Those who have ever dreamed about a deep-sea voyage are in for a treat. Not only are submarines one of the most versatile underwater vehicles, but people actually live in them. From bathroom rules, sleeping arrangements, and daily physical activity, here are the most surprising aspects of living aboard a submarine.
It’s Either Boring Or Very Dangerous
It takes a certain kind of person to spend their life on a submarine. While most of the time it will be incredibly boring and monotonous, things can turn at the drop of a hat.
The sailors who live on submarines need to be ready for danger at any moment, which is why they go through intense training before climbing aboard.
They Operate At Six-Hour Intervals
Those who choose to live and work on a submarine need to get used to the strict rules aboard. One guideline all sailors must follow is the six-hour segment routine.
They live their lives in three six-hour increments. First, they get six hours for sleeping. Next, they must spend six hours on watch. Finally, they get six hours of free time.
They Have To Keep Oxygen Levels Low
Submarines are required to keep their oxygen levels low due to safety concerns. However, that can lead to some dangerous side effects for people.
Lower oxygen levels can make it difficult for people to recover from injuries, make the sailors more tired, and cause them to become angrier than usual.
Checking For Leaks
The sailors living aboard submarines need to be diligent, especially when it comes to leaks. Every time they come out of being completely submerged, they need to quickly check for leaks.
Even a tiny leak can make all of the difference. Once they find any leaks, they need to patch them up in record time.
Working Out On A Submarine
While living on a submarine may make it seem difficult to get in a good day’s workout, it’s not impossible. Most submarines have gyms for the sailors to get their exercise.
These gyms are usually pretty cramped but come with a decent amount of workout equipment such as weights and treadmills.
Grooming Habits Are More Lenient
Most sailors are told to keep specific grooming habits such as short haircuts and no facial hair. The rules are a bit more lenient on submarines.
Since the sailors on submarines aren’t interacting with the outside world too much, they can let their grooming habits slide. For example, the photo shows sailors getting groomed before arriving on land after a long voyage.
What They Eat On Submarines
Some may be wondering how sailors eat on a submarine. They usually have a crew aboard who is in charge of the cooking.
Sailors are supposed to have three meals a day and food supply usually isn’t resupplied for weeks or even months at a time. Their food isn’t actually that bad with some common meals being pizza or fish.
They Can’t Keep Track Of Time
When a submarine is submerged under the water for long periods of time, it can be difficult to tell what time of day it really is. Sailors aren’t able to see sunlight or moonlight.
This causes the crew to lose track of time, which can mess with their circadian rhythms.
Training To Live On A Submarine
Those who want to spend their lives on a submarine need to go through a lot of intense training beforehand.
According to a former Navy crew member, “…for the first few months, you spend 10 hours a day studying non-stop before marching back and forth. They essentially cram four to six years of college-level information into a six-month period.”
Earning A Dolphin Pin
The sailors who train to live on submarine hope to secure the coveted Dolphin Pin. This distinguished honor signifies that the crew member knows the basic functions of the submarine and are able to use the submarine as a weapon.
In order to earn the Dolphin Pin, sailors must complete a test run by their commanding officers.
Looking For Directions
Going out into an endless sea can seem daunting. The crew members can’t rely on regular maps, so they must navigate through something much more complicated.
Submarines travel by complex electronic machines that provide detailed information on how to navigate the ocean. Everyone on the submarine has to rely on these machines to get them to their destination.
Sleeping Habits Are Intense
Some crew members had strange experiences when it came to sleeping on a submarine. Since the oxygen levels are lower, it messes with their circadian rhythms.
Also, the sailors learn to go into such a deep sleep that they can’t hear someone having a loud conversation next to them. However, if they hear their name whispered, it wakes them up instantly.
Sleeping Next To Something Dangerous
Sleeping on a submarine is already cramped enough, but it gets even less spacious when the sailors are forced to share their bedroom with dangerous weapons.
Their bedroom is also referred to as the missile room because it is loaded with weapons such as ballistic missiles, torpedoes, and nuclear warheads.
They Share Beds
Sleeping on a submarine is one of the most challenging things the crew members do. Not only are their sleeping quarters limited, but there usually aren’t enough beds for everyone.
The racks typically have two or three beds on top of each other, but sailors will often have to wake up a sleeping comrade to trade places after a shift.
Never Steal On A Submarine
It’s important that the people aboard a submarine are able to trust one another. This trust can go out the window if people start stealing from each other.
Those who are caught stealing will have to deal with some dire consequences. The perpetrators will get kicked off the submarine and dropped off at the next port, get demoted, and drop in rank.
They Form Incredible Bonds
Going away for months or years at a time means that sailors are bound to get close to one another.
The crew members are going to become one big family, so they form a tight bond. This allows them to work together as a team and distracts them from any homesickness.
