Old Submarine Sailor

This courtesy of a real-life old Submarine Sailor:An old Submarine Sailor walked into a bar, sat down and ordered a drink. As he did so, a young woman entered and sat down next to him. She turned to the Submariner, saw his dolphins and asked, "Are you a real Submarine Sailor?"He said, "Well, my father, two brothers and a third cousin were on boats. I've spent my whole life riding boats. Snorkeling, deep dives, diesel boats, nuclear power, Med runs, Northern runs, FBM patrols, Arctic runs, SPECOPS, WESTPACs, runs to the Caribbean, Halifax, Faslane, Holy Loch, Rota, Guam, been on the Blue Crew, the Gold Crew, the other crew, done 90-day patrols, six-month deployments, two-a-days, been through the Ditch, across the Equator, under the ice, and up to the Pole, been to Pearl, Yokosuka, Guam, La Madd, Fort Lauderdale, San Juan, tracked Russkies, dodged P-3s, been depth-charged, torpedoed, tracked with active sonar, detected by SOSUS, I've built them, decommissioned them, overhauled them, re-commissioned them, I'm a Blue Nose and a Shellback, I've blown from test depth, gone Emergency Deep, rode Tridents, 688s, 637s, 594s, Skipjack and Franklin class, done drug runs, liquor runs, crazy Ivans, been in trail, used a Steinke hood, been through the tower, dodged Russian air power, fought flooding, fires, reactor scrams, stood watch on the BCP, SCP, EPCP, GDU and TDU. I got dolphins, a combat patrol pin, deterrent patrol pin and a DBF pin tattooed on my chest, got THRESHER on my left arm, SCORPION on the right, missiles on my back, and twin counter-rotating screws on my ass. I've drunk beer at the Horse and Cow, Scotch in Dunoon, wine in Naples, puked at Beamans, ate chili at SUBVETS and I ain't missed a SUBBALL since 1952, so yes: I guess I am a Submarine Sailor."The young woman said, "I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about women."The two sat sipping their drinks in silence.A little while later, a man sat down on the other side of the old Submariner, looked at his dolphins and asked, "Are you a real Submarine Sailor?"He replied, "I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian."


quinn 18 years, 1 month ago

Thanks to both of you fellas for the kind words, and also thanks for not pointing out that it's a wretched joke.

I must also admit that I do not know the origin of "puked at Beaman's," although I might vy well have puked at Beaman's, wherever or whatever it is, during some long-ago port call. And the joke omits many significant submarine connections and references, including the Navy Van That Mysteriously Went Off The Pier In Charleston That One Night After Gene Accidentally Broke The Window.

We were tied up for a short port call at an isolated pier at the Naval Weapons Station and had the use of a service van provided by the station. The duty driver was transporting a collection of HAMILTON sailors back to the boat after a night of in-depth social research. He was a brand-new non-rate--or so I am told, because of course I was not present for this event, or any other event that might lead to criminal charges, then or now, no matter what anyone says (the photos are fakes)--and when Gene, a vy senior petty officer, accidentally smashed a side window while gesticulating during a particularly exciting sea story, the duty driver became vy agitated and expressed concern that he would be held responsible for Damage to Government Property.

"I'll take care of it," Gene said. "Not to worry."

The next morning we cast off and went to sea for a month, never to return to the Weapons Station, and in the hustle and bustle of getting underway, no one noticed that the van wasn't at its usual place at the end of the pier. A couple of weeks later the XO, not vy happy, told us that the van had been pulled out of the water off the Weapons Station pier and wondered if p'haps we knew how it got there.

But of course we didn't.

lazz 18 years, 1 month ago

So, buried within a joke is how much previously classified info? Blue Crew, the Gold Crew, the other crew"

Gotta ask ... what's what, and what's the other crew?

quinn 18 years, 1 month ago

Well, in the '60s it was all classified, but most submarine info (x design and operational specs) was publicly available by the 1980s. The most sensitive info ref'd in the above was prolly SOSUS and "Northern runs," both of which remained highly classified for years.

A "deep dive" is any very deep dive but usually a dive to "test depth," which is the maximum depth for which the boat is warranted, "diesel boats" are submarines that rely on diesel engines for propulsion and must surface every day or so, as opposed to "nuke boats," which contain a nuclear reactor and are capable of remaining continuously submerged for months. A "Med run" is an extended deployment with Sixth Fleet, which is the force that maintains the Mediterranean Sea as an American lake, "Northern runs" were highly classified intel ops against Soviet forces in the northern Pacific ocean, "FBM patrols" are the so-called "deterrent patrols" undertaken by missile submarines; FBM stands for "Fleet Ballistic Missile." SPECOPS is any "Special Operation," usually an intel op, a WESTPAC is a many-month-long deployment to the western Pacific, Faslane is an English NATO submarine base, Holy Loch is the Scottish inlet that Winston Churchill once described as "the finest deep-water harbor on Earth" and that for many years played home to an American missile submarine squadron, as did Rota, a harbor in Spain, and the island of Guam in the Pacific.

