Friday, September 14, 2012

The Accidental Submariner (Part I)

Early in 1966 I was a young sublieutenant in the Canadian navy serving aboard HMCS Saguenay. We were on a training cruise and showing the flag in the Caribbean and west coast of South America, with visits scheduled for various exotic ports. Along with us were our aircraft carrier, Bonaventure, other ships of our destroyer squadron, frigates from the Pacific fleet that had transited the Panama Canal, a British A-boat, and HMCS Grilse, our Pacific-based ex-USN Balao-class boat.
HMCS Grilse

I was summoned to the captain’s cabin. He said, “Do you want to serve in submarines?”

I must have looked puzzled, because, contrary to many of my cohorts, I had never volunteered for submarine training. The submarine option was appealing to many, and in fact many of the outstanding members of my vintage of junior officers. My heritage, though, and that of the Canadian navy, was anti-  not pro- submarine.

Click to show "HMCS Margaree" result 5
HMCS Margaree
An event of two years prior came to mind. I was then serving in HMCS Margaree, and our ship, along with others in Esquimalt, was about to commence a two-week exercise with USS Rasher, an American diesel-electric submarine. As part of our training, three of us from different ships were selected to spend a day in the sub, then transfer back to our own ships at sea via whaler. The Pacific, however, did not live up to her name; the weather was atrocious, and at the end of the first day of the exercise it was too rough for the Rasher to surface and transfer us to our own ships. My friends John and Bob and I therefore became “honorary” submariners (USN spelling and pronunciation!) for two weeks.

(More on the Accidental Submariner in future posts)


Lamont said...

Okay. I'm hooked and want more. When is the next installment?

Phyllis and Lamont, The Cooking Ladies said...

Don't keep us in suspense!

Robert Mackay said...

The Accidental Submariner's journey continues on September 20th.

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