22 August 2005


I was rather privileged as a JO – I liked every division I got when I was on the boat. However, the job that offered me the most autonomy was being the Communications Officer. By the time I got that job, I had my fish, was Engineer qualified, and was the senior JO on board. I also had no Department Head, as our Nav got fired and we had no replacement in sight. So, the only real oversight I had was the CO and XO. The XO and I got along pretty well, which was a good thing, since, until I qualified Nav Sup, the XO had to stand over my shoulder for all my Nav-type duties, to supervise. The CO also pretty much left me alone with all things non-chart related, figuring that as long as it kept running, he wasn’t going to ask how I was making it happen (I had the astonishing reputation as the ‘sleazy’ JO – which means people *loved* having duty with me, as work got done – even if the paperwork sometimes lagged the work).

One of the upshots of this trust was my new position as ‘The Voice of the USS XXX’. Since we were a missile-shooter, and we knew we were likely to be popping off rounds soon, we had coordinated-ops missile drills -constantly-. As the only NavOps officer, this meant I got to man the radiotelephone (the red phone) during these drills, to keep the strike coordinator apprised of our status, as well as keeping in comms with other platforms, and, on occasion, when the coordinator wanted to talk to all Charlie-Oscars, impersonating the CO (with his blessing, of course – he was far too busy to bother with comms). As I was a nuke, before I started this new role, I found every instruction I could that pertained to it, and did my best to commit them to memory. As a submariner, once I had this knowledge, one of my great joys was slamming people who violated these rules when they should have known better. Hence the title of the post.

From “Communication Instructions - Radio Telegraph Procedure”:
"BEADWINDOW" is a simple, rapid procedure for use to police the security of insecure networks. It brings to the immediate attention of operators the fact that an Essential Element of Friendly Information (EEFI) has been disclosed on the circuit. Additionally the "BEADWINDOW" report serves to alert other operators on the net of the EEFI disclosure and thus acts as an educational aid, producing increased security awareness among operators and an overall improvement in the security of insecure communications.

As our encrypted voice comms were often terrible, most of our comms were in the clear. Which gave me ample opportunity to call “BEADWINDOW” on others. For those of you who can’t remember, the only allowed response to someone calling beadwindow on your transmission is “Roger, out,” – you leave the net, and everyone gets to take a step back and figure out what got disclosed. My personal favorite was when we got called in to support a missile exercise while we were in port, over a weekend. No one wanted to be there, as only one of 5 platforms participating was actually at sea, I believe. So, when the strike coordinator started getting things arranged, in the clear, and called out our boat’s simulated LAT/LONG rather than OPAREA, I could not call out “Beadwindow” fast enough. Needless to say, when that happened, it was usually the coordinator who sorted out what happened, and helped everyone reestablish comms. This time, we were headless. After a few minutes of everyone flopping around without a strike coordinator, the strike training team called the exercise off. Yes, one of my finer moments.

Why does this come to mind now? Well, a lot of the guys I work with here deal with boats and their install schedules. They just can’t seem to comprehend that while upkeep periods are unclass, boat movement dates are classified. They have been getting tired of me reminding them, as often as not by calling out across the office “BEADWINDOW!” So, while I was in Pearl Harbor last, I found a solution. The ship I was stripping equipment on had some handy little placards on all its stacks. Since the stacks were gutted, I went ahead and took some of the placards, and put them in various places around the lab. As we communicate in the most insecure medium available ourselves, I thought y’all might like to take a look, too. Just as a CYA measure:



At 9/18/2005, Anonymous TCO said...

I don't like all the talk in the clear about the details of submarine operations (as a general practice).

At 9/18/2005, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...


AS it appears that your service provider is in Groton, and that you surfed here via Bubblehead's blog, I assume this means you have more than a passing interest in subs. Add to that the fact that you posted to this particular post, which is back in my archives, so I assume you were trying to make a point (as was I, when I posted it).

However, if you will notice, none of the guys in our little sub-blogging community are green, either. We are all pretty good at self-censoring, and we have said nothing that is classified to the best of my knowledge. And, frankly, as a former security officer, I am sensitive to that.

However, if our unclass talk makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry. But I assure you, we are being guarded with what we say.

At 2/28/2006, Anonymous Spearfish said...

I just wondered why your beadwindow list is so difficult to read?

At 2/28/2006, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...


It is grabbed off of a PDF file. If you click on the picture, you will see a larger, clearer version.

At 9/22/2006, Anonymous rossMania said...

Just curious. When you 'beadwindow' someone, and they 'roger out', they actually leave the net? shut off their radio? How do you re-establish contact with them, or them with you? What if they are a critical station on the net?

At 3/21/2007, Anonymous FormerNavyET1 said...

The procedure for declaring a Beadwindow offense was more involved than just calling "Beadwindow" on the circuit, it was supposed to be followed up with a message sent to those involved. (That was supposed to have the details of the compromise.)

Thanks for this blog, especially the Beadwindow listing, I'm compiling a lesson plan for training my current unit in proper radio procedures. So I can quit bristling when I hear obvious violations.

I'm not in the Navy anylonger, and my current job requires frequent radio use. The downside is that no one seems to be properly trained in OPSEC elements of non-secure comms.

At 7/30/2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At what point is positional info declassified? When can one proudly display Shell Back, Golden Dragon, etc. certificates in UNCLAS spaces? Would it be a Beadwindow 01 to request dates for when a particular unit crossed a particular geographic line back in the early '90s?

At 8/22/2007, Blogger Marshall said...

Could you settle a debate a few of my buddies and I were having. We are brand new lieutenants at The Basic School in Quantico. We are studying for our communications test. Does a communicated EEFI rate a BEADWINDOW even if it is spoken while freq-hopping and in cypher-text mode on our radios? Or is a BEADWINDOW exclusive to insecure nets (no freq-hopping, no cypher). If BEADWINDOW applies to any type of communication, I cannot imagine what there is left to say that is not on the EEFI list. Perhaps you could clear this up for us. Our information at hand was not written in enough detail to answer these questions. This page is pretty much the only discussion on BEADWINDOW on the internet, could you point us in a helpful direction for future communications questions? Thank you much!

At 8/24/2007, Anonymous pigboatsailor said...


Sorry for the somewhat time-late reply - I don't check my old blog anymore, as civilian life got a bit busy.

As for your question, BEADWINDOW always applies, even on secure net - *if* the info exceeds the net classification. I do not know what your nets are classified at (used to sub comms, sorry), but for us, we had secret and TS nets. It then becomes a point of knowing how your info is classified - obviously you can pass SECRET EEFI data on a SECRET net, but you can not pass TS data, etc. Hope this helps, and good luck, Marine.

The info is declass'ed by either SECNAV or SECDEF, depending on the class level, and usually only after many many years. However, that only applies to the very specific locations. It is completely allowable to say you are a Shellback or of the Order of the Rock, etc, because specific OPTEMPO stuff can not be derived from that. What you can not say is "I was at so-and-so LAT/LONG at so-and-so date and time"

At 10/23/2007, Blogger blunoz said...

My bluenose and shellback certificates just list a month and year. For the specific date and the specific longitude of crossing, they say "classified".

At 9/15/2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"one of my great joys was slamming people who violated these rules when they should have known better"

Typical 'shoe.

At 1/08/2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sound like an absolute joy to work with - lagging behind in your own duties whilst pulling others up for not carrying out theirs to the letter of the regs.


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