Welcome to the Middle Level or, Operations Middle Level. This is the furthest forward that you can go on the Pulaski. And the furthest forward on Middle Level was the Torpedo Room. Here's a view you almost always never see; sunlight coming through the torpedo tubes! Pulaski was in dry dock at the time and doing tube maintenance.
The torpedo tubes are the only defensive weapons carried by the Pulaski and when possible, dry dock time is spent maintaining and updating the mechanisms and various moving parts. Here's another sunlight view (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
The answer to a common question: how are the torpedo tubes cleaned? A willing (or unwilling) crewman in a green flight suit with towels and cleaner. The tubes must be cleaned regularly to prevent obstruction to the torpedoes which could prevent their firing during an emergency.
And here's a better view of the willing individual cleaning away! Not really that difficult of a chore, just making sure that there are no really big chunks of debris with which to foul a weapon.
Each torpedo tube has a placard on it to tell the casual viewer whether it was loaded or not and whether the torpedo inside was live (warshot) or a dummy (exercise). The torpedo's state is verified by an officer prior to closing. Here LT Edwin Marshall verifies a tube closure by TM3 Larry Hopson.
Here, TM3 Hopson closes the hatch and torques it shut. Afterwards, the appropriate placard will be placed on the tube door. Notice the jungle of hydraulic and air pipes in this area.
The plastic nose caps and blankets are to keep the torpedos free from scratches, bumps and other things that might damage their sensitive components. The MK-48 torpedo was the Pulaski's main self-defense weapon. The torpedo room had two racks that dominated the middle of the room. Underneath each rack and extending to the hull sides, were rails with moveable cradles. These cradles held four weapons each side, giving Pulaski a total room load of ten torpedos.
A quick trip back in time, courtesy of Torpedoman Jack Postell, shows the earlier MK-37 torpedo and the winch mechanism used to "manhandle" the fish throughout the Torpedo Room. The winch had been replaced with a "yellow" model when I reported onboard in the middle 1980's. Directly across from Jack on his right, is the open door leading to a storage space used for topside gear, torpedo handling equipment and whatever else the Torpedomen cared to put in there. Behind that space, is Torpedo Room berthing. Also notice the yellow "battle lantern" to the left and front of Jack. These battery operated units would illuminate an area during loss of power (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
In addition to torpedos, the Pulaski carried two MOSS (MObile Submarine Simulator) units. The MOSS is basically a torpedo with a tape recorder that plays a tape of our underwater sound signature. The idea is that whoever is tracking you/following you, hears the MOSS and follows it instead. MOSS has a sleeve which is inserted into the torpedo tube to enable it to be fired as it is smaller than a normal torpedo. The carrying case, holds two MOSS units for the space of one torpedo.
Here I am, screwdriver in hand, pretending to be working on a MOSS unit. To the right of the picture is the three man berthing area for the boat's three torpedomen. Additional assistance loading and unloading weapons is provided by the Seaman gang or volunteers.
One of Pulaski's two escape trunks. This is also the entrance point for the torpedos, hence the rollers on the tunnel floor. The other escape trunk is aft in the engine room. From this trunk, four sailors can escape from the submarine if it is sunk, or two sailors and one life raft.
The Torpedo room is full of lockers and storage areas for the various pieces of tackle and equipment needed for loading Pulaski's torpedos. Unlike the fast attack submarines or the newer Ohio Class boomers, the original "Forty One For Freedom" used "Mk 1 manpower" for loading fish. TM2 Kenny Boyd prepares the rope and pulley's for torpedo loading.
Once the tackle and ropes are in place, the tube is painstakingly inspected for debris or any other obstruction and the connections checked that will connect the torpedo's wire guidance system to the Pulaski's fire control system. Here, FTG2 Randy Davis checks connections while TM2 Boyd looks on.
Once checklists are followed and equipment checked, the loading of the torpedo can commence. A reload party will be summoned and the boat's angle steadied. The fish then begins it's journey into the tube. No fancy hydraulics, just ropes and pulleys.
A close up of a MK-48 and the gear associated with keeping it in place. Notice the MOSS unit in the rack underneath it. To the left of the torpedo is manual aiming and fire control equipment to enable the torpedo room to fight should the central fire control system become inoperative.
