Submariners' stories.

Discussion in 'Submariners' started by tomjames, Jul 2, 2012.

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  1. Hi all.

    First of all I'd like to say that I'm not a member of the armed forces, though I have tremendous respect for everything that you do.

    I'm a writer, commissioned on behalf of a small production company to write a treatment for story about the crew of an astute-style class of RN submarine, focusing on a handful of characters from a junior rating to the XO and captain, their interactions and the conflict that potential female crew could bring.

    My research so far has involved various sources (I'm reluctant to contact the MoD at this early stage) however I am very interested in hearing from former/submariners about their recruitment, time at sea, their stories and views.

    I'm not looking for state secrets - but would love to get a feel for life on a sub and an idea of the protocol involved and camaraderie experienced - as well as get a few questions answered.

    If this is even possible or sounds like something you might be interested in, please shoot me an email.

    I'm happy to hear from anyone, and would ideally like to conduct some face-to-face interviews; for which compensation can be offered.

    Any additional suggestions with regards to research would be greatly appreciated - I'm looking to create something entertaining, something really authentic and ultimately something that shows the Navy in a positive light.

    Thanks
     
  2. =============================

    =============================

    A reserved welcome to RR,

    Researchers, Journos & writers trawling here and at ARRSE often get short thrift, especially when they never return to update contributors on their progress so please be warned in advance*.

    Tom,

    As 'a writer' it may increase your *credibility here if you are prepared to offer some links to your previous output(s).

    If you hadn't already realised it's worth emphasing that S/M Operations involve intense training for both the individual and the team, beyond which there stretches long periods of dull routine interrupted only occasionally by short bursts of intense activity.

    Having said that the small-ship S/M environment is guaranteed to produce a host of characters whose eccentricities are less likely to emerge or be tolerated elsewhere in the Fleet so there is plenty of scope here for an authentic imagination...

    Best of luck with your project.

    Bob
     
  3. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I have to ask "Is this Emily back in another disguise?"
     
  4. This could be a golden opportunity for those who failed their Part 3 and wish to vent their spleen, or even those misogynists who don't want wimmin onboard, which is what the OP is aiming for or am I just a cynic?
     
  5. You can fail sludgemariners course???? Too much dhobying???
     
  6. Many fail Froggers, it's a bit more demanding than sticking your head in a bag and thrashing around in the shallows dontcha know (I would put a smiley thing but they don't work on me 'puter at work).
     
  7. tomjames - I suggest you go into Helensburgh with a pocketful of beer tokens, suss out some submariners, ply them with alcohol and see where it takes you (hopefully it will not be Vale of Leven A&E). Jack tends to let out all sorts of "secrets" when he's had a few. Talking to bomber queens won't be much use, mainly because they know squat, so it may take some time (and money) to get what you want. Otherwise, as already indicated, you could trawl through the submariners forum!
     
  8. @Bob - thanks for your help, yes I would prefer more recent experiences - I am happy to provide a list of credits just pm me. Please find below, an explanation of conflict.

    @Janner - I think this might be an inside joke, but I'm not sure. Sorry to disappoint I'm someone new. Good news is, I think I came to the wrong place so i'll be on my way.

    @WreckerL - I wasn't born yesterday, I can recognise a grudge when I see one and it's not helpful to me so I would stop there and then. As for my aims, they're to capture a range of beliefs from submariners. I think women on subs are a great idea, but I'm sure there are people who disagree and hearing why is always interesting and provides a spectrum of opinions. So I guess you are just a cynic, but I would own up to my use of the word conflict being confusing:

    Just like "journey" - in the context of a character does not always mean getting on a bus. Conflict, in terms of of a character's conflict can mean anything that suggests a struggle of some kind, physically, emotionally or internally. E.G. A struggle between doing what you need or want and what you must do.

    There is conflict in everything you read, watch, do. Without conflict, life is dull and all stories contain it. The best have multiple layers of conflict both external and internal.

