Thursday, February 7, 2013

Submarine Adventures

We tested and calibrated complex sonar systems
by Barry S.

I worked on passive ranging sonar programs for over 25 years at Sperry Gyroscope and succeeding companies that eventually were merged into Lockheed Martin. The effort included having to travel aboard a number of submarines for periods of four to five days each to test and calibrate the sonars.

These were small diesel submarines and quarters were cramped. We slept on torpedo racks (torpedoes were removed) on air mattresses in cold compartments. Food had to be eaten in a hurry to allow for other personnel to eat, as the mess could hold only about six people at a time.

During one trip, on the lead boat of a new class of British submarines, one of the two engines literally blew apart in the engine room. Our trip had to be cancelled, the submarine surfaced, and we spent several days limping back to port on the one remaining engine. There was one highlight, though. They let us go outside and sit on the hull to get some air. We dangled our feet over the side and it felt like riding on a whale. 

The view was amazing!