The Torpedo Room by it's nature is a popular hangout. Here, SK2 Bennet, myself, TM3 Dorsey and TM2 Keith Longan shoot the breeze on the midwatch. Behind TM2 Longan is a small office room for paperwork and manual/regulation storage. In addition to torpedoes, the Torpedomen were also responsible for small arms maintenance.
At the rear of the Torpedo Room, off to the Port side, was a small, one man office for administrative duties and other tasks. Outside the door was a bank of sonar equipment and emergency radio gear to be taken to the surface during an escape. This photo was taken onboard during the 1970's (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
The Torpedo Room's watertight door can be seen in this highly detailed view from the 1970's. You can see the locking mechanism and other features. The watertight doors were constantly maintained and new crewmen frequently taught in their proper usage. The timely closing and locking ("dogging") of a watertight door can mean the difference between life and death. Above the door, off to the left, is another battle lantern. The long projection coming out of the wall, has a thick, foam cover placed over it. Basically, it is an anchor point for the pulleys and winches used to manually load the torpedos. The point is covered when not in use. The officer shown is the XO, LCDR (later Admiral) Larry Marsh (Photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
On the Starboard side of the door is the three inch signal ejector and the huge pyrotechnics locker. The ejector can fire flares, radio beacons and other devices including countermeasures. They are stored in the locker. The boat's only Starboard ejector is here. The only Port side ejector is aft in the Engine Room. The open door leads to the three man berthing area. Also notice the watertight door mechanism (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
In another 1970's view, featuring ET Joe Horban, we see the open berthing area with some idea as to the layout of the bunks and other general arrangments. The huge pipe structure is the housing for the forward signal ejector (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
Here's the immediate view right outside the Torpedo Room, heading aft, during the 1970's. Off to the right is a small pantry storage area for the cooks. This area is mainly for cans. There is another can storage area in the "basement" of the main Enlisted Berthing in Operations Lower Level. Here, Gold Crew cook MS2 Miner stows cans following stores load (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
Next on the right, would be the Officer's Berthing/Staterooms. These decks are waxed to a nice shine due to the high amount of traffic (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
Leaving the Torpedo Room, off to the left, heading aft (Starboard side) is the Wardroom. The Wardroom's main function is a lounge for the officers as well as their dining area. There is a space forward in the Wardroom which houses fold-out bunks for "riders" as well as the TV and book cases. Gold Crew Supply Officer Scott Thon is standing in front of one of the fold out bunks. Note the gold curtain to give the bunk user some privacy (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
During battle stations, the wardroom is the emergency sickbay. Here MS1 Kerry and the Corpsman, HM2 Jason Budde, examine a patient suffering from third degree burns. The "burns" are a mask and gloves that simulate burned flesh. The "medical emergency costume kit" also had a bag and hose to spray fake blood. And that's where we'll leave that...
After the drills and exercises are over, the Captain will chair a debriefing session of the day's events in the Wardroom as well. At the far end of the Wardroom is the Wardroom kitchen which has room for around one cook. On larger ships the Wardroom kitchen is large enough to accomodate the Wardroom's needs, but on a submarine, the Wardroom kitchen is little more than a heating/preparation area, with the bulk of each meal being prepared in the regular mess decks area. Here, myself, MS3 Troje and HM2 Budde discuss medical procedures that may or may not have been satisfactory during the last drill.
The Wardroom serves as a temporary sleeping area for visiting officers in addition to a main haven of rest and dining for the boat's officers. Here's the Gold Crew Engineer, LCDR Hayes enjoying some cake in the Wardroom (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
The Wardroom has it's own miniature Galley and one of the crew's cooks will be assigned to it. Most of the food is cooked in the main Galley and then brought to the Wardroom's area for serving, heating, etc. Here's a shot of Gold Crew cook MS2 Miner wearing rubber gloves which are hopefully for cleaning and not food preparation, ha ha! The Wardroom Galley is located on the Starboard side of the boat, heading aft past the Wardroom (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
The Operations Middle Level passage way is also a fun place for games during angle maneuvers. Here's Jack Postell and other crew "bobsled" down the waxed passageway during the 1970's. The view is looking forward towards the Torpedo Room with the Wardroom on the right (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
Across the hall from the Wardroom is the junior officer Berthing. Here, there are a series of two-man staterooms plus a communal bathroom/shower. Here, LT Kent Basson demonstrates the plush accomodations and spaciousness.
