http://www.navytimes.com/news/2009/10/n ... T_102409w/
Academy falls short of sub volunteers
By Philip Ewing - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Oct 24, 2009 9:47:42 EDT
Too few Naval Academy seniors opted to become nuclear-qualified submarine officers this fall, so the school’s administration has asked more students to make that their career path and, if necessary, will force them.
In a message to the Brigade of Midshipmen on Tuesday, the academy’s director of professional development, Capt. Stephen Evans, wrote that the academy this year was required to send 125 officers into the nuclear submarine training pipeline, but that only 92 had been accepted by Naval Reactors. That meant 33 midshipmen would be asked to volunteer or told to become sub nukes.
“If you are subsequently identified for a submarine interview, understand that you were released from your preferred community after serious consideration,” Evans wrote. “Be professional and focus on the positive aspects of serving your country in the submarine force.”
Naval Academy spokesman Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said it wasn’t uncommon for academy officials to move midshipmen from preferred warfare areas to areas where they were needed, although he said there weren’t records showing when or for which disciplines. The academy’s mission to provide the officers the Navy requires means the school must sometimes supercede mids’ wishes, he said.
Evans wrote to the midshipmen: “Although your personal desires are strongly and tirelessly considered, community assignments are ultimately grounded in Navy and Marine Corps requirements.”
In last year’s graduating class, 78 percent of midshipmen entered the warfare area they selected as their first choice, and 92 percent got their first or second choice, Carpenter said. The first midshipmen this year who will be urged to choose submarines are those who picked it as their second choice, he said. They are required to serve at least five years after commissioning.
Although the Navy’s top leaders have said they want women to serve on subs, female midshipmen aren’t yet permitted to choose the submarine career path.
Demand for nuclear-qualified submarine junior officers has grown over the past few years as more young officers leave the fleet to pursue civilian careers, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson told Congress in March.
Although he did not provide statistics, Ferguson said the Navy needed plenty of junior officers to grow into control-grade officers.
Naval Reactors’ total yearly requirement from all three sources of officers — the academy, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps and Officer Candidate School — was unavailable by Friday.
The Naval Academy has provided more submarine ensigns with each recent graduating class:
• 88 in 2006
• 115 in 2007
• 117 in 2008
• 119 in 2009