What it’s Like Serving on a Submarine

The submarine is a strategic piece of military equipment that allows the United States Navy to expand its reach across the world’s oceans undetected. According to the official Navy website, however, only a mere 6% of Navy personnel actually serve on submarines. With so few servicemen and women ever stepping foot into this powerful undersea vessel, many people wonder what’s like to serve inside on one.

Long Deployment Times

It’s not uncommon for Navy personnel to serve for 60 days to several months on a submarine, all the while being restricted to the confounds of the submarine. Some people enjoy these long deployment times, as it gives them a chance to reflect while serving their country. But others find it difficult to stay on the seas for such a long period of time. Then again, if you have a problem with the ocean, you probably shouldn’t enlist in the Navy.

Stiff Training

If you want to serve on a submarine, be prepared to spend countless hours studying and training about the nuances of operating a sub at Nuke school. Navy personnel are typically required to spend a year and a half studying at Nuke school, reading text books, watching PowerPoint presentations, and performing hands-on training. It’s a tedious, time-consuming step towards serving on a submarine, but you’ll need this education to safely operate the sub.

The Oxygen is Low

You might be surprised to learn that oxygen levels on submarines are kept low. Granted, you can still breathe without fear or suffocating, but the oxygen levels are significantly lower than those on dry ground. This is because oxygen — in high concentrations — is a serious fire hazard. And the worst thing that can happen on a submarine when it’s thousands of feet submerged under the ocean is a fire. So, the Navy minimizes oxygen on its submarines, which in turn can lead to issues like longer-than-usual injury recovery times.

It’s Claustrophobic

If you have a fear of being confined in tight spaces, serving on a submarine probably isn’t for it. Conventional wisdom should tell you that the walls and ceilings are tight, very tight. From the mess hall to the sleeping quarters, there’s not much room for personnel to move around — and that’s okay. Submarines are designed for optical performance and efficiency, not comfort. Nonetheless, it’s still a claustrophobic environment that can make long deployment times just a little more difficult.