View Full Version : Submarines

9th May 2003, 04:46
While watching "the hunt for the Red October" the other night,it happpened again, as it seems to happen to all underwater craft.
The sub goes too deep, or gets damaged, a steam pipe ruptures, crew quickley shut off steam using handy valve next to leak, all is well. Except, WHAT does that bloody pipe do ???. The engines don't stop. No-one calls up from the back of the boat shouting "who turned off the f**k**g heating". Does anyone Know.

tony draper
9th May 2003, 04:55
I would imagine in real life as opposed to the movies steam circuits are duplicated as are the electrics, if one gets damaged it can be re-routed, don't think anybody would be to keen to get close to a leaking superheated steam line though, I say that as somebody who stuck his arm agin a uninsulated live steam pipe on a ship once. :(

PS, I like those control panels on starships, submarines ect, that explode in lovely pyrotechic firework displays for some reason, I guess they never heard of breakers and trips on those vessels, although me puter PSU did explode a bit like that once.

9th May 2003, 05:03
Never mention the Chinese Navy.

Python, Monty, after

Tricky Woo
9th May 2003, 05:24
He's right, you know... every bloody submarine movie involves a leaky boat that spurts water in jets from the sides at 5,000 feet, especially after a few depth charges explode around it. Then the bloke with tattoos and muscles simply tightens a few bolts, and the bloody thing stops leaking.

Happens every time.

What I wanna know, is if the bolts stop the leaks at 5,000 feet, but the boat is only rated to 4,000 feet, then why the bloody hell didn't the builders make sure all the damn bolts were dead tight before it even left the shipyard?

Then they could split the difference, and rated the boat down to 4,500 feet. And then the bloody producers would insist on the same scene at 5,500 feet. Ad nauseum...


Captain: "Midshipman Woo, why're you tightening all the bolts before we even leave the dock?"

Woo: "Cos I'd rather have an easy life later when the destroyer depth-charges us. While the rest of you are running about in the red lit shadows, deafened by the klaxon, putting out electrical fires and the like, you'll notice the boat's not leaking for once."

Captain: "Pretty smart... what'll you be doing then?"

Woo: "Well, after I've tightened these here bolts, my job's pretty much done for this voyage... so I think I'll spend the mission sat at the whorehouse by the side of the dock. My heart will be with you all, of course."

Captain: "Er..."



9th May 2003, 05:56
Are there any submarines in The Swiss Navy?

9th May 2003, 06:02
No, no, no. You are failing to understand the dramatic impact that is required of these spurting pipes, crucial to the plot of the movie. Submarines are specifically designed to enable secondary actors to close off valves, effect repairs to leaky pipes, and - if required - heroically shut the water tight door as the compartment they are in fills to the top with icy cold sea water, with the ensuing consequences.

Nice scenario Tricky, but you wouldn't make it in Hollywood as a script doctor ;)


Onan the Clumsy
9th May 2003, 07:42
What about ..ping.. Voyage to the Bottom ..ping.. of the Sea where ..ping.. when they got deapthcharged ..ping.. the boat would rock ..ping.. from side to side and ..ping.. all the control panels would ..ping.. explode, except they didn't rock the ..ping.. boat, just the camera and there..ping.. was always one actor who was slightly out of ..ping.. step with the rest of the cast.

9th May 2003, 07:58
I believe the record number of rock-a-byes in a show was seven (we used to count them).

9th May 2003, 08:06
Hilico - I hope you are feeling better now. Is the medication working? (ping)

9th May 2003, 10:59
... and what's with those white, chunky knit polo jumpers they all wear? All that facial hair and coarse wool must set up some dreadful skin conditions, and as for the level of perspiration, well...

Onan the Clumsy
9th May 2003, 13:15
What game do submariners play during their breaks?


:* :ouch:

Send Clowns
9th May 2003, 22:01
Actually Reynolds the RN still issues white "submariners' jumpers". They smell awfully of mothballs.

And Tricky, you obviously never attended a NBCD lecture (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare and Damage control - connected issues in a warship). It is vital that pre-emptive damage control measures are not taken, as they will simply lead to further damage to the ship (or, in this case, boat). Of course any piping at all would be duplicated (or often a ring main) for damage tolerance, closing off a couple of valves would often solve the problem.

Buster Hyman
9th May 2003, 22:20
And why don't they have windows? That'd allow them to steer around the depth charges...surely? They had front "waterscreen" on the sub in Voyage to the Bottom of the sea (I wonder if the wipers were any good?) so it must be possible!!:rolleyes:

9th May 2003, 22:30
I believe some of the Russian fleet have windows, at least it looks like the Kursk (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2247421.stm) did, in the conning tower. Don't think it would help much with depth charges tho'...


no sponsor
9th May 2003, 23:14

The windows were in the conning tower that is not accessible from the main pressure hull once under water - I think those windows were for lazy commanders like myself who would say 'Right Mid Woo, up outside and test the air temperature at our polar ice station." Meanwhile Cmdr No Sponsor is sipping hot tea, and wiping the ice from the interior of the window...

What about all those bursting hull rivets that pop out when they go beyond a certain depth - and hit the extras? Strange how the needles always show the unattainable depth: like my mini metro that has 120 mph on it...

9th May 2003, 23:20
Speaking of the Swiss Navy, they're going to have that America's Cup yachting thingy next time, no?

9th May 2003, 23:20
Thanks no sponser but you raise even more fascinating questions! So if the conning tower isn't reachable from the main pressure hull when under water, why is this? If it's not at the same pressure why does it not indeed implode. If it is at the same pressure as the main hull why is it inaccessable? Or is the conning tower flooded to below the windows? If not, then why not surface and have said Mid Woo go out the deck hatch to test said air while Cmdr No Sponser watches from the window...


Biggles Flies Undone
9th May 2003, 23:25
And what is the still air speed of the swallow?

tony draper
10th May 2003, 00:45
I beleive the Swiss do have one submarine on that lake thingy they got there, built by that Beeb chappie who still holds the underwater ballooning record.
Swisss submainers are issued with a special Swiss army knife with a thingy for shutting off leaks in steam pipes.

Noah Zark.
10th May 2003, 01:00
My uncle used to shoot submarines down in W.W.2. When they were on patrol in their little sub-hunter, and knew a u-boat was close by, they would pour 45 gallon drums of blue and green paint over the side.
This, being oil-based, would form a thin film on the water, and when the u-boat commander went up to periscope depth, the blue and green paint would smear across the pericope lens, and the commander, thinking they were still too deep, would call out "go up another fifty feet", and when they were 300ft. in the air, uncle and his mates used to shoot them down. Easy!

tony draper
10th May 2003, 01:12
That is excellent Mr Zark, even a person with a twisted mind such as wot Draper posseses would be hard put to think that one up.

simon brown
10th May 2003, 01:20
Reminds me of Ice Station Zebra when down on the bottom 300' beyond max depth, the entire crew are all crowded round a conveniently large depth gauge witha special "audience appreciative" red line on it to signify "danger" .Just to add to the tension theres always some wallah that states "we are taking 90 tons to the square inch" whilst some young sea men starts cracking up. Patrick Mcgoohan has one of his tantrums and Rock Hudson thanks the electric boat division for building such a good vessel......all standard submariners fayre

Anthony Carn
10th May 2003, 02:18
Should've used red and blue paint, Mr Noah Zark.

