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MilitaryI am a naval sailor stationed in a submarine...ama.

Jan 16th 2018 by the_torpedoman • 33 Questions • 44 Points

Full disclosure since it would have been too confusing in the title. I am currently stationed at a shore support command for submarines. I have been stationed aboard 3 nuclear subs. I will rotating back to see duty this summer. https://imgur.com/gallery/HCrD8 for proof. Can provide more is needed and practical.

Q:

To your knowledge, has a blue whale ever tried to have sex with a submarine?

Thank you for your time and for answering the important questions.

A:

Wow... Umm no


Q:

What about a sperm whale? Or a humpback whale, or a fin whale or a sei whale? Any whale really.

A:

Just your occasional dependapotomus


Q:

how long are your shifts? do you still use 24hour day?

A:

First boat was 6's with an 18 hour day. Second boat was 24 but we still did 6's like so.. Section 1 0000-0600 Section 2 0600-1200 Section 3 1200-1800 Section 2 1800-2100 Section 3 2100-0000. We would rotate every 3 weeks to mix it up with meals and time awake with drills and casualty responsibilities. Last boat did straight 8's with off-going section providing a 30 minute break in the middle


Q:

What was your favorite arrangement?

A:

I was against 24 hour days like most sub guys were because we are creatures of habit and refuse change and it requires for it to be forced upon us for it to happen. Once I tried it, it was much better than 18 hour days


Q:

Share? Aren't you worried the MPAA will come down on you? Or is it "We have a missile sub, so whatcha gonna do?" :)

A:

MPAA from what I understand can only really track when you share online and that's not an issue underway


Q:

I was sort of joking. They have the same thing with the land forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, with people almost wishing the MPAA would say something. Imagine the backlash if they tried that.

A:

My biggest worry with that though is it someone has something illegal ok there hard drive and it's passed around type thing and it gets on everyone's hard drive.


Q:

Having worked in the Army dealing with deployed people coming back from places like Eastern Europe with kiddie porn on their hard drives, I understand the sentiment.

A:

Yup... And the worst thing is you may never know it's on there


Q:

Do you like being trapped in a tube with a bunch of seamen? How often to you touch seamen?

A:

Refer to Stockholm syndrome analogy. And yes technically we touch seaman everyday, especially waiting in line for chow (food).


Q:

Do you get a lot of variations of that joke?

A:

No, not at all. I do fuck with the new guys though and ask them if they "Have ever taken their pants off and run backwards through a corn field"


Q:

What about, umm, "alone time?"

A:

Can't speak for the boats with women on board but they do have separate berthings, just try and ninja it in your rack. https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--c330FqRg--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/1303990277245643333.jpg. Did have a guy crawl into a torpedo tube one time to do an inspection of components inside and after about 5 minutes i was like "WTF is he doing" and yep, in there cranking one out. Thought is was funny as hell.


Q:

Whats the deepest you've ever been under?

How does it feel, physically & mentally, to be that deep under water in a tube.

(Maybe a dumb question but) Are there like big viewing windows or areas to see out of? Or maybe a big screen?

A:

From Wikipedia "The U.S. Navy gives the maximum operating depth of the Los Angeles class as 650 ft (200 m)" so i will gladly confirm that number but remember that that is a widely published number..... At first it took some getting used too but after a while its like Stockholm syndrome and you kind of learn to love your capture. You try not to focus on it because you will start to lose your mind. Sea Story time!! We had an issue with a hull valve that the Skipper didn't want to believe the crew on what the issue was so he had a civilian tech rep fly out to evaluate the situation while we were underway (civilians make big bucks when they do this so there is never a hunt to find people). This guy was only supposed to be on board for 1-2 days and he ended up staying for about 5-6 days and this guy about lost his damn mind. He couldn't hand being inside with no sunlight and just stopped talking and interacting. (important to mention we didnt find out it was giong to be longer until he was supposed to get off and it kept adding on one day at a time which really fucked with him). It got to the point where he would wait at the bottom of the hatch for about 6 hours with his bag waiting to get off. We found it quite funny. There is technically a window but you cant see shit out of it. The torpedo tube has a glass on it that when the torpedo tube is filled with water looks red so if you lose electronic idications you dont open the tube and try to drain water into the "people tank". We were off of the coast of Guam a few hundred feet down and if you looked just right through the glass you could see light from the sea water. It was very dim and not much to look at but it was still neat. Also to note that the muzzle door (outer door) to the torpedo tube was open.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Gantry? Yes SSBNs have 2 and fast attacks have 1. We had an asshole cook put an entire sea bag (40+ pounds of cloths) packed this thing tight to was a load and broke it day one of a 3 week underway. That sucked, had to really ration your clothes. Food is not bad as long as you hit port. After a while, its all frozen or canned food and it gets old. Getting food from the Philippines is always really fun because that have some weird stuff there like this pink ice cream with gummies it that no one knows what flavor it is.


