under pressure


War Hero
Just finisher 'Under Pressure' by Richard Humphreys. The book is based on his experience as a young sailor on HMS Resolution during the cold war. This is not about encounters with Russian subs or deeds of derring do, it is a simple account of life on board, in all its trials, tribulations and achievements.
The book describes food and its impact on morale, lack of exercise, and with the watch system, the almost total inability to get any decent periods of sleep. Whilst not 'exciting' it is immensely readable and informative. There was lots of stuff I found odd.. The boats didn't submerge for their patrols until off the NW coast of Ireland, and similarly they came up well off NW Ireland and ran into Faslane on the surface, I imagined they'd be underwater until they were off Islay, but that isn't the case. At that time in the 70s & 80s they were able to drink very large amounts of alcohol when off watch, there was a lot of hangovers on board, and his description of the smell in the boat after just a couple of days dived makes me never want to go anywhere near a submarine. Also I didn't realise that missile boats (at least in the 80s) had to come to periscope depth to get a satellite fix, so that they could confirm their position as provided by the boats internal navigation systems. He, understandably, doesn't say how often they had to do this.

Overall you are left with an sense of the claustrophobia, over crowding, sleeplessness and stench on board. Unrelieved boredom save for what walkman music and paperbacks (and porn shows) could fix, and the occasional real life emergency when equipment failed or the Captain decided that people needed an exercise in firefighting or flood control or whatever.

Recommended read, but you'll be disappointed if you expect a Tom Clancy action adventure
And for those of us with spazzy eyes it's available on Audible.
I look forward to hearing this as my cousin was on HMS Resolution during the 70's.


War Hero
I agree. A very good book. Don't go into it expecting a high tense thriller but as a day to day account it is really interesting. I had the pleasure of working with the author for several years in 2000s and can say that he is a top bloke.
Thanks for the recommendation guys, I read this book last week and thoroughly enjoyed it . Certainly got a sense of what it was like to serve on one of these boats . I would say it’s one of the best books I’ve read on post-war submarining ( is that a word ). I’ve only been in a submarine once on the surface ( HMAS Onslow at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney a few years ago ) and even that was a bit claustrophobic to me . A special breed , the sun-dodgers.

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