Top Tip for Submariners

If you're thinking of going outside, take an aqualung.

Not safe, even here!


'Emergency Stations' being piped when sitting on the throne.

- One is supposed to be at one's Emergency Station within seconds but some jobs can't be finished so quickly! And if the emergency were to be a fire, there is no emergency breathing system in the 'heads'; they're meant to be out of action at Emergency Stations.

2. Overboard sewage discharge valve blocked.
- With a crew of one hundred and forty men and a design calculation that assumes one daily bowel movement per capita, if each man were to provide a British Standard three-pounder plus a bucket of flushing water, the sewage tank would be filled in two days but could not be emptied. Corporate constipation is a terrible thing.

3.  Running out of toilet paper with three weeks to go.
- Napoleon said: 'An army marches on its stomach.' A submarine may not march on its lavatory pans but the principle still holds. With three weeks of our ten-week patrol remaining, word got out that we were running low on toilet rolls. Within twenty-four hours, there were none. This was panic buying submarine style. We had a bog roll famine on our hands. The Executive Officer launched an immediate search of the boat, which revealed, a dozen hidden behind the Captain's bunk (rank has its privileges). Other private hordes were found stashed away all over the boat. One secret cache almost caused a fire as it was hidden behind a heater. When it comes to toilet rolls, it's a case of every man for himself. However, there was no truth in the rumour that the engineers had a secret supply hidden in the Reactor Compartment - they clearly a missed market opportunity there; toilet paper that glows in the dark could have been a big hit. For the remainder of the patrol, toilet paper was rationed. The first thing that happened when the Covid 19 pandemic struck was that the supermarkets ran out of toilet rolls!

4.  Food rationing.
- When the Supply Officer thought that he was running out of food and reduced lunch to soup and main course, that really annoyed me. Pudding was my favourite course. When I happened to be last in for lunch, having had the morning watch, a triangle of fried bread swimming in a puree of gravy with only limited evidence of mince was placed in front of me. 'They had better food in the trenches,' I commented in a loud voice. The Supply Officer who was sitting in the Wardroom, came over and faced up to me. I stood up and faced up to him. Just before we came to blows, the Executive Officer was across and standing between us.

Executive Officer's God complex.
- Executive Officers are 'Command Qualified' with the expectation of commanding their own submarine - if recommended. Most handle the pressure well but some turn into little tin gods. That can really annoy the engineers who come under his jurisdiction only on disciplinary matters.

Being continually asked: 'How long is this going to take?' when trying to fix a fault.
- How the hell can one know how long it will take to solve a problem? And being asked every five minutes does not speed things up.

Smelly feet.
- The Direct-Moulded-Sole Admiralty Pattern non-slip boot is a marvellous invention. It saves you from slipping on a wet deck. It also protects you from electrocution and retains the odour of rotting feet. The problem is when someone with rotting feet takes off his boots. The smell can be enough to set off fire alarms, trip radioactive particle detectors, scram the reactor and cause Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to leave their tubes without permission. And half the crew will have collapse through gas poisoning. People with smelly feet should have their boots surgically attached.

A familygram with the message that the car has broken down.
- One can understand the desperation of a submariner's wife, especially one with kids to look after, when the family car breaks down. But what can her husband do about it on patrol? Submarines do not transmit when on patrol, so he can't even send her advice. Such a message causes unnecessary stress. I made a declaration that I did not want to receive any news about my car.

Your relief being late on watch.
-  This is unforgivable. Watch-keepers always arrange a shake for their reliefs with fifteen minutes to spare. It's a disciplined service. Most reliefs arrive with a few minutes to spare but there are some who always arrive late. They are stealing your time. Outright larceny. Unacceptable. Most annoying.

10.  Being diverted to another boat's mission when due to return to base.
- This is the jackpot. When returning from a long patrol and you are diverted to do another boat's job because it can't get itself ready for sea, is ultra bad for morale. It is particularly heinous when you thought you would be home for Christmas. We're all buddies in boats but not with the blokes in other boats.


