inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #51 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Mon 5 Oct 15 07:47
    
Mostly not. "The Fog Dissipator" was a crew prank on one of the
other officers, and it was allowed to remain a ship wide joke
because the skipper already knew that the victim was on his way out.

"Qualification in Submarines", which you get to by clicking on the
gold dolphins, clearly included a gentle hazing of the table-top
variety.

"Collision Drill" was an elaborate prank on at least 95% of the
crew, including me. The skipper authorized it, the Exec tightly
managed it, and it was beautifully done.

"Torpedoed" was an incident in which the forty or so sailors who
called me on the sound-powered phones exhibited a sequential
progression across a spectrum of emotions. The first call was from a
First Class Engineman who was the throttleman-of-the-watch in the
Forward Engine Room, the compartment that had been hit by the
exercise torpedo. Since the incident had changed from a drill to an
actual accident, he called to report that (1) he and his oiler were
both uninjured, (2) interior damage was non-existent, and (3) all
the interior equipment appeared to be operational. He had the
presence of mind and the wit to start his report with, "Mr.
Charlton, I heard the torpedo." His tone of voice was tense and
concerned. The circuit used to do this kind of thing was a party
line, and ten other sailors heard the first report. After he
finished his report, and as I finished questioning him about it, we
both relaxed. That's when a joker on the line joined in and said, a
bit nervously, "Mr. Charlton, I also heard the torpedo." After that
they were passing the phones around so they could all get in on the
gag. I could have stopped them but I thought it was best to let them
joke about being alive. The tone of voice progressed from concerned
to outright relief.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #52 of 85: Alan Turner (arturner) Mon 5 Oct 15 12:38
    
You should add that story to "Torpedoes!"

You mention a few of the amenities that the Navy provided for
morale, even given the tight conditions on a submarine:  movies,
books, fresh baked bread and a more generous food budget in general,
shore leave for Mardi Gras...  Which of those was most appreciated -
or most missed when unavailable?  In my previous job I learned what
the Navy determined that was on surface ships today: ice cream.  But
I doubt that was a luxury that a diesel-powered submarine could
have.

Was there anything that was even remotely possible within the
constraints of a submarine that you wished for but the Navy wouldn't
provide?
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #53 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Mon 5 Oct 15 14:52
    
That's easy. Communication. Letters from home. Messages TO family.
We were notified of births and deaths by way of official messages to
the skipper. These were not messages to the sailor. The standard
message was formal:

TO: CO USS ODAX (SS-484)
SUBJ: LTJG FRANK CHARLTON

PLEASE NOTIFY SNM THAT HIS WIFE DELIVERED A CHILD AT 251412Z AUG IN
NAVHOSP KWEST. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER DOING FINE.

I'll add a chapter about that tonight. Gotta run.

(SNM = Subject Named Man.)
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #54 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Mon 5 Oct 15 17:18
    
I'm back now. I just added a new essay titled "Family News", in
green.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #55 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Mon 5 Oct 15 21:49
    
There is another answer to your question. It applied Navy-wide, not
just in submarines, and not just during sea duty. The nitpicking
military day-to-day rules just no longer applied. These rules were
personally offensive to anyone in the Navy at that time. When those
rules were relaxed din 1970, it made a huge difference in morale.
Z-Gram 57 was titled "DEMEANING OR ABRASIVE REGULATIONS, ELIMINATION
OF".  The full text is worth reading.

<http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-al
phabetically/z/z-grams-list-policy-directives-issued-admiral-zumwalt/z-gram-57
.html>

If the language is too dense, I'll mention some highlights for you.

You could wear neat, clean dungarees to and from work, to the
exchanges, to the pay window, and other offices. You no longer had
to change clothes to go there. 

Ditto, you could go to chow in dungarees. You no longer had to be
wearing the uniform of the day.

You didn't have to ask to go home at the end of the day. They  had
to tell you to stay late.

If you asked for something in writing, and your immediate superiors
disapproved it, they had to pass it up the chain anyway. They could
no longer kill it on the spot.

