Friday, February 16, 2007

Naval Undersea Warfare Coffee Cup Demo

Exactly thirty-three years ago this month, the Naval Undersea Warfare detachment in Hawaii performed a demonstration that had previously been very impractical. A common styrofoam coffee cup was lowered to a depth of 15,000 feet into the ocean off Hawaii. The recorded sea pressure at this depth was 6,674 PSI (exceeding 3 tons per square inch).
Results of the demonstration were recorded for posterity in a wood-framed and brass shadow box (photo). That is a good thing because these days the tiny cup has the consistency of a coarse powder held together only by gravity and some weaker nuclear force.

We may safely assume that the coffee cup used had been 8-oz., since the advent of supersizing would not come until a decade or two later. Shown with the test cup is a modern 8-oz. coffee cup.
Virtually all of the air pockets in the porous, styrofoam cup were eliminated by sea pressure acting uniformly in all directions at once. For this reason, the cups shape was not destroyed, but it was compressed to about 1/3 its original height and 1/10 of its original volume.
Has anyone else seen this display? Perhaps one of you were present during the demonstration.
This little story is not finished yet. Submarines are always silent and strange.


At 17 February, 2007 00:00, Anonymous sonarman said...

I've seen this display, or one similar to it, when the Submarine Force Musuem was just a couple rooms in Building 83/84 on the Sub Base in Groton.

It could have been as early as 1983 when I saw it, when I went through BESS, or it may have been '84-'85, before the new museum, with the Nautilus opened up.

But, I have seen a deep-depth squished styrofoam cup display.

At 19 February, 2007 20:38, Blogger Vigilis said...

My assumption about an 8-oz. cup agree with your recollection, Sonarman?

At 20 February, 2007 16:49, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seen it??? done it. All of the old boomer guys should remember dumping some coffee cups in the line lockers before patrol and pulling out shot glasses when we got back. Don't seem to remember where mine is.

At 20 February, 2007 20:41, Anonymous sonarman said...

Either 8 or 10 oz. cup was the standard. But Anonymous is right, now that I recall - I remember guys talking about doing this trick, but it was "outlawed" due to sound silencing concerns.

Somehow or another, rumor has it, someone did this once, and it made a noise in the superstructure all patrol, and everyone freaked out over it. So, by the time I got to my boat, no one was doing it, but remembered others doing it.


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