Culture on My Mind – Behind the Scenes of Nautilus

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Behind the Scenes of Nautilus
October 8, 2021

This week, the educational side of YouTube is on my mind. Specifically, I’m looking at a slice of submarine history with the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut.

The Submarine Force Library and Museum is home to the USS Nautilus (former SSN 571), the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world which now serves as a National Historic Landmark to educate visitors about the United States submarine force. The museum sits downstream from Naval Submarine Base New London on the Thames River, which is where I served for part of my submarine career. In normal times, it receives approximately 250,000 visitors per year.

The museum has a tour route through the forward compartment of the Nautilus, offering an in-person look at life on a nuclear submarine, including where sailors would eat, sleep, and work. In early 2021, Commander Brad Boyd presented a series of videos that go beyond the normal tour route and offer a substantial amount of historic and experience-based information.

I went through sub school with Brad and we served together at two duty stations. I was very pleased to see the news in 2018 when Brad took over as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Historic Ship Nautilus, and this series was part of a larger effort to keep the museum in the public eye during the pandemic. It was a smart move during a tough time to run a public attraction.

Brad was recently relieved as OIC and sent on to his next duty station. I wish him and his family the best of luck. I know he’ll do well in the future.  

This series of eighteen videos represents a great way to learn about history and life in the Silent Service. 


Episode 1 – Nautilus Introduction and Overview


Episode 2 – Nautilus Torpedo Room


Episode 3 – Nautilus Wardroom


Episode 4 – Staterooms


Episode 5 – Operation Sunshine


Episode 6 – Attack Center


Episode 7 – Sonar, ESM, and Ship’s Office


Episode 8 – Control


Episode 9 – Radio & Interior Communications


Episode 10 – Crew’s Mess


Episode 11 – Storerooms and Battery


Episode 12 – Berthing and Chief’s Quarters


Episode 13 – Gallery and Storeroom


Episode 14 – Berthing


Episode 15 – Underneath the Superstructure


Episode 16 – Escape Trunk


Episode 17 – Sail


Episode 18 – Bridge

 


You can find the Submarine Force Museum on YouTube, Facebook, and their official site. If you’re ever in Groton, Connecticut, it’s also worth an in-person visit.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Smarter Every Day Dives Deep into Nuclear Submarines

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Smarter Every Day Dives Deep into Nuclear Submarines
August 6, 2021

This week, the educational side of YouTube is on my mind. Specifically, I’m looking at Smarter Every Day.

The channel is run by Destin Sandlin, a mechanical and aerospace engineer from Alabama. His channel focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics, and each video provides him and his audience a chance to learn something new about the world around them. Smarter Every Day is a must-watch subscription on my YouTube feed.

Destin started a series of videos in June of last year focused on nuclear submarines. He was invited to participate in ICEX 2020, a biennial Navy exercise that explores operational readiness in the Arctic. The video series was particularly intriguing since I was a nuclear submarine officer, and I was very excited to see how the engineering and lifestyle complexities would be seen and interpreted by civilian eyes.

I wasn’t disappointed.

This series of videos was quite well done and offers an easy to digest perspective on the submarine force. My wife watched the series with me and finally understood some what my former job entailed. I want to thank Destin for that and for taking the time to teach the world about the basics of the Silent Service.

There are nine episodes in the series, filmed during a brief underway on the USS Toledo and released over a year. If you enjoy them as much as I did, consider chipping in to continue his mission through Audible, KiwiCo, or any of Destin’s other sponsors.

The first episode was published in June of 2020 and focused on ICEX. Specifically, Destin covered the science of arctic ice and how that data feeds into the Navy’s mission. After that, he boarded the Toledo and submerged beneath the ice cap.

The second episode debuted in July of 2020 and continued the story with a basic overview of his adventure and submarines overall.

The third episode took us into a torpedo tube and explored how a submarine’s teeth work. One trivia item that my wife found interesting as we discussed the video was how visitors are able to autograph the tube with grease pencil. My signature was one of the tube doors of the USS Greeneville, though I’m absolutely sure it has since been washed away by pressurized seawater over the ensuing two decades. 

