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At random: Probably the most expensive ballast ever carried by a ship was two tons of gold and eighteen tons of silver coins carried by the U.S. submarine TROUT while on a trip from Corregidor to Pearl Harbor early in World War II. TROUT had removed her moveable ballast to allow for a larger cargo of ammunition to be transported for the defenders on the embattled island. Lcdr. Fenno, TROUT's CO, planned on replacing the ballast with sand bags, but found none were available. The gold and silver from the Bank of the Philippines was substituted as ballast, which also solved the problem of removing the treasure to a safe place prior to invasion by the enemy.
Life on a United States Navy Submarine

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Posted 2011-12-04 10:12 PM (#52736)
Subject: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

Hi everyone!
I recently enlisted in the United States Navy with the SECF rating. If you don't know what that is you can read more about it here I'm going to be leaving in a couple months and I am kind of worried about depression due to lack of external stimuli like sunlight, fresh air, etc. What really worries me is that much of what I have read about being on a submarine has been fairly negative. I need some encouragement to know that I will not want to jump off a building after I get back from my first deployment. So I am wondering what your experiences have been like on submarines?

I guess a decent question would be how would you rate your experiences on a submarine on a 1 to 10 scale? With 1 representing regret of ever having stepped foot on a submarine and 10 representing wanting to be back on a submarine in a heartbeat.

Edited by Hilariousity 2011-12-04 10:35 PM
Posted 2011-12-05 7:03 AM (#52745 - in reply to #52736)

Great Sage of the Sea

Posts: 740

Location: NE Florida
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

I never felt any lack of external stimulus. I can't imagine what you've been reading that was so negative.

I had plenty of stimulus through interaction with other crew members and doing my job well. I was an ST, one of your options, and enjoyed the outside through listening to the ships around us - especially other nation's warships. Outside news comes in frequently.

As you get back toward home port, excitement peaks because you'll be seeing outside things. Then you can spend the extra submarine pay in doing fun things (or better, investing it).

There'll be lots of satisfaction in obtaining your dolphins (qualifying in submarines - a rigorous process). Very few of the general public can say they've done it. The feeling of pride is one you won't forget - ever.

One external stimulus I remember is walking on the ice at the North Pole - twice - and playing softball there.

If I were you I'd be tremendously thrilled and eager to go into one of the most satisfying careers in the world.

Best Wishes,
O. D. Carlson
STCM(SS),(USN, Ret.)
Posted 2011-12-06 8:21 AM (#52765 - in reply to #52736)


Posts: 2881

Location: Kansas City Missouri
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

Joe, if you are thinking of suicide already, you'll never set foot aboard a submarine.
Roy Ator
Posted 2011-12-06 8:29 AM (#52766 - in reply to #52736)

Great Sage of the Sea

Posts: 892

Location: Palo Pinto County, Texas
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

Ten (10) plus rating without any reservations!
Posted 2011-12-06 4:16 PM (#52778 - in reply to #52765)
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

GaryKC - 2011-12-06 10:21 AM

Joe, if you are thinking of suicide already, you'll never set foot aboard a submarine.

Am I worried about suicide, yes. Do I actually see it happening in my case? No. I am worried about depression and think that it can and will happen, but I think I can cope pretty well. After all of my research I have done I have read a lot of good things about submarines: lots of life long friends, good food, being stationed in awesome scenic ports, a 6 on 12 off work schedule. I guess my biggest worry is not being able to finish my college degree and ending up at another minimum wage dead end job if I decide not to re-enlist. I have read overall the navy is a bad choice for people pursuing degrees because its hard to take college classes (especially some of the more advanced/specialized classes) when out at sea, and that submarines are an even worse choice because they go out to sea a lot more then larger vessels like air craft carriers. Another thing that worries me is the lack of information that I have found from ex-submariners while searching the internet. I have found some bad reviews about submarines from sites like but I really have found maybe 2 positive reviews from ex-submariners including one of the previous posts in this thread and that worries me a lot, and that is why I am asking for your input

