In the movie, The Hunt for Red October, a complex and highly dangerous surfacing maneuver is performed. In real life, Walter J. Meyer actually lived this awesome adventure, and he remembers with deep affection, his days in the U.S. Navy.
Not every submarine and crew gets to go on this “ride”. It’s only done for special events. The officers and crew must be highly trained and ready for anything to happen. The challenge is not to get the boat to go up! That can be done with speed, angle of the planes, and some air in the forward ballast tanks.
Before the start of the upward trek, the boat will actually vibrate as it strains to start the ascent. Once started, it can’t be stopped and does not last long. But when you think of how many tons of steel, machinery, and people that are involved flying through the water towards the surface, it is exciting and impressive.
The real tricky part is for the crews to “catch” the boat after it lands back in the water. As you can see it does make for some impressive photos.
It all began in July of 1969 when Walter J. Meyer was a USS Recruit at NTC San Diego boot camp, San Diego — America’s finest city. After various schools, Walter was assigned to his first ship the USS Prairie AD-15. Upon completion of his first WESTPAC, which included typhoons, he knew that surface ships were NOT for him.
So off to Hawaii and his first submarine, USS Swordfish SSN-579. Afterwards, Meyer was off to Guam and his second submarine, USS Pintado SSN-672. Upon completion of this tour, Walter went back to San Diego for shore duty at FLEASWTRACENPAC.
After a brief attempt at returning to civilian life and a Naval Reserve unit in St. Joseph, Missouri, Walter J. Meyer returned to San Diego for instructor duty at FLEASWTRACENPAC. In his words, “I must have been having too much fun in the sun as my next set of orders was to Precomunit USS Honolulu SSN-718 at the shipyard in Newport News, Virginia.” To maintain skills he went TAD to the USS Buffalo SSN-715 for her trip from Norfolk, Virginia to Honolulu, Hawaii via the Panama Canal.
After commissioning the USS Honolulu, Meyer was ordered to the USS Baton Rouge SSN-689, and off on his first “MED” run followed by instructor duty at SUBTRAFAC Norfolk, Virginia. His last tour was the USS Emory S. Land AS-39 as a ship’s superintendent for submarine repairs.
Walter J. Meyer retired from the Navy in February 1997 with the rate of STSCS/ss, meaning Sonar Technician Submarines Senior Chief. This distinguished military career man now resides in Thompson, North Dakota with his wife, Cher, and their four beloved Dachshunds.