The Eerie Nickname For Submarine Beds
Only those who are brave enough will be able to withstand a submarine journey. One thing that may scare some potential voyagers off is the nickname for submarine beds.
These are usually referred to as coffins because of their small size and that the beds are practically stacked on top of each other.
Gathering In The Mess Hall
Living on a submarine shouldn’t be all work and no play. The crew members are allotted at least six hours a day for their free time.
Most sailors will spend this time in the mess hall. They go there to gather with their peers, eat, read, watch television, or play games.
The Usual Timeline For A Submarine Trip
Those who want to look into joining the team on a submarine should know how long a typical trip lasts. Working on a submarine is a huge commitment.
The shortest trips usually go for no less than 90 days, but they will probably go a lot longer. Most trips are close to six months.
Bathroom Space Is Extremely Limited
Everything is extremely cramped inside a submarine, especially when it comes to bathrooms. Submarines have to fit large machinery, so they leave little room for other necessities.
While it may seem hard for just one sailor to deal with this, they must share these small quarters with the rest of the crew members.
Be Careful With What You Pack
Before arriving for a submarine journey, sailors are prepped on how much space will be available to them. Crews are usually made up of over 100 people, so there isn’t much breathing room.
This is why crew members are told not to overpack because there most likely won’t be room for all of their belongings.
Say Goodbye To The Outside World
Those who are wanting to lose contact with the outside world for a while are in luck while on a submarine.
Submarines travel in the middle of the ocean, so they hardly ever come into contact with anyone else. However, submarines do have the capability of showing their location, but they don’t usually do this for safety concerns.
The Passageways Are Very Narrow
Living on a submarine means crew members need to get used to not having much of their own space. This is evident in all parts of the vessel, including the passageways.
Submarine passageways are so narrow that only one person can walk through them at a time. Two people can’t even pass each other going two separate directions.
No Room For Showers
Those who choose a life on a submarine need to get used to small spaces. Not only are the bathrooms tiny, but there is even less space for showers.
There is barely enough room for people to stand in the showers, so they need to learn how to navigate the space they are given.
Find Some Space In The Kitchen
While places such as the bathroom, bedroom, and passageways are very cramped on a submarine, there are other rooms with more space.
The submarine kitchens are actually pretty spacious because they need to keep a large supply of food. The chefs also need a decent amount of room to cook.
Everything To Know About Watch Duties
Watch duties are one of the most important tasks aboard a submarine. Each crew member must devote at least six hours a day for their watch.
The time and place of watch duty depend on the sailor’s rank and training. The higher the rank, the more responsibility they will have.
What Crew Members Do For Fun
Being stuck on a submarine may seem a little claustrophobic, but the crew members learn how to keep themselves occupied.
In order to add balance to their life at sea, the sailors on the submarine usually do things found in typical recreation rooms. These activities include cards, board games, and watching movies.
Turning The Lights Off
When crew members start a submarine trip, they have to check for leaks and complete initial tasks. When this is done, they turn off all the lights in the submarine.
The lights are turned off to give the crew members some extra sleep before they get started on more intense work for their journey.
Submarines Have To Travel A Certain Way
Submarines have to ascend and descend at a certain angle in order to function properly. All submarines need to do this at a 45-degree angle.
The submarine does this on its own, which causes a little discomfort for the crew. This basically looks like people leaning on the floor to keep themselves upright.
US Submarines Can Go Anywhere
There are submarines all over the world, but the United States is one of the few countries that can travel anywhere they want without being detected.
American submarines are able to do this because they have long strike capabilities that are more powerful than the rest of the entire world.
USS Independence (LCS-2)
The USS Independence LCS-2 has been a part of the U.S. Navy fleet since 2009. This combat ship is equipped to find and destroy mines, hunt down submarines, and engage in battle with small boats.
The USS Independence has a large flight deck, hangar, and mission bay. The ship carries AGM-114L Hellfire missiles, BAE Systems Mk 110 57 mm gun, .50 cal (12.7 mm) guns, and Raytheon SeaRAM CIWS. The USS Independence resides in her homeport Naval Base in San Diego, assigned to the Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)
The USS Gerald R. Ford is expected to leave on her first deployment around 2022. This efficient ship joined the U.S. Navy fleet in 2017 and is the world’s largest aircraft carrier. The Gerald R. Ford is equipped with state-of-the-art radar technology, including an AN/SPY-3 and AN/SPY-4.
The Gerald R. Ford also features Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System that has the ability to launch 25% more aircraft per day than the Nimitz class, and requires 24% fewer crew members, saving the Navy an estimated $4 billion in operating costs over 50 years. This ship is stacked with surface-to-air missiles, RIM-162 ESSM launchers and M2.50 Cal. (12.7 mm) machine guns.
