Russian Navy


Submarine Time


But all things must end. By this I donít mean Lenchik Krivosheev and his little buddy; by this I mean the patrol itself. Sooner or later the patrol ends like everything else in this world.

Time is like a lumbering pedestrian. Submarine time is also a pedestrian - except that this pedestrian starts off at a slow crawl, then gradually picks up speed until, toward the end, it is lumbering and tumbling at breakneck speed.

Right. And in order to help that pedestrian get off on the right foot, a series of unofficial activities are organized to keep submariners entertained during their free time.

Not that we donít have other things to keep us busy. Itís just that rehearsing our survival skills (this is when youíre woken up in the middle of the night and made to run from compartment to compartment in an oversized gas mask circa 1959) is not necessarily every manís idea of great fun. Now what is every manís idea of fun - and it is necessarily so - is home-spun concerts, trivia nights, group reading hours, Twenty Questions, tag-team crossword-puzzle tournaments, Specialist Days, Neptune balls, and singing all twenty-seven verses of Varyag in three-part harmony.

And the one behind all this fun and revelry? None other than our Zam. Our partymeister. Our master of ceremonies. Our good-time jockey. Heís the one that makes sure we submariners are constantly being entertained....and that we submariners are the ones doing the entertaining.

A good friend of mine, an old-timer with a long history of concerts and Twenty Questions, once put it this way:

ďOh Lord, please spare us from the scourge of industrious Zams. Protect us, Heavenly Father, from these originators of profound ideas. Send us a Zam who is lazy and forgetful, one who is free from occasional flashes of inspiration and creativity, or, better yet, one who will simply fall into a long deep slumber or some other debilitative state...!Ē

And you know, I couldnít fault him for it. The guyís just tired of having so much fun all the time.

By then Ivan Trofimivich, our most revered, had left for the Land of Eternal Sunshine: heíd been transferred to serve in the big city, on dry land, and so weíd been sent a new Zam. And this new Zam was just bursting with new ideas. Boy, was he ever! For the rest of the patrol it was all we could do to entertain him: we sang and danced and sang all twenty-seven verses of Varyag in three-part harmony....

And thatís how the time passed.

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