out to sea).
2. Yes there is an e-mail address that you can send messages to him while he is underway. The messages go through the Navy infrastructure. Our messages are usually very short so I don't know the rules on length or frequency. I would have him send the first one to you so you get the address right.
3. Each boat has an Omsbudsman which is in the case of our son's boat one of the spouses of a crew member. Our boat actually has a "Family Readiness Group" with a facebook page. We joined that group and that is a pretty good way of keeping connected and my son's boat's OMsbudsman posts updates regularly. I have contacted her through Facebook before and we actually bought "boat t-shirts" when they had some made.
4. I think it depends on where the boat is out of. My son's boat is out of Guam so they are out a lot but for shorter durations. I thought a typical Attack boat cruise was ~ six months but that is probably dependent on purpose of the cruise.
5. No information
6. Oklahoma City is my son's boat.
Well, let me see if I can help some.
1. That really is a crap shoot. It all depends on when they are assigned to report and where the boat is at the time. My son reported to his boat at Groton and the boat was there so no problems. He has been on deployment twice now and each time some new crew members were flown to ports where they joined the boat. As I said, it just all depends on the boat and where they are.
2.They can receive and send emails from the boat. Sometimes it is spotty as they go on communications blackouts but most of the time it is pretty normal. They do come to the surface every day for communications. On the first deployment don't expect much as their time will be spent on quals and pretty much nothing else. Keep the emails going to them, they do look forward to hearing from people very much.
3. Have your sailor sign you up with the boast Ombudsman. They are the communications link between the boat and the families of the sailors. Each sailor can sign up any person they want for these communications. Another good resource for boat news and activities is the FRG so get on their email list as well.
4. The average deployment for an SSN is six months. Between deployments they go on "underways" which can last from a week to over a month. Deployments come ever year or so(my son went 14 months between deployments).
5. Don't have a clue, sorry.
6. Not on the Columbia, again, sorry.
1. Depends entirely on the boats schedule; he will have to check in with the Squadron Command that the Columbia is under regardless, he will spend some time in that process and then get sent to his boat afterwards; he could be in Squadron for a couple weeks to a month or so; if the boat is in once done with Squadron, he will be sent to it, otherwise he may get flown to it somewhere else, Japan or Guam...
2. E-mails are very handy; he will get his boat e-mail address when he gets to it; it is a secure server; volume is limited, and they do get screened prior to delivery to the sailer. If they are on some boat assignments, you can send, but you may not get a reply for weeks at a time.
3. You nailed the Ombudsman description, it's typically one of the wives who has more access to other communication pipelines.
4. No, completely random; other than 6 month deployments.
5. I spent 4 years on the Portsmouth as a Nuke MM, never had a Tiger Cruise on it.
6. Our son is in SD on the 706.
It looks like you got good advise on all points and some I don't knows regarding the Tiger Cruise. My son is on the Providence. They had a tiger cruise from Florida to Connecticut last year and I'm hoping they do it again while he is still active so that I can go! Good luck to your son on the Columbia!
1) I guess every experience is slightly different. Paul got to Pearl Harbor, the boat was in port - for 2 days! Then he was out for six months!
2) See this link: http://www.berkutsystems.com/Modified/Default.htm sometimes I'd get mail every couple days.... sometimes over a month. He'll probably send you an email with his address.
3) Can be very useful, see other comments about FRGs. I found I was one of a small number of fathers in the group.
4) Anywhere from a couple of days to six months. In COMSUBRON Seven, there will be WESTPACs that will be six months or so.
5) Rare, but they do happen. Paul was on the Cheyenne SSN773 for five years and they had one, with 11 people. If you get the chance, take it!!! http://www.norian.org/tiger.pdf
6) Nope, but Paul did some work on that boat and has a challenge coin from it :-)
Enjoy the ride!
Great answers above some notes: Alpha Class - you son will be very busy! At least he can make ports of call in some interesting venues. That comes at the expense of sheer size in the SSGNs and SSBNs which have more creature comforts. But still are rather cramped.
1) varies as noted
2) you should receive a permanent email address for him while at sea. Will include ship name.mil. Practice OPSEC! Keep the messages short as they use a burst crypto comms system. Text ONLY no photos, videos, etc.
2A - check to see if his ship will have a mail drop or mid-cruise box. If so start handwriting now. Include photos.
3) Check Facebook for your son's ship. Likely have a page already with a link to the Ombudsman. Also the official Navy website for the ship will have an email link. The FB page will keep you current with shore related activities. Everything else is OPSEC. Don't expect much and do not ask! Especially as PACFLT is busy cruising some interesting waters.
4) Alphas vary. You son will have an 'estimate' before he ships out. My son is on an SSBN so different criteria.
5) Tiger Cruises do happen but are rare for Subs. Certainly wont happen until he gets his Dolphins. Nothing is more important for your sailor right now than knuckling down, studying, and listening to the chiefs to get his quals completed and earn his Dolphins. One of the proudest emails we ever received from our son. Get a set yourself and store them away until he quals. Then pin them on a favorite hat, shirt, or coat. People who know will get it and ask,
6) No - SSBN 733, Nevada NSB Bangor put they will try to cross paths. Trust me, Columbia will never find them! Its not like the movies.
Finally - CONGRATULATIONS! Very glad to have you and your son as a member of the Submariner family. Your being here shows you are a true patriot.