Then there'd have been lots of u-boats marooned at sea.


10th May 2003, 03:33
Who are you all kidding. These sub movies are all totally fake. If they were real, when a leak sprung, someone would pull out a big roll of duct tape (grey of course) and wrap it around the leak 400 times. End of problem. I have never met a problem on a ship I couldn't fix with a big roll of duct tape. Buy some Now:ok:

10th May 2003, 03:48
And how come the alarm Klaxon sounds the same in more or less every sub?

And if there is an enemy ship overhead, how come all the crew have to be quiet? Couldnt they just all wear slippers?

And how come U-571 is such a bad film?


Noah Zark.
10th May 2003, 03:58
And when they show you a torpedo being launched from the handy camera position just for'ard of the bow you can see the wire pulling it along? (I thought they were supposed to be wire-guided, not wire towed!)

tony draper
10th May 2003, 04:14
The first submarine ever had oars and was rowed under the Thames, just something else we invented.
Invented by a Geordie called Cornelious Van Drebble.

10th May 2003, 05:27
U boat crews in WW2 (Not on my side, but brave nevertheless) had the highest casualty rate of all, or so I am told.

But what really gets to me is the fact that no crew member was allowed to wash more than his hands on a four week voyage, nor was he allowed to change his clothes.

On return to base the smell on opening the hatch must have ben quite something!

tony draper
10th May 2003, 06:24
I had a mate who did time on the Polaris boats, he said they used to puke up when they first cracked the Hatch coming back up the Clyde , they had been breathing canned air for that long the real stuff tasted feckin awful.

Anthony Carn
10th May 2003, 16:24
Quote - ".............no crew member was allowed to wash more than his hands on a four week voyage, nor was he allowed to change his clothes."

I'm a natural for that job, then. :}

10th May 2003, 17:25
For those not familiar, be advised that the Swiss Unterseeboot Corps does most of their training at the bottom of Lake Feldschloessen, which is usually quite visible from the banks of the Limmat.

Buster Hyman
10th May 2003, 21:16
On return to base the smell on opening the hatch must have ben quite something!

I guess you've never opened the door of an OA 742 after a looong flight from ATH then raptor?:yuk: :yuk:

Now, WRT sub depths, has no one seen the Abyss? (Ed Harris, the thinking mans bald actor!:ok: ) You just go deeper! Simple!;)

Tricky Woo
11th May 2003, 01:00
Mr Zark's strategy for shooting down U-Boats is rather brilliant.

Bravo, I say, to his cunning uncle. If more of our chaps had thought up such brilliant strategies, the war could have been over by Christmas.

Christmas 1949, that is.


11th May 2003, 05:45
Reg, you didn't leave the shower running again? Did you?

Onan the Clumsy
11th May 2003, 12:17
I saw a documentary on French television once shot onboard a Russian sub. It was very interesting, especially the part where it showed the sauna was the biggest room on the boat. They followed the crew home (all this was subtitled in French (like THAT helped me)) and the Captain was welcomed by his beautiful wife and family.

The No 2 went home to an apartment that was so horrible, it looked like it was in Liverpool, not Murmansk. His missus met him at the door and the subtitles stopped. They weren't really necessary as the shaking finger and loud voice was an international language. I wish I had taped it - I could have learned some useful Russian.

Poor [email protected]

12th May 2003, 06:44
And how come U-571 is such a bad film?

I thought it was quite a good ripping yarn, and the crealky, dripping sound track was excellent - mind you, I never thought it was a documentary either....

Buster Hyman
12th May 2003, 09:38
The only real problem for ripping yarns like U571, Pearl Harbour & Ned Kelly (for example) is that the young & the gullible take them as gospel that these were the actual events.:(

12th May 2003, 09:47
Well, I once served....more visited, actually, for half an hour or so....in a real submarine, and I can tell you that boat leaked when doubled up fore and aft alongside the jetty. No spiders, though, none that I saw.

12th May 2003, 16:27
While doing time at Haslar I was lucky enough to have some oppos in a T boat in Dolphin, many a lost hour was due to 'Uckers' a form of Ludo using submariner G&T's. These were playing pieces that consisted of tumblers of gin with a tonic bottle waved quickly over. A 'confused' memory of cramped spaces tiny wardroom and gigantic hospitality.
It was at about this time that the 'spread legs' appeared on the uniform, a badge that consisted of two dolphins that looked a bit like the Copenhagen mermaid in a very compromising position.

I did see something to the effect that the U-boat crews got a special ration of 4711 Cologne which they invariably kept for bribery ashore. I can just imaging the pretty young Frauline saying 'thanks for the Cologne but do you mind moving back a bit and standing downwind.' Brave guys them submariners

12th May 2003, 23:21
Submariners are special. Alone amongst mariners they shun the surface, seldom see a star or take a sight of the sun and amidst the limitless freedom of the seas they live and work in cramped, humid steel tubes, living in each other's pockets.

Their sense of humour is sometimes black, but amongst Navy men the world over, submariners are acknowledged as specialists who sometimes go dangerously close to the edge and who are continually at risk of being taken capriciously, with little or no chance of rescue.

Who recalls the loss of the USS "Thresher" back in the 60s, or that of the USS "Scorpion"? Each decade sees at least one submarine tragedy and no matter how advanced our technology is, the sea and circumstances still see fit to deal submariners an occasional fatal hand. The "Kursk" disaster, the recent loss of a Chinese submarine with all crew are reminders that the sea is implacably unforgiving of mistakes or weakness in men or machines.

Submariners have a unique outlook on their job. They say "there are only two kinds of ships - submarines and targets!" Above all, they are dedicated to their task. There have been many films about them, but one of the best was "Das Boot", by Jurgen Prochnow. Ex U-boat men say this is the closest to what it was actually like on a "German diving-tube". In fact, it is probably a good re-creation of life on any diesel-electric boat of that era although the American subs of WW2 were somewhat larger and had a few more creature comforts, being designed for necessarily longer patrols, especially in the Pacific theatre.

After watching "Das Boot", and talking with a couple of submariners (one from an Oberon-class boat, the other an ex U-boat torpedo officer) I am very glad I have never been to sea in a submarine of any kind! Modern nuclear boats are very different to those diesel-electric subs, but the lifestyle is still far more rigorous than most of us would find comfortable.

As for Hollywood's depiction of submarine operations, Hollywood has deliberately divorced itself from reality in order to maximise earnings whilst being economical with the truth. From "The Dream Factory" we can expect little else.

12th May 2003, 23:29
For those interested, a smashing read is Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage A riveting read of how the submarine was used to bug Soviet communications and other tales of valour.


Send Clowns
12th May 2003, 23:58
Ha, Ozzy, those yanks was amateurs. Could tell you the rest, but I'd have to kill you.

Zark - was it your Uncle who, running out of green paint but being left with some grey parachuted to a U-Boot and painted a British Destroyer on the periscope, leading her to surrender to a startled porpoise after an apparent long sea chase?


The U-boot crew losses in the battle of the Atlantic amounted to 80% dead. This may rank as the highest death rates of any battle, ever. The next I can think of is Bomber command, though the Luftwaffe may be in there somewhere.