My boat, ALEXANDER HAMILTON, operated out of Holy Loch, not far from Faslane, where I and some shipmates once got into a disgusting drinking contest with a group of British sailors, resulting in all of us being thrown out of a now-forgotten but large number of bars.

Missile submarines are designed to be at sea more or less continuously, and hence are manned by two alternating crew, Blue and Gold. "Two-a-days" are short, half-day sorties usually for the benefit of ROTC cadets, midshipmen or crew families. The Ditch is the Panama Canal, "under the ice" means operating under the polar ice cap, "La Madd" is the navy base at La Maddelena in Sardinia, "P-3s" are US P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, SOSUS is a widely distributed array of passive underwater microphones that permits the Navy to track maritime traffic (both submerged and on the surface) 24/7.

I served on HAMILTON's Blue Crew for four years. "The other crew" is just that, the other crew, and they're always responsible for whatever goes wrong on a missile boat. My service was restricted to the Atlantic and I never transited the Canal, but I was under the ice more than once and we were no doubt occasionally detected by SOSUS, as we operated in several SOSUS areas in the north Atlantic.

quinn 18 years, 1 month ago

A Shellback is someone who has crossed the Equator (a Golden Dragon is someone who has crossed the International Date Line), a Blue Nose is someone who has crossed the Arctic Circle. To "blow from test depth" is to blow ballast tanks from the boat's deepest permitted depth, a rocket ride to the roof, and "Emergency Deep" is a rehearsed step-increase in depth, usually to avoid detection or a torpedo. "Tridents, 688s, 637s:etc." are all nuclear submarine classes. A "crazy Ivan" was a Soviet tactic for detecting trailing American submarines that consists of an abrupt 180-degree turn followed by a high-speed transit in the direction opposite that which the boat had been travelling; it's a prominent plot device in HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. "In trail" is being directly behind another submarine, usually covertly, a Steinke hood is a survival hood designed to allow sailors exiting a disabled submarine at depth to make it to the surface, "the tower" is the swimming tower at Submarine School in Groton, a "reactor scram" is an emergency reactor shutdown, the BCP is the Ballast Control Panel, where the Chief of the Watch controls the boat's trim, the SCP is the Ship's Control Panel, where the helmsman and planesman drive the boat, the EPCP is the Electric Plant Control Panel, GDU ("Garbage Disposal Unit") and TDU ("Trash Disposal Unit") are two names for the same system, which compresses the ship's solid waste and sends it to the bottom.

I'm a Blue Nose twice over. HAMILTON was a LAFAYETTE-class boat. I never believed in Steinke hoods and didn't know anyone who did. My training sequence spared me the tower. I stood brief familiarization watches on the BCP and SCP, but was not qualified at either watchstation. I stood many, many watches on the EPCP and participated in too many reactor scrams to count. I also stood a brief familiarization watch on the TDU, widely regarded as the worst duty station on the ship, but generally the TDU operator was a junior non-rate still earning his dolphins.

"Dolphins" are the blouse pin awarded to sailors who have qualified as submariners, a combat patrol pin was issued to sub sailors in WWII for combat patrols, a deterrent patrol pin is issued today to recognize deterrent patrols, and "DBF" stands for Diesel Boats Forever, a sentiment very prominent in the 1960s/1970s Navy, as the new nuclear technology turned the submarine world upside-down. THRESHER and SCORPION are the only two US nuke boats ever lost at sea; both went down with all hands. "Counter-rotating screws" are two screws-propellors-turning in opposite directions. The Horse and Cow is a celebrated submarine bar in San Diego, Dunoon is a small Scottish town on Holy Loch, SUBVETS is an annual submarine sailors' reunion, as is the Submariners' Ball, held every year in Pearl Harbor and for many years emceed by former submarine support sailor Bernard Schwartz, better known as Tony Curtis.

18 years, 1 month ago

AAAAKKK, I meant Patrick, not David. Sorry for (my) confusion. I was a little tired last night when I wrote, but I meant it...

I like yours, too, David, so don't feel left out...

David Ryan 18 years, 1 month ago

I heart Patrick Quinn and his encyclopedic brain. Try watching a documentary with him -- nearly any documentary on any subject -- and he'll be a good 4 steps ahead of the narrator, always.

David Ryan 18 years, 1 month ago

Oh -- forgot. In all your explanations, what are lesbians?

18 years, 1 month ago

I just want to let you know how muchO I enjoy your blog. Cheers, David.

kentaro 18 years ago

Try watching anything with Quinno and Ryan. After a while you feel like you are inside an Coen Brothers movie. Been there done that.

medtec99 18 years ago

I was on the Alexander Hamilton Gold Crew during the early eighties. Do you remember Eno from the Blue Crew?

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