Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The "Equalizer"

Back on the boat, every once in a great while your schedule would work out such that you had two or even three watches in a row off, with no drills or training you had to get up for. Since a lot of at-sea submarining involved being able to function effectively with little sleep, it was always nice to take advantage of these times to recharge your body just like a very long charge would do for the ship's battery. Like with the battery charge, we used to call this type of power-nap an "equalizer".

Some people had a gift for being able to do an equalizer right -- 12 or more hours of continuous sleep. I was never able to make it that long in one shot, but I would be able to sometimes get 12 or 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (like I did yesterday, shifting from night shift back to a normal sleep schedule -- 13 hours sleep in a 21 hour period). How about my commenters -- were you a "rack hound", or were you able to resist the "call of the rack"? ("Joel, come sleep in me," my rack used to whisper softly...)


Anonymous JustADude said...

All my life been a cat napper. Rarely sleep more than 4 to 6 a day even now that I am retired at home.

Sometimes when schedules were packed like in workups prior to ORSE boards and such the only chance I had to sleep was when the rack was filled with a hot bunk buddy.

Was somewhat notable for being able to stretch out and sleep on the corkscrew looking adjuster rods at the aft end of the torpedo room upper racks.

10/11/2007 9:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could easily do 12 – 14 hours when I was on the boat. My back won’t let me do that any more.
I was never a card player/movie watcher/book reader. I always did my after watch work as quickly and efficiently as I could so I could rack out. It would take me 15 to 30 minutes to wind down enough to crash. On later boats, La Jolla and Chicago, the off going AOW had to do TDU Ops so it was hit or miss if you got woke up. Of course, in shipyard, after a 24 hour duty day and an 18 hour work day, we would sleep anywhere. My LPO tagged himself out and tied the red tag to his shirt so people would not wake him up.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

10/11/2007 9:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal records:

Mid-watch cowboy EWS on a 637 class SSN northern run in the early 90's (rigged for ultra quiet much of the time) - 18 hours down. The worst part of that was that we went to PD at the same time every night, which was right when I took a shower before mid-rats.

During a Med run on a CVN, stood PPWS, 5 hours on, 60 hours off. Once logged 22 hours down. I only got up because I had to pee real bad.

10/11/2007 9:40 AM

Blogger submandave said...

Don't remember statistics, but remember I used to equalize pretty good. Our stateroom was known as the "Bat Cave" due to its continuous rig-for-dark status.

Didn't get a chance to try and equalizer on a recent CG underway, but don't think I could have managed anyway as the bladder would no longer support.

I always liked the old saying about Docs' watch rotation: eat until tired; sleep until hungry.

10/11/2007 10:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my last boat, as I was the only PO1 in my division who: a) knew anything, and b) was willing to help out anybody who came asked for it - no matter what. I usually only got 3-4 hours per offwatch in the rack. 5 to 6 hours was an equalizer for me.

Between that and my do-nothing/lead-no-one E-7 ("Ah'll be in the Goat Locker doin' whut Ah dew bayest - Nuhthin'!" - and he wasn't joking) I nearly went insane from sleep deprivation. And I was an old man by submarine reckoning; 34-38. I wasn't even the LPO, but I was certainly the "go-to-guy". I had one watch in my entire career when I had the privilege of being 4 section, just prior to RTP. It was my very last normal underway watch. When I did, I was rack-stowed for 13 hours. After that I wanted to hate everybody who was 4 section and complained - but at that point I didn't care.

10/11/2007 11:11 AM

Blogger E.P. said...

Back as Eng I was definitely a 3-4 hour a night guy with the equalizer when possible. (Some of my JOs might contend I got a little more than that during training though.)
I was surpassed by a young jg during one session of officer training. He fell asleep while taking his sweater off, his entire head covered, sitting upright on the bench in the wardroom.

10/11/2007 11:28 AM

Blogger J120 Bowman said...