U-571 was a completely pointless film. It took an exciting story, and completely ignored it just because it did not fit Hollywood's distorted view. Instead they came up with a complete fantasy, lacking any realism let alone approximation to the events of WWII. In the process it dishonours the memory of an officer and a rating of the Royal Navy who died trying to recover more cryptographic material from the original submarine. That would have made a good story, as would the only case of an American capturing an enigma. The Commanding Officer only escaped court martial for risking letting the secret of the interest in enigma out because of the security risk.

13th May 2003, 06:31
Thank you for the lecture. As I said, I didn't consider it a documentary. I enjoyed it for what it was - a yarn - and it didn't dishonour anyone. BTW, my father was the adjutant of 120 Sqn during the war, and I flew on the kipper fleet myself - so I am more than aware of military history, and have been to sea on more than one submarine.
Lighten up, fella....

Onan the Clumsy
13th May 2003, 06:48
Gotta side with SC on this one. It was absolute b0ll0cks.

I could make some comments about it, but it was such a momentously forgetable work that I'd have to make them up.

How delightfully ironic THAT would be.

tony draper
13th May 2003, 07:17
Remember chaps it was Hollywood that gave us the historic and immortal lines,---- Queen Berengaria addressing King Richard the Lion Heart.

"WAR! WAR! WAR! Dickie Plantagenet , that's all you think about"

It prolly sounded better in Norman French.:rolleyes:

13th May 2003, 07:47
Well, I thought K-19, The Widowmaker was a good sub movie, except for Harrison Ford's crummy Russian accent.

SC can you hint at the rest?


Load Toad
13th May 2003, 13:15
Why is it in submarine films does the submarine have sets of gauges and dials that need to be 'tapped' repeatedly if the temperature / depth gets anything near critical?
Do all mechanical devices respond to tapping in this way? Does it do any good to tap dials and gauges?
If I wasn't a lowly pax and I decided to become a pilot (or submariner) are there any tips on how to tap gauges and dials; do you have to take lessons?
Further to this why is it if the submarine is diving and the depth gauge is moving swiftly toward 'danger' or the sacred 'red line of certain death' but then we have to pan back to another scene of say...tapping of dials...well when we pan back to the depth gauge the needle has still not passed the red line? Does the needle on a depth gauge only move if you look at it? Sort of like a watched kettle never boils but in a Hollywood reverse?

tony draper
13th May 2003, 16:09
On Swiss submarines the depth gauge is different, at a hundred fathoms a small bird comes out and says Cuckoo 600 times.

13th May 2003, 16:39
Channel 5 (UK) tonight 8pm 'Submarine Disaster'- about the Kursk tragedy.

Interesting link Seattle 'Foxtrot' class sub (http://www.bremertonsubvets.org/will.htm)

Send Clowns
13th May 2003, 23:00
'Fraid not Ozzy. Signed lots of bits of paper to say I wouldn't.


I have only seen bits of the film, and read a plot resume, but you must realise if you know about submarine operations how absurd most of it is? You must also realise that if a film claims basis in reality then does not use any factual content (even the number of the submarine in the title) this is damaging to people's ideas of history, and dishonours the memory of people who acted with great courage in the real situation.

14th May 2003, 03:40
How do they load the thing up with torpedoes?


Noah Zark.
14th May 2003, 04:08
VERY carefully !!!

14th May 2003, 05:17
I have just finished watching the program on the Kursk on five.

Seems they dropped one while loading it and took it anyway.



14th May 2003, 05:55
how absurd most of it is
Of course I do - it's a movie. Lots of movies are absurd. I never said it was a "good" movie - I enjoyed it, period, and you want me to apologise for that ? :hmm:

Tricky Woo
14th May 2003, 16:58
Yeah yeah yeah, the same old stupid jokes about the Swiss navy. Yawn. These silly jokes simply show ignorance, and fail to advance the tradition of wit that usually prevails here in Jet Blast.

The Swiss do indeed have a proud, if somewhat limited, nautical heritage. How do you think the Swiss Family Robinson got marooned? Do you think they walked to that coral island? If you lot stopped to consider that the Swiss build precision weaponry for various armed forced around the world, including the bloody British ones! Ever heard of the Oerlikon guns that protected many a British ship during WWII? Versatile enough to shoot down an aircraft, or sink a surfaced U-boat. And lightweight enough for two men to pick 'em up. Beat that!

So, you think that building a warship is beyond the skills of the Swiss? Think again: the modern Swiss submarine can remain submerged longer than any other comparable boat. Indeed, the prototype submarine broke all records when it was tested on Lake Constance, and continues to break records now! Name another submarine type that compares? You can't can you. Face it, the Swiss have a fantastic lead on submarine technology, that is unlikely to ever be surpassed. Remember the recent hooha over the new British aircraft carriers being built by the bloody French? Just you wait for the stink when the Royal Navy insists on buying Swiss submarines!

Here's the facts for the uninitiated:

Swiss submarines have virtually unlimited endurance. In fact, as the limiting factor is the physical endurance of the crew, the Swiss navy operates them almost entirely unmanned, although a small maintenance crew remains essential. A nearly unmanned submarine doesn't require much internal space, other than for its propulsion, automation, and weaponry systems. Most of the complexity, weight, and space required for the life-support of a normal submarine crew has been eradicated. In fact, 85% of the small internal space that remains can be used as ballast tanks, which saves further weight and complexity.

Of course, the endurance is such that the crews have to specially selected, and carefully profiled, to ensure they have the necessary psychological balance: being isolated from friends and family for such extended periods is a hardship rarely tolerable by the average sailor. However, social bonds quickly build, and, as the Swiss navy includes members of both sex, long-term friendships often lead to love and, in some cases, marriage. As a light-hearted aside, the first 'submarine baby' was born two years ago, and the Swiss navy press centre has just announced yet another pregnancy! Other sexual bonds of the type traditionally practiced by nautical-types also abound, although, in Switzerland, that particular love continues to hath no name.

That early prototype, the one I mentioned earlier, broke the crash-diving record, when they blew the ballast tanks, and it plummeted to the lake floor, 500 metres below, in just 12 seconds: an unbeatable time, that is greatly envied by navies worldwide. Since then, it's broken all endurance records, as it's remained there since that test in 1974. The 30 odd production submarines have been carefully positioned on the bed of every strategic Swiss lake. They are armed and dangerous; ready and waiting for any eventuality.

They never did crack that minor design problem, though. They're great at diving, but totally crap at surfacing.


14th May 2003, 19:00
Bliss. Another subject I'm halfway qualified to pontificate about (providing I can remember back far enough to recall the course, the days at sea, the smell of cabbage and sweat, being constantly knackered etc).

For a submariner, most of the media stuff about submarines is as hilarious (or irritating, depending on your point of view) as the stuff about aviation is for pilots. And that includes most of the "factual" stuff. The Hollywood stuff doesn't bear thinking about. I wouldn't encourage trying to push a watertight door shut (never "closed" in a submarine, please) against sea pressure at 1000' - amazing how much the human body will crush, I'm told!

Just for the record, Ozzy, the only bit of a submarine that's watertight is the pressure hull. All the bits under the casing (ballast tanks etc) and the "conning tower" are free flooding so they won't crush because the pressure's equal all round.

14th May 2003, 19:14
What I would like to know is which giant of common sense at the Royal Marines manning department decided to post my Grandfather as a deck gunner on submarines during the first world war? He was 6 feet five inches tall.

