58 Feet Smartly

by Ronald Mitchell

During an operation, the skipper about wore everyone out with his order to periscope depth for a quick look around and then commence snorkeling to clean up the air and throw a little charge on the battery or just move somewhere a bit quicker.

Steaming along then the word came “58 feet smartly, set condition Baker, prepare to snorkel, one main engine.” I learned real quick that if you planned to get the watertight door on the latch, you’d better get your butt up to the forward end of the compartment damn fast, otherwise you were going to be lifting a damn heavy door. At that time, the door outweighed me by a bunch since I wore size 28 patch-pocket dungarees and weighed about 145 pounds.

I wore moccasins in the FER and soon they were soaked with our various oils and fuels so they became really slick. When I got the order above, I just hauled it to the forward end, got the bulkhead flappers shut and the watertight door on the latch. Then, since we had a helluva up angle, I just grabbed hold of stuff and slid down the deck, rigging the compartment for snorkeling on the way down. Only thing left was to secure from condition Baker and then fire off the engine.