The US Navy has done some truly epic things for America since its inception in 1775. From Navy SEALs – the infamously fit and fearless corp of elite sailors – to nuclear submarine operators that wield enough power to flatten an entire country, sailors in white and blue protect international borders and risk their lives on rescue and reconnaissance missions every day. As it turns out, however, all that power is hardly glamorous. Then again, is it surprising that living in a metal tube thousands of feet beneath the ocean's surface sometimes gets tough?
Navy submarine living quarters are almost completely cut off from the outside world. Forget about WiFi and cable TV – you're lucky if you can even receive snail mail or call your loved ones from a contraband iPhone. In many cases, seeing the sun even once a month is a gift, and there's only so much preserved food a human can stomach. Despite this, military crew members have a way of keeping morale up and foster a camaraderie that can't be understood by the general public. This is what it's really like to live on a nuclear sub.
According to a deleted Reddit user who was an active-duty submarine missile technician between 1998 and 2004, submarines can sometimes stay below the surface for a whopping 80 days. According to this Redditor, the only real thing stopping them from staying underwater longer is the fact that they run out of food and toilet paper.
One of my favorite pranks is something you see most of the new guy machinist mates do, and that is if the sh*t pump breaks or gets clogged (literally the pump that pumps our dirty tanks from the heads [bathrooms]), then you suit up a new guy and put a mask on him that only allows him to breath if he's hooked up to an airline, and make him climb inside the sh*t tank to unclog the line leading to the pump.
Well, while he's in the [tank], you disconnect the line to his mask so he can't breath through it, forcing him to take the mask off and take in some nice big breathes of the sh*t tank air... and I'm talking about up to your neck in p*ss and sh*t and having to breath... so many guys gag and beg that you plug the mask line back in so they don't have to smell/breath it.
From Redditor /u/tabledresser:
We believe we bumped a whale, once. I was down in Missile Compartment 3rd Level (a common passageway, also near the berthing) and heard "pfoom... foom... foom, foom foom."
And so, being junior at the time, I asked an old salty guy, "What was that noise?"
And he looked at me and said: "Oh, that was just a whale."
From a deleted Redditor:
We used to refer to this one as "the day we almost died..."
I'm down in [the Missile Compartment Lower Level], walking [and] think, "What the F is that noise?" And right then I saw it: a wave of water rushing over the bilge partitions, headed forward.
And then "flooding" was formally called away, and the collision alarm was sounded. Unfortunately, the reactor guys couldn't get the shaft unlocked, because it was stuck. So we had no diesel, and we had no reactor. And we had what was later estimated to be 50,000 lbs. of water.
The next thing we hear is this, on the 1MC: "The ship will be performing a ten-second emergency blow." ... as activation air rushes past me and hits the ballast tank valves. We begin to regain lost depth, but it wasn't enough. The ballast tank vales in the forward compartment had blown a check valve, and water was now coming into the boat from a second location.
And the [Chief of the Watch] had to hit the chicken switches a second time; we eventually broached ourselves (unprepared surfacing) in the middle of the ocean. We sat there for minutes while we figured out what happened. But we were safe.
We spent hours pumping and bucketing-out those bilges that had been flooded. And, you know, we were wet and it sucked.... but it was kind of adventurous at the same time.