CHAPTER 19 SUBMARINE PERSONNEL SELECTION AND ASSESSMENT
19.1. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS
Personnel assessment has been defined as "the
scientific art of arriving at sufficient conclusions
from insufficient data." The term assessment is
the process of evaluating the men available, while
selection is the operation of choosing those best
suited for the task involved. It is an administrative function. One must always bear in mind
in this connection that the individual is being
assessed on the basis of rather limited contacts
and on only a general understanding of the future
situation to which he will be subjected. For example, the general nature of submarine environment and operations are understood, but it is
impossible to foresee the personality of the commanding officer, executive officer and other individuals with whom the candidate may come into
contact or associate in the future, or to foresee
the operational stresses to which the crew may
be subjected. Likewise, an examiner may determine that a candidate has been and is in a relatively stable personal situation, but cannot
predict a possible loss of a parent in a violent
manner or the effect of this upon the candidate.
Also, the man's physical condition is subject to
unpredictable changes following severe illnesses or
With these limitations in mind, the following
consideration is important concerning the need for
assessment of personnel volunteering for submarine service:
1. The number and complexity of the mechanical and electronic installations on a submarine
require an individual of above median intellectual
level with considerable mechanical aptitude.
2. The psychological and physiological stresses
to which submariners are subjected require men
to be in excellent physical condition, mature and
stable in the emotional sphere.
While candidates for both officer and enlisted
classes, including applicants for diving school, are
assessed at the United States Naval Medical Research
Laboratory, United States Naval submarine Base, New London, Conn., the large
majority of individuals examined are for the
enlisted course and the methods described subsequently will be confined to that group. The
examinations of the other groups are essentially
the same, differing chiefly in the standards used
for the particular group.
The men volunteering for submarine service
come largely from two sources: (1) The operating
forces afloat; and (2) recruit training. Roughly,
about 68 percent are from the fleet, and 32 percent
from recruit training. The acceptance of volunteers is based upon passing a preliminary physical
examination and meeting the aptitude requirements of a minimum combined score of 100 in
the ARI and MECH sections of the Navy Basic
The procedure used at the Naval Medical Research Laboratory for assessing candidates for
submarine service can be divided into five parts:
1. Personal history and psychological testing.
2. Physical examination.
3. Special sensory examination.
4. Escape tank training.
5. Interview with submarine medical officer.
19.1.1. Personal history and psychological testing.
A small amount of personal data is included on
the Medical Research Laboratory processing card
which also has entries for the other examinations
and the final interview.
More complete personal data is obtained on the
Personal History Form; e. g., sociological material,
family history, as well as a review of the educational military service and a statement by the
candidate as to his future plans, combined with a
self-appraisal. At the time that this material is
gathered, psychological tests are also administered.
These vary from time to time in relationship to the
One projective test, however, has been more or
less standard. This is the Navy modification of
the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). This
test has been modified in two ways: (1) It has
been utilized in its original form but with some
alteration of the pictures used in order that service
personnel may more easily identify with the
characters in the picture. This form of the test is
administered in group style with the pictures in
booklet form, one at the top of each blank page.
The number of pages can be varied but the usual
number is 10 or 12. (2) A semistructured form
has been used in order to stimulate productivity
in the enlisted groups, and to eliminate as far as
possible any appreciable loss of time. This test is
also administered to the group, but the pictures are
projected on a screen and the answers to the three
questions are written on separate sheets of paper.
All married candidates are given a Locke
Marital Adjustment Test.
The Revised Beta Test is routinely given to
those candidates whose combined scores of ARI
and MECH are below the accepted standard and
who have been granted a waiver for this. If this
does not resolve the doubt as to the intellectual
level, a full-scale Wechsler-Bellevue Test is administered.
Other projective tests such as a modification of
Rosenzweig's Pictorial Frustration Test, a Masculinity Role Test and the Blacky Test have been
used at times primarily as research projects to
determine possible application of these tests to
assessment of submarine personnel.
19.1.2. Physical examination.
The candidate is examined physically at the time
he volunteers and subjected to further screening
and tests for physical fitness on his arrival at the
United States Submarine Base, New London,
Conn. The applicable physical standards for
acceptance of personnel for submarine duty listed
in the Manual of the Medical Department are as
In view of the special conditions characteristic
of the submarine service, all officers and enlisted
men who are candidates for submarine training
shall conform to the following standards. Particular care must be exercised in the preliminary
examination on ships and at shore stations in order
that a large number of candidates may not be
rejected as a result of reexamination at the submarine School, New London, Conn., thus avoiding
needless cost of transportation, loss of service, and
incomplete quota of classes.
