Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Seasickness it’s not just for surface pukes

Time for a sea story inspired by a post by Vigilis at Molten Eagle .

I only got seasick once when making patrols and yes it was on the way back in after a full 70 day deterrent patrol.

On the Simon Bolivar we were heading back into Kings Bay GA with an ETA to tie up alongside the tender Simon Lake shortly after sunrise. That meant we’d surface at O-dark-30 and transit in with the sunrise at our backs. I pictured seeing the low lands of South Georgia and getting use to the distinctive smell of the coastal estuary again. No more gray bulkheads and San-1 inboard venting. A nice calm ending to another FBM patrol, Not So!

USS Providence (SSN-719) US Navy Photo
"More speed than sea state."

I had the mid-watch which meant I’d be the Nav-ET tech on watch for our transit in. Got up and headed for mid-rats, PIZZA! “I’ll have mine loaded with pepperoni, thanks”. With a contented belly full of greasy pizza I made my way to the Nav-center to relieve the watch. Two hours later I was sitting in the dark on the ESM stack while we were surfacing in GAIL. “No Close Contacts” was called from the scopes and me on the ESM. After all what idiot would be out in a full Gail at 2 or 3 in the morning? Other than the US Navy that is…

We surfaced the ship and headed in with no one on the bridge at first because of the weather. Eventually the bridge was rigged and I was shifted from the EMS to the Radar. With bucket at the ready I was prepared to watch the radar do that roundy roundy thing as the boat heaved, rolled, pitched and shuttered. Occasionally a large amount of water would come cascading down the bridge access trunk into the bear trap at the bottom of the ladder. I can remember thinking “Man, those poor F&*%ers on the bridge were getting hammered”. This went on for a good part on the remainder of my watch.

When I was relieved on the radar, lets just say, my bucket was empty but only because of my somewhat centerline orientation. Back aft I heard tell it was a hurl fest in nuke land. I was safe and had dodged the puke bullet or so I thought. It was time for a pee call and down to the lower level crews head. The closer I got to the head the stronger the puke smell and then the chains and signs “BLOWING SANITARIES”. Do I hold it, chance it and find a bowl that wasn’t full of puke or trek aft to the one head near the nuke land vomitorium?

Boom, woosh that golden flapper sound, someone had just opened the ball valve on one of the heads. I not only got to see the aftermath but also smell it. A putrid mix of vomit and the remaining contents of the sanitary tank, the poor SOB had vomited in the bowl then vented it back in his face. I lost it then and there in the bucket I was getting ready to stow.

“Station the piloting party.” Feeling somewhat purged, you always better after letting go a good one, I headed back up to control ready to help plot our course into the calmer waters of Cumberland Sound.

That was a 425 foot Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine, I can only imagine the rocking and rolling an SSN goes through. Seasickness it’s not just for surface pukes.


Vigilis said...

Well, LL, your seasick story has the unmistakable "air" of authenticity, rich detail and fabulous terminology (nuke "vomitorium") that brings readers like me back for more everytime.

That was quite a story with the sanitary lineup twist and hapless victim. Yes, puking seemed very contagious in the densely confined spaces called submarines. And thanks for your link. -Vig

Anonymous said...

Do not make fun of the poor man that is seasick.

At first he is afraid he is gonna die.

As time goes by he is afraid he won't.

Anonymous said...

North around Hatteras from Onslow Bay. BECCEs 1800 to 2300, followed by the mid. Slim Jims--lots of Slim Jims--for chow. Rough as a cob, and wind over the deck about 50 knots, right on the bow. There was no leeward. Sometimes it's necessary to shower with your clothes on.

Seasickness always makes a better story than it does an experience!