Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Salty HMCS Grilse Story (Part 1 of 2)

This all-too-believable story was supplied by Hal Zerbin, who spent years in Royal Navy A-boats and, later, HMCS Grilse. (Much of Grilse’s previous years were in the guise of USS Burrfish—see earlier blog posts.) I have, with Hal’s permission, edited slightly. For the conclusion, stay tuned!

We were not too far off the west coast of Vancouver Island, on our way to Pearl Harbour,(I think), and had completed a couple of days of snorkeling runs with the Air Force, when the For’d engine room watchkeeper noticed a higher than usual level of water in the bilge after the completion of a snorkeling run. No one was really excited about it, we all thought it was just one of those things, but, after a prolonged run, the water level was noticeably high and we all “got serious”. A small, about 1 1/8 inch line (pipe) at the for’d outboard end of the for’d Engine Room became suspect but we could not identify it and we could not even find it on the book of blueprints supplied with the boat. 
So we initiated another snorkel  run and sure enough, water came out of the suspect line, and, stranger still, it did not stop coming out when we stopped snorkeling, and only stopped when we surfaced. We then decided to pressurize, (with low pressure air), the external exhaust trunking for #1 main engine and proceeded to do this, however, to find the external leak, someone had to go out on the after deck and listen and try to identify just exactly where it was coming from. 
The engineer, Charlie Gunning, and the Chief Engine Room Artificer, (Me), were the likeliest people to go so we prepared ourselves and the boat hove to. There were 5 to 6 foot swells running, sometimes slopping over the deck but they did not look dangerous and we proceeded to the aft deck, with the Captain and many others gathered on the cigarette deck (part of the external superstructure) to watch the proceedings. Charlie and I snapped our safety line on to the safety railing and ventured out on to the deck, with the boat gently rolling under us. It was not hard to identify the general area of the leak as we soon heard compressed air as we approached the #1 exhaust valve. 
But it was impossible to tell where, exactly it was coming from as the area below the walking deck  was quite crowded with piping and other components so we had to unsnap ourselves from the safety railing and move right over the sound of escaping air. And we proceeded to do that.

To be continued...


Lamont said...

What a tease! Submarine stories always have so much suspense. So many things that can go wrong. Good fodder for a novel!

Robert Mackay said...

And in my time in submarines, or boats as the Brits would say, they often did.
And the novel, I am happy to say, is off my desk on on to the publisher. Official launch Sept 2014.

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