Q:

Coolness. I was in the air community (as an IT) and got out in 2013.

A:

How's life on the outside?


Q:

Lots of appointments and groups at my local VA and taking care of a five year old boy.

A:

I'm lost with that statement but good luck with the VA. Most people i know who use the VA have no complaints. There isnt any success stories in the news for the VA just the bad ones. Granted, the bad ones are really bad though.


Q:

I’m not really complaining, is just that a lot of my time involves being there.

A:

They are good at that. Nothing like bureaucracy to waste time.


Q:

Thanks for doing this iama :)

I know pretty much nothing about the US Navy, but I'm about to read The Last Ship by William Brinkley. Have you read it? I'm curious as to whether the book would ring true to someone who has actually served on a nuclear vessel. Having been written in 1988, I would guess the technology in the book is dated, but maybe the experiences of the Navy and life at sea have not changed so very much.

Speaking of books, are e-readers like Kindles incredibly popular among the crew? Having hundreds of books packed into one slim volume seems pretty ideal in a situation where space is almost as limited as internet access.

Finally, why in the world are you using your time ashore to answer our questions? ;)

A:

I have not read that book. I bet the tech in the book isnt that dated. Read this article, i think you would like it-https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1959/01/admiral-rickovers-gamble/308436/. It talks about the first reactor built. E readers are really big for the guys who like to read. I bring my kindle every underway. Most guys have tablets to watch movies and tv shows on. I am here because Reddit is my family and my real family hates me. That you for the thought but i am currently on shore duty at a sub support command so i have some free time. I will rotate back to a sub this summer.


Q:

Thanks for using your free time on us and thank you so much for sharing that article. Even just reading about the first test voyage of Nautilus was intense. I can't imagine the pressure the crew must've been under (no pun intended). Any idea if that crew would have volunteered for the job?

A:

I doubt it. Most military tech is pioneered by civilians under military guidance. Rickover was very big on not cutting corners and wanted this tech on subs.


Q:

i'm curious about how many people too.

A:

About 150 and usually 140 underway. Some people are left behind for one reason or another like going to a military training school etc


Q:

Have you ever been on a Brit boat? If so what did you think?

A:

No. I've toured an Australian boat though


Q:

And what did you think?

A:

It was a diesel but it was different which was neat. They don't go out to sea much do there is that.


Q:

Do your ears pop on subs when they dive to the 'maximum' of 200m? Are they pressurized in a similar way as airplanes are?

A:

Pressurized but it can happen if the shop is using lots of air from the air Banks and you can get a massive pressure on the ship. We've had a 4" pressure before and that was uncomfortable to say the least.


Q:

if you had to retro-fit a submarine for recreational luxury cruising, what major changes would you make? aside from ginger, what's the most effective remedy for nausea that is consensus among crew?

A:

Nothing luxury about a sea going vessel with no real windows but getting rid of a lot of the antiquated servers and make room for lounging and storage for personal gear. Sea sickness only really happens on or near the surface. If it's bad we just go deeper.


Q:

are the servers still running windows? there were reports of major failures attributed to military vessels running windows years back.

A:

Boats are finally getting windows 7.. Yeah!


Q:

You guys have a degausser like the one in Georgia (St Simon's Island, I think)? Can you talk a little about it and how it works?

