My Time in Submarines

My Time in Submarines

I ended up in the submarine service by accident, well, perhaps not quite by accident more likely through drinking too much rum (Tot time in the RN was the noon issue of rum to each crew member over the age of twenty).

While aboard HMS Eastbourne, I turned twenty and started drawing my daily issue of rum. One lunch time complaining about our low wages, some bright spark suggested we volunteer for boats (submarines) as they were paid an extra shilling per day. So I did. The Admiralty explained the extra payment was for rough living standards in boats, but was more popularly described as danger money.

I had completely forgotten that particular tot time until I received a draft notice approximately one year later to proceed to HMS Dolphin to begin submarine training. I have no regrets about joining boats and thoroughly enjoyed my seven years in those dirty old diesel-electrics.  However, I must admit, I had (too late) second thoughts upon entering the escape compartment at the bottom of a 100 foot tower of water. The only way out was to ascend through the escape hatch to the surface. Fortunately, I succeeded, and over the course of my submarine service, re qualified a couple of times.

I served during the Cold War, a time when the Russians spied on us and we spied on them. We sailed, stored for war at the time of the Cuban missile crisis.  Rising to periscope depth to receive our radio traffic was a tense time, everyone waiting to hear if a third world war had begun.

The most amazing thing I did in boats was to sail under the Arctic ice and surface at the top of the world.  Well, near the top!  We actually played soccer on the ice. A lookout was stationed in the conning tower with a loaded 303 rifle on polar bear watch. No polar bear ever came near, and who could blame them we were filthy smelly intruders in a pristine enviroment. The second most amazing thing was standing in the conning tower on a clear night, ocean to the horizon in all directions and the largest sky you could ever imagine filled with countless stars, what a beautiful sight.

Record of Naval Service
Joined HMS Ganges March14th 1955-August 1956
HMS Whitby Aug 10th-21st.1956
HMS Cockade Aug 22nd 1956-58
HMS Eastbourne April 1958-January 1959
HMS Harrier January 1959 -July 1959.

Record of submarine service
I joined Dolphin on the 20th July 1959
HM/SM Amphion 15th Oct 1959 to 3rd Feb 1960
HM/SM Taciturn 4th Feb 1960 to 23rd April 1962
HM/SM Otter  10th Aug 1962 to 8th Sept 1962
HMS Dolphin 21 Aug spare crew to Sept 9,1963
spare crew to HM/SM Totem and HM/SM Alliance for brief sailings
HM/SM Alcide22nd Aug 1963 to 22nd July 1965
HMS Dolphin 23rd July to 14th Dec 1965
left the RN 14th Jan 1966

12 years RCN Naval Reserve

In 1990 I completed my last sea time service sailing from Halifax NS aboard the Royal Navy carrier HMS Ark Royal. I was an exchange escort officer for a group of fifty cadets. Unfortunately due to weather I never experienced the Harrier jump jets taking off. We sailed down the East coast of the US. The last port of call was Boston, where I left the ship and the sea for the final time wearing my uniform.

4 Responses to My Time in Submarines

  1. Bill Black says:

    You must have been with me in Alcide and Amphion for a few jaunts.
    I was SPO/ERA, RCN and served in Token,Alcide,Amphion,Ambush, Acheron-1955 to 1966
    I retired from RCN ,last job SM1, Senior Tech Officer ,1984 (Ojibwa, Onondaga, Okanagan)
    Cheers, Bill Black, Ottawa

    • irishroverpei says:

      Hi Bill were you aboard Acheron for the last Canadian tour, I think she was the last boat to serve with the 6th Canadian Squadron

  2. Boyd D LONG says:

    Like you, as an ex-Ganges 1959 Boy (Sparker). we may have been on the same S/M course in Dolphin in late May ’59. O/c I was posted to Adamant. As a Killick Sparker I was left behind when the Adamant sailed to Halifax to WK on Ben Nevis to provide comms between S/Ms and surface ships. After a brief pier head jump to one of the new A boats operating in Loch Long, my posting back to Dolphin “was ordered” where I joined Sea Scout, later Trenchant with numerous pierhead jumps intertwined before ending up in 1962 as Spare Crew in HMCS Ambrose (the 6th S/M Sqdn), landing in that “hell hole” CBlock! Due to the Cold War and the damage to Alderney, I returned to UK on that “broken boat”. So ended my S/M Service – 5 years was enough, the pay and living conditions and the inordinate sea time was enough!
    As an aside, you may not be aware that the 6th Squadron published an “official” Scrapbook.

    • irishroverpei says:

      I have the book, Ambrosia, actually have an article in it. Good to hear from a shipmate, I liked the A boats sailed in two, Amphion and Alcide, hated T boats sailed in two Taciturn and Totem. Mostly hated the head on the Ts

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