|Securing the colors for maneuvering watch|
Eleven civilians boarded the Providence in Groton CT early 22 August 2017, and we moored at the Canadian Navy Base at Halifax Nova Scotia three days later on 24 August 2017. Here is our story:
22 August 2017
We arrived early (0700) at the Groton CT submarine base and Mark Atkins LTJG, my Tiger Sponsor (and son), escorted me to the boat and we climbed down the ladder into to the mid-level deck and the wardroom and officer staterooms. Mark deftly dropped in while his Tiger struggled with his coffee, duffelbag, backpack and case of diet soda that Mark was bringing aboard. I was assigned the bottom rack in Stateroom 1-B. After quickly unpacking my dufflebag into a drawer, and stowing my backpack at the foot of the rack, we headed to the wardroom to wait for the other ten 'Tigers' to arrive. The boat was buzzing with activity as everyone was scrambling to get ready for the 3-day underway to Halifax and the Tiger Cruise.
The Tigers were all aboard by 0900 and Commander Grizzle, Commanding Officer, welcomed us aboard and provided us a welcome package that included information about the boat, lanyards/name tags, and our Honorary Submariner Qualification Card. Mark provided me a small red button flashlight that I attached to the lanyard that came in handy several times during the cruise. The card included 8 tasks that if completed successfully by the end of the cruise, and signed off by an authorized crew member, we would be awarded a Submarine Qualification Certificate and designated as an Honorary Submariner!
Next up was the Tiger In-brief from various members of the crew:
- Supply Officer (Chop) - reviewed logistics and our berthing and Group assignments
- Chief of the Boat (COB) - outlined safety items including our first introduction to the EAB
- Medical Corpsman (Doc) - showed us the location of the sick bay and highly recommended Dramamine tablets for the Tigers (I raised my hand, not wanting to risk it)
Lunch was served early and by noon the boat was ready get underway. Time to check off the first requirement of the Qualification card: My sponsor showed me how to flush a Submarine head (toilet)!
|CDR Grizzle as colors are secured|
|COB and his Tiger ready for maneuvering watch|
|LTJG Atkins and his Tiger on the Bridge|
At 2030 we assembled in the torpedo room for a demonstration of Waterslugs and an introduction to Torpedo Room operations. We each were able to pose by (and were offered the opportunity to climb into) one of the torpedo tubes.
|Not much headroom, several sailors were sleeping in racks nearby!|
|Tiger Atkins preparing to launch a Waterslug|
The dive was planned for 0300, so most of us retired early. After maneuvering into my rack, I donned earplugs and eye covers and went out like a light!
0245 A messenger from the Control room came into the stateroom, "Mr. Atkins, we will be diving soon if you would like to join us in the control room." After excising myself from the rack, and climbing the stairs to the upper deck, I entered the Control room. All the lights were dimmed and it felt like walking into a movie! The Control room was packed with crew and Tigers as the boat was being secured to dive. Both periscopes were manned and large monitors in the room displayed what the sailors were seeing.
After many checks, tests, and double checks, the Commander issued the order to dive and slowly the surface of the water rose toward the periscopes until they were awash. They were secured and the boat leveled off and all hatches were inspected for leaks. Once satisfied, we went deeper and leveled off. Then CDR Grizzle suggested we retire until breakfast and the Tigers returned to their racks.
Crawling back into my rack the rolling motion was gone, and the ride was as smooth as glass. I quickly dozed off, but awoke to the sound of the hull creaking, apparently as the Commander took the boat deeper.
0700-0800 Breakfast was served, so making my way to the Wardroom, Mark and several other officers were having breakfast. Mark had his phone plugged into the sound system and the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy was blasting away. A sailor took my order and returned with an omelette, bacon, toast and coffee.
0900 Commanding officer brief - CDR Grizzle discussed operations of the boat and some of its history. It is one of two (USS Louisville the other) boats that have launched cruise missiles in combat operations supporting Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn. He assured us that no action was expected during our cruise to Canada!
1400 Angles and Dangles & High Speed Large Rudder Turns - We assembled in the control room for this demonstration of high angle up and down and large rudder turn demonstrations. Mark was Officer of the Deck and relayed the Commander's orders to the crew to dive and climb at 25-30 degree angles and hard starboard and port turns. Most of us found something to hang onto and we cycled through several series of maneuvers.
1700 Damage Control equipment demonstration. The crews mess was the sight of a damage control drill. Before it started, the Tigers learned to use the NFTI (Nifty) device. A thermal detector to find hot spots in reduced visibility. Also we learned to don the EAB, a breathing and fire protection hood. Visualize a scuba mask with a breathing tube that is plugged into manifolds found everywhere on the boat. The manifolds provide an air source during an emergency. They have quick release couplers that allow the user to take a breath, unplug, move and plug in to another manifold again during an emergency.
|Preparing to put on an EAB|
|Damage Control Demonstration|
|Even harder to pass with Damage Control equipment|
In case that wasn't your taste in movies, Anchorman II was showing in the Wardroom!
Midrats were offered at 2300 but I hit the rack well before that and slept soundly in my rack.
24 August 2017
0600 Breakfast was served again in the wardroom. The Ships store opened shortly after that and we were able to buy Providence logo items and challenge coins.
One of the last items on my qualification card was a sonar demonstration. One of the sonar operators pointed out a large school of fish and turned on the speakers so we could hear them. It sounded like muffled clapping, and he said it was the sound was the fins of the fish slapping each other. Mark was again the OOD in the control room as the boat surfaced for our approach to Halifax. Once on the surface, we were again able to cycle up to the Bridge.
Back on the surface, and entering the shipping lane on the approach to Halifax, the periscopes were monitored continuously looking for surface contacts. The Chop (Supply Officer) was the Contact Manager at that time and showed me how to use the periscope. I was able to check off the final activity on my card, looking out of the Scope. No contacts sir!
Later, joining Mark on the bridge, he pointed out a school of dolphins that were playing on the bow wave as we made our way to Canada.
Another lunch, and it was time to station the maneuvering watch. The Tigers that did not get to go above in Groton, went topside. The rest of us stayed below in the crews mess and watched it on the periscope monitor on the big screen.
|The Providence in Canada!|
This was an experience of a lifetime, thanks to the US Navy for providing such a great opportunity for its sailors to show, and their families to experience, a small slice of Navy life, and to Mark of course for sponsoring me as his Tiger!