Navy Net - Royal Navy Community

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

i News: "'You’re Only Ever 15 minutes Away From Launching A Missile': What It Was Like To Be A Cold War Submariner"

soleil

War Hero
"Each time Richard Humphreys laid down on his bunk bed on board submarine HMS Resolution, he did so knowing that he was less than 50ft away from ballistic nuclear missiles with more explosive power than all of the bombs dropped during the Second World War.

But the former Royal Navy serviceman, who spent five years on the nuclear deterrent in the North Atlantic towards the end of the Cold War, was more worried about being caught by a Russian attack submarine.

“You’re only ever 15 minutes away from launching a missile – but we were more on edge about being detected by Soviet submarines because they tried to hunt us down,” he tells i.

“The Soviets were armed to the teeth. We had a hawkish US president [Ronald Reagan] and Prime Minister [Margaret Thatcher] in office and it seemed that nuclear war could happen.It was a scary time.”

Now, almost 30 years after the Soviet Union was dissolved, Humphreys has recounted his naval stint in a book, Under Pressure: Living Life And Avoiding Death On A Nuclear Submarine.

“It’s about what it’s like to eat, sleep, live, work and stay sane in an extreme environment,” he says.

“Hopefully it gives an insight into the claustrophobic world of the modern submariner.”

With no natural light, Humphreys and his crew mates were crammed into a 430ft x 33ft steel tube, 300ft below sea level.

His days were largely governed by meal times, owing to the watch system’s four-hour shift and eight-hour rest period – a routine, he says, was disorientating.

“If someone wakes you up at 8pm, you don’t know whether it’s morning or night. You’d go up to the galley to get breakfast – only to be served steak and kidney pudding,” the 52-year-old says.

“You’re zoned in to this watch system and never see more than 20ft in front of you. There are coffin-like bunks, horrifying smells coming through the toilets and, if you didn’t get on with someone, you had to stay out of their way.

“Sea water pressure is bearing down on you and it’s how it exerts on your mind and body… there are few more extreme situations than living in a giant steel tin.”

By his own admission, working on a submarine with 140 people on three-month patrols wasn’t one of his boyhood dreams.

But his tenure in the Navy was born out of a desire to escape 80s Wolverhampton.

“The Midlands and northern Britain had deaths by a thousand cuts: heavy industry declined and the industrial heart had been ripped out,” he says. “I wanted to get away. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t think there were many opportunities for somebody like me.”

After leaving school, Humphreys embarked on a secret trip to Marseille, France, in the hope of joining the French Foreign Legion. “I’d read Simon Murray’s book, Legionnaire, which detailed his time as an Englishman in the French Foreign Legion in the 60s, and was heavily influenced by it,” he says.

Having sailed through the initial tests, his hopes were dashed after being told he needed parental permission as he was not yet 18 – something which was out of the question. Instead, he returned to the UK and successfully applied to the Navy.

In the book, he describes his military training in unflinching detail; from 5.30am wake-up calls from bellowing chief petty officers, to beds being hurled out of windows for falling below exacting standards.

And his submarine training culminated in a series of 100ft emergency escapes. “The whole thing is terrifying,” he says.

“You’re in a pressurised, hooded suit but your automatic reaction is to hold your breath.

“Water is filling up but you’re too busy trying to equalise your ears because of the pressure needed to open the hatch. You have to breathe normally otherwise your lungs will explode.”

By and large, Humphreys tenure on board the submarine didn’t have too much of an effect on his mental health. But he says the banter among his colleagues sometimes crossed the line: “I have an amusing middle name (Valentine) and I was teased mercilessly during my first patrol,” he says. “At the time it was horrendous; I’d just turned 18 and hadn’t had anything like that before. But you just have to deal with it.

“That’s the thing as a submariner, you have to be placid and not get worked up about stuff. You have to remain calm and collected.”

Humphreys left the Navy in 1990 aged 23 – following the fall of the Berlin Wall and months before Mrs Thatcher’s resignation after 11 years in office.

The father-of-four, who lives in Hackney, east London, went on to carve out a career in publishing.

But the memories of his time on Resolution came flooding back when the ARA San Juan disappeared off the coast of Argentina in November 2017. “When it exploded, it was picked up on the Richter scale and underwater monitoring equipment. It was a pretty harrowing state of affairs,” he says.

“That’s the day-to-day existence; something quite innocuous can happen and it leads to a sort of domino effect on machinery. You start having malfunctions everywhere – it can quickly turn into something catastrophic.

“It immediately took me back and I felt myself sitting down in the control room of the nuclear submarine, looking at the screen.

“Friends started asking me questions so I started putting some thoughts down.” He continues: “I never kept a diary – you couldn’t, the Soviets would have loved a British submariner making notes about the nuclear deterrent. But it was ingrained in my psyche. If you’re a submariner, you never forget.”"

 

fishhead

War Hero
Fortunately I never has a Bomber. I did long trips at sea on other classes and boredom was the chief enemy rather than worrying if Ivan was on our trail.
I have an idea for the next recruiting drive. "Get away from Wolverhampton and crew a Bomber" Other boring towns are available.
 
