The life of modern submariners is not like that of those who went to sea in WWI and WWII. These Ohio-Class Subs are huge and they are the most complex machines in the United States Navy’s arsenal. This series of short videos gives us an insight into the life of these 21st-century submariners and the boats they serve on.
It is an awesome story.
Because these submarines are nuclear powered, they are capable of staying undersea on a mission for months at a time. Their only limitation, of course, is the amount of food they can store. They make their own fresh water, and oxygen, but they can only go as far as their food stores will take them.
The men and women who live and work on these marvels of engineering and stealth are a unique breed. They have to undergo physical and psychological testing to show that they are able to live and operate in a two football long, four-story-high tube that stays underwater and operates in a stealth mode for long periods of time.
Can they live in confined spaces, not see the sun or breath fresh air and focus on their jobs with the level of efficiency that such a complex and dangerous a boat requires?
It is not only the physical and psychological demands that they must deal with, but they also must leave their families behind knowing that they will not be able to communicate with them for the duration of their mission. The families know that they can send up to 8 short messages, but also that they will not receive replies to those messages.
When the USS Michigan leaves Puget Sound on a mission, it follows a complex set of procedures to become invisible to potential adversaries. It must maintain that stealth throughout its entire mission, right up to the moment it resurfaces to reenter Puget Sound to reach its homeport at Bangor, Washington. That means constant maneuvering and maintaining silence as much as possible.
The boat is designed and engineered in many ways in order to be able to do this.
Crews learn how to live in an entirely different world than the rest of us are used to as well. Their time is measured not by day and night, sun and moon, but by their regularly scheduled shifts of six-hours-on and 12-hours-off. They joke that the only way they can determine what time of day or night it is upon the surface is by what meals are being served in the crew’s or officer’s mess when they wake up for their shifts.
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Enjoy this three part series of videos. They will give you a fair picture of what it is like to be a submariner on an Ohio Class submarine like the USS Michigan and what its mission entails.
The Veterans Site sends its thanks to all who serve and who have served in the submariner services of the United States Navy. We honor and deeply respect the sacrifices you make to serve in that unique service.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.