Life on a British Cold War submarine
By Sarah-Jane Hughes BBC History
At the height of the Cold War, HMS Ocelot secretly served on the front line. In the clandestine battle against the Soviet navy, she would stay submerged for weeks at a time, silently watching and listening to the enemy. Five members of her crew during the 1960s recall their extraordinary life below the waves.
Brian Defurey, Ron Hitchin, Norman Hart, Richard Dixon and John Wakelin are now all pensioners, but still call each other by the Navy nicknames given to them 50 years ago - Billy, Ted, Nobby, Dixie and Wacker. They often reunite to reminisce about the cramped conditions and camaraderie of working, living and breathing with 65 other men.
"You were always bumping into each other," Billy says. Not that it overly concerned the crew. "Most men on the boat would have considered it just like being in a room inside their house. Besides, any signs of claustrophobia are weeded out very quickly in the Navy."
The daunting training for British submariners - historically denounced by other sailors as "pirates" - included escaping from a deep, underwater chamber without breathing apparatus, and being locked in a submerged, darkened "pressure pot".
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