Standards for the submarine service are the same
as those for general duty with especial attention to
the following conditions:
1. Psychiatric.-Because of the nature of the
duties and responsibilities of each officer and man
in a submarine, the psychological fitness of
applicants for submarine training should be carefully appraised. The man should have arrived
at his decision to volunteer for submarine training
after mature deliberation and should be motivated
by real desire for this duty. Emotional maturity
and stability, dependability, and at least normal
intelligence are necessary. Psychiatric conditions
or personality traits which might militate against
satisfactory adjustment under conditions aboard
this type of ship shall disqualify.
2. Vision.-Officers, and enlisted men of the
deck group, ordnance group, and seamen shall have
vision of 20/20 in each eye. For all other candidates the minimal vision shall be 20/30. In
cases of defective vision below these standards, an
exception may be made if there is previous submarine experience, or in individual cases where
conditions warrant deviation from these visual
3. Color vision.-Normal color perception is a
desirable physical characteristic in all submarine
candidates. Preliminary screening in ships or
stations should be conducted with the American
Optical Company Pseudo-Isochromatic Plates, or
the New London Navy Color Vision Lantern
(Farnsworth Lantern), whichever is available.
If the Pseudo-Isochromatic Plates are used, candidates shall be required to read any 17 of the 20
plates, demonstration plates excluded. Notation
should be made of color-perception defects on the
preliminary examination, and the method of
testing used. Candidates exhibiting color-perception defects, however, should be advised that
the New London Navy Color Vision Lantern
(Farnsworth Lantern) will be used as the standard
and final prevailing test in the final screening at the
Submarine School, New London, Conn.
4. Nose and throat.-The nares, nasopharynx,
and pharynx shall be carefully examined by
reflected light. Obstruction to breathing such as
marked deviation of the nasal septum, or any
chronic inflammatory condition such as sinusitis,
or hypertrophied tonsils, shall be sufficient to
reject until such defects are remedied.
5. Ears.-Acute or chronic disease of the middle
or internal ear or ruptured eardrums shall disqualify. A thorough otoscopic examination of the
auditory canal and membrana tympani shall be
made. The acuity of hearing in each ear shall
be normal, according to the audiometer, or if an
audiometer is not available, the acuity shall be
15/15 by the whispered voice test, 20/20 by coin
6. Teeth.-A complete dental examination shall
be conducted by a dental officer. Definite oral
disease and generally unserviceable teeth shall be
cause for rejection. Vincent's infection shall disqualify until the infection and such conditions
which may contribute to recurrence are eradicated.
A high standard of oral hygiene is mandatory.
Teeth replaced by satisfactory bridges and dentures are not to be considered disqualifying.
Applicants with moderate overbite, underbite, or
extensive restorations and replacements by bridges
or dentures may be accepted, if such do not interfere with effective gripping of the mouthpiece of
the submarine escape appliances.
7. Respiratory system.-Particular effort shall
be made to detect latent tuberculosis or other
chronic diseases of the lungs which are disqualifying.
8. Cardiovascular system.-A systolic blood
pressure over 145 or a diastolic blood pressure
over 90 mm., if persistent, shall disqualify.
Persistent tachycardia, marked arrhythmia except
of the sinus type, or other significant disturbance
of the heart or vascular system shall disqualify.
9. Gastrointestinal system.-Candidates with a
history of disease such as colitis, peptic ulcer,
obstinate constipation or diarrhea shall be excluded.
10. Venereal disease.-No candidate with any
form of active venereal disease at the time of the
examination shall be accepted.
11. Offensive body odor.-Offensive breath and
offensive perspiration, if persistent, are sufficient
12. Disease of the skin.-Any chronic skin
disease other than mild acne shall be disqualifying.
13. Obesity.-In general candidates should present no greater than 20 percent variation in
Figure 138.-The submarine physical examination-
applying air pressure to candidates within the
weight from the standard set forth in the age-height-weight tables, unless the overweight is due
mainly to muscular and bony tissue.
Figure 139.-The submarine physical examination-
candidates assembled in the recompression chamber
to test their ability to equalize air pressure.
