USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633)

The Story Of A Cold War Warrior

There's No Place Like Home...

On this page you'll get to take a tour of the CP and see some of her insides.  The USS Casimir Pulaski had three floors, or levels; Upper Level, Middle Level and Lower Level.  We'll try to see as much as we can.  As Ship's Photographer I documented most of the boat, but some areas just never got my attention.  I always laugh when I see submarine movies and they show the crew walking side-by-side down a passageway.  So keep an open mind when viewing the photos!

Virtual Tour Of USS Casimir Pulaski Upper Level

This is the highest of the three deck levels onboard SSBN-633.  The upper level's furthest point forward starts at a storage closet and ends at Shaft Alley.  The majority of these photographs are from the middle 1980's, but crew from all of Pulaski's history have contributed to this section.  Ready?  Let's go and remember to roll those sleeves down and watch your knees - there's loads of items to catch your skin and cause bruises; this is submarine reality - not Hollywood!

The furthest forward that you could go in the upper level was a little closet sized room all the way forward that the Quartermasters used for storing their charts and maps.  I would also use the room for photographing items for slide shows and also for developing slides.  I never photographed this room.  Next, coming down the Starboard side, is the Ship's Office - where I worked.  Notice my cheesy moustache.  The bars on the bookcases are to keep things in place during rolls or dives ("angles and dangles").  There was room (just barely!!) for two people in this "office" so we Yeomen tended to work in shifts.  To my left is the boat's main photocopier.  Behind me (out of view) was the mainstay IBM Selectric III typewriter.  To my right is the door in and out of the office.  The door is closed at the moment.  Forward of me, also out of view, was the ultra high tech, Xerox 860 word processor with it's 8 inch floppy disks!

In this next view, I'm wearing an emergency air breathing device (EAB) which is also known as "sucking rubber."  Throughout various places, every so many feet, there are outlets to plug your EAB in to.  The door had to be closed as, had I been seen "willingly" wearing an EAB, I'd have been ridiculed beyond my worst nightmare!! 

A better view of the front of the Ship's Office, towards the door.  Notice volume after volume of Navy, Squadron and Group regulations and rules.  Various department heads would spend hours photocopying various portions for exercise or maintenance use.  The dungaree uniform I'm wearing suggests this photo was taken during refit, in port.

Whoops - it was also a Poloroid.  Fancy that.  Leaving the Ship's Office, the next room on the Starboard side is the Sonar Shack.  In here, the watchstanders and Sonar Supervisor monitor the outside world and it's various noises.  Being a Yeoman, the general consensus was "Yeomen don't do any work" so we were almost always given other tasks.  The predominant task was "diving and driving" or driving the sub.  I preferred the dark, air conditioned world of Sonar so I volunteered to stand Sonar watch instead.  Here's a view during the late 1970's showing John Olmstead, Larry Reber and Loren Cornish.  Notice the lack of clutter among the sonar equipment (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).

Here's a similar view but with just Jack in the photo.  Notice the coffee cup holders next to Jack's left shoulder (photo courtesy of the family of Jack Postell).

Next on our tour is the Control Room but before we go there, let's go back to the Ship's Office.  Across the hall on the Port Side from the Ship's Office is the XO and Captain's staterooms.  Both men shared a bathroom.  I never thought to take a photo inside the staterooms but there are plenty of books which have photos of the plush, sumptuous accomodations (severe sarcasm) available to the Commanding Officer and the Executive Officer.  Heading aft past the staterooms, is the Radio Room.  I also qualified and stood Radio Operator watch.  I've also blocked out the gear next to QM2 Rick Terrell.

The next space is the Control Room which takes up the width of the Upper Level.  This is the Starboard side where the Quartermaster's stand is.  Here, the charts are read and kept track of.  Right now, the ship is piloting, or transiting from King's Bay to the open ocean.  Numerous watch standers compare visual information from the bridge with the charts.  Here QM3 Tim McMichaels and QM3 Scott Sleeper plot the boat's course through the channel.

