Big Red: The Three-Month Voyage of a Trident Nuclear Submarine

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By Douglas C. Waller

  Date added to list: October 11, 2006
  Date started: January 30, 2007
  Date finished: February 28, 2007
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Tags: Navy, non-ficiton

My Review

Rating: 9/10

This WAS a trip down memory lane. A few things have changed since my cold war years on two Tridents subs but the memories came back as fresh as if they were yesterday.

My only regret in reading this book was that the handful of errors were not noted in my book as margin notes. Small errors like calling the 1800-2400 watch the mid-watch, or making misleadingly false statements such as the CO having access to the CIP key for firing missles should be noted.

Being intimately involved as battlestations supervisor in the Missile Control Center I can say that it would have been a violation of the peacetime safety rules for nuclear weapons for the CO to control both the EBW firing unit keys (to arm the missile ejection unit) and the firing panel key in the control center. In port the CIP key WAS controlled by the CO, the EBW firing unit keys were controlled by the Weps. On transition to alert status the CIP key was locked in a safe that could only be opened by two officers after they authenticated a launch message. They would then hand the CIP key to the CO. The CO obtain the EBW keys from the Weps. There was no “hole in security”. Evidently the only change since I was on board is that the CIP key combination is now controlled by someone off the submarine rather than each of two officers (one had combination to outer safe, the other to inner safe).

In all there were only a small handful of technical errors such as this and I wish that I would have noted them for others that I loaned the book to.

It was a very accurate depiction of life onboard a Submerged Launch Ballistic Missile submarine, at least from my perspective of having spent about 2½ years of my life underwater on a “boomer”.

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