Medical officer candidates for submarine training shall comply with the officer standards on
first acceptance. Subsequent physical requirements are the same as for general duty.
All officers and men on arrival at the Submarine
School, New London, Conn., shall again be given
a complete physical examination. This is intended to supplement the examination carried
out by the medical and dental officers of the ship
or station and not to replace it. All candidates
shall be tested as to their ability to clear the ears
effectively and otherwise to withstand an air
pressure of 50 pounds to the square inch in a
recompression chamber (figs. 138 and 139). This
requirement must be satisfied in order that personnel shall be qualified for training with the
submarine-escape appliance. It should be remembered, however, that there may be temporary
difficulty due to acute congestion of the eustachian
tube incident to coryza or pharyngitis. All
officers and enlisted men of such ratings as may be
assigned to listening duties shall be tested by the
audiometer. The only permissible variation from
the normal will be in the wave lengths of 128 and
4096 double frequencies.
19.1.3. Special sensory examination.
The physical examination at the Medical
Research Laboratory includes a complete evaluation of visual acuity (fig. 140), color discrimination (figs. 141 and 142), auditory acuity (fig.
143), and loudness and pitch discrimination. The
latter three, with the GCT score, constitute the
factors in the sonar aptitude score. The Farnsworth Lantern (fig. 140) is used in addition to
Pseudo-Isochromatic Plates (fig. 139), to determine the acceptability of the candidate as to color
Figure 141.-The submarine physical examination-
pseudo-isochromatic plates with approved lighting
for color vision testing.
19.1.4. Escape tank training.
Escape tank training is considered invaluable in
the assessment of submarine personnel. By this
means the applicant's ability to equalize pressure
can readily be determined, and also a moderate
stress situation is provided by the tightly packed
group in a hot, noisy and somewhat uncomfortably different environment (figs. 142 and 143).
This many times has revealed phobic reactions in
individuals who otherwise may have been unaware of such tendencies or able to conceal them
until a more stressful situation arose under operating conditions, when they were unable to accept
the necessary responsibility. (For details as to
technique, see chapter 21, Escape from submarines.)
Figure 142.-The submarine physical examination-
the Farnsworth Lantern for color vision testing.
Those candidates who are unable to equalize
pressure in the ears because of increased lymphoid
tissue around the pharyngeal orifice of the eustachian tube are treated by application of radium
to the posterior nasopharynx.
19.1.5. Interview with submarine medical officer.
The final step in the assessment procedure is
the interview by the submarine medical officer
(fig. 144). At this time the results of the foregoing tests and examinations in the booklets and
on the MRL data card (fig. 145) are integrated
and supplemented as necessary so that the interviewer can arrive at an impression of the personality structure of the candidate and decide as to
his acceptability for submarine duty.
The usefulness of the Personal History Form is
direct and obvious. The data supplied on it serve
to shorten the interview by providing answers to
many basic questions and indicating which areas
Figure 143.-The submarine physical examination-
need further exploration. For example, history
of a broken home situation, juvenile delinquency,
frequent job changes, etc. may be revealed by the
Personal History Form, but more detailed facts,
and the candidate's feelings in relationship to the
facts, can only be determined at the interview.
The last page of this form has only these few lines
GIVE A BRIEF PICTURE OF THE KIND OF
PERSON YOU FEEL YOU ARE BASICALLY,
TOGETHER WITH YOUR PLANS FOR BECOMING THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO
BE. YOU MAY REPEAT ANY OF THE FOREGOING PERSONAL INFORMATION IN THIS
CONNECTION. WHERE DOES ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR PRESENT OBJECTIVE FIT
INTO YOUR PLANS? YOU MAY USE ADDITIONAL SHEETS IF YOU DESIRE.
Figure 144.-The submarine physical examination-
The relatively "off the cuff" self-appraisal that
follows gives the examiner a good view into the
candidate's personality and often is the source of
material for further investigation.
Several projective tests have been used but, as
noted previously, only the modified TAT is
routinely administered. The results of this test
are used to provide additional aids to the interviewer rather than material for a clinical diagnosis. The tests are not scored but quickly read
and deviations from the usual stories noted. The
clues thus presented are used in an indirect manner during the face to face inquiry. Never is the
candidate asked to explain why he wrote any
At the completion of the interview which lasts
from 8 to 20 minutes, depending upon the amount
Figure 145.-MRL Data Card.
of clarification needed, the medical officer completes the physical and personality profiles on the
MRL data card. The methods of scoring the
physical and special sensory profiles are as follows:
1. Distant acuity 20/20 or better 0. U.
Near vision 20/20 or better 0. U.
