Monday, February 06, 2012

Submarine Time Bubbles Part 3: Delayed Realizations

Part 1 dealt with a missed current event (a time bubble) during submerged submarine travel cut off from mundane news of the civilized world. The missed item had gone totally undetected for the following 20 years.

Part 2 describes surreal links to past events, as if one had traveled backwards in time ...

.........Part 3: Long-Delayed Realizations
"Sacrifices are certain for these devoted volunteers,
Qualifications demanded by a jury of their peers."
- from the poem Extreme Creatures by Juan Caruso D.
Submariners know full well what it means to be qualified and to become the jury, 'brothers of the phin'. Ceaseless training, drilling and oolies (note 1), are punctuated by sudden casualties to keep submarine-qualified sailors at their best.

The resulting brotherhood obviously inspires a trust rarely ever questioned and almost unparalleled. In later civilian life it is rare to have as much professional confidence in our colleagues.

A brother of the phin sent his example of trust in shipmates that was so natural he had never realized its magnitude until later in civilian life. His personal experience (some of the described acts are no longer acceptable, much less applicable to today's subs) follows:
We were operating in the North Atlantic during the Cold War. The sensitivity of our mission required us to remain submerged. In the dead of icy winter the crew was happy to be in our heated nuclear sub.
Sonar had detected a metallic rattling emanating from our sail. The CO decided to broach just long enough for one man to make his way into the sail interior with a suitable wrench and check sixteen 1" bolts of a non-watertight access panel to a certain mast were as tight as possible. At the time, the experience was somewhat exciting for me and although a minor contribution to the rest of our mission, of no significant concern. Never worried, glad I was done quickly.

Decades later it finally dawned on me what could have gone wrong. I had been the only dude topside. No life jacket, safety line, spotter, or communications. Had there been a sudden roll, loss of buoyancy, etc. Wow! The confidence had been mutual and no one was disappointed.
Submarines are always silent and strange.

note 1: In submarine lingo an oolie is a difficult question not pertaining to one's normal duties. Oolies consist of entertaining challenges to one's knowledge of submarine trivia. The challenges are part of continuing, informal cross-training techniques to keep submariners mentally alert, even after qualification. Astronauts, by the way, use the same technique.



At 16 January, 2014 12:33, Blogger Beer, Bicycles and the VRWC said...

What is the origin of the term "oolie"?

At 21 January, 2014 18:29, Blogger Vigilis said...

You raised an interesting question Deekaman.

The term "oolie", as now spelled, has appeared in print (English language) since 1819-19.

As the initial usage clearly predates submarines of all navies, the term obviously started out with a less esoteric meaning.

English usage peaked from 1946-49, so it is easy to surmise the term as now used may have originated with WW2 survivors of the U.S. submarine service. Its American usage continues today.

NOTE: French language usage goes way back to 1775-1781 (also the peak of French usage). No translation of 'oolie' or 'oulie' has yet been found.


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