Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


In 1958 the Russian success in Sputnik had raised a demand for U.S. spectaculars, and President Eisenhower had let it be known that he wanted advanced notice of any such to allow for proper exploitation. Bombers circumnavigated the earth, NAUTILUS and SKATE were involved in visiting the North Pole, and TRITON would circumnavigate the earth submerged.

USS SEA WOLF (SSN 575), the second nuclear powered submarine which I commanded, was very much like NAUTILUS except that its ‘power plant used liquid sodium instead of high pressure water in the primary coolant loop. After a couple of years of fascinating operations she was approaching the end of first core life and we were preparing for one more major operation.

With the approach of the Polaris mission it was vital that we prove the ability of submarines to operate completely submerged (no contact with the atmosphere) for 60 days at a time. Engineering this capability had involved a process of discovery of one toxic gas after the other and the invention of ways to purify the atmosphere of its long term buildup of the contaminants. Our main support in this activity was Mr. Red Gates in BUSHIPS.

We could make the 60 day demonstration during a prolonged ASW exercise except that the long planned electrolytic oxygen generator was not yet available. I asked Red Gates if there weren’t some other way to provide the 30 day supply of oxygen required to supplement the 30 day supply we had in compressed oxygen and in our compressed air banks.

In an amazingly short time, Red had let a contract and acquired the couple of thousand oxygen candles needed. These were cylindrical grains about 3 inches in diameter and 3 feet long in which a thermite reaction heated potassium perchlorate to generate oxygen in a pair of cylindrical ovens with internal ignition.

As I remember, we were due to leave our berth alongside the submarine tender USS FULTON on a Tuesday. Oxygen candles and gear arrived on the preceding Thursday. As soon as these were loaded we started test runs only to find that in addition to generating oxygen we were generating a trace of chlorine such that in about 20 hours the boat’s atmosphere would be unacceptable.

A phone call to our stalwart bureau friend Red Gates must have been one of the most traumatic he had received; but he gamely said that he•d try for a solution. I said we’d also try from our end. Knowing that silver nitrate will get chlorine we calculated the quantity required and placed a tentative requisition with my classmate supply officer in the tender. Knowing a solution was feasible we decided to try for a cheaper solution when our chief hospitalman pointed out that while he had been with Marines in Korea, they sometimes added photographic Hypo to reduce excess chlorine in drinking water. We sent out immediately for some of the magic substance for a test, calculated the amount required; and turned to the design of a chemical reactor in which to purify the oxygen.

About this time an enraged supply officer arrived to report that our two hour old requisition would amount to all of the silver nitrate east of the Mississippi in 4 ounce bottles with air pickup from hundreds of points. He was much relieved when I sheepishThe chemical reactor design included two vessels, each constructed of the tops of two SO gallon plastic carboys used to contain sulfuric acid-chemically welded together and connected to in-and-out tygon tubing. The oxygen would be purified as it passed through the Hypo solution. When none of the local companies could supply the 1/4 inch plastic beads normally used to promote the gas-liquid mixture. I handed $10.00 to an auxiliaryman and told him to go the near town of Norwich and buy $10.00 worth of marbles. To allay any fears in the mind of the vendor that this massive purchase of marbles might be intended for purposes of some deleterious celebration, I sent with him a very official letterly changed the need to a few hundred pounds of Hypo; proving that outrageousness is relative. We had the stuff late the next day.

By now it was late Friday evening. I called Red Gates and went home to dinner. When I returned a couple of hours later. I noticed some mirthful glances in my direction and a file of giggling sailors peering into my cabin. On my bunk was an enormous pile of bagged marbles. My grinning Exec, Yogi Kaufman, explained that the whole crew was happy that I’d found my marbles!

Tests proved that the kluge worked. Red Gates was relieved. I whispered to the Force Commander, Rear Admiral Fearless Freddy Warder, whose WWII exploits had made the SEAWOLF name memorable, of our intent to set a new world record of 60 days out of touch with the atmosphere. He agreed it seemed a bit too shaky to alert the President about.

About five days before our return to port, we had set the record and I sent a message to that effect. We arrived to a huge quickly arranged welcome and world media coverage.

Then I heard that the President, who had visited SEA WOLF a few months before, had been enraged by the lack of notice.

He was mollified to hear the story about The Captain’s Finding His Marbles.


THE SUBMARINE REVIEW is a quarterly publication of the Naval Submarine League. It is a forum for discussion of submarine matters. Not only are the ideas of its members to be reflected in the REVIEW, but those of others as well, who are interested in submarines and submarining.

Articles for this publication will be accepted on any subject closely related to submarine matters. Their length should be a maximum of about 2500 words. The content of articles is of first importance in their selection for the REVIEW. Editing of articles for clarity may be necessary, since important ideas should be readily understood by the readers of the REVIEW.

A stipend of up to $200.00 will be paid for each major article published. Annually, three articles are selected for special recognition and an honorarium of up to $400.00 will be awarded to the authors. Articles accepted for publication in the REVIEW become the property or the Naval Submarine League. The views expressed by the authors are their own and are not to be construed to be those of the Naval Submarine League. In those instances where the NSL has taken and published an official position or view, specific reference to that fact will accompany the article.

Comments on articles and brief discussion items are welcomed to make THE SUBMARINE REVIEW a dynamic reflection of the League’s interest in submarines.

Articles should be submitted to the Editor, SUBMARINE REVIEW, P.O. Box 1146, Annandale, VA 22003.