:ouch: (bangs head in sympathy)

Tricky Woo
16th May 2003, 03:59
Deck gunners had to be tall. They had an advantage over the shorter blokes when looking over the horizon. Stumpy deck gunners were a bloody menace and quite rightly shunned by their shipmates.

Stands to reason.


16th May 2003, 05:53
Thanks deeps re the flooded conning tower, that was one of my conjectures. Ah well, no windows/port holes on subs then!


tony draper
16th May 2003, 06:04
I remember when the Afray was lost in the channel, I was only a sprog at the time, there were so many wrecks on the bottom there they couldn't find her, lost with all hands she was,not a job I would fancy.

16th May 2003, 09:42
Question for all the "Deeps" out there. Having seen 'The hunt for Red October' Do subs actually bank when they corner?

16th May 2003, 09:44
Synthetic I would guess only if being chased by a torpedoe and with camera in tow. Or developed inside a Silicon Graphics machine


16th May 2003, 10:15
Do subs actually bank when they corner?
The nuclear ones do....

Buster Hyman
16th May 2003, 14:29
My Mum tells me a story of a developmental sub that sank in shallow water on the Mersey. People could see the hull from the bank quite clearly, but they couldn't get the crew out & they all perished! Does any scousers remember the subs name?:confused:

16th May 2003, 14:42
HMS/M Thetis was a brand new, spanking new submarine, the third of the then modern and new class of submarine boats...the
"T" class boats. She was the first submarine built on Merseyside by Cammell Laird. She was the pride of the navy, of the men
who built her and the men who sailed in her.

To so very many, ninety nine of them , she was soon to become their tomb.

On her very first dive, her very first venture into the element for which she had been designed and built, she died. Those with
her, save four died too. So close to safety, with the stern above water, the steel hull that should have protected them from the
dangers of the deep, became their coffin wall.

Why did this tragedy happen. Bad luck, a series of bad luck, a series of mishaps which on their own would not have been fatal,
came together to make a lethal combination for all involved. On board were many civilians, technical and industrial workers
from the builders yard, officers and ratings , not just from Thetis but from other ships, even food catering staff: there was to be a
grand buffet on board as this was to be a grand event. Thetis had almost double the number of souls on board that she would
usually have.

These visitors came to Thetis to see, learn, watch, observe, test, adjust and to enjoy a new build submarine...for Thetis was on
trials and on her way to her maiden dive at sea.

So why did she sink?

Of the mishaps what was the first one that started the chain? Which was the first domino to fall? The first one was not the one
that did the fatal deed. It has never been explained as to who, whom, or why the external bow cap of No. 5 torpedo tube was

No. 5 tube was flooded, it was open to the sea, while Thetis made her maiden passage out to the diving area her No.5 torpedo
tube cap was open......a mystery as to why to this day.

Although not good practice, it is generally not lethal. That is because the rear or inner door of a torpedo is always shut when the
tube is full of water.The two doors, inner and outer are never , ever, open at the same time....except on Thetis on that fateful

On her transit to the diving area Thetis was behaving slightly different to helm than one would expect, even on a new and un
tested new build. She was also a little to high in the water on one side when compared to the other...in other words she was not
truly floating upright at the correct level...she was too light....it has never been explained why.

This should not have been so as all this had been calculated by maths, and tried and tested formula that had been proved for
many years in the submarine service. This calculation, a mixture of theory and practical shifting about of, and taking on of,...pig
iron ballast,to put on the submarine "her trim", had been done, approved and demonstrated to the Admiralty overseers at the
builders yard. So why? We do not know.

As she closed up for her first dive..she just would not go done. She would not dive. Then suddenly she did, her bow dropped
and down she went......to die. Her first dive was her last.

In the forward torpedo compartment water had gushed in through the 21 inch wide No. 5 torpedo tube that incredibly was
open to the sea.Immediately she became heavy as she filled with water forward. Pure bad luck, small design quirks of water
tight door closing, decisions that would be right any other day became deadly wrong today.She went down and stayed down.

The internal rear door of No. 5 tube had been opened at the same time as the external bow cap of the same tube was also
opened. Water flooded in in a torrent overpowering all and making the closing of the hatch impossible. The impossible had
happened. Both doors open on a torpedo tube while at sea.

A speck of paint, or rather enamel had blocked the test drain pipe tap on the tube. This was a test to see if the tube was full or
empty of water. If the tube is dry, no water will run out of this pipe, if however the tube is full of water, then water will run out.
Except that at this critical instant on Thetis, this test drain pipe was blocked by a spot of enamel. So even though the tube was
full of water, none came out. So the door was opened and Thetis sank.

Someone at the builders yard while applying protective enamelling to the inside of this tube had allowed a drip of enamel to run,
trickle, to seep into this pipe....un-noticed.Thetis fate was sealed. Their are checks to test the patency of this pipe to avoid
blockages but in this case...but, but.....The bow cap was open ...but, the trim was wrong ..but, but, many buts, few answers,
dead men.

Those trapped in Thetis which by now had her bows stuck in the mud tried everything to break free, to rise to the light and life
that existed above the water, but, but, again too many buts, no luck, just bad luck. Even in this deadly situation Thetis could
have survived, but for, and due to this and that....she did not. Brave men, naval and civilian fought to live as the air around them
turned to a soup that would not only extinguish a candle, but a man`s life.

Four escaped, ninety nine did not. More should have, but, again but...did not. Some waited when they should have tried to
escape earlier. Ignorance of the Davis Submarine Escape Apparatus proved a handicap, at that time submariners received little
or no training in "how to escape"...and there were so many people using up the 36 hours of air....36 hours for half the number of
people!! Navy rescue efforts were at best confused, lack of plan, common purpose, red tape, naval politics, rank issues,
confusion and sheer helplessness hampered the rescue at every corner.

Thetis could have been rescued, but for, and if had, or due to......all small errors which on their own would be a hindrance,
came together in a fatal cocktail.

Thetis died 140 feet down in Liverpool Bay. Rank in death serves all men equally.Civilians alongside naval ratings, stokers
alongside officers, Admiralty overseers alongside food caterers, all entered a permanent sleep held by the unfeeling clench of the
muddy cold waters of Liverpool Bay on a summer`s day

Noah Zark.
17th May 2003, 01:08
I remember as a youth seeing the pictures on the front of newspapers of the stern of Thetis sticking out of the water, and thinking it would only be a matter of time before all on board were rescued.
Of course, it was not to be, and I recall the horror that dawned on everyone when this became apparent.
I still to this day shudder to this day at the thought of those poor souls. R.I.P.
Brave people, submariners.

17th May 2003, 01:38
Many years ago another pilot and I got into a very funny discussion at a bar with a couple of U.S. Navy submarine officers at a bar in Washington D.C. The subject was could one perform aerobatics (or should it be termed subrobatics?) in a nuclear submarine.

After many hours of consuming alcoholic beverages it was determined that rolls were theoretically possible, however loops were just flat impossible, no matter how fast you the thing going and no matter how fast the forward ballast tanks were emptied and filled.

We (us dumb pilots) figured that if the sub was going really, really fast (25-35 Kts ?) then emptied the forward ballast tanks, then as the sub started passing vertical to empty the aft tanks and fill the forward tanks it could loop (hey I said we had been drinking a lot!).

