Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pearl Harbor Escape Training

Recently got this very interesting description of escape tower training from Gazette reader Dick Church, CAPT. USNR (ret):

"Dear Paul: Thank you for the excellent coverage of the Wahoo ceremonies and the Subase tour. I was stationed there in the late 50's and early 60's on Greenfish and Blackfin. Completed PCO School there and got my "Qualified for Command of Submarines" ticket just prior to my separation from active duty. I especially enjoyed seeing the BOQ Clean Sweep and the addition of the memorabilia which I have not seen. Will certainly check it out this fall. I also had the "privilege" of qualifying in the escape tower from the 110 foot level. Thanks for the pictures of the inside which I haven't seen since '62."

When I asked him to describe the experience he wrote:

"You entered a small pressurized chamber at the base of the tower (to simulate the escape trunk in the forward torpedo room of the average fleet submarine). Then you would bleed air into the sealed chamber until it equaled the sea pressure of the depth you were bottomed at (in this case equal to pressure at 110 feet), and flood the compartment until the water was over the lip of the side hatch. The pressure now equaled that of the outside depth. Your body was also so pressurized.

You now opened the side door. Wearing an inflated life jacket you stepped out of the compartment at the base of the tower. Placing your hands outstretched over your head, you tilted your head back and while pursing your lips expelled air from your lungs as the natural buoyancy created by the air in your lungs propelled you to the surface. You had to expel air all the way to the surface for if you did not the pressurized air in your lungs would rupture your lungs! They had divers stationed at intervals all the way to the surface to insure you expelled the air in a timely manner! The terminology for this escape method was called " Blow and Go!!"

Needless to say when you step out of the 110 chamber the top of the tower looked like it was more like 500 feet up! One of my Sub School classmates told me that if he ever had to do a buoyant accent again he would go to his bunk and read Playboy instead!"

Thank you for the story, Dick, and your service!



About Me

The first 'grown up' book Paul Crozier ever read was "War Fish" by George Grider. Since then he has spent most of his life researching the U.S. Submarine Force in WWII and USS Wahoo (SS-238) in particular.


This blog is dedicated to all who have served in the U.S. Submarine Force. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Admiral Chester Nimitz

"We shall never forget it was our submarines that held the line against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds."

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