    In the simplest example: You've been away from your wife/gf/bf for x days - you share close quarters with lots of guys but you're dying to bash one out... can't take one in the shower...do you risk getting caught and humiliated? Or do you continue unabated until the frustration starts affecting your work.

    Internal conflict - no women involved.

    What if there's a female XO (could this even happen? I don't know) and everyone takes to her like a duck to water. She takes no crap and she does her job...what if everyone loves her but the captain, he was stuck with her because she's a test case, on the surface he's fine with it, but underneath he's old school and thinks she's a joke - and lets her know at every private opportunity - this slow degradation begins to affect her, what if she's in the process of a divorce at the same time? How does she juggle her personal life with her professional life and how does she win her commanding officer's respect?

    Conflict - but it's not institutional misogyny on the part of the navy. It's one man's belief -

    It's not about prejudice, it's about extracting tales of conflict that already exists and applying them in a different scenario; a mixed crew I would imagine, is going to bring a different dynamic to a situation that already has conflict.

    And hours of boredom and routine? That's when the fun stuff happens. I'm not interested in underwater battles every five minutes.

    Stories about an engineer spending hours and hours trying to pinpoint the cause of a rattling only to discover it's the chef exacting his sexual frustration by kneading bread like a Nazi. Genius.

    Dental surgery in the bomb shop. Excellent.

    There's another conflict for you: Guy has a rotten tooth. Too afraid of the dentist (let alone the steward who is also the dentist) to have a go at it, and so struggles through pain (conflict) to keep going until finally his mouth explodes and he has no choice.

    You put three or four of those stories together and suddenly that's an episode.

    But I was hoping to get a few questions answered - I know the $400 ash tray doesn't exist (pretty sure you don't smoke on board) but what about booze? I've read conflicting sources, some say alcohol is prohibited, but I've seen people downing large glasses of rum to receive their dolphins.

    I've seen the TV's in the mess - do you ever catch up on Corrie?
    You work in six-hour shifts, but what do you do if you don't sleep?
    Have relationships ever broken out on board (even amongst men)?
    Is there such a position as a chief engineer?
    I've read about people studying to get degrees on board.
    Has anyone played pranks?
    Has there ever been a drill so realistic that you believe it's real.
    Do people ever go to pieces? And what happens if they do?
    What's an emergency blow like? And do you ever notice the pitch.
    What's it like to lose all track of day and night.
    Does the astute's new periscope technology mean there are no longer two (a search and an attack? periscope) how do you use an electro-optic periscope and are the days of peering through it and around over?
    Is the diesel engine room really called a donk?

    Knowing that you say raise search and not up periscope - stuff like that makes all the difference.

    @notafourknotfudgepacker.

    Thank you, I guess I came to the wrong place.

    This, I'm sure, is a stupid question, but is a bomber the same as a skimmer? Or is it a type of vessel other than a boat?

    [If you read all the way to the bottom, congratulations you've won a prize.]
     
  9. No, I think that you have started out at the right place, actually.
     
  10. Well I'm more than happy to be told otherwise.

    And would love any help on offer. I think it's all fascinating.
     
  11. take no notice of some of the sundodgers, they can be a bit touchy lol. Ps you would be better asking for FAA dits the Wafus are so much nicer lol
     