Submariners are a brave lot they are. Not for me though.

What goes up must come down.

What goes down necessarily does not have to come back up!


tony draper
17th May 2003, 01:42
I believe Thetis was Recommisioned as HMS Thunderbolt, and was lost with all hands in the Medi, one year later almost to the day after the Liverpool Bay sinking.

17th May 2003, 07:53
Ozzy and R1 - thanks for the reply. Hope you don't have to shoot me now:ugh:

17th May 2003, 09:50
HMS Affray was lost in 1951. A few months earlier, in 1950 a movie was released under the title "Morning Departure" (John Mills, Nigel Patrick, and others), quite unlike those reviewed above. It was, as often seems to happen, prophetic; in this case of the Affray.

Hostie from Hell
19th May 2003, 07:24
last usefully deployed investigating the wreckage of a Cessna Conquest allegedly carrying radioactive material that crashed short of Altenrhiene, following a dirty dash across the Bodensee.
They found a dead dog. :O

19th May 2003, 07:48
When it comes to reality I find "Das Boot" (http://www.dasboot.com/) (The Boat) absolutely the best U-boat movie ever. In fact it might be one of the best war movies ever. Not the usual Hollywood cliches (yawn), but real actions where you can almost smell the fear of the crew when trying to get through the Strait of Gibraltar, drama and suspense at its best.

751 U-boats were lost during WW2, especially after the "Enigma"was captured/broken (I think in 1943).

tony draper
19th May 2003, 07:50
I watched a documentry about the loss of the American Nuke boat Scorpion, they show film from a remote underwater camera, the whole sub had been collapsed along its length, just pushed in like a old fashioned telescope, the prop shaft sticking out the stern like a bee sting,terrifying what the pressure can do at that depth.

19th May 2003, 12:03
U-571 was or rather is the worst load of tripe that ever befell the public. The whole premis is insulting to anyone that has the slightest knowledge of anything. "It" is to submarine warfare what Jaws was to marine biology.

Das Boot, which I was lucky enough to see in the cinema is positivley and absolutely the best sub film ever made. I have all three versions on VHS. The German Directors cut is the best. Even if you don't speak a word of German and you know submarines at all, you won't miss a thing. The danger was palpable.

Next would be The Enemy Below and Run Silent Run Deep for WWII types. The only British submarine film that I have is We Dive At Dawn which is also a great WWII story.

The Hunt for Red October was good but the real story of the K219 "Hostile Waters" was better because it really happened.
K19 was a conglomeration of several events and was also very good except for the crudeness of repair work but the real repair scheme would probably not be as dramatic.

There was a great book titled SUBSUNK by Capt. W.O. Shelford R.N. (retd), F.R.S.A. on British Submarine Escape Technology and it's evolution. It's well worth the read.


19th May 2003, 19:01
I have been diving on a war grave up near Unst in Shetland.

It was a WW1 submarine in about 35meters of water.

The biggest factor for me was the clear water 30m + viz.
And the conning tower (the whole thing) was made out of solid brass. The hull of the boat is just proud of the seabed surface and as it is steel is rotting away. The conning tower has fallen on its side and is completely free of marine life apart from a sodding great conga eel up the hole left by the missing periscope.

The wreck is pretty much undisturbed apart from one of the periscopes was stolen by some English divers. Who when they landed got saved from a kicking from the locals by the local police who then nicked them for raping a war grave ( the sentence in my book should have been a public whipping followed a years community service in a services nursing home)

The other thing to note about unst is there is a talcum powder mine there. The fun that can be had at 3am while its still light sliding down a big pile of talcum powder pished.


astir 8
19th May 2003, 19:39
To see a truly silly submarine, dive the M2 off Portland - a submarine with a hangar for a tiny floatplane (Parnall Peto) which was catapulted off the foredeck and craned back on after landing on the water (presumably couldn't make it into the air without catapult assist)

Theory was that they submerged without the hangar door properly shut (c.f. Herald of Free Enterprise) and never came up, poor B******s

tony draper
19th May 2003, 19:54
The other M class boat was also lost, she carried a huge gun, 12 inch I think.
She was just found recently and it looks like she was struck by a merchant ship when she was submerged, there was a good documentry on about her not long back.
Another class of very large lSubmarines were the so called Fleet boats, they were steam driven whist on the suface,they took a long time to submerge because the funnel and other paraphanalia had to be unshiped, a few of those were also lost.
Very risky job to be in in those days.

19th May 2003, 20:12
I have dived in the channel a couple of times but didn't really enjoy it due to the fact that it seems as if everyone down there has taken a bit home with them. :mad:

The other good wreck round our way is the Hampshire which unfortunatly now is banned.

MOD was never very happy with people going near it though. I have a sneaky suspision that there is rather alot of gold etc on it which was bound for Russia.


A link for none divers on wrecks in the UK giving some details.


And of course


tony draper
19th May 2003, 20:20
Shhh M-J , don't mention gold, or yerl have Tricky Woo at yer front door quick as a robbers dog,
go weak at the knees them Swissers do at the sniff of gold, especialy those Mancunian Swiss, hybridisation often brings out the worste in both races.

Biggles Flies Undone
19th May 2003, 20:35
Just a tad off-topic, but all this talk of wrecks reminds me of the story of the ship carrying explosives that sank in the Thames Estuary during WW2 (The Richard Montgomery?). If I recall the story correctly, the bad news is still down there and probably very unstable by now – rumour was that if she ever blew, it would flatten Gravesend and the Isle of Sheppey :sad:

itchy kitchin
19th May 2003, 20:44
Fascinating topic this.
Just want to add that at the old station bookshop in osterley (near LHR)they have toy subs with little motors on them. they run around the bath a treat and then they fill with water and dive. tweak the bow planes and up she comes.
it is about 12" long (the submarine, that is, has deck guns and antennas, the works, and cost a measly £2.70.
Just like to say Das Boot... Fantastic!
U-57whatever... Sh*te.

19th May 2003, 20:47
Who needs an expensive toy to play submarines in the bath?

Up periscope! :} :O :eek:

19th May 2003, 20:50
That wreck is seriously bad news.

And something that is on the poo list at the MOD.

There isn't really anything they can do about it. Its now to unstable to try and clean it up. And if it does go bang it will take out quite abit more than you described. I think the policy is to keep quite about it. I bet most of the locals don't have a clue whats on there doorstep.

H'mm maybe Tony and Tricky could come up with a script for the BBC. The day all the southerners stood still.


In 1944 the Richard Montgomery, a vessel some 440 feet long and weighing 7,176 tons, manned with a crew of 50, plus 30 gunners, sailed from Philadelphia with a cargo of 6000 (six thousand) tons of munitions for the US Air Force. This cargo included;

13,064 general purpose 250lb bombs
9,022 cases of fragmenting bombs
7,739 semi-armour piercing bombs
1,522 cases of fuses
1,429 cases of phosphorous bombs
1,427 cases of 100lb demolition bombs
817 cases of small arms ammunition

Having crossed the Atlantic Ocean with the probability of attack by u-boat, she arrived in the Thames estuary on route to her final destination of Cherbourg. During the night of 20th August 1944 she swung around at her moorings and run aground on the Sheerness middle sand. Her plates quickly began to crack and buckle and her remaining crew abandoned ship.