In the January 1996 issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW the League issued an invitation for the members to send in their E-Mail addresses for listing in the next directory. The REVIEW will continue to run the notice throughout the year so all who wish to be listed can participate. We can be reached at subleague@aolcom. The following is our first set of addresses from those who have responded so far:
Beard, Michael,
Bishop, Robert H.,
Boyle, Richard J.,
Bush, James T. &/or Patrida J.,
Cabot, CAPT Alan S.,
Caldwell, Jr., French,
Church, LCDR Charles,
Collier, Steven F.,
Crews, CAPI’ Jeffrey W .,
Dean, Randy J.,
Dundon, MMCM(SS) Kenneth,
Dunham, Roger C.,
Eicens, I.D. “Bud”,
Generally, srscs (SS) I.J., COBSSN766
Goldberg, Marc,
Goodwin, James Clivie, ClivieG@aol
Griffin, John E.,
Gustin III, CAPI Bruce A.,
Harer, CDR Dale V .,
Helton, Bob,
Henderson, Jr., LT Nathan S.,
Hendrick, LT Geoffrey Marc,
Higbee, CAPI’ John,
Howard, Bob,
Hussey, Ted,
James, Dr. Reese E.,
Jaskunas, CAPI’ Thomas M.,
Jerding, Fred,
Johmon, Carl,
Kimball, Paul,
Klarich, RM1(SS) Donald P.,
Lyman, Melville,
Martin, Elaine,
McN°1Sh, Mike,
Mickey, CDR John C.,
Muller, Joe,
Murray, Tom,
Nitsche, Jude R.,
Parks, Jr., Vernon,
Patton, Jim H.,
Paulus, Michael,
Pollack, Gerald A.,
Rausch, Wendell,
Reynolds, VADM J. Guy,
Riddle, ETCM(SS) George,
Rohm, F.W.,
Sagerholm, V ADM J.A., NA
Schmidt, LCDR Steven L.,
Southard, Steven, Southard_ Steven_ R@hq .mil
Spears, Howard,
Valade, Larry G.,
Werthmuller, Roy,
White, Michael, J.,
Wright, CAPI’ Malcolm S.,
Zimman, Robert,
Zimmerman, Stan,


Hamilton Standard Space and Sea Systems
Member Since 616194
In 1929, the Hamilton Standard Propeller Corporation, the largest manufacturer of airplane propellers in the world, became a part of United Aircraft Corporation which is now known as United Technologies Corporation (UTC). Hamilton Standard today is the most diversified division of UTC with product applications including submarines, aircraft and spacecraft. While the majority of Hamilton Standard products are found on commercial and military aircraft, the Space and Sea Systems (S&SS) department manufactures manned life support systems for customers ranging from the U.S. and British Navies, to NASA and international space programs.

S&SS was formed in 1964 as a spinoff from the aircraft environmental control system product line. The spacesuit, or by its NASA name, the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), is probably the best known S&SS product. The EMU was developed for the Apollo mission to the moon and has been continuously improved ever since. The EMU now flies on the space shuttle and will be used to construct the International Space Station. S&SS also manufactures the atmosphere revitalization system and several thermal control systems for the space shuttle and is developing similar equipment for the space station. Products manufactured or being developed for submarines include the Oxygen Generating Plant (OGP) for SEAWOLF, the Gas Management System (G¥S) for Trident and SEAWOLF, oxygen generating electrolyzers for the British Navy, Electrolyte Chlorine Generators (ECG) for several U.S. Navy submarines, the Integrated Low Pressure Electrolyzer (ILPE) and Submarine Advanced Integrated Life Support System (SAILS) for the New Attack Submarine (NSSN).

The OGP was qualified for shipboard use in 1988 and installed on USS ALABAMA in 1989 for sea trials. The heart of the OGP is the SPE@ cell stack which generates high pressure oxygen (3000 psi) by electrolyzing water. The SPE electrolyzer uses a solid polymer electrolyte membrane which replaces the potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte used on prior submarine life support systems. The solid polymer electrolyte membrane increases system operating life many times over the KOH based systems and provides increased safety and reliability. The OGP is now installed on SEAWOLF (SSN 21) which is scheduled to start sea trials early this year.

S&SS also provides SPE electrolyzers for the British submarine fleet. CJB Developments Limited integrates the electrolyzers into the submarine’s life support system. All 43 electrolyzers delivered to date have operated flawlessly, some of which have been in the field for more than 10 years and have accumulated well over 20,000 hours of operation.

The GMS and ECG systems were developed and qualified for submarine use in the late 1980s. Since that time 20 GMSs and 15 ECGs have been manufactured and delivered for shipboard use. The functions of both of these systems are classified.

The ILPE is being developed for NSSN and represents a major improvement over the OGP and GMS. The key improvements include low pressure oxygen generation and reduced system volume. Generating oxygen at low pressure significantly reduces the cost and safety risk associated with handling high pressure oxygen. Also, eliminating high pressure oxygen components allows the ILPE, which integrates both OGP and GMS functions, to be packaged in a small volume with a footprint equivalent to an OGP alone. The use of a common electronic controller for the GMS and oxygen generating functions also contributes to the reduced packaging volume.

The SAILS systems is a further improvement to the ILPE and is being considered as an upgrade for later NSSNs. SAILS will integrate carbon dioxide reduction and removal and atmospheric contaminant removal along with gas management and oxygen generation functions. New innovative electrochemical processes are being developed for SAILS to precisely match the life support system functions to human metabolic rates which results in a zero gas discharge life support system.

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League