Subase Pearl Harbor Det 716 

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LT Francis-Training Officer

"Maiden" Training Officer and Plank Owner--1977-1978.

6th CO. 1987-1988.

We, Al Anderson, Ed Kimball and I met at Al's house to work on organizing and staffing the new unit. I recall that they wanted to do the standard shipboard dept. org. (Engineering, Weapons, etc). I argued for an organization that matched our mobilization site (Subase shop/specialty set up). After a lengthy discussion they accepted my org. plan.

After we got started, I attempted to create a training program that was fun and relevant - to do as much hands-on as was possible in a place that only had chalk boards and to spend a lot of time on rate advancement--something I thought was ignored in most units. Also I believe I tried to empower and encourage everyone to be a teacher and trainer and to work on mobilization enhancing skills- to align our training program with mob site requirements. I think we worked hard on getting actual Subase Training Curricula.

The "college bowl" contest, Top Gun Award was intended to make learning fun.

Apparently it was memorable.

I lasted only a year. Reluctantly I was drafted by Captain Francis (no relation) head of REDCOM to be the CO of the small, struggling Subase Det. in LaCrosse.

I spent 3 years as CO in LaCrosse, turned the unit around, to make it the 2nd best Subase Det. in the US.

After several non submarine related unit assignments back in St. Paul (like the Mobilization Unit), I finally made it back to Subase as CO in 1986. I have no idea who my XO was. I think my TO was LCDR Bill Hartman. We had a warrant officer who was a very good Asst. Training Officer. I don't recall his name but I remember he married a woman from Minnesota and complained about being dragged to the frozen tundra from California.

I remember how good it felt to be back with the Subase and the top talent and quality of the organization. It only lasted a year. In a hostile merger we were folded into NR Readiness Unit 1656-2 with 2 other "surface" units. I wrote and spoke openly in opposition to the merger, but managed only to annoy my superiors.

Based on seniority, I became XO of the Readiness Unit but retained my mob billet with Subase Pearl until 1989. The RU CO assigned was Captain Jim Erickson. Jim's management philosophy was "never let them see you smile."

I was rotated out of the Readiness Unit and assigned in 1989 to CincPacFlt, my last paid assignment. By the grace of God I was selected for 06 in 1991. People have long memories. My vocal opposition to the "forced merger" became an obstacle to future assignments as a Captain.

I retired in 1994 with 33 years service. All-in-all, the Navy was very, very good to me. I had a great career. No regrets. My all time favorite assignment? Subase Pearl Det. 716, of course.

David Francis


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