As air entering the diesel intakes grew colder our engine room attire changed from the no socks, no shirts, opened toed sandals and Key West neckties look. Now it was socks, boots, long sleeve shirts and sometimes a wool knit cap. When Magoo did this he pulled the cap down so far that his ears stuck out. It was a big joke for him to walk through the boat like this asking directions for Titsburg and then saying "I mean Pittsburgh". The most often question asked of him when he was doing this act was "How did that F .... did he get through Sub School"?
The further north we went the cold condition inside the pressure hull started to effect us warm weather sailors, especially the bridge watch standers. The small electric space heaters did nothing for our cold bunks in the berthing areas. The engine room living conditions were now cold, windy and damp. The foul weather gear was some help but was bulky and just not adaptable too our close quarters. A young kid like me that should be dancing, doing the Lindy, Fox Trot or the Twist, kissing girls, or playing touchy feely, am sitting in this sewer pipe reading a skinner back for comfort.
The movies are now reruns. The amount of movies brought aboard is limited due to the size of the reels in their boxes and where to stow them. The playing cards are damp and hard to deal and shuffle. Screws are now used for the cribbage board pegs that are lost. Acey Ducey is still played nightly but the dice cup is in rags. All the reading material is history and we are only halfway through our voyage - to where? Most of the crew does not know and could care less. My days are spent in the engine rooms, crews mess and sometimes in the after torpedo room, Boring just Boring. The weather was now the pits. We would stay on the surface most of the time and every once in awhile dive to a few hundred feet so the crew could get some good sleeping and eating conditions.
"Dive Dive Dive" the alarm sounded and in a few minutes we were a periscope depth. In the engine rooms you could tell how deep you were by looking at the sea pressure gages and converting that nmber to feet. We went a little deeper to about 150 feet and started to operate at very slow speed. This continued hour after hour. I guess we were listening to some one topside, a surface craft or tracking a bad guy submerged. The air was starting to get rank. My headache was getting worse and to keep my cigarette burning was getting harder. After a few more hours of this my headache was spreading to my shoulders, my neck ached and my "ZIPPO" would not work. This really sucks.
All of a sudden the word was passed "Prepare to Snorkel on Number One Main Engine". That is me. Jumping up the oiler and I lined up Number 1 Engine and the room to be ready for the command to Snorkel. The word was Passed "Commence Snorkeling". I pushed the air start throttle to the start position and the engine roared to life as the exhaust mast was blown dry of sea water. I had a good engine start. After a few minutes the oiler rang the engine order telegraph to say "ready". The rush of fresh air coming into the engine room made us very dizzy. The first thing after every thing was running hot straight and normal was to light our cigarettes.
We snorkeled for about 4 days in rough weather which made living conditions terrible. When the Head Valve closed, a device (valve) used to prevent sea water from coming down the induction mast, the engine will use the air inside the boat to keep operating for a short period of time. This condition causes an increasing vacuum in the pressure hull. 4 days of this is hard to describe. My big problem was that my ears could not equalize quickly enough with the changing atmospheric pressure so that my ears developed a sharp pain enough to make my eyes water.
On the surface with 4 engines on the line we are heading home. With the weather turning milder the crew took turns going topside standing aft enjoying the breeze and clean air. The sound of the diesel exhaust through the mufflers located in the superstructure was music to our ears. My self and the Chief Engineman watched the light blue diesel exhaust as it drifted afl indicating that the engines were running at their peek efficiency. A credit to the engine room personal whose care and maintenance procedures during the trip were up to the highest standards of the Submarine Force.
The time of entry to Key West is in the plan of the day. It also strongly worded that this operation would not be discussed in any form or manner. If questioned, a reserve salute would be given and that should take care of everything. With two main engines on the line every once in awhile you could smell aromas from the shore. To tell you what it was like and the feelings I had is impossible.
The next morning a tug came alongside with the Squadron CO bringing fresh milk and other goodies. Slowly we entered the base harbor and on one pier there was a group of people waving at us. The tug pushed us along side to moor but our mooring lines that were left behind couldn't be found. So here we are looking at the wives and some guys in suits and ties. The wives and girl friends were yelling, blowing kisses, and making hand gestures that made everyone laugh. So close and no way to get across to the pier. So there we sat waiting. Finally a forklift with our mooring lines showed up. In a few minutes we were doubled up and the gangway was put across. The in port watch was set and the first to leave were the three yeomen "Spooks" and the married pukes who did not have the duty. In five minutes the pier was empty.
A married engineman asked me to take his duty which I did. So now sitting topside eating some fresh fruit hand delivered by the squadron personal, my thoughts were varied on how my life is going to be in the next few years. Then the paymaster came aboard with our pay chits in hand. My hands were now full of $2 bills. My next liberty I'll be on Duval Street clutching them in a fist held high looking for some entertainment. Just can't loose with a fist full of $2 dollar bills.
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