Sea Stories

Surfacing The Nautilus

John C. Yuill QMSN(SS)

I was a very young QM striker in USS Nautilus (SSN 571) from 1957 to 1960, and it was by far the most exciting job I've ever had to this day.

My favorite times were when I had the QM watch and we had to surface. (The fact that I would get violently seasick unless I took my Dramamine beforehand is beside the point and a story for another time.) My first duty upon receiving the order to surface was to sound the surfacing alarm, a treat in itself. Next I would proceed to the lower trunk hatch, ascend the ladder and wait for the command to open the lower hatch. I would then race up the 20 foot ladder to the upper bridge hatch and wait for the command to 'crack the hatch'. A violent rush of air would blast past me as the pressure in the boat was lowered. When the altimeter indicated that it was okay and the conning officer ordered the hatch opened all the way, I would wind that handle for all it was worth, throw open the hatch, and leap to the bridge where I would do a quick look around and report on the 1-MC to the Control Room that all was clear.

For a few quick moments I was the only one on the bridge and as the sea drained away from the sail and with the decks awash in white foam I was ---I just can't describe the feeling. All I know is that nothing else in my entire life ever made me feel like that.

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