The following essay was written by a young enlisted submariner as a disciplinary assignment after a Captain's Mast for taking a shortcut in a maintenance procedure. Both the author and his Commanding Officer have agreed to its publication here.
Integrity is the heart and the very essence of each Navy Core Value, but more importantly, it is the foundation on which every aspect of submarine operations is built. Integrity must be the standard instilled within the innermost heart of every man who takes a submarine to the uttermost depths of the sea. It is integrity that bonds the crew of a submarine so tightly together that when faced with any circumstance, each individual can trust his shipmate to meet the needs of the moment. Integrity comes from within each man's heart and is revealed through his respect for the standards of conduct. As a submariner, it is my duty and responsibility to maintain the highest degree of integrity while serving my country with honor, courage, and commitment in the United States Navy.
When I think of the word "integrity" as a submariner, I think naturally of the phrase watertight integrity. When we shut the hatches, we value the assurance that no water is going to enter into the people tank, because those hatches have been inspected, both during PMS, and just before shutting them. As a member of the Auxiliary Division, I have been taught the importance of taking care of our hatches and ensuring the quality of their condition whenever we inspect and conduct maintenance on them. Every one of my shipmates' lives depends on my personal integrity in ensuring that our hatches are squared away. And even when they are rigged for dive, they are second-checked to guarantee their water-tightness.
I say all of this to illustrate the importance of integrity on a submarine. Every submariner is entrusted with the responsibility to operate this vessel of war according to the procedures established for each ship's system. This ensures the safety of our operation and our ability to complete each mission successfully. No matter how big or small the task I am entrusted with, one mistake could threaten the lives of every one of my shipmates. The procedures that we use today have been written through trial and error in the blood of submariners who have served before me. Following these procedures is not just a recommendation; it is our duty to use them. There is not always someone looking look over my shoulder to make sure that I use required procedures to operate a system or conduct maintenance, nor should there need to be. It is only my personal integrity that guarantees I will accomplish an assigned task properly.
There is no room for compromise in the integrity of our word and deed. We are faced with important decisions every day of our lives. It is vital that we evaluate every detail of every situation before we make a decision. I have learned that rushing myself in that process usually results in poor judgment. When I rush to accomplish a job, I lose sight of both what is important and the possible consequences of my actions. The focus becomes only getting the job done by any means possible. Looking back at the mistake I made in attempting to accomplish PMS without a procedure, I see that the time I saved was not worth the compromise of my integrity. Trying to rush my work actually cost my shipmates and I more time and effort than if I had done it properly the first time, not to mention the consequences of my actions if something had gone wrong.
As a submarine sailor I must adhere to the Core Values of the Navy to maintain the military standards of responsibility, order, and discipline. I must have the Honor to deal rightly with all that is entrusted to me - to be loyal, obedient, and respectful to all those appointed over me and to accept my duty of service. I need to have the Courage to stand up for what is right, even when faced with adversity. Courage accompanied with honesty will guide me to the right decisions. I need to be committed to my responsibility and duties as I obey the orders given to me. Commitment requires self-discipline and a devotion to maintain the highest standards of integrity in my profession. An outstanding submarine crew is one that operates consciously as a team to protect the freedom of their country, while observing Core Values within their hearts. In closing, I would like to say that writing this essay has given me the opportunity to meditate on what it means to be a submariner. Integrity is the key essential of the submarine service. I believe we must focus on being consistent in word and deed to maintain our integrity with responsibility, order, and discipline. I have worked hard to build a reputation for being a trustworthy auxiliaryman, but it only takes one mistake to destroy the respect for my integrity that I worked so hard to gain. It is my duty to set the standard for integrity as a member of the Auxiliary Division, and as a submariner on board my ship. I do realize that I am not perfect and will make mistakes, but it is from those mistakes and the mistakes of others that we can learn and grow in our experiences throughout life. I thank God, the author of integrity, for the wisdom to discern its value and for showing the need to apply it to every area of my life.
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