MagAO-X 2020A Stay At Home Day 7: Poopie Suits & An Ancient Mystery

I was actually aghast that Logan’s post last week was the very first appearance of the Poopie Suit on this fine blog. After nearly 8 years and more than 560 blog posts, it’s utterly ridiculous that a surface sailor posted the first poopie suit pic. She probably wasn’t even wearing tennis shoes.

So let’s rectify the sitch. Here are a couple of pics from when I was on the USS Pasadena (SSN-752).

That’s me on the right. Colby Matthews is relieving me as Officer of the Deck on the surface. It’s kind of rare to catch an SSN on the surface, but it was also always our favorite watch. Lots of wind, you usually got wet (we’re strapped in for a reason), and you got some sun. Since we both have smooth chins this must be shortly after we left Pearl.
This is maybe more recognizable after a couple of weeks out (and maybe not sleeping for a day or three). Note that I’m keeping it neat though, that fire fighting mask still needs a good seal. Kinda apropos.
The insignia you see on my poopie suit are the Submariner’s Dolphins. You basically have to be able to draw every fluid/mechanical/electrical/air system on the ship from memory, know how to operate everything, and prove it during a bunch of drills, to earn that. Logan is wearing the equivalent “water wings” for surface sailors. For U.S. submariners, it’s actually the fish (mahi mahi), not the mammal. But we always felt special when Dolphins joined us on the surface. Our Captain had even figured out that all ahead standard turns for twelve was the optimum Dolphin amusement speed in a 688 class.
Some more dolphins from the bridge of Pasadena off Oahu. Just because they’re pretty.

So one of the things that some of my shipmates and I have been talking about is how similar our current globally mutual situation is to going to sea on a submarine. Feeling isolated? Same small cramped space every day? Stuck with the same small group of people/cats (not necessarily of your choice)? Pervasive smell of diesel, monoethylamine, and sewage? Ok, if the last one applies maybe call a plumber and/or move.

Now if you really want to get a good submarine simulation, follow these guidelines. Seriously, I feel every one of those. But I lost it when I got to “Every so often, yell “EMERGENCY DEEP!” run into the kitchen and sweep all pots, pans and dishes off of the counters onto the floor, and then yell at your partner for not having the kitchen area “Stowed for Sea!””. All too real. My key lesson learned for our current situation is that if we all end up eating canned three bean salad that we were storing on the hallway floor (and walking on), it will have gone on for too long.

The best modern submarine movie to get you in the groove is The Hunt For Red October. When on the Dallas, most of the extras were submariners, and the background chatter is A+. Listen for things like “conn, maneuvering, aye”, and the word perfect “concur, possible target zig based on bearing rate.”

If you really want to get claustrophobic, any WWII sub movie will do, but Das Boot is the clear winner.

We don’t talk about Crimson Tide.

And now for a message from our sponsors

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Now on to the ancient mystery. This is one of my favorite pics from the 752. It was a long time ago, but I’ll try to describe it. . .

This is taken at a place called Jim’s in Bahrain, in late March 2003. If you’ve seen Casablanca you kinda know the role Jim’s played there, though not with the same panache. Shown are most of the junior officers on Pasadena and the Eng, an MMCS (senior chief), an MM1, and a couple of O-gang friends who were on a CG out of Pearl. I’m pretty sure that “Nerd” and the Weps had the duty on the boat, and the XO is the photog. (inside baseball: b/c I was the Damage Control Assistant at the time, I almost certainly bought every single one of the senior chief’s beers that night)

Now you might notice that not every sailor looks completely ready to stand watch. Which leads to the mystery posed in one of my favorite songs:

Not actually the best version by USNA Glee on youtube, but I picked it for the venue. Honest question: what amateurs use a motorized stage to focus a camera? It’s all worth it at 1:55 though.

Here’s a more traditional version:

Fun fact: I’ve actually been kicked out of a bar in Charleston for over-requesting this song (Charleston S.C. is the home of Navy Nuclear Power School). Long story, it was a group effort and Irish folk bands can get touchy.

The final version really captures the essence of the song: