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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Dangerous art of submarine crewmanship

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 14, 2013
First Published: 21:29 IST(14/8/2013) | Last Updated: 21:34 IST(14/8/2013)

Being a submariner is the ultimate test of nerve and the readiness to make any sacrifice thousands of miles away from the country’s shores.


The Dolphin badge — the pride of a submariner — comes at a price. “Small things you are so used to on land become a luxury in a submarine,” said a former skipper of a German-built HDW Type 209 submarine.
 
Here’s a look at the conditions they have to endure in the monstrous depths of the ocean:
 
*A submariner’s world is a steel capsule crammed with unwashed bodies and mostly stale air to breathe.

*It’s common for crews to go without a bath for more than 45 days.

* They could often be operating in temperatures touching nearly 55 degrees Celsius.

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* A submariner may often have to dig into a loaf of bread refrigerated for over several weeks.

* Submariners don’t mind sharing the toilet with 40 men.

* It is not rare for them to wear the same soiled vest and lowers for as many as four days.

* The navy assigns more than one crewmember to a bed to reduce berthing space (called hot bunking in naval parlance).

* Only the skipper has the ultimate privilege of having a separate cabin.

* But even for the skipper, a mug of water for morning ablutions is considered luxury.

* The ones who are unlikely to endure the rigours of submarine service get weeded out during probation.

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