Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.
During the 2008 election some reference was made to the advantage John McCain had during his Navy career due to his father being an Admiral. Well, there are limits to what even an Admiral can do.
We had a kid come aboard out of submarine school whose father was not only an Admiral, but a submarine Admiral. Names are being omitted here to protect the innocent. We could not quite figure out at first why, with his father’s influence, the kid had not gone to the Naval Academy, but we did not wonder that very long. The kid was dumb as a post. For his IQ to be a golf score would have required scoring a hole-in-one on at least eight holes.
We were soon making odds on whether or not he would “qualify,” but it never reached that point. What did him in was standing lookout duty. You’d think pretty much anyone could stand up in the periscope shears with a pair of binoculars and sing out whenever they see something, right? Well, he could do that part okay.
Whenever we dive the lookouts have to go below and take control of the diving planes, and that part was a problem for this guy. In fairness, the process is not all that easy. You have to come down out of the periscope shears onto the bridge, go through the upper conning tower hatch and down a vertical ladder, run the length of the conning tower, go through the lower conning tower hatch and down another vertical ladder, circle the ladder you just came down and begin controlling the planes.
It’s important that you haul ass, especially if we are making a “crash dive,” because by the time that you reach the diving plane controls we are already about one hundred feet down and the dive is essentially uncontrolled since the planes are unmanned. Not only that, but the bow planes are up flat against the bow and must be “rigged out” before they can be brought into use to control the depth. The stern planes control the angle of the dive and are effective as soon as the lookout reaches them.
In the interest of speed when going down the ladders, one does not use the rungs. What you is grasp the vertical members of the ladder with hands and feet and slide down, much like a fireman slides down the firehouse pole. This kid simply could not get the hang of doing that. He would go down the ladders rung by rung with people screaming at him to get his ass in gear.
Finally one day he reached some sort of mental limit and when he got to the lower conning tower hatch he simply kissed the ladder goodbye and jumped. He landed stiff-legged on the steel deck in the control room and broke both knees and one ankle. He was sent ashore to the hospital and we never saw him again.