This was extracted from


As you can see not very pleasant


Biggles Flies Undone
19th May 2003, 21:53
So is there any protection around the wreck to keep other ships away, or are the powers that be just keeping their fingers crossed?

There's a big refinery on Canvey - if the blast set that off, the chain reaction might well flatten Sarfend - so at least there's a positive side as well :E

Buster Hyman
19th May 2003, 22:18
Up periscope? Nah! Take a walk along the pier sweetie!!!;) :ooh: :eek: :} :=

tony draper
19th May 2003, 22:24
I sailed past that vessel a few times Biggles, she was sat upright on the bottom just at the side of the dredged channel, it int very deep there so most of her hull was showing, just looked like she was at anchor, often wondered what they did about her.
We used to take great pleasure in telling the first trippers to tiptoe about the deck when we was abeam of her.
Theres a vessel just off the mouth of the Tyne that is supposedly stuffed to the gunnels with copper ingots,they are worth a few bob as well, she also has ammo on board, so I don't think many dive on her.

itchy kitchin
19th May 2003, 22:30
Yeah? well my toy sub has a "pink torpedo".
...and i try not to "dive" on "old wrecks".
this is just peurile. sorry.:ugh: :rolleyes:

19th May 2003, 23:11
I wonder if anyone has done a security risk assesment on it.

Some nasty type in a nicked boat could cause a whole lot of damage in the SE.


tony draper
20th May 2003, 00:38
I thought I had read that the ship in the Thames estuary had been blown up safely a few years ago, as I said sailed past her a few times in the sixties but never knew her name.
Also sailed over where the Graf Spee blew up in the River Plate, wasn't much to see but a couple of wreck buoys.
Our East Coast and the Channel must have more wrecks lying on the bottom than any other peice of sea.
I also saw two floating mines, the real bang type ones, not the RNLI money boxes, one in the channel and one just round the corner in the North Sea, still plenty of them around then, they used to break free during bad weather, Grey Funnell Line used to come out and pop em.
Lot of sea time for the Royal Navy that was, all the way up the channel and back.

DC Meatloaf
20th May 2003, 03:11
I'm hesitant to post this for a number of reasons, but think some viewing this thread might find it interesting. Mrs. Loaf is a cartographer who enjoys experimenting with these new-fangled web technologies to visualize data. One of her past projects was to develop a cartographic animation "engine" that could take spatial/temporal data from a MySql database and visualize it in Flash. The database she picked to use for this particular project is a compendium of allied shipping losses attributable to Axis submarines from Sept 1939 to (I think) March 1941.

Pretty neat, I think (but what do I know?).

Anyway, I post the link with a few caveats:

+ it's hosted on a unix server in my brother's closet, so I have no idea if it will hold up to any sort of load;
+ it's an unfinished project, but the timeframe represented is complete, as far as I know;
+ it was done a little over two years ago, so i have no idea whether it supports any of the new browsers, plug-ins, whatever. I do know it works on IE and Netscape on the Mac;
+ the project was done pretty quickly and she didn't spend much time on the map itself, so i think it lacks some of the cartographic niceties one would expect from a good mapmaker.

That noted, here's the link (http://www.rocketkidsdesign.com/sub/home.html).

It requires Flash Player 5.0 or later.

I'd suggest going to "Custom," leave the "show results in a table?" checkbox unchecked, hitting "Submit", then "View results as an animation." Takes a little while to play, but shows how devastating the U-boats were though, I think.

20th May 2003, 11:02
Back in the'70s, I served as Radio Officer on a ship called the "Vickers Vanguard". She was the mother ship to a 3-man mini sub called "LR-1", aka Leo. The sub was designed for sea-bed work in the North Sea oil fields. The pressure hull was made by Slingsbys (of glider fame) and was of glass fibre/composite construction up to four inches thick. Each time she dived, I had to send a message to the Fleet HQ at Northwood, giving the dive location, time and expected surfacing time, and another to confirm a safe surfacing and recovery. In the radio room I had a large, brightly coloured folder which contained the SUBMISS, SUBSMASH and SUBSUNK procedures to be used if things went pear-shaped. Fortunately, it was never required (although "Pisces", another sub belonging to the same company, was stuck on the sea-bed off the Irish coast for several days some years earlier).

20th May 2003, 18:35
Swiss permanent underwater lake subs? Bah! The Danes have a desert-going sub! Being one half Danish (which half as of yet undetermined), I take great pride in this fact.

Of course it is desert-going. Why would it be sent to Iraq if it wasn't?!


WE Branch Fanatic
21st May 2003, 07:32
Contary to popular belief, submarines remain a threat to the West.

See http://www.eastlant.nato.int/hq_info/HQ%20Mag%2002/a_serious_threat.htm

Apart from the danger to expeditionary forces (already a problem for the UK due to other cutbacks, including the premature retirement of the Sea Harrier - something I've written about on PPRuNe quite a lot) there could also pose a more direct thread. What if some nation used submarines (perhaps even just one) to sink just ONE ship per day in the Med, Gulf, Red Sea or in the Eastern Atlantic or US coastline? Imagine what the fianancial, political and military consequences would be?

And what does the UK government do? Retire and scrap (or even use as targets) perfectly capable frigates (primarily ASW ships). What a waste to not even mothball them........

It makes me angry.


PS Also see http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199798/cmselect/cmdfence/138we/13828.htm

21st May 2003, 07:50
Desert going submarine. Hell yes...

When combat was at a standstill, or so the media saw it, SÆLEN (The Seal) was pushing up the Eufrat toward Bagdad all by it self.

The Information Minister forgot about that fact. But the ground based forces managed to get there just in time, to avoid Bagdad falling to the Royal Danish Navy.

Great going guys, and the one girl on board. I hear you are having some sweet R&R now. Keep it up...

tony draper
21st May 2003, 07:51
Never understood our governments keeness to scrap perfectly good stuff, instead of, as you say mothballing it.
In the sixties I used to sail up various rivers on the eastern seaboard of the USA, we used to pass hundreds of liberty ships, and all manner of warships all cucooned and tied up neatly in rows, then they have that aircraft parking lot out in the desert.
There was talk of them using that vessel that came to grief on the rocks off Oz as a feckinf target?, why did they bother paying all those millionds to get the buggah home.
I think they do it for political reasons, IE if you reduce the number of ships at the Navys disposal, the next goverment might decide to re commision them in the future if you have them in mothballs, scrap or sink them, and it denies that option to your political opponents.
Feckin wastefull bastiges.:suspect:

Buster Hyman
21st May 2003, 09:47
Whatever happened to that Skipper Mr. Draper? (Was it the Nottingham?) I suppose he was hung, drawn & quartered, not for the damage, but for letting his vessel hit something called Whale Rock!:rolleyes:

WE Branch Fanatic
21st May 2003, 19:28
Nottingham is being repaired prior to being brought back to front line service. She is needed due to the shortage of frigates/destroyers and the addition burden placed on the Type 42s by the planned loss on the Navy's own defence aircraft.

As for the accident, are you aware that.......

