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.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Five Days On A Brit Submarine

Here's an interesting article from the Daily Mail about a reporter who spent five days on HMS Talent (S92) during her current deployment. It's not an official source, but I was interested to see an article that I imagine was vetted by the British MoD saying "well over 1,000 feet down" when discussing the submarine's operating depths. I especially liked this picture:

My only experience on a British ship was spending a day on the carrier they had in the Arabian Gulf in 2000 (I think it was HMS Illustrious, but maybe HMS Invincible - it started with an "I") when I was the SubOps guy on the Carrier Group SEVEN staff aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). I rode over on the helicopter with my Admiral, worked with the submarine guys on the British ship planning a Combined exercise (including an American submarine officer who was permanently assigned to the British equivalent of the Strike Group Staff), and flew back the same day. My fellow staffers were upset that I got to go, because they figured it was a wasted opportunity for someone to drink while at sea. That's still my only helicopter ride.

Have you ever cross-decked to an allied vessel? (Alternate topic: Haven't the Brits ever heard of temporary racks for the guys who have to sleep in the torpedo room?)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might be were we stashed the rubber doll after the last ball. TM2 Weasner only knows.

10/13/2010 2:47 PM

Blogger John said...

Not quite to the topic, but we were in Port Canaveral for some reason. There was a Brit destroyer there at the same time. We had a huge tug-of-war with their guys. The line was huge. Eventually we won. Our prize? The Brits brought cases of warm beer down from the ship and a good time was had by all.
The only time I was on a British submarine was in Charleston (dockside; didn't get out to sea on her). There are two things that I remember about that visit: 1) the cranks hauling cases of beer around and 2) the steering and diving station on the starboard side of the control room... still makes my eyes twitch when I look back at that.

10/13/2010 3:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first hours aboard a submarine were spent inside a Canadian diesel boat tied up at the lower base. I was in sub school at the time.

It was a Friday eveining and several of us decided it was time we saw the insides of an actual boat.

The first couple of boats we tried to get aboard were US SSNs. The topside watches on these boats laughed and told us to get lost.

Then we noticed that much different looking Canadian boat. They seemed eager to give us a tour.

The tour started aft and worked forward. We were seated for the evening meal, and then taken to the torpedo room where a temporary bar was set up. Several hours later we managed to get topside and somehow back up the hill to our barracks.

What a great experience. And fortunately I ended up doing all of my sea duty aboard boomers. So bugger off you SSN queers.

10/13/2010 3:06 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

I spent 4-5 days underway on the JDS Uzushio. Fantastic time and they treated me like a rock star.

10/13/2010 4:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised at how many people have spent time on other country's boats/ships... is it normal practice to show the other side around a lot? I suppose I'm just not out there yet so I don't know.

And thank you so much for the shoutout on your post the other day. I just know that if I were on the other side I would love to be able to see what has changed, and actually I'd love to know what is different as well. Reading your posts have helped with that already. And indeed a lot is different.

And the blowup doll, hilarious btway. My sailing trip after my Plebe year some of the guys bought a blowup doll and kept her in the port locker. It was classic.

10/13/2010 4:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In '78 we moored behind a brit boomer in Faslane. They were loading beer. Three palettes in fact stacked with cases five by five were snuggled just behind the sail. Case by case, each were lowered with great care through the hatch; not a can lost. Nothing like how we handled our mid-rats staple, ravioli. Faslane was a day trip for a boomer out of Holyloch, a rare liberty call nonetheless. To ensure we had a chance for a raid, we assembled a work party as fast as possible, and against the unwritten rule we volunteered to help load. After helping we were generously offered a tour, drank a few, hung out for a couple of hours trading stories, and swapping hats, patches, and pins for British uniform items. Strange how we forget - I would have never remembered this until I saw your story today.

10/13/2010 5:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Transferred from my boat (USS Dallas) to a Greek submarine (Can not remember the name) while submerged on the old DSRV Mystic back in 2000. Amazing experience. No AC in the DSRV however, very hot!

10/13/2010 5:53 PM

Blogger SJV said...

Pulled into RR PR twice. Once there was a Canadian boat there. Some of the crew went over for tours, but by the time I got there they were done with tours for the evening. But...they were more than happy to share their Moosehead beer on the deck. Had to make a few pitstops over the side before the end of the evening.

10/13/2010 6:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A German boat once pulled up next to my boat in LaMadd. They had an ill crew member who needed medical attention. I talked with one of their mechanics for a while as they were alongside (me in broken German, him in broken English). Said they had a crew of 27. Judging by the size of their boat, it must have been cramped. That thing was tiny! When I said we had a crew of over 100, he gasped.

10/13/2010 7:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

German diesel boat was in New London for some reason. Being bored in the off-crew (redundant...) we went down to see what she looked like and to see if we could get onboard.

