31 July 2006


One of the strangest things about being on the skimmer* was the idea of not responding to fire drills. On a boat, of course, fires, flooding, and other such events are all-hands affairs, and drills are treated as the real thing – none of that “This is a drill, this is a drill” nonsense you hear on skimmers. On a skimmer, though, they have Damage Control Division, and the Firecracker Team, and other designated damage-control parties, and anyone who isn’t a member of one of these just rolls over and goes back to sleep if he’s wakened in the night by the 1MC calling away disaster on the ship.

On the boat, of course, one of the immediate actions for any casualty is securing ventilation, even before the alarm is called away by Control. Anyone who has spent much time at sea on a submarine becomes attuned to this, and is awakened by the sudden silence as the fans shut down. There’ve been many occasions when I awoke thusly and was already out of the rack, feet on the deck, grabbing for my poopy suit, before the first 1MC announcement.

We don't have AC here where I live now, which kind of sucks in the middle of a CT summer. (Though apparently we don’t have it as bad as some folks at the opposite corner of the country do.) Therefore, the wife and I sleep with a fan right next to the bed. We had a really nice thunderstorm blow through a week or two back. It was just starting up when I went to bed, and I went straight to sleep and slept through all the light and noise coming in through the window. (Nothing like being a good, sound sleeper; that's one reason I occupied the rack I did on all three boats, right next to the head.) Slept through everything, in fact, up until 0145, when lightning hit something, we lost power, the fan shut off - and I was instantly wide awake.

Thought I was done with that nonsense.

* Note for non-Navy readers: “Skimmer” can be used to refer either to a surface ship (also known as a “target”) or to a person who serves on such a vessel. These people often make snide remarks about submariners, “who go out and sink perfectly good ships.” Personally, I never did understand the logic behind going out to sea on something that isn’t designed to come back up again after it sinks….


Madog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Madog said...

If you miss being in a sub, you could always buy one of your own:

or if you want something bigger:

Anonymous said...

That effect is not for sub-sailors only. Us skimmer-p**** have the same problem. On an aircraft carrier I routinely withnessed 135 guys wide awake when the ventilation cut off in our burthing compartment. Plains landing on the roof: no problem! Loss of fan noise: More effective than someone yelling "Attention on desk!"

He who works on big grey things with props under wings.