Behind the Officer Berthing is the TDU room. The trash disposal unit - or "TDU" for short - is nothing more than a tube with a watertight door on one end and a ball valve on the other end. A can is made out of sheet metal and then it is stuffed with trash. The can is then weighed to see if it reaches the minimum weight required to successfully sink and not bob up on the surface. If the can does not weigh enough, ten pound weights are added to the can. Once the can is full, it is then sealed. After sealing, it will be placed inside the TDU. Once the hatch is dogged shut tightly (hence the pressence of the torque wrench), the Chief Of The Watch upstairs in Control, will open the bottom ball valve, allowing the trash can to fall to the ocean bottom. So now you know how submarines "take out the trash." Gold Crew cook MS3 Boyle is preparing to load the TDU (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
Going back to the other side of the boat, directly behind the Wardroom is the Chief Petty Officer's quarters or "Goat Locker." Here, my boss YNCS Denny Yates relaxes after shift. Inside the quarters was a communal bathroom/shower and a table and TV but all meals were prepared in the mess decks.
Across the hall is the main Galley. Here, MS3 Michael Buffett prepares a meal. To his left are the numerous dish racks with metal bars to keep things in place during dives and angles. The Galley's fridge has room for ninety days worth of food. That's sixty days for patrol and a 30 day "cushion" to account for patrol extensions, topside barbeques and other unplanned events. Dry goods and canned goods are stored throughout the boat in every conceivable nook and cranny.
Moving towards the Port Side is another preparation area and the deep fat fryer. Here, MMCM Gibbs, STS1 Keith Post and the Chief of the Boat ready food items for serving. Different departments on the boat take turns serving during "pizza night" and other events (photo courtesy of Dennis Lappiere).
Here's a better view of the deep fat fryer area, facing the Port Side. Here, Gold Crew cooks get ready to prepare a meal. Note the stacked cooking sheets. Behind them to the right side, will be the freezer and refridgerator (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
How many cooks does a sub carry? Doesn't matter, all they do is "cook." The serving, cleaning, etc, is the responsibililty of the "cranks." "Cranking" is the fine art of working in the kitchen. It is a long, arduous shift and is normally assigned to lower enlisted on a rotating schedule. There is only one true holiday at sea, and that is "Halfway Night." On this day/night, the patrol is halfway over. One of the key celebrations is the "Halfway Night Crank." You bid money on who you would like to "crank." The prime winners are almost always the command master chief (Chief Of The Boat - the "COB") and the XO. Here, the lucky receipient, ETCM Dennis Lapierre, Pulaski's COB, gets down and dirty with some soup bowls.
Here's another view of the dishwashing area and another view of our Chief Of The Boat. Notice the design of the racks, which are configured in such a way so as to keep dishes from falling and breaking during rolls and other maneuvers (photo courtesy of Dennis Lappiere).
At the forward end of the Galley, on the Port side, are the cold storage freezer areas. Enough food was carried for three months: two months of patrol and one month to handle an emergency extension to our patrol length. Here, Gold Crew cooks MS3 Boyle and MSSR Jackson tackle cleaning out the freezer (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
The food will be meticulously arranged so that the cooks can go in and grab the stuff that needs to be eaten first without spending a lot of time searching. The racks get cleaned out every so many patrols. Here's a good view of the storage space available in the freezer with MSSR Jackson preparing the area to receive the food again. (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
Once cleaned out, the cold storage area will be inspected by the Supply Officer and Corpsman. Once it is cleaned to the satisfaction of the Corpsman and other concerned parties, the food that was removed will be loaded back into the freezer and refrigerator (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
The Mess Decks is another prime gathering spot and can realistically hold just under a third of the boat's crew at any one time. The benches are likewise, storage cabinets. There is a TV for movie watching as well.