The guy on watch was more than happy to let us go below decks and wander around the forward part of the submarine. Tiny.

I asked where everyone was and he told me that most everyone had gone with the CO to New York for the weekend and were not expected back until Sunday afternoon!

Cannot imagine what would happen if most of the crew of a US submarine just decided to up and leave for the weekend while in a foreign port and leave the boat in the hands of a reduced watch-section! It might not be there when they all came back...

10/13/2010 8:18 PM

Anonymous VJ said...

I spent 24 hours underway aboard HMS TRAFALGAR during SCC OPS in 2005. Very interesting time. Oh by the way, the Torpedo Room is where they put riders, so the picture does not surprise me.
Many things were very similar to a U.S. SSN, from tracking and torpedo employment to driving the ship. However, they used completely different terminology for everything.

10/13/2010 9:03 PM

Blogger John said...

@ Anon 1506 - When I was in BESS I was bound and determined I was going to get a tour of one of the SSNs. I'd go down to the piers every night to try and get onboard, usually unsuccessful. I'd then proceed to the end of the pier, sit down, and do some studying. I still remember those times at the end of the pier very fondly.

However, persistence finally paid off. I told one of the topside watches that I just wanted to get topside to look at some of the deck equipment. I remember looking at the capstan, cleats, etc. and just generally enjoying my first time onboard a boat. Another time I finally did talk a watch section into giving me a tour... and that was very cool. I remember climbing to the bridge and just being fascinated.

Why a tour of a boat was not integral to submarine school, I'll never understand.

Looking back it sounds goofy, but I really loved the milieu and couldn't wait to get to a boat and get out to sea. I went to 643 as a non-rate just to get onboard a boat ASAP. Of course I paid for it dearly by doing 84 days of mess cooking and all of the other crap the deck div does. The flip side of that coin was I was in a position to see just exactly what every rate did... and picked the best rate on the boat... navigation electronics. I was good-to-go after that.

PS - Agree with you 1506... SSN guys are queer.

10/13/2010 11:23 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

Made an underway aboard the USCG patrol craft assigned to escort USS Enterprise when she entered San Francisco en route to Nam.

Still enjoy the movie I took showing CVAN-65's tremendous bow emerge under a total blanket of dense fog beneath the Golden Gate. --Awesome.

Earlier, had toured the "Big E" during a few visits when she had been our flagship. She had lost 2 pilots, one aviation mechanic (ejected into overhead of the hangar deck) and 3 planes during the intervals between my onboards.
Carriers then had a cruise album memorializing their lost shipmates. Seems to me it was on or very near to the quarterdeck.

All of the carrier people I met were helpful and top drawer. Would later take the Navy's Pilot Aptitude Test (not good - was offered navigator and declined).

10/13/2010 11:25 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Methinks that they positioned the weapons to make the bastard crawl down the stow, LOL, but a torpedo or adcap IS a good heat sink to sleep next to and better than hot racking.
Now that picture of the watertight door amazes me. It looks nook explosion proof!
We hosted a brit boat in the
mid 80's in NLON, was funny, the topside watches had a choice of their drink, or weapons, and they took the drink.
On the Miami we hosted a brit boat down in fort lauderdale. That was terrible, I traded my entire dress white jumper with ribbons and everything for some choice items. Mainly a British Man'O War comissioning pennant. That was koo....
When ya had the brits at a
beer-ball game, it added a whole new dimension to trouble.
I'd forgotten the "coffin dream" term. I could tell stories about those......


10/13/2010 11:26 PM

Anonymous MentalJim said...

I never was underway on a foreign sub, but I got tours of the HMS Superb when we were tied up at Faslane and also toured a Norwegian boat when we were tied up in Bergen. The guy who gave me the tour was a torpedoman and found it absurdly funny that we only had 4 torpedo tubes. (they had more, but no reload capability).

As far as the Super B goes, I mainly remember the drinking that ensued when they hosted us at lunch at the club prior to our departure. A day that ended up with me performing a reactor shutdown and assuming the duty as EDO. My plan of international goodwill by accepting all those pints at lunch seemed like a good plan when I had no manuevering watch and was free until mids. How things change when you have no inertial navigation systems.

10/14/2010 6:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't get underway but enjoyed the Aussie's hospitality on the Platypus in the late sixties. Boy can they drink. Their rum with beer chasers will make you blind. good memories.

10/14/2010 6:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moored near an Aussi diesel boat in Scotland in '77. Got the grand tour, lots of frame bay pigeon hole stowage happening. Traded uniform goods, punched down a couple of rankus beers -any beer was good beer. Boats threw a evening party. Local girls were bused in at 7:00 and bused out by 9:30. By that time we were hammered beyond decent moral standards -the party went on regardless.

10/14/2010 7:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

USS Skate hosted HMAS Oxley in Pearl Harbor in 1982. A great time was had by all.

