Silver Dolphin Crews

by Mike Hemming

For the uninformed, a 'Silver Dolphin Crew' occurs when each and every man on board has completed all of his qualification requirements, passes all of his tests and is finally designated 'Qualified in Submarines'. Only during these rare occasions can the boat fly her Silver Dolphin Pennant for all to see.

The crew worked for months on a long cruise to reach that status, to be proud of themselves. And then when you returned to homeport and a new man reported aboard, it was over. It was kind of like an orgasm... It felt great but didn't last near long enough. It was all timing... A Med or West Pac cruise, 4 or more months and you came home proud, a Silver Dolphin crew. Obviously, not something that happened very often.

We drove the non-quals hard, "Get your fish, boy." But there were no gimmes either, we knew better... A man, sloppily qualed, might kill you. The Carp in the Med in 65 took 3 ½ months to do it, but we made it. We flew our Silver Dolphin Pennant, came home proud and looking good, walking tall in Subron 6. But the pleasure was short and sweet... Three days back, a new man reports aboard and its over. Haul the pennant down, you are no longer 100% qualified.

Today, I read about a skimmer back from overseas, that gets to fly a pennant because 80% of the crew is Surface Warfare qualified. You know, they get to wear those wannabe pins that look like Dolphins but aren't. 80 percent, not 100 percent and get this, they get to fly their silly 80% pennant for 6 months. Six months! Not 3 lousy days!

More touchy feeley bushwa, to allow the unwashed feel like they are some kind of elite. Lower the standards so the ones that haven't got what it takes can wear some silly pin. A pin and a pennant that degrades the value of what we worked so hard to earn... Chest candy that insults all boat sailors.

Thank God, Dolphins on a sailor's chest still mean something.