2. Distant vision either eye 20/30 or better;
other eye not less than 20/70 or 20/40
Near vision 20/30 or better 0. U.
3. Distant vision not less than 20/70 0. U.
Near vision not less than 20/50 0. U.
4. Does not meet any of the above requirements.
NOTE.-All refractive errors shall be correctable to 20/20 and there must
be an absence of organic eye
B. Color Vision.
1. Pass pseudo-isochromatic plates.
2. Fails plates but passes New London Navy
3. Fails lantern but passes dichotomous.
4. Fails dichotomous.
1. Loss no greater than 15 db from 256
through 2048 c. p. s., and no greater
than 30 db at 4096 and 8192 in either
ear. (Normal according to the standards established by National Research
2. Loss no greater than 25 db from 256
through 2048 c. p. s., and no greater
than 45 db at 4096 and 8192 in either
or both ears.
3. A loss no greater than 45 db from 256
through 2048 c. p. s. in either or both
4. Loss greater than 45 db from 256 through
8192 c. p. s. in either or both ears.
D. Sonar Aptitude Grade.
The personality profile is arrived at by making
judgments as to the seven factors noted in the
right side of the profile box (fig. 145). It is recognized that these categories are broad and have
many possible definitions and interpretations.
However, in the following pages each category has
been defined and given rating scales so that all the
interviewers work within the same framework.
19.2. PERSONAL ADJUSTMENT
Definition: That attribute which indicates how
well an individual has related himself to his
Factors to be considered:
a. General development (body type, nutrition, muscle tone, etc.).
b. Condition of skin, hair, nails.
c. Facies (expression, movements, pupils,
e. State of health, including past medical
a. Attitude and general behavior-including state of cleanliness, and motor
b. Emotional state-mood (anxious, depressed, elated, indifferent, irritable,
c. Organization of personality (realistic,
idealistic, feeling of security).
d. Sexual adjustment.
a. General family background (stable,
unstable, broken home, etc.).
b. History of neuropsychiatric problem
c. Sibling rivalry.
d. Marital situation.
1. Exceptionally well adjusted, as indicated
by lack of discernible conflict in the
2. Well adjusted but has minor conflicts
which have not interfered with interpersonal relationships.
3. Evidence of previous maladjustment but
can contain present unresolved conflicts.
4. Poorly adjusted, evidence of major unresolved conflicts.
19.3. ADJUSTMENT TO NAVY LIFE
Definition: That element of the personal adjustment which indicates the extent to which the
individual has accepted Naval service.
Factors to be considered:
1. Factors from record.
a. Advancements in rate.
b. Disciplinary problem-none, minor,
a. Attitude toward authority-acceptance
b. Attitude toward Naval service-career,
undecided, or resentment over recall.
a. Relationship to shipmates-accepted,
b. Interests-group sports, liberty, etc.
1. Clean record and outward acceptance of
2. Reason to suspect some hostility toward
authority but has not interfered with
3. Occasional infractions of discipline and/or
hostility to authority.
4. Poor adjustment as evidenced by frequent
infractions of discipline.
Definition: Degree of attainment of a state of
emotional harmony consistent with that which is
expected of a person in his environment.
Factors to be considered:
a. State of general physical development
b. Secondary sexual characteristics
a. Ease of establishing rapport:
(1) Calm and unblocked throughout
(2) Spontaneity of responses.
b. Level of affective reactions.
1. Greater level of emotional maturity than
would be expected at present age.
2. Level of emotional maturity consistent
3. Level of emotional maturity below that
which could be expected at present age,
but can adjust to the adverse conditions.
4. Level of emotional maturity well below
that expected at present age and complicated by evidence of maladjustment.
Definition: "Intelligence is the aggregate or
global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively
with his environment."
Factors to be considered:
1. Classification tests.
2. Beta I. Q.
3. Educational level.
4. General knowledge as determined during
1 WECHSLER, David, The Measurement of Adult Intelligence, p. 3 (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Co., 1944).
1. High degree of intelligence as determined
by combined score (above 120) and general knowledge.
2. Sufficient verbal intelligence to stand well
in Submarine School class (combined
score 110-120) and evidence of good
3. Adequate intelligence to complete submarine School and finish qualification
requirements, as determined by interview, combined score and Beta I. Q.
