Thursday, September 20, 2007

Submariners' Informal Cross-Training is Abundant

Submarine crews were (and probably still are) unique brotherhoods. To be sure, almost no one felt anyone else's style, background, talents or appreciation for off-duty discipine were up to his own. Since the boat's missions and your very life depended on these characters, however, you naturally taught the ones who knew less and learned from those who knew more in an atmosphere of perpetual expectation and learning. Qualification in submarines was one thing, but there were always going to be systems alterations and finer points to master.

When our sub was reassigned to the opposite coast, the crew was advised of what effects the household moving companies would haul and not. We had a bunch of fellows from New England states, mostly FTs and TMs, who owned what they called arsenals. Special permissions were granted to convey these very nifty, personal firearms onboard the sub.

During the voyage there was frequent inspection and discussion of the most prized pieces (we are talking collectible gems), which not only had been handed down from great granddad, but acquired new in ports worldwide. Do you think these collectors could not shoot in their own right? They took their shooting skills very seriously. Many were also reloaders (one collected our empty toothpaste tubes for the lead). For frequent shooters, reloading not only holds costs down, it provides the opportunity to experiment with and perfect loads. Bothenook , ELT, was not one of the coast-to-coast transfers, but some of his related blogs indicate he would have been.

Every submariner I knew had a fascinating skill or education well beyond the Navy's requirements. One of our junior R.O.s , for instance, was a degreed electronics engineer. One electrician knew astounding facts about WW2 naval history down to individual battleships (his hobby). A junior RM had his masters in classical music. One Machinist Mate had memorized 100s of FSNs (11-digit federal stock numbers used before NSNs) for all of the pumps and equipment he had ever maintained.

Have I mentioned the wardroom? We had an officer who accurately and rapidly performed P-K solutions in his head. Just a sampling of the crew.

Submariners, you see, know things inside and out. Here are some very practical, money-saving tidbits that reminded me of the submariner's approach to learning. Apparently, MacGyver ingenuity never goes away, because only the last one was news to me:

Disassemble 9v battery as cheap source of six 1.5v AAA or AAAA batteries: Watch the video (1 min) CAUTION: make sure your 9v battery tests good, first.

Disassemble a single 6 volt battery (about $6) as a cheap source of 32 AA batteries: Watch the video (1 min) CAUTION: some heavy duty 6v batteries contain no AA batteries. Also, make
sure your 6v battery tests good, first.

Test your remote control's batteries (or identify some hidden heat sources) with a digital camera: Watch the video (1 min)

Build a quick fire without a match or lighter: Watch the video (1 min) here. Fantastic!

Four of the guys from the crew and the submarine in the photo above never made it to their new home port, even though the war had been over.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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