PDG Jim Paddock – Life on a Submarine
Prior to being our Past District Governor or Rotary 5320, Jim graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1969 and served in the Navy’s submarine service for 11 years, until 1980, when we began working for The Boeing Company. Working for the Boeing Company was an easy transition for Jim, as he was able to utilize his naval service working on military and government programs at Boeing.
Although comprising only a small part of the Unites States naval ships, United States Naval submarines forces, according to Jim, were responsible for sinking 60% of the enemy ships sunk during World War II.
Submarine crews generally consist of 120 people. The submarine runs 24 hours of day, of course, and requires a large crew as there are various shifts and at least 1/3 of the crew has to sleep at any given time. Most of the crew works in the engineering department of the submarine. As one would expect, the systems which regulate the electrical system and atmospheric systems of the submarines are critical, as the air in the submarines must be kept fresh and must be “cleaned” constantly. The typical day on a submarine requires constant drills for various emergencies, including the threat of fire in the enclosed atmosphere, reactor problems, etc.
Naval personnel working on submarines must get used to working and living in small compartments for up to 75 days at a time in some cases. According to Jim, however, sleeping on the submarine was never an issue as there is a gentle rocking action which literally lulled him to sleep. In fact, he stated that he’s never slept as well on land as he did on a submarine. He did indicate, however, that the transition from submarine life to land life can be rough to one’s depth perception being altered as a result of living in an enclosed space.
Jim provided a brief overview of the various submarine classes used by the United States. The “Los Angeles” class of submarines (360 feet) has been used since the 1970’s and is considered “the workhorse” of the submarine fleet. The fleet was supposed to have a 30 year life, but has been maintained to well that the fleet may well last 40 years.
The “Seawolf” class of submarines (353 – 453 feet) are nuclear submarines which were designed during the Cold War. These submarines were designed to be larger and quieter than the previous submarines. The “USS Jimmy Carter,” one of only three submarines left in this class, is currently in use.
The “Virginia” class of submarines (377 feet) was designed to replace the Seawolf class of submarines and is used for reconnaissance missions by Seal teams. This class is designed to replace the “Los Angeles” class of submarines and has numerous improvement, including high resolution cameras, externally stowed weapons, and a different propulsion system then predecessor submarines.