The navigator stands back and observes the whole evolution as the Quartermasters follow the charts.  The white board is for keeping track of sonar, radar and visual contacts that the boat encounters en route to the dive point.  QM2 Rick Terrell plots the course changes under the watchful eye of the Navigator, LCDR Grimes.

Further aft from the Quartermaster stand is the torpedo fire control area.  This is the MK-113 fire control system.  The big console with the screen is slaved to the sonar system to track contacts.  The console to the right of it, obscured, is the actual control panel for the launch of torpedos.  One of the more relaxing watches to stand was Fire Control Technician Of The Watch (FTOW) which I also qualified in.

Here's the Fire Control station, mid patrol with no one around.  The watch section was pretty compact; there was the three man driving party (helmsman, planesman, messenger), the Chief Of The Watch, Diving Officer, Officer Of The Deck, Quartermast Of The Watch and Fire Control Technician Of The Watch. 

Here's the same view but back in the 1970's.  Maintenance is being carried out on the whole torpedo fire control system.  The unit modules dated back to the 1960's but due to the hi-tech sonar built-in to the nose of each torpedo, the module's were more than adequate for the task at hand (photo courtesy of Don Ward).

Someone's gotta drive the boat.  You never really get used to the fact that you can't see where you're going.  I am wearing headphones to receive instructions from the bridge.  The steering area is on the Port side of the control room.  Only the helmsman is present during surfaced operations.  The brass plate to my right is an angle indicator.  Basic, but does the trick.  Each watchstander (helmsman and planesman) have a shallow and deep depth guage.

Once the boat is dived, normal watchstanding commences.  The diving and driving crew consists of three watchstanders; a planesman, a helmsman and a messenger.  Each of them takes two hour chunks of the six hour watch.  The man at the rear is the diving officer.  The one standing is the messenger.  The messenger's job is primarily to wake up the next watch, make drink runs, deliver the night orders, etc.  The first underway watchstanders are MMC Spisak, FN Lamont, TM3 Dorsey and QM3 Tim McMichaels.

An overhead view taken from the "conn" looking forward.  The planesman on the left, controls the stern planes which controls the angle of the boat.  The helmsman controls the fairwater planes which control the depth and also the rudder.  The silver stick in the middle of the console is the emergency steering column.  Each planesman can, in emergency, take control of the other's functions. 

Here's another view of the Port Side of Control which dates from the 1970's.  I included this photo as it shows off the ladder which leads to the Bridge and Sail area.  The area at the bottom of the ladder (known as the "bear trap") for collecting sea water is not visible.  Notice the brightness of the brass fittings.  Perhaps they were newly installed/updated.  The control party consists of Byron Van Camp (diving officer), Jeff Calhoun (planesman) and SK3 Dana Libby (helmsman)(photo courtesy of Jim Wynkoop).

Continuing on the Port side of the control room is the Ballast Control Panel or "BCP" which is where the Chief Of The Watch controls the flooding/blowing of sea water, raising of masts/antenna and other tasks.  Working in concert with the diving officer, the COW will bring on water to control the boat's angle, or "bubble."  Also on this panel (above my hand) are the two levers for initiating an emergency blow.  During an emergency blow, high pressure air tanks send the submarine to the surface in next to no time.  There is presently no amusement park attraction that compares.  MM3 Troy Akins shakes his head in disbelief as he continues on the rounds of his watch.  His watch, Auxiliaryman Forward, is one of the most important on the boat and encompasses checking levels, temperatures and the safety of the boat. 

A better, close up view of the ballast control panel.  The two prominent silver levers are for the emergency surface (emergency blow) initiation.  The door in back leads to the Navigation center.

"Dancing with the one eyed lady."  Or, more appropriately, using the attack scope (periscope number one).  This is the conn.  This view is looking Starboard from the Port side of the conn (periscope number two).  The Quartermaster Chief monitors the horizon while the oncoming diving officer watches the sonar readout.  Working in tandem, they will relay their findings periodically to the bridge.  The yellow box on Quartermaster Chief Brown's belt is a radiation dosimeter to keep track of radiation.  All submariners wear them and they are checked following patrol. 