I was the DCA for almost 2 years, so my sleep was interupted almost as much as the Eng's. Since we were in the same stateroom, we should have had a revolving door. Constant reports through the night, especially if the oxygen generator was up and running. I loved the equalizer! The best I ever did was 12-14 hours. I hated the port-starboard rotation. By the time I finished all of the after-watch crap, the best I could get was 4 hours before my next wake-up. I was also "lucky" enough to be tagged as the Gold Dolphin rider on the surface escort ship for two sets of initial sea trials. The escort "ship" (converted 110' fishing trawler) was based in Newport, RI, so I flew up from Norfolk and then transitted to the VACAPES for Newport News Shipyard newcons. One such adventure was in the middle of a nor'easter. Now I will admit, I get seasick, unless I'm horizontal in the rack. So I spent 26 hours straight in the bunky, got up to pee, and was down again for another 24 hours! There was an a$$ crater in that mattress you wouldn't believe. Of course, the smell of cigarettes and frying pork chops didn't help.

10/11/2007 5:11 PM

Blogger cheezstake said...

With normal ORSE workup on the boomer, Vulcan Death Watches were the norm. It always seemed that I was always on watch right before the ORSE team came aboard. So, no sleep and right into drills.

I was on watch, followed immediately by being on the drill team for ALL the drills, then oral interviews and THEN two monitored evolutions!!

After 30.5 hours I was spent. As I stumbled forward for a much needed shower, I was told that I was going to be the ERS cowboy for the remainder of the patrol. Sixteen down, and I didn't even move an inch. I had rackburn for about 2 hours after I woke up!

... the fond memories...

10/11/2007 6:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just after qualifying EOOW I was made the Battle Stations Torpedo and Battle Stations Strike EOOW.

During our POMCERT, I stood midwatch EOOW, Battle Station Torpedo EOOW, lunch, Battle Station Strike EOOW, and then relieved myself as the evening EOOW. I logged 23.5 hours of EOOW that day...and then went down for a MAJOR equalizer.

10/11/2007 6:57 PM

Blogger J120 Bowman said...

Okay, let's find out who has the guts to admit they fell asleep on watch. Midwatch, I put my head in my hands on the EOOW desk for "just a second". Next thing I know, I wake, I mean look up and the throttleman, RO, and EO are all in the same position. A thermos of coffee was promptly brought aft!

10/11/2007 7:36 PM

Blogger Subvet said...

I couldn't sleep more than 8 hours at the max. Didn't matter if my work day was 48+ hours long, I'd bounce out after 8 in the kip.

Turns out, I've got sleep apnea and probably had it then also. While it evidently wasn't a big problem 20 years ago it gets worse with age and if left untreated can lead to strokes, seizures, death, you know all those minor inconveniences to enjoying retirement.

If anyone routinely snores through the night you MIGHT want to get screened for this. I now use a CPAP machine and mask and to tell the truth, sleep better that I have in years!

10/11/2007 10:25 PM

Anonymous Mike said...

Like J120, i was the battle stations eoow, an orse eoow and we were port and starboard for the tre, so every time I got relieved i had just enuf time to pee grab a cup and a bite before the general alarm went off. I was asleep so hard one time in maneuvering the electrical operator drew a picture of me behind that podium on a paper coffee cup and gave it to me when it was all over, had me with feet up head back and mouth wide open. Treasured that cup but lost it in a move. Was a good bunch of watchstanders.

10/12/2007 12:36 AM

Anonymous Mike said...

Also as nav working Port and Stbd with ANav off Vieques and doing daily ops into and out of rosey roads, fell asleep numerous times next to the fathometer watch during battlestations and drills. XO and fath watch would check for a pulse every once in a while, and wake me up when the drill was over.

10/12/2007 12:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

J120--Yup, fell asleep as EOOW, but did it standing up. Recovered at about a 60 degree angle.

10/12/2007 6:37 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

As Eng at sea, I never got more than about 4 hours of sleep in a row, and definitely not more than 6 (off-going watch relief reports made sure of that). As far as falling asleep on watch, I never did more than drift off for maybe a second, then "jerk" myself awake. On Topeka, the story was that, before I got there, some throttleman had fallen asleep at the wheel, and the EO went over and teabagged him. Hopefully nobody drew a picture of that one!

