Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.
Outward bound from Little Creek, VA with a squadron of Marines for training purposes. We will, in due course, put them ashore in their rubber boats, and they will invade the United States and create mock death and destruction, evading Marines wearing different color armbands; an exercise which we think is hilarious. They do not look particularly funny at the moment, though, and when we injected a little humor into the situation when they came aboard earlier they did not take too kindly to it. Or to us. Marines don’t have a sense of humor.
Nor did they take it kindly when we asked them very politely to give us their guns as they came aboard. They didn’t like us calling them “guns” for one thing. We knew that, of course, and we may not have been entirely polite. We do have a sense of humor.
Nonetheless, we really did want them to surrender their weapons. The Navy has regulations about weaponry at sea; besides which, if one of their weapons discharged it might very well put a hole in our pressure hull, and we are pretty sensitive about that. We don’t like holes in our pressure hull, so we made something of an issue out of it. A certain amount of yelling and tension ensued, until our Chief of the Boat and their Gunnery Sergeant compromised on them demonstrating that their weapons were not loaded. Most of them turned out to be loaded, of course, which embarrassed Gunny a bit, but they got them unloaded and things calmed down.
So we stowed our Jarheads with their empty guns in the crew’s dinette (don’t ever let our cook hear you call it the “mess”), the only place to put them where they will be out of our way, and get under weigh. I’m in the maneuvering room until the special sea detail is secured and then, since I’m off watch, I head to the dinette to watch the show, because I'm pretty sure I know what happens next.
The Marines are sitting around looking dangerous, as Marines are wont to do. I give them a cheery hello and ask if anybody wants anything to eat. Submarines have regular mealtimes, but in between we have an open galley. I get quite a few no’s and a couple of “Fuck you” responses because we are just now clearing Chesapeake Bay and starting to pick up Atlantic rollers, and Diablo is by no means stationary.
Submarines have no keel, are completely round bottomed and, because of weight distribution, are complete pigs as to riding quality on the surface. In bad weather we can roll farther then any surface ship and recover from it, but we also roll very easily in good weather. Your average submarine will take ten-degree rolls in a dead calm sea. We are now rolling significantly, beginning to pitch as we enter the Atlantic, and our Marines are beginning to look less and less dangerous.
After half an hour the Marines look about as dangerous as three-year-olds. Their weapons are piled in a corner, and they are sitting in a circle around a garbage can which we have thoughtfully provided, taking turns throwing up. There is a fairly steady parade of sailors through the after battery checking on the Jarheads, and I’m keeping an eye on their Gunny. He is an old FMF Marine, not seasick, sitting as far from his troops as he can get and looking more than a little bit disgusted.
I go in the galley and make myself a sandwich; lots of Mayonnaise and some pickles. Then I go over and have a seat next to Gunny, take a bite of my sandwich and, after chewing carefully and swallowing, comment to him that this is probably the first trip to sea for his troops. He nods without looking at me and I know that my sandwich is getting to him, so I ask him if he wants a sandwich. He gives me a rather curt negative.
So then I hold my sandwich right in front of his face, squeeze it so that Mayo and pickle juice drips out of it, and ask him if he wants a bite of mine. He turns to me, gives me a look that makes me damned glad we unloaded their weapons, and joins his troops at the garbage can.
The rest of the story can be read in Semper Fi, Part 2.