A:

No idea. All I know is a pain in the ass when boats go there


Q:

How often do people get NJP/captains mast? I can't image it happens much with no alcohol, no sex/women, no negligent discharge, and no one going awol or not showing up on time. I was on the kearsarge for a couple months, and a few smaller ones and it was crazy how often everyone was getting into trouble. How often are people not on time, and how do they handle it? Do you have to shave? More specifically do they still do beard contests? Did you ever have to work in the kitchen or how is that rotation handled?

A:

We will perform captains mast underway for actions that have happened inport i.e. drunk shenanigans etc. Underway actions are primarily integrity issues like saying you did maintenance when you didnt or stuff like that. Maybe a hand full a year but it also depends on the command climate and stuff like that. On longer underways the command will sometimes authorize the purchase of "no shave" chits to act as a fundraiser to parties and the like. Most commands have beard contests at the end of deployments. I have had to work in the galley (kitchen) and it is affectionatly known as cranking. You mostly just wash dishes and smash (compact) trash. It happens within your first year or 2 on board and you do a few weeks there and then a few weeks with your division. Back in the day you would do 180+ days straight but it seems like more and more boats are getting away from that. It varies from command to command.


Q:

1) It’s safe to say we own the seas and if necessary could destroy every enemy vessel in the entire ocean right? 2) Do our subs “play games” with enemy subs where you try to find them and follow them without being spotted right?

A:

Our sonar and torpedoes are still some of the most reliably advanced weapons out there and we do have many nuclear subs in many oceans at any given time. Every 2 year there is the largest naval exercise in the world called RIMPAC that takes place in Hawaii with over 26 visiting countries all bringing multiple vessels to include a few submarines for exercises.


Q:

After all that training did they ever teach you the difference between see and sea?

A:

Auto-correct fail


Q:

What do you guys have to drink on subs and how hard is it to get into subs?

A:

Water, milk and crystal lights type drink dispenser. Nothing fancy just mix and and put it in and it keeps it cold. Older boat same concept http://www.ssbn658.org/Media/bugjuice.jpg. Getting into submarines wasnt that hard IMO but there are several things medically that can disqualify you.


Q:

What medical things could disqualify you from subs if I may ask?

A:

Lots of criteria. BUMED Article 15-106. PM me for something more specific.


Q:

take care of the people working under you. i cannot stress this enough

A:

I'm just a dirty enlisted but it all depends on your specialty. If you do not mind what is it? I have served with a doctor who enlisted after 25 years of ER doctor. But he followed seal teams around for good reason.


Q:

Any insight as to what happened with the Navy and all their accidents last year?

A:

Funny you mention that...I was "randomly" selected to participate in a Navy IG (investigative general) survey and my biggest complaints were parts, manning, optempo. If you decided full funding to one of those then the other two could manage but we're struggling on all 3. Navy is severely undermanned.


Q:

Do you get internet on the sub? How long are your missions? How long into those mission before you all start blowing each other?

A:

No internet and that is actually one of the biggest recruitment hurdles to get young guys to go into submarines. Tell them that they wont have internet or social media for 3+ months at a go and that is a big nope for them. Aside from the standard gay jokes and all that, sex doesnt really happen on board (even with the crew members who are gay). Not worth the risk of getting caught. Everyone kind of knows everyone's business. Dependence cruises on the other hand (familys can go underway) is a whole different story. So much going on with the additional people on board it is east to lose track. A good buddy of mine is convinced his child was conceived on one. I also like to tell people "Being on a submarine is just one big long gay joke with no punch line. Fast attacks will do a 6 month deployment with local operations between deployments (short underways for training) while SSBN's will do nominally 90 days without pulling in. Buddy of mine on a fast attacks most recent deployment was 6 months with only 2 (3) day port calls that were both US ports so the boat was royally pissed. no fun for them.


Q:

A good buddy of mine is convinced his child was conceived on one.

I hope he's confident the child is, indeed, his ;)

A:

The joke for the sub guys it's you're either home for the conception of the birth, never both.