USS Emory S. Land (AS-39)
The purpose and design of the USS Emory S. Land (AS-39) is to tend to US Navy submarines that need supplies and equipment repair. This ship is basically a floating city, with 53 specialized shops onboard for food, electricity, water, medical, dental, legal services, as well as plenty of parts and equipment.
This ship has received numerous awards for her service, including eight Battle Efficiency Awards, four Meritorious Unit Commendations, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. When the USS Emory S. Land isn’t deployed, she’s at her homeport in Apra Harbor, Guam.
The US Navy Is Contemplating The Ghost Boat
Gregory Sancroff, the CEO of Juliet Marine Systems designed the Ghost boat with hopes that the U.S. Navy will buy it from the company. The boat is designed to answer back if a large fleet of fast, small attack boats were to target the U.S. Navy in an area like the Middle East.
The Ghost is designed to minimize drag for quicker speed and is able to carry a variety of weapons to engage in an attack. The Navy doesn’t have plans to purchase the Ghost yet — Sancroff decided to build the boat in anticipation of the U.S. military needing this type of boat in the near future, after the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.
Seawolf-class Attack Submarine SSN
Seawolf class submarines cost a reported $3 billion to build, designed to combat advanced Soviet ballistic missile submarines. The U.S. Navy had originally planned on building 29 units, but after the Cold War ended, they reduced the attack submarine budget dramatically, and only three were built.
Seawolf submarines stand apart from the rest, as they are larger, faster, and quieter than the Los Angeles-class submarines.They are also equipped to carry twice as many torpedo tubes and plenty more weapons, including 50 Tomahawk land attack missiles and eight torpedo tubes. Submerged, this sub can carry 9,138 tons with a speed of 35 knots.
USS America (LHA-6)
The USS America (LHA-6) was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2014, replacing the Peleliu. This ship carries part of a Marine expeditionary unit, with a mission to carry the unit into battle and then bring them back to shore. The USS America has carried the AV-8B Harrier II, MV-22B Osprey, F-35B Lightning II, CH-53K Super Stallion, UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Viper, and MH-60S Knighthawk.
So far, the ship has conducted joint exercises with regional allies that include Colombia, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Chile, and Peru. These exercises improve security and communications operations, as well as mission planning activities and medical asset coordination.
USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was decommissioned in February of 2017, and although it wasn’t perfect, deserves a place on this list. The design of this ship was changed due to budget cuts, leaving out the intended RIM-2 Terrier missile launchers. However, this ship has played an important role for the U.S. Navy and is the longest naval vessel ever built, at 1,123 feet.
The Enterprise was dispatched to assist in creating a blockade during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and has also deployed to the Mediterranean and Vietnam. The ship also participated in one of the largest shows of force around North Korea after they shot down an American Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star that was on patrol.
USS Midway (CV-41)
The USS Midway (CV-41) served as the Persian Gulf flagship in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, played an active role in the Vietnam War, and was once the largest ship in the world. The USS Midway was commissioned a week after the end of World War II and was decommissioned in April of 1992.
Commissioned in 1945, the Midway made the first MIG kills in the Vietnam War, and led the last air-to-air victory of the conflict. Today the ship acts as a museum at its final resting place at Navy pier in San Diego.
USS Kidd (DDG-100)
Pictured here is the USS Kidd (DDG-993) but it’s the ship’s successor, the USS Kidd (DDG-100) that makes the list of most powerful U.S. Navy ships. This is the third USS Kidd, named after Rear admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who was aboard the Arizona when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.
Part of the Destroyer Squadron 9 of Carrier Strike Group 3, the ship is equipped with Tomahawk missiles and anti-submarine weaponry. The USS Kidd was apart of the search for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. When not deployed, the ship is located at Naval Station Everett, 25 miles north of Seattle.
USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49)
Based in San Diego, California, USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) is the lead ship of her class of landing ship dock for the U.S. Navy. The ship has support humanitarian efforts in the Pangasinan province of the Philippines, disaster relief after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and in the recovery efforts of the sunken Republic of Korea Navy ship ROKS Cheonan.
The USS Harpers Ferry can reach over 20 knots and can house 22 officers and 397 enlisted men. It’s armed with two 25 mm Mk 38 rapid-fire cannons, two 20 mm Phalanx CIWS mounts, two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers, and six 0.5 in M2HB machine guns.
USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)
The USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) is a guided missile destroyer at the top of its class. The vessel is equipped with stealth technology for evading anti-ship missiles and a downgraded version of the Aegis combat system which simultaneously launches, tracks and evades missiles.
