Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.
Our Marines have calmed down and are sitting in the crew’s dinette, holding the helmets which they have not puked in because we thoughtfully provided them with a garbage can.
Actually the can is enlightened self interest because we are pathologically incapable of resisting the temptation to think up and implement diabolical plots to fuck with the Marines while they are on board, and doing that often results in them throwing their helmets at us. When the helmets are full of barf the outcome of that is unpleasant, thus the garbage can. That’s not the reason we cited to our Executive Officer, of course.
Anyway, I’m telling the Marines that the motion will subside and that they will feel better after we dive. I don’t think that is particularly reassuring to the ones for whom this is the first submarine experience, as I’m not sure they had realized we were actually going to do that.
In due course the diving alarm sounds and the deck tilts, and the Marines start looking a bit apprehensive. One of them asks me if we’re diving, which is not a particularly intelligent question, because accompanying the diving alarm is an announcement over the 1MC, “Now dive, dive. Man your diving stations,” which should have provided him with a clue. The roar of air leaving the ballast tanks might have tipped him off, too, but admittedly it might take some experience to know what that was.
I tell him that we’re either diving or we’re sinking, and a rather pregnant silence descends as the Marines are all staring at me like they are trying to figure out what the hell I just said. Actually, I believe they are all pretty much trying to figure out what the hell I just said. Gunny has been here before, but apparently he’s never heard that one, because I keep looking at him and finally he asks me what the difference is and I cheerfully tell him the difference is whether or not we come back up.
I get a lot of blank looks, and it doesn't seem like that penetrated, so I clarify; telling them that if we come back up we're diving and if we don't come back up we're sinking. Several of the Marines turn visibly pale, because it had apparently not occurred to them that the issue might be in doubt. No one quite dares to ask just how much doubt there is about the "coming back up" thing.
About that time the hull groans loudly, then produces a loud creaking noise, and all of the crew members in the dinette become alarmed, start looking wildly around the compartment and generally freaking out. A couple of guys run aft through the after battery screaming in panic. I have no idea who orchestrated this, but it’s a very nice touch and the timing is excellent. One of them is babbling something about the snorkel breaking, which almost makes me start laughing, since we don’t have a snorkel and it wouldn’t be breaking at this point if we did. Actually, come to think of it, breaking is not something that snorkels do under any circumstances. Anyway...
All of this is purely for effect and for the purpose of freaking out the Marines, because the noises are entirely normal. The pressure of the sea as we go deeper causes the hull to compress and creaking, groaning and occasional banging noises are called “hull popping” and are caused by the minor hull deformation as a result of the increasing pressure.
In any case, our little drama definitely works, because two of the Marines actually dive under the tables. I have no idea what good they think that is going to do if the hull implodes, but in all fairness they probably are not thinking at all and are merely looking for the nearest equivalent of a foxhole. Diving under tables is a better result than we usually get, and we are cracking up while the Gunnery Sergeant, who has seen this before, is shaking his head and trying to pretend that he has no idea who these guys in the green uniforms are.
The point at which we are no longer alarmed and are laughing our asses off is the point at which the helmet throwing usually starts.