11 APRIL 1978 – KITCHENETTE
My first day aboard the submarine Nordkaparen. The truth is this is my first day aboard any submarine. I share a ‘cabin’ with 11 men and just as many torpedoes. It’s cramped, but the atmosphere is great. The galley, more of a kitchenette really, isn’t so much cramped as non-existent. I hope I get used to it, after all I have to provide 37 hungry sailors with four meals a day.
13 APRIL 1978 – SUPPLIES AND SEPTIC TANK
Provisioning ahead of the upcoming exercise at sea. Everything had to be weighed to get as exact a total weight as possible. It’s clear that at least we won’t starve in the dark sea. I also got a run-through of how the toilets work on board. Obviously this is extremely important; if I make a mistake, the pressure in the septic tank could literally leave me in the sh*t. A very unpleasant thought indeed.
14 APRIL 1978 – LUNCH BENEATH THE WAVES
We’re at sea, or beneath the sea to be precise. The first lunch has been cooked and served. I managed to make a fried meat and potato hash with eggs and the captain complimented me. That was a relief. After lunch I had to drink a litre of water to compensate for the fluid I’d lost in the hot galley. I wonder if I’ll lose weight during my time aboard?
17 APRIL 1978 – THE STENCH
One cold shower, two toilets, poor ventilation, 37 sailors – quite a smell. Aboard the Nordkaparen, it’s the ones who have just showered who smell funny.
Lunch: Fish casserole
Dinner: Meatballs with potatoes and lingonberries
19 APRIL 1978 – DEPTH TEST AND TOMATO SOUP
Depth test today. The hull groaned as the depth gauge steadily increased. My pulse quickened at the same rate the submarine sank. I wasn’t scared, but it didn’t feel natural. Once on the surface again the radio operator said that two years earlier our sister-sub Draken had had problems with an exhaust pipe during a depth test. As a result, water gushed in at a depth of 130 metres. I’m glad I didn’t know that before.
Lunch: Tomato soup with freshly baked bread
Dinner: Sausage stroganoff with rice and raw vegetables
28 APRIL 1978 – THE SOUND OF THE INVISIBLE
Submarine hunting exercise. We dropped to periscope depth. Hydrophone operator Rundquist listened through his headset for any other vessels in the vicinity. Suddenly he heard something. He was silent for half a minute and then said: “A three-blade propeller, 900 revs, about 34 foot long, doing five knots. Probably a fishing boat. I was dumbstruck with wonder and asked Rundquist how on earth he could hear that. He smiled and answered cheerily: “Well Bengtsson, if you can’t see anything, better make sure you can hear.”
3 MAY 1978 – TORPEDOES
Torpedo exercise. The whistle blew battle positions. The entire crew got into position. Target in sight. Ready for launch. Fire! A vibration reverberated through the hull, followed by a humming sound. The torpedo was guided from the captain’s bridge by its seven kilometre long wires. After the exercise we had to salvage the exercise torpedoes floating on the surface. The torpedoes were salvaged using the crane on the foredeck and loaded in via hatches in the bow.
Lunch: Goulash soup