Here's a 1970's view of the forward section of the Mess Decks with Silas Hines, Jeff Calhoun, Duane Roberts and Al McKernan hanging around. Note the ice cream maker off to the left. Compare the vinyl bench covering to the material in the middle 1980's (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
And the other halfway night cranking winner, the executive officer, LCRD Richard Relue, makes his rounds. All of the money that is bid is placed directly in the boat's party fund. Many people bid hundreds of dollars to "elect" their chosen candidate. I do not recall our commanding officer William Schmidt ever being chosen, but our previous executive officer, CDR Peter Selde, did not participate.
It appears that the Gold Crew were more ambitious and managed to collect enough votes to put both their Weapons Officer **AND** Commanding Officer to work in the Mess Decks. It's all for a good cause and a lot of fun is had by both the servers and the people being served (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
Here, my roomate TM2 Keith Longan and I discuss the merits of camera self timers. Keith left the Navy shortly after this patrol which was beneficial as I was due to get married and would naturally like the apartment all to myself, if you know what I mean...
Submarine food is legendary. Unlike the surface Navy, there are seconds onboard subs. And everything is pretty much cooked to order. The quantity and the quality are worth a letter home. There were complaints sure, but most of them were "passionate" complaints. In other words, you were complaining about the meatloaf, not because the meatloaf was reallllllly bad, but because you missed your wife's meatloaf. Here, SN Kolb serves one of Pulaski's dinners.
Here's another view of the service area with the Gold Crew's head cook, MSC Washington doing the serving honors. Notice the "Crazy Count" logo on the Chief's shirt. This view is on the Starboard side near the main entrance door to the serving line (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
It has been said that a good cook is worth his weight in gold and the Pulaski's cooks were no exception. Both crews had some seriously talented culinary geniuses. The level of quality was unsurpassed. The cooks baked frequently. One of the Gold Crew cooks, MS1 Janowiak, poses with a cake baked in honor of Patrol 69. This shot was taken on the Starboard side of the Mess Decks (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
It was a moral booster to have a cake baked for your birthday. Here's a shot of Gold Crew cook MS2 Hayes showing a birthday cake to celebrate crewmember birthdays (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
At other times, the cooks would bake cakes just for the sake of baking them. Here's a shot of Gold Crew Supply Department Leading Petty Officer MS1 Janowiak wiht his cake, posing with Supply Officer Scott Thon. Behind LT Thon is the boat's soda machine (photo courtesy of Scott Thon).
Following dinner, your next meal would be midnight rations or MIDRATs, which was basically a sandwich free for all. Next came breakfast. Throughout the night, the Night Baker's breads and cakes would fill the submarine with heavenly scents and aromas. If you weren't sound asleep by then, forget it! The lure of fresh bread and pastries was enough to roust you from your bed. Next on our travels is a watertight door leading to Missile Compartment Middle Level. On the Port side is the Nucleonics Lab, Sickbay, a head (bathroom) and several three-man berthing compartments. As the Missile Compartment is always cold, this was prime berthing! Here is a 1970's view, looking forward showing Denis Finegan and Doc Ferris. The Sickbay is on the left. One of the missile tube maintenance access hatches is visible on the right (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).
Due to the nice cozy temperature of this part of the boat, there were many volunteers to sleep in Middle Level berthing. There was another berthing area on the opposite side of the Missile Compartment as well. Here, HM2 Roger Gunter and myself discuss the upcoming port call...or something...
Crossing over to the other side of the compartment is LCP, the Launch Control Panel. The middle level of the compartment is the only place where you can jog. Unless Missile Technicians are in the way, as in this photo! Here, MT2 Jeff Boeckel and myself clown around near an access hatch.
The middle of the Starboard side is dominated by the LCP itself. Here, MT2 Keith Wassung stands LOS (Launch Operations Supervisor) watch during a battle stations drill. Behind him is one of the massive tube hatches for performing maintenance on the missiles. Off in the distance is another berthing area. After that, is the stairway to Auxiliary Machinery Room 1.
Some of Petty Officer Wassung's off duty activities included power lifting. I can't remember if he participated on the Navy team, but few would have argued the point with him anyway!
And this is as far aft as you can go in Middle Level! The Reactor Compartment, Auxiliary Machinery Room 2 and Engine Room have no Middle Levels; just an Upper and Lower Level. So that's it! Hope you enjoyed your visit!