The exterior of the ship is made entirely of steel for superior protection and durability. The Collective Protection System makes it safe for the ship to enter environments that are contaminated by chemicals or radiological material. In 2003, the ship fired Tomahawk missile strikes against targets in Iraq and in 2014 it fired Tomahawk missiles on targets in Syria during the military intervention against ISIS.
USS Ohio (SSGN-726)
The USS Ohio (SSGN-726) is at the top of her class of nuclear-powered missile submarines. In 2002, there were plans to retire the submarine, but instead, the U.S. Navy decided to modify the USS Ohio and her sister submarines to SSGNs, conventional missile submarines.
In each of its 22 torpedo tubes, this sub carries seven Tomahawk missiles. When the submarine was delivered to the U.S. Navy in October 1981, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover commented that the Ohio should, “strike fear in the hearts of our enemies.” This sub can travel a reported 25 knots submerged and go 60 days without requiring further food or supplies.
USS Wasp (LHD-1)
The USS Wasp (LDH-1) is a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship, and the tenth ship to carry the name. This ship can manage any of the Navy or Marine Corps helicopters and is able to perform some of the most complex military maneuvers.
Its well dock spans 12,000 square-feet with two aircraft elevators for the hangar bay and flight deck. The USS Wasp holds 1,075 crew members and 2,200 embarked troops, and has provided medical assistance to 600 causalities. This ship is ready to go with the ability to hold six AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft or six F-35B Lightning II stealth strike-fighters. It can carry 12 MV-22B Osprey assault support tiltrotor and 4 CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-life helicopters.
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)
The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) is a super-carrier, named after the 41st President of the United States who was a naval aviator during World War II. The super-carrier is armed with three Phalanx close-in weapon systems, two Mk 29 ESSM launchers, and two RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles.
One of the world’s largest warships, the super-carrier spans 1,092 feet and displaces over 100,000 tons. It features a bulbous bow design to improve hull efficiency and curved edges on the flight deck to decrease radar signature. The USS George H.W. Bush has an updated aviation fuel storage and distribution system, semi-automated refueling, navigation system upgrades, and armored windows.
USS Somerset (LPD-25)
The USS Somerset is the fourth Navy vessel to be named in honor of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Passengers of the United Airlines Flight 93 fought the terrorists and prevented the airplane from crashing at its intended site. Instead, it crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Approximately 22 tons of steel were used in the design of the USS Somerset, which were sourced from a crane that stood near Flight 93’s crash site. She was the last Navy ship to depart from the Avondale Ship Yard before it closed, and is stationed at its homeport in San Diego when she’s not out on deployment.
USS Providence (SSN-719)
Commissioned in July of 1985, the USS Providence (SSN-719) was the first Los Angeles class submarine to be equipped with the Tomahawk missile from the VLS system using its combat system CCS MK1.
The submarine holds 12 officers and 98 enlisted, with BQQ-10 passive sonar, BQS-15 detecting and ranging sonar and BYG-1 fire control. It’s also equipped for defense with Tomahawk land attack missile block with a range of 1,700 nautical miles and Harpoon anti-surface ship missile with a range of 70 nautical miles.
USS Virginia (SSN-774)
The USS Virginia (SSN-774) is a nuclear-powered attack submarine specifically designed for coastal attacks. One unique feature of this sub is its pressure chamber which allows SEALs to deploy while the submarine is still submerged.
The USS Virginia can reach up to 25 knots and is equipped with vertical launch tubes that can fire Mk-48 torpedoes BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
USS Ticonderoga (DDG/CG-47)
The USS Ticonderoga (DDG/CG-47) is a guided missile cruiser of the U.S. Navy that boasts the latest technology in tracking and engaging multiple aircraft targets. There are five U.S. Navy ships with the name Ticonderoga, named after the Ticonderoga (CV-14) that was nearly sunk during World War II.
This cruiser was commissioned in 1983 and decommissioned in 2004. The Navy offered the ship to be used as a museum, but as of now there aren’t any sites available to take her in.
USS Freedom (LCS-1)
The USS Freedom (LCS-1) belongs to the littoral combat ships class. This vessel is designed for shallow water missions, including mine-sweeping and humanitarian relief. The USS Freedom has excellent maneuverability and speed but is not designed to take on large warships.
Although Freedom has successfully assisted in missions such as delivering relief supplies to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, it’s been plagued with design flaws and engine failures that put this vessel on the low end of the list. However, it did complete rough water trials in March 2015, to prove that the ship is structurally sound and ready for deployment.
USS Chief (MCM-14)
The USS Chief (MCM-14) was named to honor the service and tradition of the Chief Petty Officers of the U.S. Navy. This ship was built as an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship based in Sasebo, Japan, as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The ship is equipped with a mine neutralization system and two .50 caliber machine guns. It’s built for maneuverability and to withstand any dangerous mine explosions it may incur.