This was all huge, just huge. It was an essential first step in
increasing retention rates. Before Zumwalt, the first-time
re-enlistment rate was 10%. He got it up to 23%.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #56 of 85: Chris Hanson (chanson) Mon 5 Oct 15 23:20
    
I read that Z-gram, and then at random clicked on these three:

<http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-
list-alphabetically/z/z-grams-list-policy-directives-issued-admiral-
zumwalt/z-gram-24.html>
<http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-
list-alphabetically/z/z-grams-list-policy-directives-issued-admiral-
zumwalt/z-gram-103.html>
<http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-
list-alphabetically/z/z-grams-list-policy-directives-issued-admiral-
zumwalt/z-gram-116.html>

I found the combination of these interesting in an evolution-of-the-times
way.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #57 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Tue 6 Oct 15 08:05
    
An administrative note: This is a living document. After I opened it
up on August 23rd and announced it to shipmates, I 

     added "Act as Camel"
     edited "The Train Across the Kattegat"
     added the photo of the propeller blades
     fixed a format problem with "Seas and Swells" and "Late Night"
     edited the sleeve with a star and two stripes
     added the copy of the letter in "Frocked!"

In the few days since this interview started, I

     found and added "Whistle a Mournful Tune"
     found and added "A Symphony Above"
     found and added "DDMF" in response to a question
     edited "Submerge the Ship" as recommended here
     added "Family News" in response to a question

Please keep those questions, comments, complaints, and suggestions
coming in. Just click on any of the four words at the bottom of the
home screen.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #58 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Tue 6 Oct 15 22:19
    
Alan, one of your first questions, in response #5, mentioned that I
started sharing my sea stories soon after I joined the Well. I'd
like to follow up on that with some observations about how time and
technology have changed my storytelling.

The oldest of my stories that remains on the Well dates from March
17, 1989, more than a year before the World Wide Web was invented.
There had been other stories earlier, but they are now lost, along
with a number of other, more important pieces of early Well content.

I did not have the new web search tools that we all use every day.
So my early stories all came from the memory between my ears.
Probably half of my stories were originally written like that. More
recently, on-line search engines were available. I was able to make
the stories more accurate in researchable details, which probably
diverted me from recapturing the more romantic character of it all.

Lets think about the timeline. I was separated from active duty
(that's the official ay to say it) in 1973. Fifteen years later, in
1988, I joined the Well and began my storytelling. Now it is 2015,
42 years after getting out and 27 years after I joined the Well.

So here is a brief, properly informed recent story:

When I was first at sea for training, it was in 1966 aboard an
aircraft carrier, USS Hornet (CVS-12). The petty officers then
frequently told us that Navy coffee, while okay, was not as good as
the coffee in the old Navy. Back then, the U.S. Navy had owned it's
own coffee plantation in Brazil.

More than 40 years later, I began volunteering as a docent at the
USS Hornet Museum. I was reminded of the coffee plantation in
Brazil. I immediately thought to tell the story, but to look it up
first. That[s just the way things are done today.

I can find no trace of that plantation. I think it never existed.
Bit I DID find that the Navy owned two coffee roasteries, one in
Oakland and one in Brooklyn. (The army also owned two roasteries of
its own.) So the services probably did have better coffee in the
1950s than they did in the 1960s, after the roasteries were sold.

Somehow, a roastery is not as romantic as a plantation.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #59 of 85: Alan Turner (arturner) Wed 7 Oct 15 15:37
    
I'm sure!  And I can see the story of the Navy having its own coffee
roaster morphing into its own coffee plantation in the retelling over
the years.

Did any of your other stories lose some romance in the research?
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #60 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Wed 7 Oct 15 17:05
    
Not that I can think of. I just spent twenty minutes reviewing the
titles and drilling down into a few stories, and the only example I
can think of is "Ship-handling Competition". And that one becomes
more romantic upon review.

Many years ago when I first wrote that story, it always seemed too
whiny. Finally I tried swapping Dave for me in the write-up.
Suddenly it didn't seem whiny at all. So I've left the story with
the roles reversed. Dave was a good friend and a positive influence.
So instead of mewling about things, I'm leaving the story as a
salute to Dave.

One thing I really want to de-romanticize, however, is the role of
tobacco, and the role of the Navy in tempting us and teasing us with
tax-free, and sometimes completely free-for-nothing, tobacco. I also
want to de-romanticize the effects of tobacco smoke in a submarine.
We typically smoked for ten hours after we shut the air valve, and
it got very stale aboard. Very. Try not to think about it. 