  12. Serious answers to some of your questions and excuse the lack of paragraphs but that's the work computer, not me. Starting at the beginning, no we don't watch TV, no signal down there so DVD's only. 6 hour shifts are fwd watchkeepers, Aft are 1 in 3 and if you can't sleep then it's reading, studying (answers your degree question) for service or civilian quals. Never known a relationship to start (I did 30 years on boats) and no Chief engineer, theres an MEO and WEO (Marine Engineering Officer and Weapons Engineering Officer) although Chief is a rank so you get engineers who are chiefs if that makes sense. Pranks happen all the time (also known as wind-ups), Drills that seem realistic are the ones sprung on you when your fast asleep. I've known people who have cracked up, they're whisked away never to be seen again. As for losing track of day and night, you just get into a routine, day and night is realtively meaningless. A genuine emergency blow (I've had a couple) gets your sphincter flapping and you definitely notice the bow up as it's generally at least 10 deg bow up and yes the diesels and main engines are called donks, the ER watchkeeper is known as a Donk Shop Horse. Again sorry about the lack of paragraphs as it makes hard reading, I'll sort it when I get home and can I take the piss now? Oh and a bomber is a submarine but they don't do anything so SSN and SSK boys rip the shit out of bomber crews whenever or wherever the opportunity arises (they're the Trident armed boats BTW)
     
  13. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Tom, stick around, there will be a lot of cynical remarks and cracks at you. Journo's make regular trips on the site fishing for information and quotes, usually to be used in very inaccurate articles.

    A Bomber is a Submarine that carries missiles as in nuclear deterrent, the cousins call them Boomers.

    Don't be shy post your credentials on site for all to see.
     
  14. @Scouse, took me a while to figure out what you were talking about - nice try though.

    @WreckerL - thanks, (don't worry about paragraphs) makes sense about TV - does that mean no internet? I'm right in thinking you get letters from home sent as data packets along with other stuff, but I'm guessing only when you're relatively near the surface.

    If peoples shifts are ever changing, I guess there is no point when the boat is quiet? What about cabins? I've seen offices. Is it just the captain that has his own...room? I guess.

    And is there any way to get out of a sub while it's below the surface?

    @Janner, I can understand that - given the drivel that that gets written. I don't mind cracks. Vanguard = Bomber/Boomer (makes much more sense now) and also LOL I find the jibes between you hilarious, though also daunting when I remember what they're not doing anything next to.

    As for my credits, they're not too numerous yes, but I like to think that they're all of them excellent. Projects with my name attached include a recently completed, fairly trashy teen feature about three young lovers, based on an award-wining novel by Aidan Chambers, look out for it in 2014. The Toll Bridge - Criterion Film

    An independent set behind the scenes in a theatre, about the crew of a terrible west-end play, you can find it on imdb. Interval - Trademark Media

    And before that I spent a year as in-house staff where I was one of a team writing a kids series based on the Gracie family (who invented Jiu Jitsu) about a group of young warriors in a baron future wasteland who unlock their power, physical and mental, through brotherhood and sport. Untitled Gracie Chronicles - 818 Media
     
  15. Wot wits said, but there is only internet (e-mails only) at PD (periscope depth) when the mast is raised and if operationally convenient so on the way home, generally speaking, mail is sent to your next port of call except for bombers who don't have ports of call. Skipper is the only one with a cabin to himself and, yes, you can escape from a submarine when it's dived. Blue Peter did 2 bits on it with a presenter going through the tank, it's on youtube somewhere.
     
  16. Witsend - I am not referring to the incident, which was tragic - in fact I would prefer to steer clear of any and all of those sorts of stories, including the grounding.


    I would agree, the best man (or woman) for the job is my opinion. But we are all defined by more than our work. Personalities vary and humans interact beyond the constraints of duty, and that is where the interest, for me anyway, lies.


    We aren't robots.


    And I'll happily buy you a pint. Though I think you and I may have a difference of opinion about what constitutes an evening entertainment.


    I hate to use this analogy because it sends all sorts of wrong messages. But Star Trek, based on C.S. Forester's Hornblower (about a naval officer) follows the exploits of what ultimately is a family as they work side-by-side on board a ship. In this case, a space ship, it's a drama, but it's also really a soap - the interactions and friendships of the ship's doctor, captain, first officer, engineer and so on, form stories that serve to engage and entertain its audience while sending a moral message as well. That's my aim.


    The difference is, in space, you can invent whatever you want.


    I can create a good story, I'm just looking for a sense of real life within which to base them.
     
  17. Redolent of one of the early Star Trek's mythical quotations:

    <<There's life on a submarine, TomJames...but not as we know it.>>
     
  18. Hi Tom,

    Welcome……….. If you are a re-incarnation of Emily, you have approached it better! ^_~


    We are by nature a secretive shower and as you’ll have seen, also a tad suspicious of ‘interlopers’. I served in submarines for several years but I’m now a civvy puke, but I’ll give you my 2p worth to your questions, most of which have already been answered in one way or another, but hey, variety is the spice of life!

    I've seen the TV's in the mess - do you ever catch up on Corrie? All the messes have TV but used to watch DVDs. Some people have been known to tape programmes at home to take on patrol! We had a selection of Simpson episodes and used to precede the evening movie with ‘The Simpsons’.
    You work in six-hour shifts, but what do you do if you don't sleep? Get grumpy! The watches are from 1300 to 1900 or 0100 to 0700 (and obviously the other guy does the ones in between.) My last boat I was 7 to 1 as we used to say and I used to sleep ‘through the night’ but lie in bed in the afternoon. I also had several hobbies to occupy me, loads of books and trying to maintain some form of fitness.
    Have relationships ever broken out on board (even amongst men)? Only relationship breakup and divorces!
    Is there such a position as a chief engineer? One chap is known as the chief stoker. It is an honorific, as there are no such things as stokers these days!
    I've read about people studying to get degrees on board. 100% true! A lot of folk do OU work on patrol
    Has anyone played pranks? Christ, where do we start on that one……..?
    Has there ever been a drill so realistic that you believe it's real. As stated, the best drills are the ones you didn’t know were coming. Gulp.
    Do people ever go to pieces? And what happens if they do? Seen some having a 5 minute funny. Allegedly a real ‘inident’ means instant (whenever possible) removal from the boat and the Submarine Service.
    What's an emergency blow like? Noisy, bum clenching and a well oiled machine. And do you ever notice the pitch. Do you ever! Sometimes you have to lean forward as if climbing a steep hill – makes for good stowage routines…….
    What's it like to lose all track of day and night. No problem, you just get in the routine after a couple of days. Red lights on – must be ‘night time’ – grapefruit seggies for breakfast – must be Sunday
    Does the astute's new periscope technology mean there are no longer two (a search and an attack? periscope) how do you use an electro-optic periscope and are the days of peering through it and around over? AFAIK the periscope pops up, whizzes round and comes down again, the video taken during that can then be viewed at leisure – mean here is much les chance of detection and also les hull penetrations.
    Is the diesel engine room really called a donk? In the RN any engine is a donk (as in donkey) so your car has donk, the engine room is the donk shop etc. Do not confuse with a bonk!
    Knowing that you say raise search and not up periscope - stuff like that makes all the difference. So you’ll want to know about II and IR and Racket Dangerous too?

    If peoples shifts are ever changing, I guess there is no point when the boat is quiet? In general the boat is quite al the time, but it can also be VERY quiet if you are doing something where you ned to be not heard……..What about cabins? I've seen offices. Is it just the captain that has his own...room? I guess. There are small offices onboard. There are also cabins, but the Skipper is the only one with his own, al the other officers are in 2, 3 or 4 berth cabins. As a Chief, my ‘cabin’ was shared with 29 others……
    And is there any way to get out of a sub while it's below the surface? Yes, several. Try Googling DSRV, LM50, Rush Escape, Tower Escape etc
    This, I'm sure, is a stupid question, but is a bomber the same as a skimmer? Or is it a type of vessel other than a boat? As you’ve been told Bombers are ‘our Trident boats The ‘V’ Boats, which were preceded by the ‘R’ Boats. Our Continetal cousins over (under?) the pond call them Boomers.

    [If you read all the way to the bottom, congratulations you've won a prize.]


    I did, what do I get as a prize? :blob2:




    So, hope that helps – feel free to pm me for some more salacious stories………[FONT=&quot][/FONT]
     

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