A Northern Run - Getting Ready

One morning a quarters the XO addressed the crew stating "we are going to make a northern run". "To where"? But not saying another word, the CO went below. We knew we were going north when boxes of foul weather gear were trucked to the pier. Helping to load this stuff aboard we found one box labled "Foul Weather Gloves". Opening the box another engine man and myself threw a couple of packages down the after engine room hatch hoping that one size fits all. We loaded many cases of dry stores, for example canned flour, coffee, sugar, which we stowed outboard the engines on the narrow catwalk and the lower flats or just about any place you could find so they would not be in the way or shift during dives or heavy weather.

So moving right along, all fuel oil tanks, including lube oil, hydraulic oil and external hydraulic oil was topped off. Spare parts, piston rings, bales of rags, compressor parts, and gasket material were loaded. The spare parts lockers were stuffed with cartons of cigarettes, gum, after-shave lotion, playing cards and on and on. We also took aboard bricks used to form building construction walls. These were used when operating the trash disposal unit for weights in the garbage bags so they would sink alter being ejected from the boat. When each compartment report rigged for sea an officer would inspect and insure every thing was stowed properly so that in case of steep angles or rolls the stuff would not come loose and injure someone.

One other thing that had to be done was installing the doubler hatches. Let me explain. The normal entrance to the hull interior is through one hatch, which is dogged down when rigging for dive. When submerged this one hatch keeps the ocean out. If the mission involves a possible dangerous situation such as a depth charge attack, under ice navigation or an unfriendly submarine, there has to be a backup to this passage. The doubler hatch is a large metal plate that is bolted on a flange at the bottom of the hatchway and will act as a back up for the upper hatch. To install it requires some strong men to lift into position and when held in place it is bolted by about 20 large bolts and nuts. The problem with this installed the opening through this hatch is small and limits the size of things brought aboard. So when every thing is aboard they are installed it.

Each department was busy. The torpedo men loaded weapons forward and aft plus a few extra 5-gallon cans of "Gilley". Gilley is a 190 proof alcohol made from grain that can be consumed to obtain a buzz just like knocking down a few at the local bar. Some times at sea this can be useful in many ways. The electricians loaded their gear plus some Gilley for cleaning switchboards. For the amount they took aboard they are going to clean a lot of switchboards. The cooks had to plan the menus carefully in accordance to how the freeze box and dry storeroom were packed. We were ready for sea.

Department Heads granted this last Sunday morning liberty. Any crewmember that was married and had the duty, a single puke would standby for him so that the last day in port he could enjoy family life and by be getting a little leg. One married guy could not get a standby, so when his wife came aboard for a few hugs and kisses we cleared out the after torpedo room for them. When inside, the watertight door was dogged shut so they could enjoy themselves with out any body bothering them. The watch in the Maneuvering Room insured this.

In the control room an officer calculated the trim. This involves compensating for the weight of all the items brought aboard and removing water from the trim tanks as required to obtain a "0" trim and angle. This is done by consulting charts and tables. An ideal trim would be with the trim tanks half full. In this case they were less than half full due to the amount of items brought aboard but still in the safety boundaries. This indicated that the boat was slightly heavy. Remember that a submarine should have positive buoyancy to surface and remain there. It is a condition that with all the ballast tanks full and a normal trim the boat will slowly rise by it self to the surface with no help from the propulsion plant.

Monday morning we were told underway time would be at noon. Sitting topside enjoying the last of sunlight for many days. Three Yeomen, one First Class and 2 Second Class in dress blues, carrying there sea bags came aboard, saluted and went down below. Looked at my buddy with a question mark look. He smiled and said they were "Spooks". Greek to me.

The word was passed to "Station the Maneuvering Watch". Moving to the after engine room hatch I climbed halfway up the ladder and watched the goings on. After all mooring lines were singled up, a strange thing happened. Our mooring lines were left on the pier. Another question for this dumb engine man.

Underway on four main engines we rigged for dive and after awhile made a trim dive, a routine procedure to check the compensation and many other things. The trim was good after a little flooding and pumping of the trim tanks. We than surfaced and started to head north, the normal at sea routine started.

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