We measured the CO2 levels aboard, of course. Anything over 0.10%
started a little throbbing sensation just above the base of my skull
in back. At 0.12% it turned into a headache. End of rant.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #61 of 85: Alan Turner (arturner) Thu 8 Oct 15 04:29
    
I read that imagining it written in the first person, and it did
come off whiny.  Funny how changing the p.o.v. of exactly the same
story can change how engaging it is.

Somewhat related to the rule reforms that Zumwalt instituted, tell
us a little about the protocols in the Navy that are old traditions.
I'm thinking of things like the printed calling cards in "A
Gentleman In Blue" and the flag salutes in "Mardi Gras or Bust".  To
a civilian, they seem quaint and outdated.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #62 of 85: Chuck Charlton (chuck) Thu 8 Oct 15 05:15
    <scribbled by chuck Thu 8 Oct 15 05:37>
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #63 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Thu 8 Oct 15 05:37
    
<img
src="http://numbnutiae.com/zrxubzm7yp/semaphore.gif?rand=0.014833698514848948"
/>  
I have no idea if those things are still practiced. The signal flags
are probably not used at all any more. The Signalman rating was
abolished twenty years ago or so. It's possible that flashing light
might still be used, but I doubt it. A couple of years after I got
out, the U.S. Navy adopted point-to-point handheld FM plain-voice
radios for ship-to-ship, bridge-to-bridge usage, just like civilians
and foreigners use.  

I can't imagine that that the printed cards would still be in use.
They may still pay formal calls, but surely they respectfully text
each other these days. But probably not with emoji.  <img
src="http://numbnutiae.com/zrxubzm7yp/aldis.gif?rand=0.014833698514848948"; height="32px"/>
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #64 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Thu 8 Oct 15 20:44
    
Here is another anachronistic tidbit, in addition to signal flags,
calling cards, and flashing Aldis lamps. As we were discussing the
formalities in one of the "Gentlemen Caller" stories, I let slip
that I owned and wore a ceremonial sword and sword knot.

The idea of having a sword on a submarine just invited silliness.
One participant asked:

What did you do with your ceremonial sword between [social events]?

Did you brandish it, playfully or actually.

Did you sharpen it and/or polish it?

Did you put it up near your nose, perpendicular to the ground, the
way Marines do?

Well, the full answer is even more ridiculous than the question.

The ceremonial sword stayed in its locker, along with the formal
belt and sword knot.  It was considered a weapon, so we never played
with them, just as we never played with our .45 caliber automatic
pistols.

We did, indeed, perform the manual of arms with the sword, including


Present Arms, which is holding the sword almost vertical, tilting
slightly away, with your fingertips almost touching your nose; 

Right Shoulder Arms, which means resting the bare blade on the
shoulder, with the arm straight down and the hilt in the hand; 

Order Arms, in which the sword is returned to its scabbard; and 

Parade Rest, in which the point of the sword is on the ground and
the elbow is straight; among other such gestures.

But the silliest part of all is that I have a college credit in
fencing. I took the class in combative fencing to learn how to do
all those maneuvers safely and gracefully.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #65 of 85: Alan Turner (arturner) Fri 9 Oct 15 07:20
    
Were you unique in taking a fencing class?

You also mention a ceremonial sword ceremonial sword being used in a
Captain's Mast, a trial just short of court-martial (The Sword, The
Bible, and The Long Green Felt).  I wondered what became of the
drunken sailor (and his wife) after that incident.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #66 of 85: Jef Poskanzer (jef) Fri 9 Oct 15 09:15
    
I guess I assumed the sword was for opening champagne bottles.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #67 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Fri 9 Oct 15 10:53
    
jef - ha!  If only I had known!  I didn't learn that until 30 years
later. 

Alan - more later. 
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #68 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Fri 9 Oct 15 12:46
    
Alan - The sword is called a ceremonial sword for a reason, and a
Captain's mast includes plenty of ceremony. 

The whole rig (sword, scabbard, belt, and knot) cost about $450 at,
retail probably isn't the word to use, but at the full price tag
amount at the Navy Exchange. Lots of us bought used swords from
officers getting out of the Navy. That's what I did, and I sold it
when I got out. That all works fine.

But if you buy a new sword you have to be careful NOT to get your
name engraved on it. That would reduce its resale value. So that's
another good reason to be sober when buying weaponry.

As to the case involved, the career sailor was fined and given a
suspended bust of one rank, and then transferred to Naval District
headquarters for re-assignment. I thought he should have been fully
busted one rank, but it didn't happen.

