Monday, February 24, 2014

Submarine Diesel Smoke

It's hard to believe for some, but there is an aging group
of men bound together by smoke. Not smoke people
ordinarily draw into their lungs for a buzz, legal or illegal,
but stinky old diesel smoke made by burning hydrocarbons.
It's burned in great big old noisy diesel engines designed for
railroad locomotives and transplanted into a submarine,
of all places.
This smoke binds them together with wispy chains
stronger than the finest hardened steel. Men that sit
around remembering shipmates and times good and
bad, their memories brought to them on grey blue clouds.
Clouds of it shot out over ports of the seven seas, on
lighting off for going to sea. Underway and across those
seas the smoke settles to an efficiency haze, but the diesel
smoke smell follows them. The smoke and sounds that
shut down when reaching home port after many days
alone at sea.
Today, these old timers travel many miles to see, hear and
once more catch that wonderful reminder of their youth. With
tears in the eyes of some, they lean forward to breathe it in.
They take photographs of diesel smoke clouds belching from
exhaust pipes of museum piece subs. Back home they show
them to others and post video clips on the internet. Others sit
and wait for these clips to download over slow internet
connections, just to see that smoke and hear the sound.
It is said that the sense of smell brings back the strongest
memories. If so, then we are lucky one because our smoke is
strong and memorable. Along with our smoky chains, we have
those memories and neither can be removed from our hearts.
Many a submariner says, "One more time, just one more time".
For some, that means to go out and make another dive, for
others just to hear the roar and to smell that smoke.
Me, I'd like to yank a throttle lever, feel the deck plates shudder
under my feet, hear the sounds, smell the smoke and be with
those that are bound together by these things.
Just one more time and for a little while.
(Author Unknown)

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