The fourth episode premiered in October and focused on two of the most dangerous casualties that a submarine can face: Fire and flooding. Since Destin is an engineer, he was also able to explore the principles behind how the sailors fight these casualties.

The fifth entry was about how submariners eat. Since submarines are designed to make their own water, air, and electricity, food is truly the limiting factor for how long a boat can stay on station. The methods and creativity involved in feeding over a hundred sailors are unique in the submarine force.

The sixth episode came at the end of 2020 and explored how submarines listen underwater. It was quite fun to see just how far the discussion could go before hitting classified information. This video will give you the basics of the sonar science and how one can see underwater without light and windows.

In February, Destin discussed how submarines make and maintain breathable environments while underway. The counterintuitive science of lighting a fire to produce oxygen was a fun topic to watch him explore.

In May, sanitation was the topic du jour. Toilets and showers seem simple enough, but they’re a bit different on the boat. Water conservation is vitally important and one wrong move could mean getting a face full of feces. Not the most dangerous thing you might do on a submarine, but…

The series came to a close on July 30th with the complex evolution of surfacing the ship under the polar ice cap. Surfacing a submarine is already a complex and dangerous evolution, but the added wrinkle of precision piloting is a whole new level. It’s not something that I ever did, but I still studied the basic principles at one point.

 


Once again, if you’re interested in STEM topics, Smarter Every Day is a great place to land for quality education and production values. Thanks to Destin for sharing his perspectives and experiences with the world.

You can find Smarter Every Day on YouTube.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Memorial Day 2020

Memorial Day
May 25, 2020

Photo by John Beniston (Palmiped), licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

 

Memorial Day is a federal holiday for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday is now observed on the last Monday of May, while previously observed on May 30th from 1868 to 1970.

Memorial Day is for honoring the fallen. Veterans Day, observed on November 11th, honors those who have served in the United States Armed Forces and correlates with Remembrance Day worldwide. Armed Forces Day, an unofficial holiday observed on the third Saturday in May, honors those currently serving in the armed forces.

 

Among the various parades, services, and the annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetary, Memorial Day is commemorated with the poem In Flanders Fields. It was written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

 

 

Memorial Day 2011

“In Flanders Fields”
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD, Canadian Army (1872-1918)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

History of “In Flanders Fields” via Arlington Cemetery

“Poppies in the Sunset on Lake Geneva” by Eric Hill, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license via Wikipedia

The Time to Celebrate Is Not This One

On May 1, 2011, President Barack Obama reported that al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was officially dead. Rumors suggest that SEAL Team Six was the end of the line for the man who planned and orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the defeated attack on Washington, DC. The President suggests that this is a turning point in the nearly decade long global war on terror that is no longer called the Global War on Terror, and that this event is long-awaited justice for those innocents killed in what has become known as this generation’s Pearl Harbor moment.

So why don’t I feel like celebrating?

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Day of Infamy

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”    —President Franklin D. Roosevelt

May the 2,402 American military, 57 American civilian, and 64 Japanese military casualties rest in peace.

Quote of the Day

On the heels of the unsurprising Supreme Court’s decision not to strike down Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), Kenny (@Geekyfanboy on Twitter) made this simple statement:

I couldn’t agree more.  I don’t understand why a country wouldn’t defend those who sacrifice everything to protect it and its people.

By the way, I’ll just leave this related gem here as well:

 

Thank a Veteran Today

From Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, published on November 8, 2010:

On Nov. 11 each year, the United States formally honors the service and sacrifice of more than 20 million living American veterans through their service, as well as all the men and women who have guaranteed our freedom and kept America secure against those who would harm us throughout the years.

Our veterans represent the best of America. Coming from every background and every walk of life, they represent the rich tapestry of our nation and the multitude of cultures that make the United States unique upon the earth.

On Veterans Day, we have an opportunity to thank them, to thank every Marine, Sailor, Soldier, Airman and Coast Guardsmen who has ever worn the uniform for what they have done, and to thank those of you still in uniform for what you continue to do for the United States every day.

Thank you for your service, Godspeed.

Major hostilities of World War I — “The War To End All Wars” — ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of November in 1918.  One year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared the day a holiday named Armistice Day.

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

By 1954, the holiday became known as Veterans Day.

Thank a Veteran today, will you?