Life in a British Submarine circa 1960

It is strange as we grow old we seem to dwell more and more in the past. I often go back to my time in submarines. Mostly it was good, mostly uneventful, and most importantly water tight!. Today, I have a great pride wearing my submarine Dolphins to Remembrance day parades and other events. Sometimes I think of the submarine Totem, in the photo above. I sail in her in 1962 for a short time, The second T class submarine of my career. I dreaded the Head (toilet) on those old T boats. Usually filled to the brim by the time I arrived. This meant flushing to sea! setting the correct pressure to overcome the outside sea pressure was always a tense moment. One mistake and you might have freckles for life, not too mention smelling bad until we returned to harbour. No showers on a T class submarine. Sadly when I think of Totem I also think of her at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. Sold to the Israeli Navy in the late 1960’s she sank with all hands on her trip from the UK to Israel. No one knows what caused the disaster, several theories, terrorism, sabotage, maybe an accident??
However, the one thing I thought about often whilst serving in Alcide was the pressure hull. What am I talking about? well let me explain, I had probably the best bunk in the seaman’s mess aboard Alcide. The inboard bunks were three high and mine was the top bunk. This allowed me to lay in the bunk without taking up space around the mess table.The two bunks below me formed a bench seat during the day. My bunk was out of the way and allowed me to watch a movie from my bunk, kinda like having a balcony seat all to myself. The one odd thing about being in the top bunk was the very close proximity to the upper part of the pressure hull. I realized that approximately two inches of steel near my head was all that separated me from the deep cold waters of the North Atlantic. I imagined all too vividly the enormous sea pressing only inches above my face. But as we worked hard long hours in a submarines sleep thankfully always came quickly. Indeed, it would have mattered not were one slept, if the hull ever breached, instant eternal sleep for everyone would have followed. Dark thoughts of the deep! but I no longer worry about sea pressure, arthritis and many other aches and pains have long since superceded my time in that top bunk.
God Bless and keep reading

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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