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May 4, 2006

Memories of my first submarine

I was digging through my huge Rubbermaid box and found a memo pad from my first boat, circa 1990. Most of memo book, affectionately referred to the pocket brain, was falling apart and still had the smell of amine, the chemical in the submarine's atmosphere used to take out moisture. This keeps electrical components free of humidity as well as making your nose as dry as a box of Triscuits.

There were 3 entries under Funny/Disgusting things that happened. It immediately caught my attention and I now share a day in the life of a submariner.

1. Karl Kreulach pulled my pen out of the shitter.
This may sound disgusting but what made it funny to us all was the fact that I still had a turd in the shitter. For those of not familiar with fast attack submarine toilets I must go into their design for just a moment. The shitters are stainless steel and the flushing mechanism is a handle that opens a ball valve at the bottom of the bowl. A pressurized tank pushes seawater through the pipes and into the shitter which is then released into a sanitary tank when the ball valve is opened.

My pen had fallen out of my coveralls as I was pulling them back up and I was trying to figure out what to do. Flushing the pen was out of the question as it would inevitably clogged the sanitary pump used to discharge the sanitary tanks contents overboard. Plus, if any of the Machinist Mates found out they would beat my ass.

Karl stormed into the stall, pushed my turd out of the way and picked up my pen. He tried to give it to me but I told him to just throw it away.

2. Mike Holmes shoved a pencil up his ass and the XO sniffed it.
This statement seems unbelievable but the amplifying information will soon put it into context.

Mike Holmes was a Radioman and I saw him come to control from Radio, grab a pencil off the Quartermaster's plot (contains the chart which shows where we are), and disappear back into Radio. I was standing watch on the fathometer and saw the whole thing unfold before my tired eyes.

A few minutes later Mike returned and without saying a word clandestinely put the pencil back on the plot and shut the Navigation Center door behind him. I looked at the red plastic window on the door and could see 3 or 4 different heads all jockeying for position to get a look at the pencil.

I didn't know what was going on yet but when the eyes saw me looking at the pencil one of the Nav-ET's came out and told me not to say anything but "...Mikey just shoved that pencil up his ass.. up to the pointed lead part." The guy went back to the other space and closed the door.

As Murphy's Law would have it, the Executive Officer (XO) came out to control to make his rounds. He looked at the sounding on the fathometer and told me to keep an eye on it- the civilian equivalent of the CEO coming up behind you as you are filling out your TPS Report and says, "Don't forget to fill out your TPS Report."

The XO made his way to the plot and picked up the tainted pencil and started tapping it on the chart as he went over the ship's track with scrutinizing detail. He eventually had the pencil scratching something on his scalp.

The tension was building behind the door with the red window.

In slow motion, like Hasselhoff running out the water on Baywatch, the pencil made its way to the side of the face for a few taps and then, at the crescendo of the movement, became horizontal and moved directly beneath the XO's nostrils.

The next thing that happened could be recorded in the prestigious annuls of submarine practical jokes. The look of disgust on that man's face could have been the finale of a "Priceless" commercial; the pencil was tossed onto the plot and the XO ran away to his stateroom, undoubtedly aware of what had just happened.

Pandemonium and guffaws erupted from the other side of the door with the red window.

3. Phipps knocked Securo out with the water tight door.
Kai Phipps wasn't a smart man but neither was Securo, an overweight and obnoxious IC man. Securo was on the forward end of the only water tight door on the L.A. (water tight like the doors on submarine movies with the wheel that tightens the door against the bulkhead to keep flooding water out) and Phipps was on the after end walking forward. Securo was seated on the steps next to the WT door (for some reason), the equivalent of sitting at the bottom of an escalator, and as Phipps started turning the handle on the other side to open it the handle on Securo's side swung around in a counterclockwise motion and knocked Securo unconscious.

Phipps completely opens the door and steps through to see this lump of shit lying on the floor. Phipps kicks him to wake him up, not knowing what had just happened. Eventually Securo comes to just as someone is sent to get the Corpsman- the blood on the floor next to Securo's head was the bellringer something had happened.

This wasn't the last time Securo would get a KO. He was at the bottom of the forward escape trunk when, from 15 feet above, a rubber mallet was accidentally kicked into the hatch. The mallet dropped and hit Securo square on his mellon.


  1. can't remember where the sanitary pump was located. where san tanks still "hard" tanks and could either be pumped or blown?
    688 sailor

  2. Yep, still the same. I can vividly recall numerous times the tanks would be pressurized and some clod would open the shitter ball valve, leaving a spray of poop all over him, the stall, the overhead, and anyone near the open shitter stall door.

  3. OMG thank you. I laughed my ass off at the XO and the pen. This reminded me of all the antics that went on on my boat. Fortunately for me(and others on my boat), I was on a Trident and we had regular flushing toilets.

  4. Haha, we had a guy named Dugan on our boat in the early '80s. He was an accident waiting to happen. One day in port we were loading TDU weights, chain-gang style. If I remember right, those boxes weighed 30-40 pounds each. Dugan was standing at the bottom of the forward ladder. The guy at the top of the ladder accidently dropped the box, and it fell 15 feet to land on Dugan's head. The blow dropped him to his knees, but amazingly, didn't knock him out. Another time we were doing field day in the Nav Center, and Dugan was cleaning around the base of a chair. The chair seat was in the tender's upholstery shop for repair, and only the steel seat frame and the support post where it attached to the floor remained. The seat height was adjustable and was spring loaded. Anyway, Dugan was on his hands and knees cleaning with his face over the steel frame, and he hit the spring release. Bam! The seat frame shot up and hit him square in the head. I'm sure he still has the scar to this day. The last thing I remember about Dugan was that day he blew the shitter on himself. He forgot the sanitary tank (San 1?) was pressurized because it was being blown out to sea, so he opened the flush valve to flush. Whoosh! He told us about it right after it happened and asked what he should do. I told him he had to clean it up! I grabbed my camera to record the event for posterity. I found the pictures again just a few months ago. There's Dugan with a yellow sponge in his hand, and you can see shit and toilet paper hanging on the walls and ceiling. Haha, great fun.

  5. LMAO! I was an A-Ganger on a 688. We were late getting underway and it was my turn to blow sanitaries. I half-assed the line up so I could start the blow. Once it was started, I finished, hanging signs on the doors to the heads, etc. I was in the hole watching the level gage and it was taking FOREVER. So, I pushed the pressure up a little, about 10 PSI. Level gage was moving a little faster. I thought, "Well, if it will take 10 PSI, certainly it will take 15 PSI." To make a very long story short, there I was blowing sanitaries at 40 PSI. The gage was flying as the tanks were emptying their contents to a receiving truck on the pier. Then all the sudden, the pressure gage dropped to zero. All I could think of was that the hose had blown off the side of the boat and there was a fountain of shit spraying bursting from the boat. I sat in the hold waiting for the top side watch to call down but the call never came... I started walking the line up to make sure everything was as it should be. It was... That is until I got to the mid-ship's head! I opened the door and was greeted by an M-Div NUB covered in shit and toilet paper! His OBA glasses were hanging off of one ear and he had toilet paper stuck to his face. He was wandering around in shock, pants still around his ankles. It was all I could do to keep from laughing and giving away that the signs may, or may not have been hung before he entered the shitter. I chewed him out for not checking the signs before he flushed. I told him we were getting underway in less than 30 minutes so he had better move his ass and get everything cleaned up before we tied up to the tugs.

    To this day, I feel terrible about the incident. But I still can't help but laugh myself silly every time I think about that shocked look on his face.