HMS Dolphin, submarine base.

The land mark that has graced Gosport since the early 1950s is to be decommissioned. I hate to use the word obsolete! Because that word also applies to me. I first ascended the 100ft tower of water in the summer of 1959, I repeated it again in 1962. The tanks official title was SETT, submarine escape training tank. We fearless (scared shitless)young submariners entered a compartment under the tower of water. It simulated a submarine escape compartment. Each in turn took the deepest breath of our lives before ducking through the hatch to free ascent 100 feet to the surface. The longest part of this ordeal was whilst below in the compartment. The air pressure in the compartment had to equalize the outside sea pressure at 100 feet, we then breathing through a mouth piece (BIBS) awaited our turn to escape. The actual ascent took no more than 20-25 seconds, and was indeed a fantastic experience. With eyes open I watched the depth marking on the side of the tank flash by. The instructors hovering at 60 and 30 feet watching us carefully. It was important we breathed out the whole way up. To hold ones breath could spell death. At the bottom we were breathing in compressed air which must be released gradually as one ascends. Holding your breath with lungs full of compressed air would end in lungs swelling and bursting. Fortunately I never had to escape from a submarine in distress, and that was a good thing as we were rarely in waters only 100 feet deep. The North Atlantic where I spent much of my time the depth ranged anywhere from a few thousand feet to two miles. You might ask, would I do it all again, no risk in saying yes, because like said above I’m already obsolete!

BIBS – built in breathing system.

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.
This entry was posted in Family and veterans, HM Submarines, hms ganges, The Royal Navy & Me. Bookmark the permalink.

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