OPNAV N87's Undersea Warfare magazine for Fall 2006 has an article about changing the officer career path. Apparently the submarine force leadership has responded to the numerous problems in operating submarines, such as with the SAN FRANCISCO, MINNEAPOLIS ST. PAUL, AND NEWPORT NEWS, by deciding that we need to make submarine officers more competitive for flag rank.
Both now and in the future, the professional submarine officer must not only be an expert in our submarine core competencies and mission areas, but also be able to effectively lead Navy, fleet, and joint operations.To enable this we are adjusting the sea tour lengths.
To guarantee submarine officers are competitive for “Big Navy” or joint assignments, major command tours should start at 22 years commissioned service (YCS).And to accomplish this feat, we're giving the XOs and COs of the future submarine force much less at sea experience than we had before, directing that "JO/DH/XO tour lengths be shortened to 32/32/20 months respectively. This represents approximately a 10 percent reduction in at-sea experience."
To meet the 16 YCS PCO gate, the prospective executive officer gate will eventually move from July of 13 YCS to April of 12 YCS (for May graduates).
The author says that we'll ameliorate the effects of giving up this at sea experience with use of shore trainers (during those same shortened sea tours). Just be sure to take advantage of the resident and non-resident JMPE phase I and II education opportunities. Not that they will do much good if you run into anything because of lack of experience.