Cabin fever???

Somebody, I don’t remember who was bitching about cabin fever yesterday. Somebody else posted a pic of enlisted sailors spaces on ships/subs.

The comeback was dismissive, words to the effect that ‘all’ officers have private staterooms on ‘all’ Navy vessels…

Welp, I hate to say it, but no they don’t…

This is a ‘typical’ junior office ‘stateroom’ on a submarine, taken from the door… Three JOs live in here, lowest ranked/junior gets the bottom rack. A fold down sink is it, and three small lockers, about twice the width of a high school locker, plus some storage you can see in the far bulkhead of each rack. What is not shown is there would also be at least two chairs in there…

And they get to spend 30-90 days in here with no days off. Normal watch schedule is eight-on, sixteen-off watches, there are normally only 2 people there at a time, but it’s still crowded. And usually the junior has the last watch (0000-0800).

The ONLY ‘private’ stateroom on a sub is the CO’s, and it’s about the same size, but with a desk and other items taking up room.

Ships aren’t much better, but at least as you go up in rank, you eventually get to a 2 person room!



Cabin fever??? — 37 Comments

  1. This is bloody LUXURY!. In 1984, as a Royal Australian Air Force Signals (EW)Cpl, I had the pleasure of working with my EW naval counterparts, onboard HMAS Torrens,a DE,for two weeks. I had a ball, worked my arse off, worked with awesome people. Every time I remember it, I can’t help but smile, those Navy blokes are very unique, very professional, very serious, very funny, ashore – very mad, but very caring of a ShipMate who needed looking after, for whatever reason, they don’t suffer fools, full stop, even if it’s the Captain, who was a Boss on ‘pigboats’, (Australian Oberon class submarines), which the Torrens Captain was. I treasure my memories of those two weeks, I learned a lot, lessons that still guide me today, though I’m three months off 70, damn good times indeed!. My rack was well forward, on the top of two others, a little bit ‘squeezy’, after undoing the strap that held my pillow securely, (to stop it blocking the pumps if it got loose and blocked the pumps doing their job – hmmm), I would inch my body up and on it, flop back and gather my wind, and rest, most of the time. I’m 5′ 3″,and back then, not an ounce of blubber, yep, I even impressed myself at times!. In this Haze Gray Hilton, it was usually twilight as I lay in my rack, so, curious one time, I put my right elbow on my chest, arm and fingers vertical, to check out the space above me, and with almost an inch to spare, my extended fingers easily touched the overhead, yep, squeezy. There was one more ‘attraction’ for me. Halfway through my time, we had a night ‘shoot’, the forward turret blazed away at land targets, I didn’t see a thing though, because I was off watch in my rack. Thing is, the turret ammunition hoist was about 8 inches behind my head, it was BLOODY LOUD, as it competed with the shitload of sound coming down to me from the turret. Ahhh, memories. You Navy blokes, people just don’t know the half of it!.

  2. It may well be “bloody luxury” but it still wasn’t ” officers get their own stateroom”. Junior officers shared four to a room on a carrier, which has buckets of space but 6,000 crew to fill that space. It was luxurious comparatively, but still pretty cramped.

    The brief time that I spent on a sub, just long enough to convince me (to the extent that I needed any convincing) not to volunteer for sub duty, I hot racked. That is even less fun.

  3. Frank- Not really… sigh

    Stu- I’ve been on an O boat. What struck me was that EVERY compartment had a tea service… LOL And yes, not a lot of fun when the ship is ‘working’…

    Hereso- True! Enlisted berthing under #3 Cat… BTDT

  4. Submarine bunks: 24″ wide, 74″ long, 18″ from the mattress top to the bottom of the rack above. You have a 6″ deep pan below to store your stuff. If you hot-racked you got 2/3rd the space (3 men in 2 racks).

    Back when everyone wore jackets and o-style hats we had lockers for our dress blues.

    The BIGGEST difference between subs and surface is we only have one galley, so the whole crew eats the same meal. I heard there are 7 galleys on the Midway down in San Diego harbor.

    • Two mess decks for regular enlisted. Forward mess deck served quick meals, hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken for lunch, dinner, mid-rats & breakfast sandwiches for breakfast. Aft mess decks served regular meals with side dishes, entrees, etc. Breakfast in the aft mess deck was eggs or omelets to order, or scrambled already cooked, with ham, bacon, or sausage, or some kind of hot cereal. For a while there was a magician in the bake shop that made rolls so good they had to put a guard on them.

      Chief’s Mess.

