17A1. Duties and responsibilities. Surface
operation requires that a submarine be maintained in a constant state of readiness, prepared at all times for any emergency. The
safety of the ship is the responsibility of the
officer of the deck, subject to any orders he
may receive from the commanding officer.
The manner in which the officer of the deck
should carry out his duties is fully described
in United States Navy Regulations and the
Watch Officer's Guide. However, the unusual
features of a submarine, which directly affect
the officer of the deck, make it imperative
that emphasis be given those points that are
peculiar to this type of vessel.
17A2. Desirable characteristics. Desirable
qualities of a submarine's officer of the deck
are forehandedness, vigilance, leadership, and
common sense. Each of these qualities must
be developed to a high degree of perfection
to insure the successful execution of duties.
The officer of the deck's ability to look ahead
and foresee the development of unusual contingencies places him in a position of always
being prepared. On submarines, more so than
on other types of vessels, it is axiomatic that
eternal vigilance is the price of safety. Alert
to all that is going on about him, he must see
everything and know all that is happening.
Conducting himself in a manner befitting his
position, as representing the commanding
officer, requires a marked degree of leadership. To this extent he must be exemplary
in his appearance and performance of duty so that a feeling of confidence and pride is
developed in his subordinates.
The underlying attribute of all these
characteristics of the proficient submarine
officer of the deck is common sense-a sense
of proportion, the ability to evaluate the components of a situation in the light of their
17A3. Preparing the ship. Preparation must
be completed before leaving port to place the
submarine in a rigged-for-dive condition. The
officer of the deck supervises the stowing and
securing of all loose gear both topside and
below. Superstructure access openings must
be locked or welded closed, in anticipation of
the most extreme conditions, to prevent accidental release of gear and consequent indication of the submarine's position, and all external air and oil leaks must be eliminated.
Bow and stern tubes must be loaded with
torpedoes ready to fire and with one complete
set prepared for reload without further adjustment. All guns and ammunition must be
maintained in the most advanced state of
readiness compatible with their preservation
in event of quick dives.
17A4. Vulnerability of ship. The officer- of
the deck must have a more intimate technical
knowledge of all departments of a submarine
than is required in surface ships, because a
submarine on the surface is the most vulnerable type of craft afloat. The danger of
collision exists on a submarine long before
that condition is considered to exist on a
surface vessel; therefore, the safety of the
submarine must never be jeopardized by unnecessarily placing it in a position in which
collision with another vessel is possible. Low
reserve buoyancy magnifies the danger resulting from any collision, requiring the submarine to be kept well clear of all vessels.
Things happen quickly in submarines, requiring quick thinking and decisive action to grasp
the opportunity to prevent disaster. Taking
halfway measures may lose the ship.
17A5. Watch officer's station. The forward
bridge structure is the usual station of the
officer of the deck when on the surface. Although he is expected to remain intensely
alert and observant, he is not a lookout, and
must not become engrossed in details to the
exclusion of his comprehensive duties as
supervisor of the watch. The poor habitability of the bridge and the exacting requirements of the duties impose strict demands
upon the assigned personnel. The officer about
to relieve the deck should be properly clothed
and physically ft to assume the responsibilities
that will be his. For similar reasons,
lookouts should be selected from the best men
of the crew suitable for this duty, and only
those chosen who have excellent vision and
good health. Prior to their coming on the
bridge, clothing should be issued to enable
them to withstand the rigors of adverse
climatic conditions, Cold, wet personnel cannot function as efficiently as those who are
protected from the weather, in so far as
conditions will permit. The night lookout
should be properly dark-adapted, wearing red
goggles, before relieving.
17A6. Conduct of the watch. The officer of
the deck must take over his watch promptly,
and be sure to obtain accurately all the information from the officer about to be relieved.
He should determine the ship's position with
regard to other ships in sight, the proximity
of land, rocks, shoals, and the identity of
lights. He should always time navigational
lights used in fixing the ship's position even
though they have been previously sighted and
identified. He must keep the ship's position
plotted on the chart at all times. He must
closely observe the weather, course, speed, and
know the combinations of propulsion equipment available. He must know whether or
not the storage batteries are being charged
and how much float is being carried. He
should insure that battery ventilation is
He should maintain an efficient watch by
rotating the lookouts. He should stagger the
reliefs, allowing only one man of the oncoming watch on the bridge at a time and
he should require "permission to come on
the bridge" in each case, and caution against
all extraneous noise and unnecessary conversation. Orders should be worded in standard
phraseology, and given in an authoritative
manner only as loud as the occasion demands.
He must insist that acknowledgement of directives be made in standard phraseology, permitting no deviations whatsoever.
