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World War II
War Beneath the Waves - Sardine Duty: Life as a Submariner

War Beneath the Waves - Sardine Duty: Life as a Submariner
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.19

     challenging words:    After-shave, bunking, corpsman, medic, off-duty, Seadragon, submariner, submariners, bunks, elite, lasting, nook, displace, nuclear, appendix, cut-off
     content words:    World War II

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War Beneath the Waves - Sardine Duty: Life as a Submariner
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     It takes a special person to be a submariner. In our time, huge subs roam the ocean, powered by nuclear reactors. Ohio class boats are 560 feet long and 42 feet wide. Fully loaded, they displace almost 19,000 tons of water. They carry crews of more than 150 men. These big boats patrol the ocean depths for months at a time. After half a year at sea, even a sub this size could begin to feel like tight quarters.
2     Imagine life on a World War II submarine. These boats were much smaller than today's subs. Life aboard these submarines was very cramped. For months at a time, crews of 66 men were squeezed into a 311ft. X 27 ft. tube. Every inch of space was used. Supplies were stuffed under beds. Equipment hung overhead.
3     The men slept in bunks or hammocks. Beds were stacked one on top of the other with very little head room. There weren't always enough beds to go around. This led to a shift system called "hot bunking." When you went on watch, someone coming off-duty would sleep in your bed.
4     There were two basic temperatures aboard subs: too hot or too cold. The diesel engines that drove the sub threw off a great deal of heat. Temperatures in the engine rooms were rarely less than 120 degrees. In summer or in tropical areas, the engine heat filled the small vessel. "Eau de Sweat" was the aroma of the day. Winter in the northern Atlantic, however, was a different story. The metal hull of a sub did nothing to insulate it. Crewmen were chilled to the bone. The engine room was then a favorite place for those off duty.
5     Food aboard the boat usually wasn't bad. At the beginning of a patrol, it was fresh and plentiful. American sub crews always enjoyed double rations. As a sub left port, its food stores were crammed in every possible nook. Rows of cans often formed walkways until the food was used up. In a space barely large enough to stand up, the cook made meals for more than 60 men. Crews ate in shifts in the tiny galley (kitchen). On most subs, men were allowed to raid the refrigerator whenever they liked.

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