The Aussies were both extremely professional and world-class partiers. The Oxley brought 700 cases of beer with them and another 350 cases via "diplomatic pouch." From them we learned that a 21-inch torpedo tube will hold about 65 cases of beer and a 19-inch torpedo tube will hold about 55 cases of beer. Below 200 feet, the tubes keep the beer nice and cold.

An associated Dining Out at the O-Club was one of the first social functions attended by the new COMSUBPAC (RADM Kauderer). He wisely beat a hasty retreat as things got out of hand pretty early in the evening. The party finally broke up around 0300.

10/14/2010 10:13 AM

Blogger Jay said...

Ah, fond memories...

I was lucky enough to spend a week on the SPS Principe de Asturius durign a NATO exercise. Since comms were pretty spotty in those days, we (myself, another US submariner, a P3 guy, and our Spanish sub counterpart) spent most of the time eating, teaching me to play bridge, and sampling Spanish wines. It was also my first experience with women on ships (the medical corps in the Spanish Navy then would place women on ships, and attractive ones). In 1994, that was new to me. It was also my first helo rides, on and off. Scary stuff, as that ship was pretty small compared to a US carrier.

It convinced me that our alcohol rules really are just lame.

10/14/2010 2:37 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

1991 and 1992 - I was an instructor at NavSubTraCenPac in Hawaii. Once course I taught was the JMSDF course to the Japanese. I spent 8 days on the JDS Arashio. Fantastic time. Got treated like a king. If the mess decks was packed and I came to eat, they sent someone away (After that I always made sure there was a space).

The sonar chief took the whole division out and paid for my Beni Hana dinner.

The Arashio sonar division had a picnic for the US Sonar instructors. Needless to say it was a good time. They gave gifts to each of my daughters, and they weren't cheap gifts either. All my daughters are blonde too, so they treated them like princesses. They even made a 1.5 hour long video that they gave us when they left of all the activities. If I had the chance, I would do it all again!

Also, after three days onboard, I quit asking what it was and just ate it. Still don't know what half the stuff I ate was!


10/14/2010 3:41 PM

Blogger Ken in Yoko said...

Back in the early 80's, Barbel often hosted the Diesel Boat Visitors. The Aussies were always a blast. I can almost remember numerous beer ball games with them. I don't remember which boat it was, but one time we got into a game of Sake Baseball with the Japanese. By the second inning we had to shift to Sake Football as no one was sober enough to hit the damn ball!

10/14/2010 5:33 PM

Blogger Old Salt said...

I remember pulling into Yoko at the same time as an Aussie submarine. Got a tour where they showed us the beer locker. It had a big steel grate with a lock through one of the bolts. I noted that the lock would make it tough to get at the beer, but the sailor laughed and showed us that if you grabbed the lock like a handle and twisted, the whole bolt came out. Barely made it back to my boat. Later on Saturday, beer ball with us and the Aussies vs. the Japanese home team. Everyone hammered by mid-afternoon where the party wound up back at the barracks with guys hanging out windows... Good times

10/14/2010 7:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1971 SS-580 was host boat for HMAS Onslow. They were operating out of PH for six weeks to work up on the Barking Sands range. 580 was in the yard so all the chiefs got a chance to ride Onslow for a week. Back then Aussie crew was standing 2 0n and 4 off underway. No crews mess. Food brought from galley and eat and sleep in the same mess areas. Also attended a cocktail party onboard. Their skipper was RN and loaner to RAN. He attended Submarine Birthday Ball at the Royal Hawaiian. Lot of drinking back then, he got toasted and ended up sleeping in the closet of our skippers suite. Good times!!

Keep a zero bubble.........


10/15/2010 1:42 PM

Blogger rick said...

Early '92, while we were on-station in the Med, my buddy (and current CO of USS Mesa Verde) Larry and I caught a ride in a SeaLynx off our destroyer and spent a day on HMS Glasgow. We even got to do a rotor-over-loop in the bird, which nearly cost Larry his breakfast.

Upon entering the wardroom, the first words I heard were "Somebody get the Yanks a beer!" I still have a fondness for John Courage Special Pilsner.

We went back to SCOTT (RIP) on the breeches buoy with the Brits providing the tension on the line. Larry and I stayed dry, but they dragged their CHENG for several minutes. In March. Brr.

Once we got back, the XO sent us to our staterooms to sleep off the beer....

10/16/2010 10:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, the is no A_r_abian Gulf mate, all there is, is PERSIAN GULF.
Get your geography right first!!!

10/31/2010 3:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Haven't the Brits ever heard of temporary racks
for the guys who have to sleep in the torpedo room?)"
Look carefully.

11/02/2010 8:12 AM

Anonymous Megan said...

Really helpful information, lots of thanks for your post.

9/14/2012 10:05 AM


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