Submarine Escape Training Tank
Written by David Barth January 18, 2001.
|Submarine Escape Training Tank. |
[Photo taken in 1961 by David Barth, ETR2 (SS), Plank Owner, USS Lafayette SSBN 616].
During Submarine Escape Training Tank qualification in New London, Connecticut, about 1963, the crew was
ushered into a side room of the tank at the 50 foot level. I was in a group of about ten,
including one of our shorter shipmates. The water rose fast and as it did, we noticed that
the water had risen to the short sailor's chin. The guy on the other side of him grabbed one
arm, and I grabbed the other to hold his head above the water. He couldn't have drowned
because each of us wore life vests, but it might have been embarrassing for him to be
Each of us lined up to climb into the main tank, one at a time. We took a
deep breath of air, ducked down below the water to pass through the door, grabbed a bar on
the side of the main tank, and, when tapped by the lead person, let go so that our life vest
would take us up to the surface.
On the first qualification ascent we used the "blow and go" technique where we went out the
door into the tank and began to blow air as we rose to the surface. Safety divers in the
tank watched each person to ensure that bubbles constantly came from his mouth. If a person
were to stop exhaling, the reduction in pressure as his body rose could cause injury to the
lungs. If this happened, a safety diver could grab a person and pull him into a small side
room on the tank.
More than a year later when we returned for the requalification, the Stenke hood
was in use where you hold it over your head and yell "ho, ho, ho" all the way up. Again, the
safety divers were there in case someone stopped yelling. The Stenke hood was safer because
the divers didn't have to position themselves to watch bubbles from each person. Instead,
they could hear the "ho, ho" without maintaining a visual contact on each person.
When I reached the surface and climbed out, someone asked, "Hey, Dave! Did you see the neat
paintings of cute mermaids on the walls of the tank?" I never did see them, I guess I was
to concerned about safely getting to the surface. Come on guys, were there really mermaids
painted on the inside of the tank?
|View looking down into the Submarine Escape Training Tank. |