Pax Per Tridentem
Submarine Force
U.S. Atlantic Fleet

What’s New?


  • MM1(SS) Roland "Zeke" Ferrell has gone on eternal patrol as of Nov. 11th 2019. Zeke was a good shipmate and friend ashore. He helped me qualify in the engine rooms. Years later, he organized many early Cubera reunions to bring our crew together. God bless and comfort his beloved wife and family. Sailor rest your oar, you are relieved.
  • I’ve updated the website content management system for simpler maintenance by the next webmaster. Along with that I also used an adaptive design that works better on mobile devices. See About for more info.



  1. Which of the main ballast tanks in a fleet submarine have no emergency vent valves where the vent risers attach to the tanks?
  2. What else makes those ballast tanks different from the rest?

  • Send answers to:


was one of 24 post-war "GUPPY-II" converted fleet attack submarines of the 120-submarine Balao class. GUPPY comes from the FRAM1 submarine classification "greater underwater propulsive power". CUBERA was GUPPY-converted in 1947 two years after her launch, at the Electric Boat yard in Groton, Connecticut. There were seven variants of GUPPY. As the first of the GUPPY-IIs she was to be a show boat of the type, so her conning tower fairwater or ’sail’ was given the extra care of being an all-welded aluminum assembly. Subsequent sails on other boats were riveted steel and later, fiberglass. In all, 55 Balao-class boats were GUPPY converted.

Characterized by a thicker and stronger hull, more powerful electric motors, higher fuel and battery capacity than the famous Gato class WWII fleet submarine, Balao class boats like CUBERA became test subjects for pre-nuclear submarine technology development. They were a little faster and could dive about 40% deeper than Gatos.

In the search for greater speed, stealth and range, many devices invented before and during WWII by the Germans, Dutch and British like the "snorkel" and SONAR, were improved by the U.S. Navy and found their way into these boats. RADAR and main battery technology were also improved, along with higher capacity air conditioning plants. For more about the GUPPY-II, see What Is A Guppy Submarine?.

What was life inside a SUBRON6 smokeboat like for 8 officers 4 chief petty officers and 64 men?

Picture a dimly lit twenty-foot diameter culvert 300 feet long, separated into eight compartments, filled with a maze of exposed pipes, ducts, and cable bundles, looking like everything from a Super-Walmart plumbing department was assembled by a couple dozen OCD 12-year-olds on a sugar high. Add in parts from three Home Depot electrical isles and a Burlington Northern locomotive junkyard. Now paint it with hot diesel oil, rancid cooking lard, fry some onions, fill the air with tobacco smoke, aftershave, and spray several full cans of Fabreze eau du NFL Locker Room. It smells AMAZING!

A submarine is an incredibly complex machine.

But it is inert machinery -- nothing happens, nothing runs without minute-by-minute attention and muscular effort of its living, flesh and blood components -- the crew. It is the focused actions of the carefully selected all-volunteer crew that make things whir, hiss, rumble and move. When subs are built, just enough room is left for the crew to reach the operating equipment and do their jobs. Passages leave barely enough room for two men to pass by turning sideways. Sleeping bunk stacks resemble bakery cooling racks. Hard steel and brass handles, valves, pipes, lights and cabinets jut out everywhere. Some things are cold metal, some are hot, depending on what they do and where in the world’s oceans the boat is. The crew learn quickly where and when to duck, bob and weave to avoid painful injury to heads, eyes, elbows and knees. They wear their watches on the inside of their wrists to protect the crystals. They become adept at folding to pass through water-tight doors between compartments. Personal collisions are frequent, but require no apologies -- we’re family, after all, and silence saves time and confusion. The ’job’ is all-important.

For a more humorous and colorful look at submarine life, visit and read the recollections of Dex Armstrong, the original After Battery Rat.

Head up to the Bridge to see and hear all that remains of CUBERA: Her bell, preserved as the quarterdeck gong aboard the USS COD memorial, and her diving alarm, under the stewardship of Al Sabatino.

1 FRAM = Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization - a joint military/congressional commission formed after WWII to evaluate needs of the modern Navy in the cold-war scenario. There were some 50 GUPPY boats in all, in several versions, some boats being converted several times. Many boats got snorkels only and were sold to foreign allies for cash to support U.S. conversions.


Last modified: 26Sep2020

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