Actual triggers, both the training and real variety were Colt 45 handles.
^Aye Not like BNM's or this one from the Guardian either
(Unless they were an early American/inboard training model ?? )

1581968737352.png


During my time as A/PSO both of REVENGE's triggers were comme ça -

1581969469281.png

...and as MCC has already said, comme ça -


1581967069704.png

^ Only one at a time (in quick succession) of course - Just not cricket to let 'em all off with one click, eh?

(That's not me, BTW) But I still experience a recurring nightmare - Come the day of the 1SQ race the combination will not work and I just cannot open that blessed trigger safe...
 

Attachments

  • 1581968713902.png
    1581968713902.png
    41.8 KB · Views: 3
  • 1581969360436.png
    1581969360436.png
    41.8 KB · Views: 2

BARNEYRNSM

War Hero
Some may have not seen this, did the interview the yeat Hunter Killer was released. Enjoy and take the mick I'm sure!

Sent from my ELE-L09 using Tapatalk
 

SONAR-BENDER

War Hero
All us proper sundodgers are used to doing watershots.

But could they, can they do watershots in those big vertical tubes....

The answer is yes!
 

Attachments

  • bomber watershot.jpg
    bomber watershot.jpg
    66.2 KB · Views: 4

Alfacharlie

War Hero
A quick (unrelated and irrelevant) question for the sundodgers on here. When we had no 8’s for AWD, why was the submariners a darker blue in colour than the us skimmers?
Always wondered, but never asked.
 

SONAR-BENDER

War Hero
Anyway, this is what happens when they use the Drill Firing Handle - it gives all the right noises but doesn't actually go to a target.

Bit like a giant SeaCat.

duff missile.jpg
 

WreckerL

War Hero
Super Moderator
As I recall, they were made of 'Nomex' (sp) or some 'special' fabric.
Correct, it was nomex up until they brought cotton back in, before that it was man made fibres and because they were cheaper than cotton GS got them, all tickety boo until the Falklands.
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS Civil/crime news: change of number for Welsh language helpline MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: Crown Court Digital Case System claims work boost MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: register for ‘Common Platform’ early adopter rollout MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: tender opens for police station telephone advice work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Edition 23: News from the Adjudicator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Charity Commission News: Issue 65 MoD News 0
higthepig Navy news October 2020 The Quarterdeck 0
MoD_RSS Civil/crime news: legal guidance to prepare for 1 January 2021 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil/crime news: rollout of secure file exchange wins praise MoD News 0
BreathingOutOnTheWayUp Good News - For RFA, Brit Shipbuiders, RN Support & Brit Taxpayer RFA 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: online guidance for sending hearing fees rollout MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil/crime news: recruitment launch for Legal Aid Review Panel MoD News 0
soleil Portsmouth News: RN Officer Makes History After Being Named Top Naval Student On Germany's Most Prestigious Course The Fleet 2
MoD_RSS Civil news: opportunity to bid for telephone advice contracts MoD News 0
higthepig Navy news September 2020 The Quarterdeck 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: faster payments and new fees for immigration work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: HPCDS guidance updated as courts restart work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: tender opportunity for housing and debt work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: revised expert witness guidance available MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: contract amends for sending hearing fees rollout MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: updated Crown Court fee guidance and new claim forms MoD News 0
soleil P. News: "Royal Navy's HMS Sultan Forced To Cancel Popular Fireworks Due To Covid-19" Bases / Shore Est 4
MoD_RSS Civil/crime news: launch of ‘help us say yes’ online training MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: tender opportunities for telephone legal advice MoD News 0
higthepig Bad news The Quarterdeck 14
soleil P. News: "HMS Queen Elizabeth Leaves Portsmouth For Training With US Marines F-35" The Fleet 8
higthepig Navy news August 2020 The Quarterdeck 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: extension of 2017 crime contract to 31 March 2022 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: expressions of interest invited for HPCDS work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: updates to electronic handbook MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: Disbursements billing revised MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: further changes to increase payments on account applications MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: New contract schedules available MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: opportunity to tender for HPCDS work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: CWA codes updated after telephone gateway’s removal MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil/crime news: LAA annual report and DLAC report 2019-20 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: extension of HPCDS contracts to 30 September 2021 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: digital billing changes for revised immigration fees MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: fee rules change for mental health remote hearings MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: increase to 'payments on account' applications MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: updated contract schedules from 1 September 2020 MoD News 0
soleil FB: Forces News: "HMS Queen Elizabeth Sails Back Into Her Home Port Of Portsmouth As A "Fully Trained" Aircraft Carrier" The Fleet 0
higthepig Navy news June 2020 The Quarterdeck 3
soleil Portsmouth News: "Royal Navy flyers Land On Pitching Postage Stamp Deck | Nostalgia" The Fleet Air Arm 14
MoD_RSS Crime news: contingency waiver for CRM7 claims ends 6 July 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: CRM12 duty rota deadline is 13 July 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Edition 22: News from the Adjudicator MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Civil news: revised fees for immigration and asylum work MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Crime news: secure file exchange ‘sign-up’ guidance available MoD News 0
higthepig Navy news May 2020 The Quarterdeck 1
Similar threads


















































New Posts

Top