4. Insufficient intelligence to complete submarine School or qualification requirements.
Definition: That quality which describes the
capacity of an individual to attain a particular goal
once a course of action has been accepted and
Factors to be considered:
1. Energy output (sluggish, lively, overactive,
2. Range of interests (religion, science, sports,
3. Goals established.
4. Goals attained-failures-why?
1. Can be expected to attain any reasonable
goal despite major obstacles (within his
2. Can be expected to attain most goals
despite major obstacles.
3. Can overcome minor but not major
4. Easily dissuaded from purpose by minor
19.7. INTEREST IN SUBMARINES
1. Motivated by personal advantages (increased
pay, better food, better liberty).
2. Submarine service as well as personal interests considered (best situation for rate- TM, SO, END, EM).
3. Motivated by patriotism or by glamour of
4. Evidence of interest:
a. Cruise or visit aboard submarine.
b. Relatives or friend in submarine service.
c. Reading about submarines.
1. Intensely interested in submarines-evidence of having acquired knowledge of
submarines by independent study.
2. Considerable interest in submarines-evidenced by an attempt to gain some
knowledge about submarines.
3. Adequate interest which stems from a
desire to profit by personal advantages
and a romantic idea of submarine duty.
4. No particular interest in submarines-is a
candidate by administrative error or a
desire to escape previous unpleasant
19.8. APTITUDE FOR SUBMARINES
Factors from Record:
1. Classification scores.
a. Combined GCT and ARI
2. General knowledge re mechanical and
3. Knowledge re submarines.
Since a submariner must learn a considerable
amount about a submarine to complete school and
become qualified, it follows that each man must
have the ability to accumulate knowledge outside
his own job or rating. The majority of this information involves electricity, mechanics, and spatial
relationships. This quality is best evaluated by
determining to what degree the candidate has, in
the past, interested himself in the electrical and
mechanical devices which are around him in everyday life.
In arriving at the mark for this trait the test
scores on the Navy basic battery should be considered and questions similar to the following
should be asked:
1. What does the differential on a car do?
2. How does a carburetor work?
3. How does a diesel engine differ from a
4. How is electricity produced?
5. How does a battery work?
6. Has the candidate ever built anything from
1. Demonstrates good knowledge of mechanical and electrical principles.
2. Has taken fair amount of interest in
mechanics and electricity.
3. Little knowledge of mechanics and
Figure 146.-Performance Evaluation Report.
4. No evidence of mechanical aptitude plus
low test scores (below 50).
The completed personality profile is the basis
for the two predictions to be made:
(1) MRL assessment (fig. 145) which is the
interviewer's evaluation on a 1 to 4 scale of the
candidate's ability to adjust to duty on an operating submarine
Medical Research Laboratory Assessment:
1. Especially well adjusted and suited for
Can be expected to perform well under all
2. Well adjusted and suited for submarine
Can be expected to perform well under
usual circumstances and adequately
under unusual circumstances.
3. Adequately adjusted and suited for submarine duty. Can be expected to
perform acceptably under usual conditions, but poorly under unusual circumstances.
4. Poorly adjusted and suited for submarine
duty. Can be expected to perform
adequately only under ideal conditions.
(2) Predicted Standing (figure 145) which is the
predicted class standing of the candidate in
Submarine School Assessment.
1. Predicted standing upper one-fourth of
2. Predicted standing middle one-half of
3. Predicted standing lower one-fourth of class.
4. Will probably fail submarine school.
The remaining two lines in the lower right hand
box of figure 145 are: (1) The class standing upon
completion of Submarine School; and (2) appraisal,
which is obtained from a one page questionnaire
(figure 145) placed in the man's service jacket
upon graduation and filled out by the Executive
Officer of his ship after 6 to 9 months' duty on
board. These last two items furnish performance
criteria against which the predictors can be
The assessment program presented is the current operating procedure. This is subject to
change as indicated by research results. Also,
new projective tests are incorporated in the
battery from time to time to evaluate their usefulness as aids to the interviewer.
Another research area involves the study of
those individuals who have been selected for submarine service, only to fail to qualify or be disqualified at a later date. In this way we derive
some useful knowledge from shortcomings in
method or application thereof. The mission of
the research effort is to refine the assessment
technique so that large groups can be processed
efficiently and effectively if the necessity arises.