      I think there were only two wardrooms for the officers. But I’m not sure.

      When we were in Yokosuka (our home port) the S-2 division ran a little shack on the pier that served sliders (hamburgers), rollers (hot dogs), & grilled chicken.

      So at sea there were five places to eat, all totaled.

      I lived on “hotel 41” USS Midway (CV-41) from 1986 to 1989. A-107-1L, rack B-36. 120 man berthing (bunk room), if I remember correctly. Main deck, just forward of the hangar bay. Right by a ladder that went down to the second deck and another berthing compartment.

  5. Hey Old NFO;

    I heard that the Food on the Squid ships were better than the Army, but it was offset by the amount of space you had. I believe that. Back at barracks, it wasn’t bad, but when you deployed, it was whatever you could squirrel into your duffel and into your track and jeep. Still wouldn’t trade the experiences for nothing.

  6. My “uncle” said the best thing about rising in rank was the getting more sleeping space on the boat.

    His pinnacle of quarters was his own room with a shared head between the next room.

    Much like Lex, a library of stories died with him.

  7. Our accommodations on a Gearing-class destroyer, below decks, dated back to original construction in Nov. 1944. Our racks were a canvas sling suspended by rope from a rectangular aluminum tube with a 2″ foam mattress. 2′ x 2′ by 1′ lockers, on the deck, with three racks above, about 18″ apart vertically. I was one of the lucky ones, with a middle rack (about waist height). Top rack faced all the overhead pipes and wire runs; bottom rack was only 20″ off the deck. “Officer country” was luxury only by comparison.

  8. A very good friend, former Navy, who served on the blue water surface ships, said that being a sailor was similar to being a Marine. The difference was that while every Marine, regardless of assignment, was a rifleman, every sailor was a painter.
    Which makes sense, when you consider the concept of taking a big steel box, cramming it full of electronics and precision machinery, and then throwing it in an incredibly corrosive salt water bath. Yup, either you paint it forever, or you admire the power of chemistry to render the Organized Matter into Disorganized Matter.
    I’m so glad I was an Army medic.

    • We painted the whole of the USS Abraham Lincoln with California-approved lead-free paint. Then went out to sea and it peeled off in giant leprous strips. The rumor was that the ship was sailing to Washington state to be repainted but I got out. Why the federal government wouldn’t have just told the California government to pound sand and used the proper paint, I don’t know.

      Oh, and I was Signals DivO at that time. Went to get more paint and the LCDR in charge of paint informed me that the air wing owned the Signals level (right at the top of the island) and that I couldn’t have paint. Had to have the department head get paint for us. Go Navy!

  9. A whole lotta nope here. I’m claustrophobic in small spaces packed with lots of people. I’m fine crawling through a cave 600 feet underground; I am NOT fine in a packed elevator. I’m very grateful for those who do what I couldn’t.

  10. I don’t know how one would live like that, I get claustrophobic in any crowded space.
    Much respect to those that can and do.
    Is that a small wall safe on the left or???

  11. I served on an auxiliary – USS Mars. All officer staterooms except the CO and XO were two to a room. Enlisted berthing had 3 tier bunks like in the photo but were in rows – 2 end to end, with 2 more across from them and 24″ between the rows. 6 men in a space 6′ by 12′! 100 e-crew shared a head with 3 showers, 3 sinks and 3 toilets + 2 urinals. But no hot racking so we got the whole under mattress storage.

  12. couple of corrections (minor) CO and XO had their own quarters, but shared a head. (please not the XO had a door but it is general hidden in a classified area.
    watches at sea are 6 hours on, 12 hours off (18 hour days)
    and just read (yesterday, day before?) that the USS Florada just spent 800 days (that’ over 2 years) forward deployed. While they may have been in port some of the time, port or sea they were living on board ship

  13. A sink! What a luxury!

    I had a small safe for classified material- put it to good use stashing important stuff (wristwatch, daily crypto codes, box of oh-so-precious snacks, cipher blocks, etc.). Seeing the pic brings back memories- some pleasant.

    I had 6.5 inches twixt my nose and the rack above me.

  14. The JO’s have a LOT of studying to do if they want to pass their boards and earn dolphins. 8 hours watch, 8 hours studying, 8 hours sleeping, if they want to stay on that “iron coffin”. It’s not an easy life.

  15. Cannot begin to imagine such claustophobic duty. I’ll give you every secret in the world, even if I have to make them up, if you roll me up in a carpet. Or even threaten to. Almost lost it once inside a C-130 wing tank changing probes. Just the picture makes me creepy. Kudos to those who did it. Yer a better man than I, Gunga Din.