The success of night attacks depends
greatly upon the alertness and reliability of
the lookouts. Each should be trained to know
what to look for, carefully searching his assigned sector, and reporting his findings in
the proper phraseology. When an unidentified or enemy vessel is sighted, the officer of
the deck should be so familiar with the commanding officer's attack doctrine that he can
take the proper action while calling the crew
to battle stations. In submitting reports to
the commanding officer, he must be certain
that the data are correct, with any doubtful
details so identified. He should develop a
reputation for reliability and integrity. He
must be sufficiently familiar with signals to
be able to determine when another ship is
calling without having to call for the quartermaster every time flashing lights are seen.
The officer of the deck must have full
information of the status of every department of the ship at all times. He must have
knowledge of the condition of all hull openings, ballast tanks, flood valves, vents, variable tanks, pumps, and so forth. Particular
attention must be given to the ship's readiness to dive, permitting nothing to jeopardize
this condition without the commanding officer's permission. As soon as charts, sextants,
and other loose gear are no longer in use, or
the necessity of additional personnel on the
bridge has ceased to exist, he should see that
the ship is returned to a condition in which
she is able to dive without delay. Appropriate
consideration should be given the fact that
submarines have a small freeboard, resulting
in danger of personnel being washed overboard or water entering the ship through
ventilation and deck openings.
B. SHIP HANDLING
17B1. Experience. The mere reading of a
book will not establish perfection in the art
of ship handling, an accomplishment attained
only by practice, and more practice, in performing the actual operations. Nevertheless.
the printed page provides a means of
perpetuating the findings and advice of those
who have learned by experience.
Above all, ship handling demands good
judgment. Existing and anticipated situations must be carefully considered before
action is taken. The officer of the deck should
handle the ship smartly, and he should always
remember that in coming alongside a dock or
another ship, a submarine holds her way
longer than a surface ship of similar tonnage.
17B2. Control. Steering and engine control
are, at all times, from the conning tower or
control room, in which are located the power,
emergency, and hand steering controls. The
officer of the deck should practice the use of
the two latter systems, except when maneuvering in restricted water's, thereby training.
the steersmen and testing the equipment for
emergency operation. In a submarine, more
so than in other types of vessels, good judgment demands that all machinery be tested
prior to its prospective use. Hand steering
trains steersmen to use small amounts of
rudder, and permits more nearly silent operation.
Control is temporarily poor when shifting from conning tower to control room, and
when shifting from engines to motors. If a
doubtful situation exists at these times, prudence dictates maintaining the status quo
until circumstances permit a change, When
operating on the surface, enough way should
be kept on the ship to permit maneuvering
or quick diving.
17B3. Landings. When maneuvering around
docks and other close quarters, especially at
night, the officer of the deck must assure himself of unobstructed visibility in all directions.
He should carefully plan the approach to the
landing, with special reference to current,
wind, amount of way on, turning points, sea room available in the slip, and the preparation of lines. The use of excessive speed is
both dangerous and inexcusable; a submarine
is not equipped with four-wheel brakes.
He should never bump any part of the
submarine-the underwater bow and stern
parts are especially vulnerable, Landings
should be made gently. Landing should be
a precisely executed maneuver, so planned
and performed that the simple operation of
backing one or both propellers for a few
seconds, when near the desired position, will
take all, or nearly all, way off the ship and
leave her practically in her berth, ready to
double up all lines. The choice of screws and
their direction of rotation should be thought
out carefully. Quite often the backing of both
propellers would spoil an otherwise good
landing, where the situation demanded that
one, or the other, should be backed.
17B4. Current effect. Accurate estimation
of the strength and direction of current is
essential to the success of the maneuver. This
is easily estimated by noticing a spar buoy,
or watching the water flow past the end of
a dock. The current must not only be considered when selecting the turning point
while in the channel but it must be remembered after the turn, realizing that the slower
the vessel approaches the dock, the greater
will be the effect of the current. Similarly,
it is important to remember that after the
bow enters the slip, it is in relatively still
water, while the current continues to produce its full effect on the stern.
17B5. Wind effect. A submarine making
sternboard will back into the wind, because
of the greater freeboard of the bow, making
it difficult to turn in a narrow channel or
maneuver alongside a dock. Like all propeller-driven surface ships, a submarine rides
more easily with her quarter to the wind and
Possible hull distortion, and damage to
bow tube shutters, diving planes, superstructure, and bridge strongly indicate that the
submarine should not be pounded into heavy
seas unless absolutely necessary.
17B6. Turning. In making a turn in a narrow
channel, the ship may be turned on her heel
by going ahead slowly on one propeller while
backing full on the other, with rudder over in the direction of turn to assist the ahead
screw. This forward and reverse combination of the screws may also be helpful in getting the stern in to the dock, Before backing
on one or both propellers, the rudder should
be used to steady, or start, a desired swing,
as conditions may warrant. If the vessel is
swinging, the backing of the inboard screw
will normally accelerate the swing.