Edited by Hilariousity 2011-12-06 4:28 PM
Posted 2011-12-07 4:50 PM (#52819 - in reply to #52736)
Master and Commander

Posts: 1418

Location: Wollongong, NSW
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

If you are deciding on a future career and wondering whether you can study in a submarine, a submarine is not for you. Life in a boat does not revolve around regular hours. You serve in the submarine service because you know it will make a difference; it is not a stepping stone for a future outside the Navy. Submarines don't carry passengers - find an auxiliary or a big ship for your career enhancement/study programme!
C Stafford
Posted 2011-12-11 6:38 PM (#52907 - in reply to #52736)
Senior Crew

Posts: 159

Location: San Diego, CA
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

If you are even thinking about depression, you are probably studying psychiatry or nor not suited for submarine service.
You have to get along with interesting shipmates. If you are easily offended and or are loner, submarines are not for you.

My experience was very good. I made friends that last a lifetime. My shipmates and I had lunch with our old CO and XO 40 years after we got off the boat, and they bought the beer. No service has that friendship, except submarines.

You should feel proud to be on a submarine.
Posted 2011-12-12 2:33 PM (#52928 - in reply to #52736)
New on board

Posts: 2

Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

If this is you then you may wear Dolphins one day. If not, surface or aviation are still options.


The tragic loss of the submarine Thresher and 129 men had a special kind of impact on the nation…..a special kind of sadness, mixed with universal admiration for the men who chose this kind of work.

One could not mention the Thresher without observing, in the same breath how utterly final and alone the end is when a ship dies at the bottom of the sea…..and what a remarkable specimen of man it must be who accepts such a risk.

Most of us might be moved to conclude, too, that a tragedy of this kind would have a damaging effect on the moral of the other men in the submarine service and tend to discourage future enlistments. Actually, there is no evidence that this is so.

What is it, then, that lures men to careers in which they spend so much of their time in cramped quarters, under great psychological stress, with danger lurking all about them?

Bond Among Them
Togetherness is an overworked term, but in no other branch of our military service is it given such full meaning as in the so-called “silent service.”

In an under sea craft, each man is totally dependant upon the skill of every other man in the crew, not only for top performance but for actual survival. Each knows that his very life depends on the others and because this is so, there is a bond among them that both challenges and comforts them.

All of this gives the submariner a special feeling of pride, because he is indeed a member of an elite corps. The risks, then, are an inspiration, rather than a deterrent.

The challenge of masculinity is another factor, which attracts men to serve on submarines. It certainly is a test of man’s prowess and power to know he can qualify for this highly selective service. However, it should be emphasized that this desire to prove masculinity is not pathological, as it might be in certain daredevil pursuits, such as driving a motorcycle through a flaming hoop.

Emotionally Healthy
There is nothing daredevelish about the motivations of the man who decides to dedicate his life to the submarine service. He does, indeed, take pride in demonstrating that he is quite a man, but he does not do so to practice a form of foolhardy brinkmanship, to see how close he can get to failure and still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. On the contrary, the aim in the submarine service is to battle the danger, to minimize the risk, to take every measure to make certain that safety rather than danger, is maintained at all times.

Are the men in submarines braver than those in other pursuits where the possibility of sudden tragedy is not constant? The glib answer would be that they are. It is much more accurate, from a psychological point of view, to say they are not necessarily braver, but that they are who have a little more insight into themselves and their capabilities.

They know themselves a little better than the next man. This has to be so with men who have a healthy reason to volunteer for a risk. They are generally a cut healthier emotionally than others of similar age and background because of their willingness to push themselves a little bit farther and not settle for an easier kind of existence.

We all have tremendous capabilities but are rarely straining at the upper level of what we can do; these men are.

The country can be proud and grateful that so many of its sound, young, eager men care enough about their own status in life--and the welfare of their country--to pool their skills and match them collectively against the power of the sea.