  16. If the choice was “go to prison” or “enlist in the Navy”, the accomodations at Rikers Island are way better…

  17. Dear wife and I did the tour of the Yorktown in SC. That was palatial compared to these pics. Tight indeed.

    Infantry FTW, gonna take a hard pass on MEU. That’s no way to live. I’m quite happy to sleep wherever I can in a bivy bag vs a metal sardine can…

  18. I was “privileged” to embark on an LA-class boat for 9 days. I got the bottom rack in an O-country stateroom. The technique was to dive in headfirst, curl up in a ball, rotate 90 degrees and then extend legs and torso. Getting out in a hurry was even more challenging.

  19. Back before small spaces started bothering me, I got to poke around a German U-boat (WWII) and later the USS Texas on my own. I’d seen _Das Boot_ and read the novel, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to be inside one. I could just barely make it through the engine room if I took off my rucksack and turned sideways, and I was leaner than I am now. The thought of doing that underway with those engines running . . . Wow. The engine room of the Texas was palatial in comparison, it it still didn’t have much space. I think you could change your mind, but not your direction of approach.

  20. All- Thanks for the comments. GreyRatt- They’ve changed the watchbill, it’s now 8/16 vs. 6/12. And that was an amazing deployment for Florida. Crews were still swapping out every 90 days, but dayum…

    Posted from my iPhone.

  21. One of the Tridents (USS Pennsylvania?) did a 140 day patrol. Shudder. No thanks, 89 days was long enough.

  22. Wow. That is… tight quarters. I am actually cringing a little (being six foot five).

    You know what would be useful in that kind of coffin-bunk situation? Some kind of mounting bracket for a smart device or tablet, on the bottom side of the bunks.

    Then again, I expect the JOs were probably as busy as everyone else…

  23. Good Lord, such luxury! Junior Subaltern’s in the littoral branch of the DLC are are expected to sleep four to a Bass boat, weird, I know, but LL’s in charge of that aspect.

  24. Given the bits of glare and reflection, this looks like a shot through glass or such. USS Nautilus or another museum ship?

  25. Clayton- There was one 688 that did 120 days during the early part of GWOT. They even did a steel beach with 2 beers per man!

    Toast- Yep, you wouldn’t ‘fit’ anywhere…

    LSP- LOL

    TOS- Possible, but I’ve been on 637/688 boats underway, and was stuffed in a similar compartment.

  26. Just checked Google maps photos for the sub museum at Groton and they had a few nearly identical photos, with black and white portrait and red book on the desk, and half-open safe above. Conservatism in sub quarter’s design?

  27. Couple of things to add:
    Some of the REALLY junior JOs get to sleep in 9 man which serves as overflow for the other berthing spaces.
    And the XO’s stateroom is semi-private – he only gets stuck sharing if we get a fairly senior rider on board.

  28. Luxury!

    Still remember (shudder) the five-high top rack I had in embarked supercargo berthing on the Nassau.

    Bonus: Although I got to share the overhead with all the piping and electrical, I also got to use them as an ad hoc storage rack for additional personal items.

    Double bonus: the squids broke the primary watermaker on the second day out of Norfolk, so it was Navy showers (two squirts of Right Guard, and a clean t-shirt) for all Marines for two months, and the only two port calls were invading Honduras about 5 miles from Nicaragua (the point of the entire exercise) and then attacking Onslow Beach in NC amphibiously for two weeks in the woods upon our return. I could totally understand why the Marines in WWII were such fearsome fighters. I would have gladly killed anyone placed in front of me, with bayonet or bare hands, to get off that g**d***ed haze grey prison barque. I’m pretty certain the experience is designed to be that way on purpose. When playing in the mud, even whilst getting shot at, is superior to being onboard a Navy ship…

    And having toured the “luxury” accomodations on Iowa locally, things aren’t and weren’t much better any other time or place.

    Navy ships are to get off of, not to live on, and unless you’re doing something fun like driving the ship, shooting the guns, flying on and off it occasionally, etc., there’s not really anything to recommend ever being on one if there’s any way it can be helped.

    Sitting on my wall is my grandfather’s Shellback Certificate earned at the Galapagos Islands, as part of Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, from 1908.
    I have a lot of respect for what his daily grind must have been like for 14 months circumnavigating the world over a century ago, as a saucy 17-year-old farm kid from Missouri who’d never been farther than 100 miles from home before that.

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