Sid's N T I N S Locker
of Mediterranean Moonbeams
On just such a night, the USS Cobbler SS-344 was plying those languid waters, the mid-watch set, running on the surface, headed for another exciting liberty port. Below decks everything was as peaceful as they can be in a steel pipe with four huge diesel engines roaring full bore, accompanied by all the associated equipment necessary for propulsion and life support. To those of us on watch in and around the control room, it was absolutely peaceful.....
Suddenly the rhapsodic moment was shattered by the deafening clanging of the Collision Alarm! "ALL BACK EMERGENCY" came barking over the 7MC - bringing the helmsman to sharp attention. He instantly selected that position on the Engine Order Telegraph and the boat went into convulsions, the decks throbbing as both screws bit into the water in full reverse.
Hot on the heels of that startling order came another, "ALL STOP"! The violent vibrating shuddered to a halt just as the Captain came tumbling out of his stateroom in his skivvies. He grabbed the first microphone he encountered and demanded, "What the hell are we backing down from?"
There was a fairly long and pregnant pause before the answer crackled from the speaker: "The Moon Sir!"
It seems the moon had a large cloud bank drift across it's lunar face, obscuring it from view by the bridge watch. For some period of time the only light to penetrate this idyllic evening was from phosphorescence rolling along our tank tops, excited by the bow wave. The quite evenings soft moments lulled both the lookouts and the OD until suddenly a moonbeam shot through the cloud cover directly ahead and on what seemed to be a collision course!
If you ever want to test a submarine's crew, sound the Collision Alarm on the Mid-Watch some fine and quiet evening... You get the same effect from swiftly kicking a yellow jackets nest!
AAahhhhh, the memories...