Life is simple… you’re either qualified or you’re not

I don’t know when qualification cards became part of submarine life. I know they were there when I first came aboard the George Washington. I remember Chief John telling me very specifically that the card was as important as any piece of paper I ever held so I better not lose it. Each week, I would dutifully bring it to him so he could check off my progress. I learned pretty quickly that if you got all you “grape” sigs done first, you would have a lot of really hard ones left at the end. Chief showed me how to approach people and how to learn the systems. I am forever grateful to him for that.

Back in those days, you got your ship’s card and  your watch station cards. The ship’s card was  mostly about knowledge and the watch card was about knowledge and skills. Being an A-Ganger, my watch cards were pretty important because many of the tasks we had were pretty dangerous. If we lined up a system incorrectly, it could cause a problem with any of the key life giving systems on board such as ventilation,  trim and drain systems. You learned pretty quickly to do most tasks with very little supervision and sometimes in less than favorable conditions. Even the mundane tasks like blowing sanitary tanks and shooting the trash disposal unit were pretty important since incorrect operations could have pretty bad consequences.

As you progress in a submarine, the quals get harder. More technical knowledge and skills are needed for the really complicated stuff including the weapons systems, navigational systems and of course the reactor control. I suppose that is why I always thought of submariners as the best of the best since every person had their own role but also had to know everyone elses. The higher you go, the more qualification and testing. By the time you reach Captain, you have achieved some remarkable things.

So let’s see if I got it all right: Standards in knowledge and skills related to your job, testing and proving all the way through the ranks, the higher you go, the more complex the tasks and knowledge so the harder the quals.

Yep, life is pretty simple. You are either qualified or you aren’t.

598 1973 Pearl Harbor

Mister Mac

4 thoughts on “Life is simple… you’re either qualified or you’re not

  1. I got an email this week that explained what you are asking.

    The number of people who work are vastly outnumbered by those who vote.

    That one struck a chord with me.

    You missed one point though, you need a teleprompter too……..

    Cheers Mac, another good blog!

  2. Great blog! There is a lot of truth to what you posted. I know there are those that would argue about a qual card being redundant, but I have seen more places in the “civilian” world that so desperately need a card, including the presidency.

    Even on a lower level in the day to day jobs out there. Think of your favorite fast food joint. How many of those stellar employees have you run into that would be capable of even counting back change without a register to tell them. I have even seen the registers that show a graphic representation of what bills and change to hand back to the customer.

    There are also businesses that will not do business because the computer/register is down. I ask what about taking my cash and writing me a receipt, but only get a glazed eyed look back like I am insane.

    That is just retail, Lets not even mention what comes out of college with a degree in engineering, Talk about the need of a qual card! Half of the baby engineers I have run into in the last ten years couldn’t add two and two with out a graphic calculator and then only if the formula were programed into it by someone else.

    I’ll leave it there because this is your blog and you have done a fine job already illustrating just how you’re either qualified or you’re not and just how needed a qualification standard is needed in many aspects of life.

  3. Robert A. Heinlein expressed it well in Starship Troopers:
    You have to perform two years of government service in order to vote.
    Your government service must be in the military in order to run for office.

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