Posted 2011-12-28 8:34 PM (#53359 - in reply to #52736)

Master and Commander

Posts: 2455

Location: Liverpool, England
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine


You mention in your thumbnail profile that you are of an anti-social disposition which causes some concern. I am only guessing that you are around 18 -20 years old and most of us as teenagers BTDT during our formative years. If that is all it is, then rest assured the USN will certainly knock those rough edges off you before you even see a submarine. However, if your anti-social attitude to life is more deeply-seated in your personality then submarines are definitely not for you. The ability to get along with people in a confined environment is a prime requisite within the team-work ethos of an operational boat. You will find there is no room aboard a boat for egos and that respect has to be earned the hard way both on the road to qualification and thereafter into your service.

Having read the link you gave us, it seems very clear that the USN support further education opportunities for SECF ratings to achieve degree status in disciplines that are not only beneficial to you and your career advancment, but also in seeing any such qualifications are applied for the benefit of the service. This means they will be looking for commitment before providing you with those opportunities. If you are only looking at submarine service as a stepping stone to gathering qualifications for a shoreside career then you would be sadly mistaken.

You will also need to be able to adapt to naval discipline. You also mentioned in your profile that you needed a job before your parents decide to kick you out of the family home. If you thought their tough-love discipline of constant demands for better behaviour from you, punished by a few groundings were discipline, then you need to guess again. Naval discipline is the no-nonsense variety that demands and enforces compliance with its rules and regulations. No gentle slaps on the wrist and no appeals after punishment for any breach of the disciplinary code. Big boy's game - big boy's rules - end of story.

If you can confidently say you are suitable and amenable to all the above requirements then by all means volunteer. If you can't, then I would strongly suggest you find yourself another career path. BTW I vote 10 on your scale which tells you all you need to know about me. Good luck.

Posted 2013-05-02 8:47 PM (#63429 - in reply to #52736)
Master and Commander

Posts: 1402

Location: Houston, TX (Best state in the US)
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

Get out now.  I would not want you as a shipmate.....
Bob Mahon
Posted 2013-08-12 4:50 PM (#65871 - in reply to #63429)

Great Sage of the Sea

Posts: 801

Location: Milford, PA
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

Having been on surface craft and Submarines, I'll easily say my time riding Boats was a highlight of my life. I am more proud of being a 'Brother of the Phin' than anything else I've accomplished other than having 2 fine sons. As for rating it; an easy 10.

But, that life is not for everybody. Unless you are confident in your abilities to live with similar people for extended periods, be tolerant of the confines and do your utmost to be a good shipmate, perhaps Submarine duty is not for you.
If you have serious question now, I'd strongly suggest you re-think your decision(s). We Submariners are not tolerant of shirkers, misfits or those that add further stress to an already stressful situation. We are extensions of and for each other and if you doubt you can fill those shorts, stay out.
Posted 2015-06-11 5:32 PM (#75425 - in reply to #52736)

Master and Commander

Posts: 2188

Location: Port Ludlow, WA (the Olympic Penninsula)
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

I rate submarines as an easy ELEVEN, but Joe you sound like you're already looking for excuses to avoid the best service in the military - as such you'll probably never last and as a "non-qual" will be reduced to tears.  You're best to stay comfy at home (just saying)...
Posted 2015-07-04 11:50 PM (#75774 - in reply to #75425)

Master and Commander

Posts: 1129

Location: Va.Beach,Va.
Subject: RE: Life on a United States Navy Submarine

Joe,for whatever reason,I'm unable to access your profile but, judging from the comments from my trusted shipmates who have seen it, and your own writings,You won't make it as far as submarine school,let alone last a day aboard a boat.Either you are just not cut out for the job or(as I suspect),you are a poser and are only posting here to jerk our chains, Either way,I agree with Stoops,get out now,I don't want you for a shipmate.
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