Monday, October 8, 2012

Perisher (Part I)

Many a competent submariner has had his career sidetracked by the Perisher course. That was the very appropriate name given to the Submarine Command Course run by the Royal Navy. It was— and is, no doubt—a twenty-four-week long marathon that must be run successfully by submarine officers aspiring to command. It covers weapons, tactics, communications, navigation—and, very heavily, safety.
There is no place for complacency, incompetence, or just plain bad luck when driving a submarine, and the Perisher is meant to weed out applicants. The officer in charge of a Perisher class is known as “Teacher”.
 Once the officers on course had completed their shore time in trainers and classrooms, it was off to sea for very realistic exercises. One class went to sea in HMS Alderney, an A-class boat in which I served in 1966-67.
Picture a group of lieutenants and lieutenant-commanders from various navies—British, Canadian, Netherlands, Norwegian, among others—hanging on Teacher’s every word. Overhead on the surface would be a target vessel. Officers would take turns as “captain”, making use of the attack periscope to conduct an approach to, and simulated attack on, the target. And overseeing the whole procedure was Teacher, handy to the search periscope in case of a problem with safety. Heaven help the student who had his attack interrupted by Teacher.
Qualifiers moved on to more complicated problems. One such scenario featured an attack on a target  merchantman playing the part of an enemy aircraft carrier, defended by very real frigates and destroyers. Harried officers would find themselves in the middle of a very complex battle scenario, when Teacher would throw in an emergency such as a fire on board or the planes jammed in the dive position.
More to come!


Lamont said...

Sounds like Survivor!

Robert Mackay said...

"Survivor" is a very apt metaphor, as will be seen in Part II.

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