Tuesday, November 27, 2007

coming home from sea

a fellow bubblehead blogger nereus started blogging again, saying he's been gone a while.
that started me thinking about the days when my hairline was lower, and by waistline smaller. you know, back in the day.
i sailed aboard a rustbucket submarine, the good old pierwolf SSN-575. pierwolf because she ALWAYS found a way to delay getting underway, unable to let go of the relative comfort and safety of a shipyard homeport pier. but get underway we did. we were a spook boat, so typical westpacs were not in our op-ord. but when we got underway, it was like being on a boomer without the stand down period upon return to port. 3 or 4 months away meant AWAY, no port visits, no liberty, no exploring foreign culture at Suzi's Bar and Brothel. underway meant weapons load, dive, surface, weapons offload, sail up the channel, and tie up to the pier.
there were no internet hookups, long emails back and forth, no checking up on the news of the day. the radio shack would copy sked, and if you were lucky, they'd print up a news download that was skimpy at best. of course, this lead to one of the great at-sea pranks i've seen, where one of the wardroom heroes lorded over everyone how his football team was creaming, incinerating their opponents, only to find the team hadn't won a game all season.
before i left for sea, i'd tell my friends (and eventually my now ex-wife) to save all the Time and Newsweek magazines for me. i swore i'd read them all cover to cover to get back up to speed on what was happening out there while i was gone.
of course, upon return to port, there was always too damned much to do, both on the boat and at home to really sit down and get versed on what had transpired while i was gone.
there are huge chunks of time still that simply didn't occur as far as i'm concerned. really earth shaking events, yeah, i got those. if only by the echos and ripples the news shockwaves set up and still traveling through the news. but more mundane things? nada, zip, zero.
and you know, in this modern day of info overload and 24 hour news cycles on cable tv, i was probably better off then than now. too much info, taking up too much of my time.
and those magazines? i usually flipped through them, reading the cartoons, scanning the headlines, and then tossing them. damned little of real import ever seemed to happen when time acted as a buffer from the info stream. overheated rhetoric cooled to mostly boring babble with a little time to filter out the junk.

so anyway, welcome home nereus, hope you get a few days off to sit in the tub soaking in Mister Bubble (one of my favorite "get rid of the boat stink" activities) and getting reacquainted with the really important people in your life.

editor's note seems i may have chapped a little hide on an ex-pierwolfer... well, the wolf was a good boat, and we did things that nobody had done before. but the best thing i can say about her was that the number surfaces equaled the number of dives, and she always got us home

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

USS Jack SSN-625, had a one-of-a-kind counter rotating turbine plant where the direct coupled inner turbine rotated one way, and the large outer turbine rotated the other way, and the whole thing was lubricated by an incredibly complicated and leaky lube oil system. Semi-vaporized turbine lube oil existed in a slight haze in the engineering spaces for the whole patrol, and permeated everything you took back aft, adding that extra spice to the normal submarine perfume. I was never allowed to even bring my seabag into the house...

Thanks for the memories.


1/4/08, 8:03 PM  

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