A young officer in plain clothes in a Ministry of Defence lift said to the other plain-clothed occupant: 'Hi, I'm John.'
'I'm Oswald,' came the reply.
'Good to meet you, Oswald,' said John.
He was sharing the lift with Sir Julian Oswald, the First Sea Lord.

A hail-fellow-well-met young Lieutenant, leaning over the reception desk at Faslane, asked a newly arrived Admiral in plain clothes if he would like to hear an Irish joke.
'I am Irish,' replied the visitor.
'No worries, I'll tell it slowly.'

The German cruiser Schleswig Holstein was doing work-up at Portland, part of which was an exercise in 'Aid to Civil Power' which required sending in a landing party. With characteristic German efficiency, roadblocks were quickly set up. One of the first vehicles to be stopped was a private car being driven by none other than the Flag Officer Sea Training in plain clothes.
'Show me your identityh card,' demanded the German sailor guarding the road block.
Caught without his ID card, the irate Admiral replied: 'For goodness sake, don't you know who I am?'
To which the German gave the immortal reply: 'Ve are asking ze questions.'


There goes FGT.
He used to serve in SM3.
He used to be a WE.
But now he's off beneath the sea.


A young sailor on a public relations visit to his home town was asked to draw the raffle at a charity lunch. When he announced to a dismayed audience that the winner had won a 'diving suit', the Master of Ceremonies leant over his shoulder and explained that it was pronounced 'divan suite'.


I read that there are more women than men on the planet, that 10% of all men are gay, that more young men than women commit suicide and that 70% of clients turning up for speed dating  events are female. Perhaps I'll be called out of retirement. 


1. The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and apologised for holding the meeting on the jetty. This was because Leading Writer Tott had gone on long weekend with the keys for the Admin Building. Apologies were also received from the Secretary for calling the meeting on a Sunday, which was due to February having twenty-nine days. 

2. The Chairman emphasised the importance of this meeting for although the final design of Submarine Pooh had been agreed, the project was not progressing well. 

3. The O-i-C (Desig) of the Royal Naval Pooh School asked if the meeting could address the issue of tidying up the jetty under Any Other Competent Business. The Chairman ruled that this was beyond the scope of the meeting but placed an action on Pooh Auxiliary Services (PAS) to investigate and report at the next meeting. The meeting then adjourned for coffee. 

4. On reconvening, the Chairman apologised for the lack of coffee, which was due to the coffee ladies turning up on Saturday. 

5. The Group then discussed the problem of Pooh supplies. The Admiralty Underwater Pooh Establishment (AUPE) reported that it had carried out an exhaustive study of the problem. Early indications were that it would not be possible to support a Pooh in all compartments of a submarine. The Pooh Design Authority (PDA) said that when a Pooh had been installed, it was essential that it was fed with the correct supply of honey and that anything less would be unacceptable. The Director General Pooh Supplies (DGPS) was confident that enough honey was available in the supply chain but had not seen any formal definition of Pooh consumption nor of how many Poohs would be installed in each submarine. AUPE had understood that there would be plenty of honey available on board but the problem was getting sufficient quantities of it to Poohs in remote compartments, given the small size of Admiralty honey pots. For example, a Pooh could not be maintained in the Engine Room. Action was placed on DGPS to investigate the size of submarine honey pots.

6. The Chief Pooh Executive (CPE) confirmed that there was no intention to fit Poohs in Engine Rooms. The Chairman asked for written confirmation of this before the next meeting. 

7. The Chairman then asked the meeting to move to the centre of the jetty to allow the crane to pass. AUPE said that, in his view, the meeting had been convened far too close to the crane track and proposed that it be moved to the centre of the tracks before the crane returned. CPE said that this would be impracticable as he was already too close to the rail on the other side. RNPS proposed that under the circumstances, it would be more cost-effective if the meeting extended itself lengthways and formed an oblong between the rails instead of a circular configuration. PAS pointed out that previous experience with oblong configurations had shown that people standing upwind could not hear what was being said in the downwind sector. Pooh Trials Unit (PTU) then proposed that a drill should be established in which the person speaking was always in the twelve o'clock position. This could be achieved, he said, by forming a circle and moving the meeting in a clockwise direction until the person speaking was in the upwind position. It was, he added, the principle of the revolver. CPE pointed out that in a revolver, the person in the twelve o'clock position is fired. 

