A Tender Tale

"Just slip out the back, Jack; make a new plan, Stan;
you don't need to be coy, Roy; just get yourself free!
Hop on the bus, Gus; you don't need to discuss much;
just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free!"
 ....Paul Simon

Back in 1972 - while at Mare Island - the ship had sent me toa "quickie" course on Sperry SINS - the other SINS -the kind that the Ranger got in overhaul - and the kind (at the time)most Fast Attack Submarines had. During the entire time I wasback "on station" - I was the only tech trained on bothsystems - so anytime a Fast Attack came in - and needed SINS help- I was "it". Being "it" had both good andbad sides - usually if a boat had a problem so serious that theirpeople needed help - well it was very serious - and usuallyvery hard to find - and often caused by more than "normalcomponent failure."

SINS installation typical of Fast Attacks
Sperry SINS installation as typically installed on Fast Attack Submarines. The binnacle containing the stable platform / gyros / accelerometers is on the left - the four cabinets on the right are (left to right) the typewriter Input/Output and Tape Reader; the Servo Amp / Electronics cabinet; the SINDAC Computer; and the Data Output Console.

Playing "games" with the Russians was nothing new. As we were seldom at sea - it was rare for us to be involved. The Fast Attack Submarines, on the other hand - played the "game" often. And as our captain had noted - somtimes it can get serious - real serious. One Fast Attack that came in had been playing "games" with "another" boat - The nose was now several feet further aft than when built - requiring some dry-dock time - and someserious repairs to some fragile SINS components that - well let'sjust say they weren't built for that kind of bump. The SperrySINS is similar in function to the Autonetics SINS but the physicalstructure of the stable platform and the gimbals are very muchlike the schematic drawing shown in the SINS chapter (Appendix A) - i.e. the gimbals surround the platform - which is like a small barrel in the center . Theouter gimbal weighs several hundred pounds - and if it is movingfast - you better not get in it's way - it could easily breakfingers - yet it's capable of the required accuracy of fractionsof minutes of degrees - quite an engineering accomplishment. Ifound the Fast Attack's crews to be quite different from the boomers- more like their diesel predecessors. You'd almost have to bea bubblehead to appreciate what I mean by that... But I enjoyedthose occasional diversions - they often provided some interestingexperiences - like the time one of the boats decided to add meto their crew - the boat was in the floating dry-dock (at thetime - one of the largest floating dry-docks was at Apra Harbor,Guam) and I'd gone below to work in the NavCenter. A couple hourslater - I decided to venture topside for a break (actually I wasgoing to go to the Exchange gedunk bar to grab a snack). Uponreaching topside - I found not only weren't we high and dry anymore- but the pointy end was aimed at the open ocean. I quickly askedan officer where they were headed - he kinda shrugged and noddedtowards the harbor entrance. Wrong. On getting back to the Proteus- as I walked up the gang-plank the OOD took one look and asked- "what'd ya do fall off??" "No damn-it - I jumped!"Not knowing what had just happened - he wasn't quite sure whetherto be upset by my rudeness - or what. The sailor who was standingthe Quarter Deck watch happened to know me - and where I'd been--- when he saw me - he busted out laughing ! Don't tell me- youthought they were trying to shanghai you??!! Well since the tugswere just snuggling that particular boat up next to the Proteus- it's obvious I'd been had. And of course in jumping overboard- and swimming in a restricted security area - I'd broken abouta dozen regulations. Got me a free trip to the Captain's Day Cabin.I walked in (after having changed into a dry uniform) expecting- well - I didn't quite know what. The Captain was sitting behindhis desk - and was reading some papers - I figured they were firstdrafts of a whole pile of charges. He started listing off stuff.Violating a security area; leaving a ship without permission;they did at least note that I saluted the flag as I departed.He shuffled the stack of paper again then finally looked up. Afterwhat seemed forever (about 30 seconds, actually) he started laughing."I'd sure like to have seen your face when you thought youwere going out with them! boy - did they get your ass!" Itold him I wasn't sure what was worse - thinking I was going withthem - or finding out they weren't going (right then) after all...The captain allowed how he thought I'd been through enough embarrassmentto make me think next time - before I jumped. Yup - I'd been had- by the best! Submariners. A whole 'nother breed!

Chapter 6:

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