The Submarine Training


War Hero
Actually, the main SM qualification in 1977 was ten pints of blood in the Royal Arms, stagger back across pneumonia bridge, upset the whingeing bastard who lived in the house just outside Dolphin gate and abuse the gangway staff, optional trip to slot after. ( Oh, and on rare occasions, tip over the pie van outside the gate!)


Lantern Swinger
Annie said:
I can tell you what Part II was like 30+ years ago but I'd be surprised if it's changed that much today.

You do 4 escape ascents in a tank of water from depths of 30 (2), 60 and 100 feet. The 30 and 60 foot ascents are done wearing only swimming trunks and a lifejacket from a bubble in the side of the tank. The 100 foot ascent is done from a mock up of an escape tower at the bottom of the tank wearing a survival suit.

With the 30s and 60 foot ascents you are wearing swim trunks and a belt with 2 long straps down the back of each leg. Trainees and an instructor enter the bubble through a hatch in the dry side of the tank. The hatch is shut and the bubble is filled with water to chest high. Compressed air pressurizes the air space to a pressure equal with the water pressure in the tank. During this process, the pressure builds up in your ears and this must be released continually by holding your nose and blowing, swallowing, or clicking your jaw (the same as when you descend in an aeroplane or descend from a high mountain). When the pressures are equalised, the small, round hatch into the tank is opened. One trainee at a time stands in front of the hatch with his back to it. He takes a full breath and signals he is ready to go by bending forward at the waist. This is a signal to the divers in the tank to take hold of the straps on his belt and drag him out into the tank. As soon as you are out in the tank you straighten to attention and shout your name, rank and service number. This is a signal that you are in control and the divers will release you. As you float up to the service you must keep blowing out the air that is expanding in your lungs else your lungs will explode. Divers all the way up will be watching you and jab you in the stomach if you are not releasing your air. It is a weird feeling because you can just keep blowing and you never run out of air. You are at the surface in a few seconds and divers drag you to the side of the tank, you get out and stand there and wait while all your buddies do their ascents and you show you have no ill effects.

You do this twice from the 30 foot bubble to ensure you've got the hang of it then once from the 60 foot bubble. Same procedure for all 3 ascents.

The 100 foot ascent is done wearing the same escape suits carried on the boats. You put on the suit, complete with a bubble hood, and a nose clip. One trainee at a time you climb the ladder up into the escape tower and close the hatch under your feet. Your suit has a connector on your wrist and you hold this into an air fitting which inflates your suit. You signal you are ready and the escape tower is flooded up to chest height. The air is pressurised again but much more quickly this time and you are popping your ears continuously to keep up with the pressure. When the air pressure is equalised to the water pressure in the tank the hatch above your head starts to crack open and water starts to leak in. Finally the air bubble in the escape tower forces the hatch completely open, water floods in and you float out. You are caught by divers and they ask you your name etc, and attach you to a wire that goes up the centre of the tank. If you respond and are breathing normally they release you and you are on your way to the surface. Because you are in an air filled suit you breath normally. As you ascend the expanding air is vented from the bottom of your hood. By continually breathing you are breathing less-compressed air with every breath. 10 or so seconds later you are at the surface and being helped out.

Part II training is fun; a little nervy the first time you do it but a piece of cake if you do exactly as you are told. I enjoyed it, especailly when we had to go back and do it all over again every 3 years to requalify. In those days, before there were any wild roller coasters, I think that was one of the most fun rides I ever got to go on.

see Link :

Oooooooops!! didn't see the previous posting. (must be something to do with my age!!)


Lantern Swinger
I reckon that the 100 foot ascent is one of the best free rides going, it's worth doing with specs on if you need corrected eyesight (your face stays dry throughout inside the hood). If you ask the staff nicely, they'll let you, and it's more interesting when you can see what's going on. Takes about 12 secs to reach the top.

Part3 (SMQ) training is done with a dry phase (a mix of classroom teaching with visits to boats alongside) to get people up to speed with the jargon and layout and to stop you looking like a complete newbie when you join; and the "wet" phase, where you get to learn the main characteristics of the boat and the various items needed for safety.
The "Part3" requires a lot of self-discipline and getting out to meet the people (too many guys try and learn it from books, it doesn't work that way) but it's not (usually) a mindless exercise in learning trivia. Most boats take a pride in getting people through and qualifying them as submariners.