Polar Ice

The alarm was sounding to dive as men desperately struggled to get all hatches closed and walkways secured. This time it wasn’t a drill…


It felt as though a gigantic giant hand, an iceberg the size of a whole continent, resided above us, wrapping it’s icy tentacle-like fingers around our soft under belly. The captain was the last to climb down the short stairway leaving the last trusted crewman to close the surface hatch.

imageIn situations like this, “Cap” always wanted to get himself below and get the periscope up, which is just what he did now.

Up periscope!

The sonar followed shortly after alerting us to the enemy destroyer above and we all knew that we would soon be subjected to a bombardment of depth charges, charges that could leave us dead in the water, so to speak.


Very soon, the periscope would be ordered down as the captain commanded our sub into deeper and safer waters, that is hopefully safer.

Jacob was counting off the seconds, one thousand, two thousand, three thousand… trying to time the release of the charges above and their coming explosions.


He figured if could get it right, he could at least be somewhat prepared to hang on to something and not crack his fool head on the floor or an errant piece of hardware. He was successful… sometimes.

Far above us now we could hear and feel the roaring engines of the mighty warships above. There must be more than one to be making such a tremendous racket. It was a fearsome sound alright and left no doubt as to what our fate could be.


Soon we heard the explosions all around us as enemy depth charges had begun to find their range, tracking us even as we dove deeper and deeper seeking shelter from the impending storm.

I  heard some whimpering nearby and saw that young Calivito, was beginning to shake, he wasn’t alone. No one would or would blame them. There were no shouts to stop or sneer remarks addressing a lack of courage, implying cowardice Oh no, you wouldn’t find this among the crew of our dear sub we secretly called Dolly.

Some of these “men” weren’t even men imageat all being seventeen or younger, having lied about their age to enlist to go to war. Whether boy or man, we now were literally all in the same boat. I tried an encouraging word, “you know, we have been in lot’s of tough situations before, we will  make it through this alright”.  I’m not sure if it helped them as it sounded kind of hollow to me and I’m the one who said it.

At at that moment a tremendous explosion came from the forward torpedo room. The whole ship shook and shuttered and began to vibrate. A low, constant humming sound circled through every chamber. As we lost all power, the lights went out and we found ourselves just hanging in the cold depths of the North Atlantic, in complete and utter darkness that seemed to envelop our bodies, minds, our souls.

imageSurely we will make it out of this one, surely “Dolly” will bring us through. She always has, hasn’t she? I mean, here we are today fighting the good fight so won’t we be tomorrow when the tides of war shall be reversed and we the victors? I don’t know what everyone else was thinking, maybe of home, girlfriends, wives, fathers and brothers and of course, mom. But these were the thoughts I found going through my mind as it seemed that time now had chosen to stand still. Here we were, who knows how many hundreds of feet below the icy, polar surface of the sea, our sub under major battle duress and I actually had time to think these thoughts. How strange, I thought, how very strange.

The only words spoken now were from those seeking medical attention for the men injured from this recent battering. The only sound was of rushing water through the gaping holes of our ship.

Where before there were plates of steel to give us shelter from the tons of dark ocean waters around us, now they were no more than open invitations welcoming this foreboding darkness aboard.


With a sound of desperation in his voice, the captain issued a few commands aimed at getting us to the surface but these proved to be his last words to his crew and his last words to anyone ever. The raging torrent of blackened sea rushed through the narrow corridors  overwhelming the captain and the officers standing with him and soon swept completely throughout the entire ship. Reaching each man with the rushing pressure of the frozen waters from above that now violated the last airways, airways previously providing a sanctuary to us all,  the crew merely its human inhabitants.

All sounds were gone now, no longer whimpering from a few frightened crewmen, no further commands issued by the ship’s captain nor his officers. No more… anything.

Just  Silent  Darkness  Below            


~ by Vinnie on June 4, 2015.

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