Daniel was part of hosting a lunch for the Commanding and Senior Officers last Friday and in return they offered our family a private tour of their Submarine. It's not open to the general public so it was an absolute thrill to have the opportunity to go on board and get a little glimpse of what it's like to live and work inside a Submarine. The Farncomb is a Collins class Submarine, one of 6 in the Australian Navy.
We were taken around by Lieutenant Commander Daniel Sutherland, who is Second-in-Command and he very kindly allowed me to take a few photos, except for the weapons room which is top secret for obvious reasons.
Our first stop was to the Officer's Quarters where we found the lovely Officer Dickman enjoying a quiet moment reading the paper...
...until our whole tribe joined him on the lounge, that is.
Commander Sutherland told us about some of the Submarine's features. We joked about some of the Submarine movies. I did my best Sean Connery impersonation "Personally, I give us one chance in three". Officer Dickman says they've seen them all - apparently The Hunt For Red October and u571 are not terribly realistic (really?) despite being excellent films but the German film Das Boot gives a fairly accurate portrayal of Submarine life if you are interested in this type of thing.
The framed photo on the table above is a picture of an exercise the Submarine was involved in last year in Hawaii where one of its Torpedoes was fired at the former ammunition ship US Kilauea, breaking it into two and sinking her.
I always imagined Submarines to be tight on space but with 6 Submariners to a room there really is barely enough space to swing a cat.
Some Officers had their 'whites' laid out in preparation for today's Remembrance Day commemorations.
Onto the Kitchen where 3 cooks prepare meals for 60 people 3 times a day in the tiny space. If you didn't know it was an Australian Submarine, the jar of Vegemite on the shelf is a big giveaway.
The command room is where all the main action happens. We all had a turn looking through and operating the Periscope.
The whole Submarine is driven by that tiny little black joystick below.
The Captain's Chair.
Behind the Captains Chair is the Charting desk. We were told the Submarine still uses traditional Charts but will soon rely completely on electronics for navigation.
We also got to see the weapons room which was extremely impressive. If you weren't one of the lucky officer's to be in a room with 5 others then you got to sleep under the missiles and torpedoes. And by under, I literally mean your body is about 10cm away from the bottom of these weapons.
It takes a special kind of person to choose to live in these conditions. Aside from the inherent risks of being a member of the armed forces, living in such confined spaces would be difficult, as would the lack of privacy and the general dangers of living in a vessel under water with no quick escape route if things go peared-shape. But most of all, there is also the personal sacrifice that comes from living away from loved ones for long periods of time. I take my hat off to these Officers and Sailors who endure that kind of heartache to provide this amazing service for our country.
Given that today is Remembrance Day, it was an extra special reminder of the personal sacrifices that the Men and Women of our armed forces made in the past and continue to make on a daily basis so that we can enjoy the freedom we do today.
Lest we forget.