17B7. Backing.Special signals and exact
procedure for backing must be established
for emergency use in the event of failure of
usual engine signals. Before backing, the
officer of the deck should see that all is clear,
and guard the stern planes and propeller
while proceeding out of the berth. The stern
should be placed well clear of the dock by
holding a forward spring, while going ahead
for a few seconds on the outboard screw. A
strong dock will permit winding around the
end, after the stern is clear.
17B8. Handling lines. In approaching the
dock, the mooring lines should be handled
intelligently. The men at the lines should not
be expected to do the thinking for the officer
of the deck. These mooring operations should
be directed just as actively and positively as
signaling the engines. One satisfactory
method of getting the ship alongside the dock
against the tide is by securing a breast line
from the bow to the dock. Then, with the
rudder outboard, the outboard propeller
should be backed while going ahead on the
C. STANDARD PHRASEOLOGY
17C1. Getting underway.
a. "Station the maneuvering watch."
Personnel man their stations in accordance
with the Watch, Quarter, and Station bill.
Start and test machinery. Special details
such as line handlers, anchor detail, color detail, and leadsman take their stations.
b. "Stand by to answer bells." A preparatory command to the watch, indicating
that orders to the engines will follow directly.
c. "Station the regular sea detail." An
order given when clear of restricted waters
and the special details of the maneuvering
watch are no longer required.
17C2. Line handling.
a. "Stand by the lines." Man the lines,
ready to cast off or get the lines over to
b. "Cast off number one." Release
number one line from the dock.
c. "Ease four." Pay out enough of the
designated line to remove most of the strain.
d. "Hold three." Take enough turns so
that the designated line will not give.
e. "Check two." Hold, but let it run
when necessary so that it will not part.
f, "Take a strain on four." Put the line
g. "Get over number one." Heave number one line to the dock.
h. "Take three up the dock." Man
ashore receiving the line takes it up the dock
to a new position.
i. "Take in the slack on four." Heave
on line and hold it taut, but do not take a
j. "Take in two." or "Take in the after
lines." Pull the lines, released from the dock,
k. "Single up." Bring up double lines
so that only single parts remain secured.
l. "Double up and secure." Run additional lines and double them as necessary to
secure the mooring.
m. "Slack one (two)." Pay out the
line, allowing it to form an easy bight.
17C3. Orders to the wheel.
a. "Right (Left) rudder." A command
to give her right (or left) rudder instantly,
an indeterminate amount. In all such cases,
the officer conning the ship should accompany the order with a statement of his
motive, or the object to be attained, so that
the steersman may execute the order with
intelligence and judgment,
b. "Right (Left) full rudder." A maximum rudder angle of about 35 degrees is
used in the Navy.
c. "Right (Left) standard rudder." Not
used on submarines.
d. "Right (Left) standard half rudder." Not used on submarines.
e. "Right (Left), 5 (10, etc.) degrees
rudder." These orders are used in making
changes of course. All courses given to the
steersman must be compass courses.
f. "Right (Left), handsomely." This
order is given when a very slight change of
course is desired.
g. "Give her more rudder." Increase
the rudder angle already on to make her turn
h. "Ease the rudder." Decrease the
rudder angle already on when she is turning
too rapidly, or is coming to the heading desired. The order can be given, "Ease to 15 (10, 5, etc.)."
i. "Rudder amidships." Rudder is centered and kept there until the next order.
j, "Meet her." Use rudder as may be
necessary to check, but not entirely stop her
k. "Steady," or "Steady so," or "Steady
as you go." Steer the course on which the
ship is heading when the command is received.
l. "Shift the rudder." Change from
right to left rudder, or vice versa.
m. "Mind your rudder." A warning to
the quartermaster (or steersman) 1) to
exact more careful steering, or 2) to put
him on the alert for the next command to the
n. "Mind your right (left) rudder." A
warning that the ship shows a frequent tendency to get off her course, and that if right
(or left) rudder is not applied from time to
time to counteract this tendency, the ship will
not make good the course set.
o. "Nothing to the right (left)." Given
when the course to be made good is a shade
off the compass card mark, and therefore
meaning that all small variations from the
course in steering must be kept, for example
to the southward of the course set.
p. "Keep her so." A command to the
steersman when he reports her heading, and
it is desired to steady her.
q. "Very well." Given to the steersman, after a report by him, to let him know
that the situation is understood. The expression "All right" should not be used, it might
be taken as an order to the wheel.
17C4. Orders for the engines. Standard
orders to the engines are given in three
parts: 1) the first part designates the engine
starboard, port, or all; 2) the second part
indicates the direction: ahead or back; and
3) the third part indicates the speed: 1/3,
2/3, standard, full, flank, or stop.
In the submarine service, the word engine is omitted in orders to the engines or
motors, to eliminate confusion resulting from
the fact that under various conditions, and
with various types of main drive, engines
sometimes deliver the power, and motors