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Cycling Vents 

by Vern Waldrip YNCM-Ret.

During the early summer of 1970, USS DIODON (SS349) was doing some daily ops off the coast of San Diego. I was sitting in the ship's office and we were at 100 feet, just tooling along. I thought I felt a little down angle, but just kept working and paid no attention to it. Then the CO and XO came by and went into the Control Room. A short time later, the steward manned the phones right outside my door. I asked him what was going on, and he said he didn't know. Then a little while later, they set condition Baker, closing the watertight door into the Control Room. I asked again, what's going on, and received the same answer. This went on for a little while until I got up and looked through the glass of the door.

Everyone was just relaxed looking and like nothing was wrong, but then I happened to spy the depth gauge, and I knew all was not right. To the best of my memory, we somewhere between 350 and 385 feet. Well, I sat down in my office, made my peace with the creator and prayed. The next thing I knew we were taking such an up angle I had to brace myself against the bulkhead and hold the drawers from coming out on me. We went up, up and away, slid back down I think about to 100 feet and stopped. We then proceeded to surface. Nothing was ever said over the 1MC. I went up to the forward room where I slept on a skid rack, the coolest place on the boat. Sitting up on the torpedo tube railing was a TM2 with his headset on just getting with the profanity. I asked what was wrong and he informed me that when they took the down angle, one of the torpedoes up on the upper rack slipped forward. He was cussing the TM that had cinched it down because he had stayed on shore that trip to go to school or something. He still remembers it 35 years later.

A couple months later, we were on our way to Yokosuka in a 21 day transit to take the end of the WestPac on a boat that had some troubles. We were out on the pond and I was standing ECM watch in the Control Room and were once again at 100 feet, when the Conning Officer shouted down the hatch to cycle the vents. The Diving Officer was the Assistant Engineering Officer and ENCS(SS) by rate. He was tall southern raised guy from his accent and just calmly said words to this effect: "No sir, I don't think I will, I been in the Navy for 27 years and last time I cycled the vents at 100 feet, we went down to test depth, and I am not going to do it again". The Conning Officer chuckled and said, "OK, go get a cup of coffee and I will come down and do the cycling" and that is exactly what he did. When he got thru he shouted down the passageway toward the mess decks and told the chief that it was done. The Diving Officer came back and resumed his watch without a further word said. I heard scuttlebutt that something went wrong with BB valve and showed a green board but didn't close, but truly no word was ever put out and we went merrily on our way.

Published January 2006