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Good Helpers
by Sid Harrison ETCM(SS) USN(Ret)

Since visiting so many Submarine web sites and boards I probably have done more talking with my wife about Navy stuff than I ever did when I was still in. That seems rather odd in a way. But maybe not. When I was active duty and playing the game for keeps rather than just BSing about it, we were too caught up in the day-to-day involvement. Didn't do much deep thinking about it at the time.

Anyway, one day recently we were talking and I said the most striking difference I recalled between the boats and surface ships, aside from the obvious, is that on a submarine when you asked for help you usually got it (perhaps with a few accompanying refrains of "Him"). And often you didn't even need to ask.

A Commentary On The Helpfulness of Submariners

I was already a petty officer when I made the move from targets to submarines and I'll never forget how surprised I was the first time I opened up a piece of gear on the boat. The next thing I know, I've drawn a small crowd: MMs, ENs, cooks and an officer or two maybe. The cook grabs the flashlight and starts telling me that "when old Bobby Joe was on here he used to replace the K1 relay" - another guy says "no you just smack 'er right there...that'll make it work". Then some engineman chimes in and says "no the problem ain't here it's in the damned Torpedo room". And so it went. At first I thought they were yanking my chain. I quickly realized that being a submariner ranked above one's own rating specialty and when something needs doing you'll get a whole lot of "help".

Nevertheless, I purposely picked a long quiet holiday weekend (when all I had to contend with was a duty section) to replace all the MG paralleling contactors in the control room IC Swbd. I just knew that switchboard could not possibly hold all those eager, helpful sonarmen, torpedomen, quartermasters and assorted other "sidewalk superintendents".

What a great bunch of helpers.