Have the "Weld Watch," Aye...
by Chuck Elliott, ENDFN(SS)
While watching the Russians shipping arms to the North Koreans in and
around the Bering Sea we broke both engines. We repaired one at Kodiac, Alaska (thanks to a Coast Guard Cutter who had some spares). We
then limped through the inside passage to Mare Island Shipyard for repairs.
Two or three weeks later we left Mare Island with two new main generators that had been lowered through a hole cut in the overhead pressure hull of the engine room, roughly the size of a small car!!! While the new weld was fresh and not painted we were to take the boat down in 100 foot increments to our test depth, with all watertight doors secured between compartments and all compartments reporting on any possible leaks from any equipment having been worked on in the Navy Yard.
The other throttleman and I were in the engine room watching the new weld as the skipper took her down 100 feet at at a time. We had no depth gauge but did have a sea pressure gauge so we knew how deep we were. We tasted every drop of water to see it was fresh (condensation) or salty? (Why do all submariners look up??)
Once our test depth was reached (you nukers will laugh: 600 feet) the skipper we would go an additional 100 feet! (how long can two engineman stare at a weld?) Here is the funny part of this story: While we two were in the engine room during this dive, we did not know until much later, that one of our officers had availed himself of the forward torpedo room head at the start of this test dive, and due to the sea pressure compressing the boat as we descended 100 feet at a time he was trapped in the head for about two hours, as the door would not open!
Upon returning to Mare Island I was never so glad to put a coat of white paint onto a new weld.
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