April 11 – Submarine Day

Posted on April 11, 2015

Way back in 1900, the U.S. government bought its first submarine, the USS Holland. It was on April 11, 1900, so today is Submarine Day.

According to Wikipedia, the United States submarine community celebrates the day. I'm thinking that the U.S. submarine community mostly consists of the Navy guys who serve on subs, right? Of course there are some tourist submarine rides (and not just at Disneyland). But I find myself wondering how many people own their own private submarines...maybe even luxury submarines. And as I wondered that, I also started wondering how dangerous running your own submarine would be!

Interior of a luxury submarine.
What I found out from my research is that your own personal sub costs upwards of $2 million, if it's commercially built. The manufacturers put the new owners through a three-week training course so that they learn how to let just enough water into the ballast tanks, and dive and drive and all that stuff. 

I also found out that some people build their own subs! Seriously, for “only” about $50 thousand, hobbyists cobble together submersibles in their backyards and garages. They have to get Coast Guard approval before diving at sea (although they can explore lakes without approval – but they are still urged to contact the FBI before doing even that!). This sort of submarine is more dangerous; people have died when their homemade vessels cracked from the water pressure in the deep. (There has never been a recorded death in a commercially-made private or

tourist submarine from the sub cracking at depth. Of course there have been deaths associated with submarines being attacked during a war!)

While I was finding out about private people owning submarines, I ALSO started wondering about those “Navy guys” serving on subs. My nephew is one of them, and I remembered that there are no women on his crew. It turns out that, because of the cramped quarters and lack of privacy, there are no women currently assigned to any U.S. Navy submarine crews. But of course there are some women who have been on subs for short periods of time. They include civilians who were experts at testing specialized equipment, family members, and female midshipmen getting training.

And while I was researching all of that, I discovered that submarines are painted black because studies have shown that black helps subs hide better than any other color. 

At any rate, you are likely NOT an owner of a private sub, likely NOT serving on a nuclear submarine, likely NOT living near any tourist subs. 

Still, happy Submarine Day! And what could be happier than watching Yellow Submarine?

Also on this date:

Louie, Louie Day 

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