A to Z, Going to Sea…
I was talking to a fellow submariner on Friday who went to sea in the 2000’s, after iPods, laptops, smart phones, Blu-Ray and external hard drives had become common place technology.
What a way to go to sea!
Back in my day, aboard USS Michigan SSBN-727(G) (as she was then), Sony had just invented the Walkman. CD players were still a couple of years away, in fact my roommate Sean T. Bagby, Esq, would purchase one of the first I ever saw and play the Dire Straights album, “Brothers in Arms” about (by my count), 1,745,823 times thus making it (a) the most listened to album in my personal history and (b) the most hated album of reasonably decent music in my personal history.
But at least I had a Walkman, and with the available personal space aboard the boat, I managed to bring exactly six cassette tapes with me on my first patrol.
Over the course of two and a half months, I remembered the first line to every song I had every heard in my life. But I had six cassette tapes. Two Neil Diamond, one Beatles, one Chuck Mangione, one Al Stewart, and one of John Phillips Sousa marches.
We didn’t have a VHS machine on that first patrol (#3), but we sort of had some Betamax machines and the old 16mm Movie projector, but since I was an unqualified nub at that point, viewing of movies and/or TV shows was something I dared not do anyway. I did get to watch one movie, my Sea Daddy, Mitch Ycaza, made me sit down one night and watch one, but all in all, that wasn’t going to happen before finishing quals in November of 1984 (coincidently the day before I rammed my right knee into the MC2L hatch and started my long odyssey of knee issues.
Anyway, I once took my Radio Shack Color Computer 2 with me on patrol. The one that I threw an absolute diva fit in the store about because I wanted the 48K machine and they only had the 64K machine – which cost more – and they were ripping me off because nobody could ever use 64K of memory. For gods sake we went to the moon on 33K of hard wired drum memory, why was Tandy ripping me off and forcing me to buy more machine than I could ever use?
I took it on patrol and played NFL Strategy on it.
One patrol, I think it was #7, I read the entire Encyclopedia. I was not quite bored, but not being pushed to become a E-6 yet, so I decided one day to just start at A and go all the way to Z. I blame my insane internal trivia buffer on that episode.
By Patrol #9 the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation Committee) had purchased an actual VHS machine (roughly $500) and people brought tapes. To preserve the ideals with which you might imagine submarine life I will simply say that many people brought tapes for enjoyment and pleasure and leave it at that.
I did get to watch Star Trek III on a VHS though, along with Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and the 1986 Orange Bowl.
Anyway, going to sea on a boat today must be a heck of a lot different, at least from an entertainment standpoint. It’s hard for me to imagine that with all the stuff available today anybody would ever even get out of a rack for anything other than watch or meals. Think about it, with an internal wireless network you could even Facebook (or something similar) on the boat and never need to talk to anybody ever. All the reports could be online. Movies can be shared and streamed. And in the space of just a couple of cassette tapes, I could have fit every song I’d ever heard or imagined, for play whenever I wanted.
The technology alone makes me want to go back to sea.
I miss those days. Not in a nostalgic, rose colored glasses looking behind me as I get old way. I really do miss them. When I consider what we accomplished it makes me very proud.
Oh, it makes me think about how cushy these guys have it today… “You know… back in my day on USS UsedToFish, we didn’t have them fancy computers and blu-rays and tablets. we had to actually write logs and get our “entertainment” from these things called “paperbacks” and magazines! Not like you kids today!”
And in twenty years, today’s kids will be saying the same thing… but I’ll bet you they still won’t have read an entire encyclopedia.