8. The Chairman asked the meeting to move back again to allow the crane to return and placed an action on PAS to pursue it and request that it kept its movements to the northern end of the jetty while the meeting was in progress. In view of this action, there was no further need to discuss the formation of a rotating circle and the matter was concluded. The meeting retained its previous formation. 

9. CPE reported that there was somebody in the water who had not been there before the crane passed and wondered if it could be someone from the meeting. The Chairman considered this unlikely but placed an action on the Secretary to check numbers against the attendance list. 

10. DGPS asked if there was any intention to fit Eeyores in submarines and proposed that if there were, someone else should be responsible. PDA believed that the question of Eeyores was still to be resolved and called for the matter be taken up outside the meeting. DGPS said that he had not been briefed on Eeyores and wondered if it could be an anagram for Eyesore, as he did the Telegraph crossword. 

11. The Secretary reported that he had now completed a head count and the AUPE representative was confirmed missing. The Chairman tasked PAS to check the identity of the man in the water on his return from the crane but CPE observed that as PAS seemed to have fallen over a bollard and broken his leg, the action should be placed on someone better able to catch the crane. The Chairman agreed and actioned DGPS to conduct a study.  

12. The final item on the agenda was to set the date for Pooh sea trials but before a decision could be taken, PDA reported that it had begun to snow and requested that the meeting move under the crane for shelter. This was agreed unanimously. 

13. Before opening his closing remarks, the Chairman acknowledged a request from the foreman of the Jetty Party to move the meeting to the other side of the crane to allow access for a sewage tanker, pointing out that this was for an urgent collection and not a delivery.   

14. In closing the meeting, the Chairman thanked everyone for attending, noting that PAS, PDA and DGPS had already left for the airport and that AUPE was still in the water. He asked the Secretary to record his thanks to them via the minutes.

15. The date of the next meeting was set for 1 April. 

D. Fence-Cutts, Secretary


When the Cold War ended, much to our surprise in Faslane, a Russian submarine off St Kilda, signalled a request for the  emergency evacuation of a sailor with appendicitis. Being a relative stranger to casualty evacuation procedures, I immediately consulted the signalling manual and thus discovered Medical Signalese. In this, sentences are abbreviated to five letter groups. For examples:
   FECIN is shorthand for - 'Infectious non cot case.'
   MEDIC means - 'Medical cot case.'
   SURIN means - 'Surgical non cot case.'  
   RAHOS means - 'Request admission to hospital.'  
  You will understand therefore that when loitering in one of Glasgow's better public lavatories, I was surprised when an inebriated Glaswegian lent over the porcelain partition and whispered confidentially, 'FECIN MEDIC SURIN RAHOS.' 
   Recognisng that he must be a medical man, I asked him to stop urinating on my shoes and confirm that he was indeed requesting hospital admission for an infectious non cot case, a medical cot case and a surgical non cot case.' 
   He looked puzzled and repeated, 'FECIN MEDIC SURIN RAHOS!' 
   As we seemed to be having a decryption problem, I said,  'Parliamo Signalese?'
  'Naw,' he replied. 'Parliamo Glasgow - the feckin' doctor's in the hoos!' 
Which just goes to prove that not all Glasgow drunks are Naval doctors.

(Written when the Royal Navy first allowed women to serve at sea)


As I was strolling on the deck
I met a bird all wrapped-in
A scanty little bathing towel
My God!  It was the Captain.


Jack and Jill went up the mast
In bloody awful weather.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
'Cos Jill undid his tether.


Jack and Jill went up the mast
In bloody awful weather.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill completed the task.