And to the left on the Port side is periscope number two, the main periscope.  This periscope has better optics and is the main usage periscope.  The orange ring above my head is the hydraulic actuator that raises and lowers the periscope.  The ring is turned one way (with both hands) to raise the scope and another way to lower it.  The box mounted behind me is the panel where the captain inserts his "key" to start the missile launch sequence. 

The torpedo fire control panel dominates the Starboard side of the Control Room and is where the FTOW sits during normal watchstanding while underway.  The torpedos are fired from this panel, though in an emergency they can be fired locally from the Torpedo Room.  The red rack in the middle of the photo contains green oxygen cannisters for the OAB fire fighting aparatus.  The yellow circular panel in the upper left of the photo is the collision alarm.  IC2 Bloomenkamp monitors torpedo status while I run a diagnostic test on the radar to fire control link.

Heading aft on the Starboard side of the control room.  The blue curtain is the ESM bay.  The bay is unmanned during submerged operations.  At the rear of this passage is the watertight door leading to the missile compartment.  Here, QMC Kollars and LT Edwin Marshall block the passageway following a drill.

The next area is the Navigation Electronics Room.  In here the ship's exact location is maintained and logged.  This serves not only navigational purposes, but allows the missiles to know exactly where they are.  That way, when launched, they know where they are heading to.  Here, ET3 Haley and ETC Munn discuss the finer points of inertial navigation.  

In the back of the room are the boat's large SINS (Ship's Inertial Navigation System) units which are basically, for all intents and purposes, huge GPS units.  Contrary to the photo, vegetables are not grown in this area...  ET3 Frank Hellenberger's pumpkin did last all patrol however.

The next area is Missile Compartment Upper level.  This level of the missile deck is not as spacious and roomy as the Middle Level so no one jogs up here.  It's normally the coldest room on the boat so it was great to come up here and read a book or just take a stroll.  One of the missile tube access hatches is open for maintenance.

Here's the same view but with the lights turned on.  This view is from the 1960's and clearly shows the cylindrical storage bins on the floor for the spare IMU's (internal measuring unit) for the missile's guidance.  Also note the various pipes and cable runs (photo courtesy of Chuck Jensen).

The next room is the Auxiliary Machinery Room 1 (AMR1).  This room has three levels.  The Upper Level is where the main entrance hatch to get into the boat is, so it's a busy place with visitors and crew coming and going.  I do not have a verified photo of this room.  I think that this photo from the 1970's is from there.  Walker Bousman tests the "comfort factor" of this room sometime during the 1970's (photo courtesy of Walker Bousman).

Passing through AMR1, the next area is the Reactor Compartment.  The compartment is divided into two areas; the room itself, and a passageway through it.  This is a 1960's view of the Reactor Tunnel entrance with the viewer facing forward (photo courtesy of Chuck Jensen).

For obvious reasons, entrance to the Reactor room itself is not allowed due to the radiation.  Here I am with an unknown crewman and MM3 Rick Starnes standing in the passageway.  We're having a drill at the moment, and I'm wearing the red hat of a drill monitor.  Drill monitor was a great job as you (a) got out of taking part in the drill and (b) since 99% of drills almost always involved fire, you got out of sucking rubber.

The passage way through the Reactor Compartment is rather spacious and is the portal between the forward and after areas of the boat.  The room has two watertight doors and in port, both are closed to keep unwanted visitors out.

Next stop is the Engine Room.  The room itself has two levels and one of the ship's two escape trunks.  Just inside the watertight door on the Starboard side is Maneuvering.  Here, the electrical system, the reactor and other propulsion functions are monitored.  Manueving is the main part of the Engine Room and is responsible for the operation of the boats electrical, steam and nuclear power operations.  The average temperature in the engine room is somewhat warmer than the forward part of the boat, so needless to say, the engine room doesn't get too many visitors.

And that's as far aft as you can get on the upper level due to security!  Hope you've enjoyed your tour.