1. The Captain was not aboard at the time, he was in Nottingham's helicopter at the time, returning to the ship after a seriously ill sailor had been flown to a hospital ashore.
2. A sudden turn towards the helicopter was executed - by an inexperienced Officer Of the Watch.
3. The navigation team were in the process of changing charts from very fine detail coastal charts to less detailed open sea ones - the ship was focussed on recovering the helicopter anyway.
4. The Captain gave an order to reverse engines - this order saved the ship.
5. The rock they hit was UNDERWATER, so the claims in the press that they should have seen this on radar were completely unfair.
6. The Captain admitted responsibility in the interview that day to protect his OOW.

Why would you court martial a Captain for saving his ship?

By the same token, will there be any prosecution of the Masters of Merchant ships that keep running aground off the coasts of Devon and Cornwall? - something which happens quite regularly. And they don't have the excuse of concentrating on helicopter operations.

Lets face it, Nottingham was never to get fair treatment by the semi educated morons who write for the tabloids. But no, they are only interested in having a laugh when things go wrong, instead of considering the problems that politicians have caused and are causing the RN and the other services.

There is a very real danger that within the next few years the UK will suffer a serious defeat, with huge political damage to the UK and major loss of life. The media and public seem to be largely unaware of this. These problems (specifically the loss of the Sea Harrier, but also the submarine threat and mines) are the reason I registered on PPRuNe. I make no apologies for raising these issues.

PS Did you look at the links?

Buster Hyman
21st May 2003, 22:33
I agree, it would be a farce if the Skipper did get the book thrown at him, and yes, I was aware he was not on board his ship at the time. There was some conjecture at the time that he would be in a spot of bother & how unfair this would be, this was how most reports in Oz went. I just wondered if anything did happen.

As for the UKDF situation, I am not aware, but will have a look at the links. We have a similar situation down here with the Kiwi's decommisisioning their fighter wings completely & cutting back on their Navy. To add insult to it, there was a suggestion in the NZ parliament (from a backbencher I believe) that they should join their armed forces with Australia! Go figure!

Mac the Knife
22nd May 2003, 03:49
astir 8 mentions the M2 and the story is true. She was a converted K-boat (K19) and had previous been fitted with a 12" gun [drapes] as had some of the other K-boats (K18, K19, K20 and K21 became the first of these M class submarines).

The steam-powered K-CLASS were introduced by Great Britain in 1917. These huge boats at 338 feet and 1883 tons, three times the size of any other in the fleet were built in response to intelligence reports that Germany was building a 22-knot submarine. The reports were in error.

So were the K-boats. They took eleven minutes to dive[from hot]; temperatures in the boiler room then reached 160 degrees F, and in the engine room, 90 degrees F, although, since the engines were not running, no one needed to be in those spaces while submerged. Naval planners were not concerned about the excessive dive time they assumed that the submarine crews would see the masts of approaching ships well before the enemy could spot them.

Naval planners seem not to have noticed the introduction of the airplane and airship to the equation.

Fascinating book "The K Boats " Everitt, Don, 1999, United States Naval Inst. ISBN 1557504679, Paperback, 144 pages, 24 plates, 8 drawings [expensive at $28 but worth it]

Descripton: From the publisher: "Only today's atomic submarines have outstripped the fabulous twin-funneled K boats--the biggest, fastest submarines of World War I. But no other class of warship suffered so much calamity and controversy. Authorized by Churchill, these steam-powered submarines became the best-concealed debacle in British naval history. This book provides some answers to what went wrong during the series of dreadful mishaps." First published 1963.

The K-boats were eventually scrapped after a horrific number of fatal accidents and malfunctions.

A good page at http://members.lycos.co.uk/brisray/misc/misc2.htm and some good links for this amazing but little known saga.

Other good links at http://www.submariners.co.uk/Boats/Barrowbuilt/K_Class/ and http://www.submariners.co.uk/Miscellany/Articles/steamsubs.htm

22nd May 2003, 08:44
Both the French and Japanese dabbled between WWI & 2
with large submarine designs.

The French with the Surcouf (2800t), designed for the
commerce raiding role with twin 8" guns and a spotter

The Japanese built 3 STO class, I-400,401,402 which carried
3 seaplane bombers each...in anticipation of an attack
which never materialised against the locks of the Panama
canal. At 3500t these were the largest submarines of
the first half of 20th century.

-- Andrew

tony draper
22nd May 2003, 15:55
I seem to recal a French submarine called the Surcouf being involved in some mysterious doings after the surrender of France, I believe she was sunk at sea by the Allies, or am I getting mixed up again.

22nd May 2003, 17:25
Most information about the Surcouf (http://ca.msnusers.com/Surcouf/surcouf.msnw)


Surcouf (http://tmg110.tripod.com/freefr.htm)


Surcouf (http://www.submarinejournal.com/guest/_forum/00000037.htm)


Surcouf (http://www.onwar.com/chrono/1942/feb42/18feb42.htm)

22nd May 2003, 17:34
No, Mr. Draper, you're not getting mixed up. Surcouf was a huge submarine - she carried a revolving turret with a pair of 8" guns, could carry an aircraft.

After the fall of France, her crew resisted being boarded in Portsmouth to where she had escaped from Brest and were removed. Free French sailors replaced them and she continued patrolling, amidst some controversy over seizing Vichy French possessions, to which the USA objected. She was sunk off Panama by the USN, and some survivors machine-gunned in the water.

23rd May 2003, 08:29
That seems a little unlikely HugMonster...Conway's says
that the Surcouf was sunk in a collision with a US merchant
man - the Thomson Lykes - in the Gulf of Mexico in April '42.

Why should the US attack a Free French operated ship?

-- Andrew

Noah Zark.
23rd May 2003, 08:42
Haven't you heard of friendly fire?

23rd May 2003, 10:23
Why's it always a steam pipe? Wouldn't it be more fun if it was the pipe that takes all the poo-juice from the lav's and dumps it into the sea where the fish can drink it - hee hee!!! See how many of the hairy ar**d, tattoo'd hero's rush to turn the valve now eh!! Uh huh!!

Full ahead both, 10 degrees's on the bow planes

23rd May 2003, 22:20
Ah, Eng1170, too many films again. There ain't any pipes that take the poo over the side - you try flushing a toilet open to the sea at 1000' feet and they'll be scraping you off the deckhead! It goes into a little tank, see, and we pump it over the side (at periscope depth, of course) or put a blast of air behind it. Best you flood in before you start, though, or you'll surface in a shower of t***s in front of all those nasty skimmers/targets - always remember there are two types of ship, submarines and targets and the problem with targets is that they only dive once.

Oh, and there's only one propellor on western nuclear boats so it's not "Full ahead both". In fact, "full ahead" is always an emergency order in the RN and so rarely used (we hope) and would probably be accompanied by a command to "make the battle short switch" to prevent the reactor scramming at an embarrassing moment.

And the correct orders in the RN would be "10 up/down, keep *** feet"

There. You needed to know that, didn't you. It's probably all changed now, anyway.

23rd May 2003, 23:17
Noah, sure, but there is a difference between being
run down by a merchant man - and the Surcouf being
deliberately and knowingly attacked by the USN as
a matter of policy - rather than accident / misidentification.

I thought HugMonster was being unduly paranoid in his
interpretation of events...but maybe I'm just too naive, and
Cryptonomicon is a factual work of history :p ,

-- Andrew

24th May 2003, 00:06
andrewc, I think you may need to look in the dictionary under "paranoid".