There's also the story of the EOOW who fell asleep so hard that the CO, XO, and Eng had time to come back and sit down at the three panels (and then do an alarm test), but that story's probably just an urban legend.

10/12/2007 8:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had an “A” ganger that was sooo tired he was in an upper inboard rack in the 37 man bow compartment on a 637 fast asleep when one of the 4500 psi o-rings blew. We isolated the leak and repaired it right over his head. When he finally woke up we had a hard time getting him to believe he slept through the whole thing. It was amazing anyone could be that tired.

10/12/2007 9:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the midwatch cowboy one patrol. It was difficult to keep everyone in maneuvering alert all of the time. I had a rule that no more that two at a time could doze off. I never met to take a nap, but there were a few times I dozed off and was unsure of how long I had been asleep. As a civilian, it's nice not to be sleep deprived all of the time.

10/12/2007 11:31 AM

Blogger FT2(ss) said...

The greatest sleep I ever got on my old boat was the day I fell asleep while riding the exercise bike. I was PTing and sleeping.

Until someone woke me up to ask if I was sleeping while PTing.

Ah nothing like a 637 and stories of 4500psi blowing out in the death rack. I remember that happening twice to us. First time the sonar tech that was sleeping there just slid out of the top rack and fell to the ground. second time was a fast cruise and we had a mess cook hauling garbage out of the weapon shipping hatch. he got blown out of the hatch with the garbage.

10/12/2007 4:22 PM

Blogger Skippy-san said...

If you sleep for half the cruise, the cruise is only half as long.

Ever consider the idea that subamriners work too hard and maybe some of that work could be cut out?

10/12/2007 5:38 PM

Anonymous BKT(SS) said...

Outboard Sonar Equipment Space (SES)middle level ops on a 637. 400 cycle fan white noise, a big pile of Burn Bags,ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Bonus thing was the chow line formed right outside the door!!!!!

Damn I think I need to get some rack burns this weekend.

10/12/2007 6:04 PM

Blogger SDNuke said...

Forget the transit but we had either an EO or TH kickout, and those 30 off were always well spent. Sleep until woken up by the treadmill above me, thank you PT nazis. At least I had a portable DVD player that made a lot of sleepless off watches possible. If I woke up I would go back and give either one a headbreak. But much to my former ENG's displeasure I probably spent 12+ hrs in the rack several times.

10/13/2007 1:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never had much opportunity to do the EQ, but there was a stretch where I couldn't sleep for 4 days underway. Needless to say, by the end of that last watch, I was freaking out...starting to hallucinate and strangely full of energy. When I grabbed a piece of barstock and took it to MSW Bay and put it through the 2 padeyes next to either ladder for pull-ups(on the 751...and the smoke pit was ASW Bay) the TMC saw this and he tried taking me to mast because I couldn't sleep. But I finally did...skipped after-watch cleanup and whatever meal and went into a coma for 12 solid hours. It was good. Or in port on those crazy duty days...the MSW piping in the overhead in PLO Bay, where it goes into/out of the condensers is a GREAT place for a catnap. And noone can really see you there. Or the wine cellar. Oh...'sparkle team' for pre-orse was 'sleep team' for me...under the condensers was a good place.
Never fell asleep on watch, but SRW on the midride, I'd never leave maneuvering. 'Cept for logs, of course...

10/14/2007 3:17 PM

Anonymous Sea Wolf said...

We had a fellow JO on the 660 who always fell asleep on the mid-watch. Never had the CO/XO/ENG man the panels, but we would routinely wake him up with the alarm test. Early one morning, he jumped out of the chair, grabbed the 1MC (which some wag had swapped with the 7MC) and announced to the wole boat "Conn, maneuvering, reactor scram, uh, never mind." Never did learn his lesson.

10/15/2007 8:03 PM

Blogger Slamdunk said...

Any E-6 or above FT(SS) who would like to work in Pensacola, FL, contact Chuck Lambeck at

10/31/2007 8:32 AM

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