Boots & Bullsh*t

Man Overboard

In the late 70’s I was serving onboard a Polaris submarine when the Secretary of State for Defence, a certain Mr. Heseltine, decided to pay us a visit.

Everyone had gone overboard in cleaning the submarine from top to bottom except of course the Captain who just gave orders. The great day had arrived and the Captain decided he was going to show Mr. Heseltine one of the missiles in its launch tube. You need to appreciate at this stage the outer deck of a submarine is black. Each missile tube hatch is numbered. Eight tubes each side. Even numbers one side, odd numbers the other. Decks, when all painted black, can lead to mild disorientation.

The Captain had decided that tube hatch No. 8 was to be opened. With tube 8 in the middle he would stand on hatch No. 6 and the VIP entourage on hatch No. 10. The moment came with the Captain, in full regalia, standing on the casing giving his presentation. He raised his arm; this was the signal for the First Lieutenant (next Senior Officer) who was watching the proceedings through the periscope in the control room, to give the order to open tube hatch No. 8. Once started, the process of opening cannot be stopped and the hatch travels a full 98 degrees in 5 seconds flat!

Unfortunately, because the Captain had been so busy showing off, he lost his bearing standing instead on hatch No.8 with the obvious result he was instantly plummeted into the sea. Despite the frantic shouts, ‘Man Overboard!’ even the visiting party had some difficulty keeping a straight face seeing the Captain in all his refinery swimming in the Clyde while desperately trying to keep his dignity.

As someone mentioned at the time, we all went overboard in cleaning but the bloody Captain had to take it literally.

Ex-Weapons Engineer Matt Wilcock, D176564L HMS/M Resolution, Lincoln.

Boots & Bullsh*t can be purchased as a book with all proceeds shared by
The Royal Leicestershire Regimental Museum Appeal Fund and the Royal British Legion.