Do a bit more digging than in one reference and you will find a little more information.

25th May 2003, 05:33

Having done a little digging as you suggest, I am now
reasonably convinced that the alternate versions of the
loss of the Surcouf are urban legends.

If you have any hard evidence to the contrary I'd be
interested in hearing it,

-- Andrew

I. M. Esperto
25th May 2003, 23:43
The sensations of entering the submarine were overwhelming. The sinister shape, the black and dark gray colors of the deck and the sail, the general silence of the deck of a submarine tied to a pier, all these signals told me very clearly that I was entering a strikingly different world. But the most striking sensation of this new home of mine was the fragrance, the peculiar, pungent aroma that clearly, uniquely identified this as a conventional submarine.
Everyone who knew anything about these old fleet submarines, in any of their variations of their later years, knew about the smell. The odor was not something that we were proud of, but we made no apologies for it. We just accepted that it was our lot to endure an intensity of fragrances that was not acceptable in any other environment.

Over the years many writers, both knowledgeable and otherwise, have written of the mystique of submarines. But they have said relatively little about the quality of life aboard the pigboats. And almost nothing has been said about hygiene.

A Diesel-electric submarine lacks one important feature of a steamship, whether that steamship is a submarine or a skimmer, nuclear or fossil-fueled, oil or coal. (Oh, yeah, "skimmer" is the term that submariners use to describe surface ships, and surface sailors. You know, the people who skim around on the surface of the ocean and never really get down into it.)

What all those ships have, and what conventional submarines lack, is the ability to distill sea water into (reasonably) fresh water. Almost all surface ships, and all nuclear powered submarines, use large stills, euphemistically known as evaporators, to "make water" for use in the steam plant. A side benefit of these stills is the ability to make water for showers for those lucky crews.

All of our hundreds of conventional submarines, on the other hand, used electric powered stills to make fresh water for the needs of the boat and its crew. But the boat itself had first priority on the water that was available. Some of the fresh water was used in the water seals on some of our pumps, centrifuges, and other equipment. And sometimes we took fresh water and we ran it through the stills again, to get the water pure enough that we could add it to our huge lead-acid battery, just as you probably used to do for your car battery.

Even the water that was left over for use of the crew was first used for cooking and drinking, for washing dishes, and for providing showers for the cooks and the mess cooks. So hygiene on the part of the rest of the crew was the lowest priority for any use of fresh water aboard the boat. The officers were no different from the enlisted submariners in this regard.

And our electric stills were very small. We did not have enough energy stored in the main batteries to operate the stills for very long. The stills also required a full-time attendant, and we did not have enough extra staff to run them as much as we might want, even if the power was available for making water.

These old boats had originally put to sea with a crew of sixty good men. By the time I got aboard thirty years later, there were eighty people in the crew, because so many additional specialists were required to operate and repair the modern electronics and other equipment that had been added to the boat over the years.

We developed many techniques to help us tolerate the environment. After a month or so at sea, most of these civilizing touches had lost their effectiveness. But we tried to maintain a sense of dignity. It was not uncommon to smell someone enter the compartment, before hearing them or seeing them. We did not comment on such things.

Did I mention that, of course, we did not have a boat's laundry?

Eventually I survived an experience that had been joked about for years on the old sewer-pipes. It was trite but true. I was reviewing a checklist in the control room in the middle of the night, while we were running on the surface. I got way back in the corner behind the air manifold. I smelled someone behind me, so I turned around to see who it was.

I was alone.

Tricky Woo
27th May 2003, 06:15
Interesting that one or two of the old subs actually carried spotter aircraft: it's a lot more than our current aircraft carriers do: British aircraft carriers are no longer allowed to carry aircraft in case their decks get all scuffed and horrible. Subs probably are not the best of aircraft carriers, but that didn't stop someone trying. Sooooo, maybe we could convert the Ark Royal into a submarine, as a sort of experiment?

Position it somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, then pull the plug out: Dive! Dive! Dive! Would make a perfect submarine, possibly closing the gap with the Swiss state-of-the-art non-resurfacing sub.

Hmm, sorry to harp on about this, but what exactly do they use the aircraft flight deck of the Ark Royal for these days? Lawn tennis? Maybe a spot of market gardening to keep the aircrew busy? Aha! Why not grow one of those ornamental mazes? You know, them big ones made out of box hedges? Yer could hide, say, a model aircraft in the middle, so that anyone actually finding it can get all misty eyed about the good old days when the Royal Navy still put fcuking aircraft onto their fcuking aircraft carriers.


Hmm, are RN subs still allowed to get wet? Are RN mine sweepers allowed near mines? Are RN destroyers allowed in salty water?


tony draper
27th May 2003, 07:12
I sat and watched Das Boot until the early hours, howw the **** do you bail a U boat out with buckets when yer 500 ft down? :rolleyes:

They didn't open a window or nothin.

WE Branch Fanatic
27th May 2003, 08:13

As I recall, they emptied the water into the mid section of the boat, then used the bilge pump to pump it out - after it had been repaired.

Tricky Woo

You're so funny! NOT:yuk:

You know very well that carriers carry aircraft. Maybe you are refering to the carrying of helicopters in the recent Gulf operations?

Don't let the fact that people from the Ark Royal got killed out there stop you from enjoying your stupid attempts at comedy.

As for your other comments (or were they jokes?) if you had been paying attention to world events in the last x months you would know better than that.

You've got a real chip on your shoulder haven't you? Whenever you get the chance to have a go at something to do with the UK you just cant wait....

Tricky Woo
27th May 2003, 21:27
Dear Mr Fanatic,

Thank you for your kind words.

Firstly, I have indeed watched world events unfolding over the last few months or so. I have also watched the leader of my country conduct an illegal adventure in the Middle East that has made me somewhat concerned the democratic processes of my country. Why? Because Blair initiated the action with only a minority of his cabinet and electorate in accordance.

Secondly, the use or misuse of the RN's aircraft carriers, aircraft, tanks, and other sundry hardware, to which I have contributed a very sizeable chunk of my past and present taxes, is most definitely my business and concern. I shall comment and/or criticise to my heart's content, thank you very much, until the UK government hands my money back.

Lastly, I shall use whatever mechanisms I see fit to make my views clear. Be thankful I use humour, no matter how black or heavy handed. Plenty of others in this world are more eager to use violence.


27th May 2003, 22:58
Hmmmm...A great sense of humour that noone else finds funny. Huge chip on shoulder. Afro perm and bad moustache. Tendency to fly off the handle and get abusive. Shell suit.

Good god Watson. The Woo is a scouser!!! :D :eek: ;)

28th May 2003, 05:34
Hello all. If you want to LEARN about submarines why not visit my No1 son's web site at comsa (http://www.comsa.co.uk/). Its a great site (well, it would be, wouldn't it!) and he's a nutter (well, he would be, wouldn't he!) about subs.

I think you can even play submarine games there without getting into the bath.

28th May 2003, 10:35
I've visited two WW II subs, the U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and the USS Cod, tied up at the 9th Street Pier in Cleveland.
The thing that struck me the most was the lack of space. With a full load of torpedos, the crew were literally sleeping on the things. It was definitely not the service for the claustrophobic. I seem to remember the Captain of the U-505 committed suicide during a depth charge attack, and the boat returned to port under the command of the XO.