When his drunk wife came down to the submarine with a .22 pistol in
her purse and the intent to shoot me for investigating her husband
and for recommending punishment, it was on a workday with a full
crew aboard. Several off our sailors stopped her on the pier and got
her hustled away to points unknown. She should have been
investigated and possibly prosecuted for a variety of violations,
mostly firearms related. But hey, this took place in Florida.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #69 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Fri 9 Oct 15 17:56
    
And Alan: Yes, I was probably unique, at least aboard Odax, in
having taken a fencing class. As one one of my six mandatory college
PE classes, I had to take a "combative" class. The choices were
wrestling, boxing, and fencing. No one else on our boat would have
chosen fencing to satisfy the combative requirement.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #70 of 85: Alan Turner (arturner) Sat 10 Oct 15 05:33
    
Darn.  I was hoping for some sort Hollywood ending for the couple
with of a tale of redemption suitable for Jimmy Stewart.

The other crime story, of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, in "The Young
and the Mindless" was also quite impressive.  Was that your
introduction to the culture of the waterfront, or just one of the
more striking examples?
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #71 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Sat 10 Oct 15 06:34
    
That was my intro. It was my second day on the boat that Carol came
aboard without the duty officer's permission and spotted me in the
control room. She saw that I was an officer and, uh, well, you just
have to read it.

All four names have been changed, of course. That movie title just
came in handy as a source of aliases that I could remember as I
wrote.

There were some other truly disgusting stories about those four. And
there were stories about others that were even more disgusting and
even less interesting.

The sailors learned quickly not to show me their polaroid photos. I
did not want to see that stuff.

"Alice" was really very pretty.

I planned on describing the massive amount of paperwork that
followed our visit to Fort Lauderdale, but it would have turned into
a police procedural without an ending.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #72 of 85: Alan Turner (arturner) Sun 11 Oct 15 11:19
    
You entered the Navy in 1969, fifteen years into the Nuclear Navy
era, and you tell a couple of stories where diesel submarines and
their crews were looked down upon as old technology.  Were these
dismissive incidents occasional, or endemic? 
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #73 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Sun 11 Oct 15 13:10
    
Excellent question! And an excellent excuse for a timetable.

1949 Aug 29 - Soviets explode their first atomic bomb.
1953 Aug 12 - Soviets explode their first hydrogen bomb.
1956 Nov 18 - Khrushchev publicly threatens to "bury" U.S.
1957 Oct 4 - Soviets launch Sputnik, world's first satellite.
1960 May 10 - USS Triton completes submerged circumnavigation.
1960 Nov 15 - USS George Washington embarks on deterrent patrol.
1961 Apr 12 - Yuri Gagarin orbits the earth, first person in space.

That's the background for throwing a huge portion of the federal
budget at the rapid and continued development of the Polaris
missiles and submarines to launch them.

Meanwhile, diesel boats were still doing some heavy-duty stuff, such
as going into certain foreign harbors and conducting surveillance.

Ed Holmes, sometimes known as Bishop Joey of the First Church of the
Last Laugh, was a crewman on a diesel boat that did secret
surveillance in the harbors and rivers of mainland China. He talked
about it in one of his performances.

But it was quite meaningful in the mid-1960s when an admiral could,
and did, say, with great relief, “That’s the last fossil-fueler
we’ll have to send in there.”

Now to answer your question: In CONUS ports, which had lots of space
and resources, diesel boats were still tolerated in the early 1970s.
In forward support facilities, where the resources were limited,
diesel boats were a genuine burden. The attitudes of the various
crews differed based on location.

The forward locations that I had experience with were three
submarine tenders, large specialized support ships. One was anchored
in Holy Loch. The other two were moored at Rota and at Santo
Stefano.
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #74 of 85: Alan Turner (arturner) Sun 11 Oct 15 14:53
    
Sounds a bit like the comedy movie "Down Periscope".  Which makes me
ask: was that movie, or any other submarine movie (comedy or serious
drama) remotely true to life?  How has Hollywood and the media in
general done at portraying submarines and submariners?
  
inkwell.vue.484 : Forces Adrift, Life on a Submarine, with Chuck Charlton
permalink #75 of 85: Waiting for Baudot (chuck) Sun 11 Oct 15 19:24
    <hidden>
  

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