Earlier today, a friend sent me a request....would I read this cracked article '6 Things Movies Don't Show You About Life on a Submarine', and fact check it...since, you know...been there, done that. I figure, why just do it for him, when I can do it for everyone!
In short(if you want to save half an hour of your life)it's pretty darn accurate, without a lot of hyperbole.
The Training Will Drive You Crazy
Yup...I saw it happen...and as a machinist mate, I had it good...my 'A' School was only 13 weeks(grunt...wrench. grunt...monkey wrench vs. pipe wrench. grunt...centrifugal lube oil purifier.) Electricians had 18 weeks, and then Wire Biters(electronics tech's) had a god awful 26 weeks. Of course, I made up that 13 week difference by going to ELT(engineering laboratory technician) at the end of the pipeline.
And that's what we call it...The Nuclear Training Pipeline. 40 hours of classroom training a week, with anywhere between 15-35 hours of MANDATED study/homework time a week on top of that, depending on your grades. Yes...people stood for hours at the back of the room to avoid the dreaded head bob. When the classroom part is done, you still have 6 months of 12-hour shifts to put in learning the hands on part at one of the Prototypes the Navy has in Ballston Spa, New York or Charleston, South Carolina.
It did drive people crazy. My 'A' School class had 25(I think) in it...8 of us made it to the end as qualified nuclear operators. I remember one guy took a who bottle of Tylenol, he wanted out so bad. He was fine, but it got him the attention to get him out of the program.
Even non-nukes usually had a full year of training before getting to their boat.
What this guy doesn't mention is that the training never ends. On your ship, in port or underway, you have between 3-5 hour of continual training a week, depending on your qualifications(more qualified, more continual training), with a quarterly exam for each of those. Oh...if that training was scheduled while you were supposed to be sleeping? So sad.
They Fuck With the Oxygen
True That. I saw oxygen levels so low you couldn't light a match...but then folks are magically energized for drills and field day.
It's Incredibly Cramped
Yes, and then some. I also was junior enough to start out with a torpedo room rack. It's basically a skid layed out with the little mats kindergarteners use for naps on it. Not a lot of privacy. However...I never saw anyone get stuffed in a tube. That would be a major issue...I have a lenient opinion on hazing...but, going in a tube is a safety issue. As bad as hot racking sucks, the torpedo room love shack was worse(although it feels like the author of this article disagrees with me). Hot racking...I had my own pillow, and I slept on top of the sheets, while the other guys slept between the sheets.
It helps if you can rationalize.
We also had more exercise equipment on our boat...one rowing machine, one stationary bike, and a bowflex machine.
Boy Howdy. When I brought my then betrothed down for a tour, it was the smell that chased her off. As stated...lots of men, lots of diesel, lot's of amine, possible sanitary tank line up issues(we put 700 gallons of sewage in board once....bad day...glad I was senior enough to stay on watch in the engineroom). I had friends, who, upon arriving home, were told to undress in the garage, and then clothes were put in a trash bag, straight to the washing machine. If you had civilian clothes on board for possible port calls, you kept them in a plastic bag with a few dryer sheets, to prevent them from smelling like submarine.
Boredom Leads to Pranking
Hold on...let me look at the statute of limitations.
Okay...bad pranking, and good pranking...and just general stupidity. I once ate a bowl of mayonnaise over a 50 cent bet, and the followed it with a bowl of mustard, double or nothing. Never had to wear lingerie though...trust me...no one wanted that.
A few year ago, one of my buddies ended up in town, and my wife and I took him out for dinner. After listening to an hour of 'usedtoboat' stories, my wife looked at me with a shocked expression and said 'I really don't know you...do I?'
Nope...you will never know another person the way you know someone you have shared two years worth of 6-hour watches with.
Even the Surface Sucks
No keel means sub's don't like being on the surface. Heading out and heading back in was a bad time for a lot of folks...just kind of a slow, side to side roll. And, the water moving in the bilge never matched the rolling of the boat. I never got sea sick, but I'd say about a 3rd of the crew did.
Hey...there were good times, mostly revolving around the guys. I've never associated with a higher caliber group of individuals than I was on my time on the Seawolf.